Captain Joel S. Fogel -- A MUSICAL EXPLORATION ACROSS SEA AND TIME
By Eric Hirsch
Captain Fogel\'s music in his debut album is as broad and as varied as his life.
From magnificant and original piano solos which flow from his heart to his rollicking sea songs and haunting harmonica solos which have been captured from his journey\'s around the globe, the Captain\'s music is soul personified.
At a young age, he was determined to follow his dreams of the sea, romance, adventure and love.
As his Grandfather once told him, \"Sonny, when you hear the hounds of Hell yapping at your heels...you know you\'re headed in the right direction.\" That direction has taken him far and wide and the \"hounds of Hell are still yapping,\" says Fogel. \"Those hounds are my desire to see and know as much as I can during my lifetime,\" he explained.
Those \"hounds\" have led him to careers in acting, writing, sailing, exploration and travel which have carried the Captain over 10 times around the world on expeditions for the Explorers Club and National Geographic to Africa, China, South America and most of the lands and seas on the planet.
From his youth as a young boy aboard his Grandfather\'s fishing boat, THE BLUEFISH, when he would man the lines and handle the helm for days on end, to his teens years as a student in Atlantic City High School when he played piano with jazz goups and learned the arts of showmanship, Captain Fogel\'s life was meant to be interesting.
\"I had three people pulling me in different directions,\" he remembers. \"Gramps wanted a seaman, Mom wanted a concert pianist and Dad was intent on teaching me the business.\" That business, a commercial refrigeration manufacturing firm with factories in several locations, put Fogel on the road across the country and eventually around the world, searching for joint ventures and licensees for his Father\'s products.
But it also exposed him to a world of sights and sounds that eventually became part of his life and his music. His artist Mother, Beatrice, wanted him to study the piano from the age of 5 years old. His weekly music lessons with Masters from Europe and the U.S. provided the foundation for his knowledge of the classics.
But as he grew into his teens, he began to expand his musical experiences and longed for the freedom of jazz and freestyle. His younger Brother, Dan, who went on to become a jazz legend on the B-3 Hammond organ, sat by his side and learned melody and chords.
Meanwhile, Granddad, got Joel interested in the sea, taught him to swim, encouraged him to become a lifeguard (Grampop Broome was a former Captain on the Atlantic City Beach Patrol), and inspired him to explore and appreciate his natural world around him.
That led Joel to a desire to study marine biology at the University of Hawaii where he attended on a track scholarship. He studied, worked at the Sea Life Park on Oahu, married a Hawaiian girl and learned how to play the ukelele and the harmonica as well as island songs.
While there, he met and worked with Captain Jacques Cousteau who mentored Fogel and enouraged him to continue his sea studies and time before the helm. Joel purchased a 30-foot Danish folkboat and began sailing throughout the islands.
During breaks from the University of Hawaii, Joel traveled throughout the South Pacific for the FOGEL Refrigerator Company, setting up distributors and studying the music of the islands. He was entranced by the harmonic choral sounds of the islanders and this began to influence his own compositions. His 5th and 6th cuts on the CD, \"Pupu Hinu Hinu\" (a Hawaiian lullaby) and \"Mano Puka Nua\" (a Tahitian paddling song) were from these experiences.
But his constant travels interferred with his marriage, and the calling of the sea eventually ended it. But he never forgot the influence of his Hawaiian wife, Paddy, on his music. His oldest daughter, Sandi, a champion Hula dancer, still preforms with dance and music throughout the U.S. with her husband and children.
Life took a sudden turn after that and the Captain found himself racing down the Pan American Highway from Alaska to South America on a BMW motorcycle. Latin America was in his sights and along the way on his 10,000 mile, year-long journey, he met and married a young girl in Mexico.
While still selling refrigerators for his Dad and writing his motorcycle diaries for the magazines, he persuaded a beautiful young Mexican woman who \"had a voice of an angel\", to marry him and travel back to the States.
Her love of Latin music and her ability to sing also began to influence his style and compositions. From the haunting first cut on the album titled, \"Caress The Wind\" ,we get a sense of the beauty and mystery which has characterized their marriage.
In cuts 10 and 11, we get a chance to sample Coty\'s voice and singing as she vocalizes the traditional Mexican tunes of \"Cancion Mixteco\" and Julio Iglesias\' \"Abrazzame\".
Fogel, who has been a working actor and a member of the Screen Actors Guild for over 15 years, shows the influence of Hollywood on his interpretations of the theme songs from \"Giant\" and \" The Viking\".
His \"Sailor\'s Song\", an original composition for harmonica and concertina reflects his love of the sea along with his heart-thumping harmonica solos in \"Bluesy\", \"Aroving\" and \"Pirates\". Straight from Walt Disney\'s \"20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea\", the Captain puts you aboard the NAUTILUS as he sings \"A Whale of A Tale\".
\"Free Fly\", \"Cathedral\", and \"The Girl From Santiago\" all highlight his skills in free style and control, adlibbing and weaving his melodies into an intricate and hypnotizing seduction of keyboard sounds.
The Captain ends his musical whirlwind tour of the globe with two favorites, \"Oh Susannaha\", a harmonica and piano masterpiece and \"Shenandoah\", a heart-rending sea shanty harmonica solo which will go down as a classic.
Eric Hirsch, Professor of Music, University of Colima
Santiago, Colima, Mexico
April 26, 2007
I just sit back and can simply say that you\'ve committed yourself, to truly making a difference, for a world larger then yourself.
Its your living immortality, a legacy, and its something many people cant even think outside of their own rat-race to do.
Its a selfless and noble path. Im sure you\'ve felt the enjoyment, the contentment, of the work itself.
(It also appears that you\'ve had quite alot of fun along the way making music too! Which makes it all easier!)
It makes the rest of us proud to know you, which I am.
I wish the best for you. Take care, your friend,
-Matman (Matt Steinem)