CITY RHYTHM STRIKES AGAIN
Here we go again. When the City Rhythm guys decide to do something, they invariably get carried away, and it's hard to avoid being swept up by their enthusiasm...unless you want to get run over! Their live performances just don't quit. Whether it's in an intimate smoky bar, a packed dance hall, or an outdoor festival with thousands, these guys simply "take over." The horns, the feel, the vocals...the volume! They not only work a lot, they work hard. Someone recently reminded Nick and Pete that just because they carry hundreds of swing tunes in the "book" doesn't mean they have to play them all at every gig! Of course, Joe Matt's no help. He just keeps writing more charts that everyone wants to hear, having been arranging for the band since its inception in 1985.
This record date developed in typical City Rhythm style. What started as a simple project to "cut a few sides" soon turned into a mammoth effort with lots of new tunes, new arrangements and tons of energy totaling 17 killer tracks. The band swings like mad while Steve and Vicki deliver dynamite vocals!
Of course, lots of fun was had in the process. Recording inside a studio near Broadway wasn't enough, the band had to do some playing between sessions right on Broadway...although the guys will tell you that the late night jams on Times Square were purely part of a social minded agenda to draw attention to the plight of the New York street musician.
The marvelous thing about this disc is that it captures the sound, excitement and delight that this group has been generating "live" for so long. Sit back (if you can) and listen to an hour of great swing music "the way City Rhythm does it."
Nick Vallerio: Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
Pete Spina: Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet
Bob Gravener: Trumpet
Jared Melson: Trombone
Michael Frank: Piano, Hammond B-3 Organ
Mark Estes: Bass
Mike Nigro: Drums
Tom De Shullo(Tracks 8, 12, 13, 16): Drums
M. Daniel Haskins (Tracks 1, 9, 10): Bongos and Congas
Steve Ritrovato: Vocals
Vicki Woodlyn: Vocals
Recorded and Mixed at National Edison Recording Studios, New York, NY (November 9, 10, 23, 1998
Produced by: Joe Matt, Pete Spina, Nick Vallerio
Arrangements and Music Preparation: Joe Matt
Recording Engineer: Gary Chester
Assistant Engineers: Yvonne Yedibalian and Jim Murray
Mixed By: Gary Chester
Mastered By: Kevin Hodge, Master Cutting Room, New York, NY
Project Coordinators: Nick Vallerio and Pete Spina
Cover Art By: Gina Matarazzo
ABOUT THE CITY RHYTHM ORCHESTRA
The City Rhythm Orchestra has been knocking out audiences for years at nightclubs, jazz festivals, concert venues and dances with their high energy sets of swing, jazz and big band music. The Philadelphia Inquirer calls them "Philly's premier swing outfit" and anyone familiar with this group would certainly agree. Their 1,000-tune play list is filled with swingin' jazz arrangements, rockin' blues tunes, unique original material, and vintage big band charts.
A music critic once wrote that hearing a set by City Rhythm was "great music and great fun". That just about sums up the results that saxophonists Pete Spina and Nick Vallerio had in mind when they formed the band, and they have consistently cooked up exciting music with their key ingredients of hot horn players, a smokin' rhythm section, innovative arrangements, and dynamite vocals. Mix all of this with the enthusiasm of the band members and you've got that unmistakable City Rhythm sound that packs every performance with wallop and distinguishes this group from others.
The band's arranger, Joe Matt, writes with a flair that keeps the music fresh and the listener on the edge of his seat. Joe also knows how to showcase the resonance of the horns and the many moods of the vocalists. His innovative arrangements shape the personality of City Rhythm's extensive repertoire.
The depth of the band's repertoire is truly astounding and the musicians sound quite at home with all of the styles they approach. They create vivid readings of vintage material from the Big Band Era saluting legends like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Count Basie, place their own mark on classic jazz and blues tunes, and present unique original material.
City Rhythm's vocalists Steve Ritrovato and Vicki Woodlyn add a special quality to the group with their dynamic range and versatility as they perform the music of the great singers of our time like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Dinah Washington.
City Rhythm has presented concerts at major music venues across the country and has performed at many notable music festivals and events. Prominent venues have included Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, Mann Music Center, Penn's Landing, and Electric Factory, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Longwood Gardens, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Washington DC Ritz Carlton, and the New York Hilton. Festivals such as Welcome America, the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Fairs, the Berks Jazz Festival, the Bethlehem Musikfest, the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival, the Mellon Jazz Festival, the New York City Hudson River Summer Festival, and the Allentown Mayfair, have repeatedly featured the band. The band is also called upon for special events and recently provided the music at the Inaugural Ball for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the Philadelphia Phillies "Farewell to the Vet" Gala, and the kickoff of the new arena football league team Philadelphia Soul.
Nightclub and dance engagements have also been an integral part of City Rhythm's schedule. They are currently the Wednesday night band house band at Zanzibar Blue, Philly's most prominent jazz club. Other long running appearances have included the Abbey Bar in the Radnor Hotel, Quincy's Philadelphia in the Adam's Mark Hotel, the Edge Nightclub, and the Five Spot where City Rhythm gained acclaim as the "must see" band, performing Sunday nights for over 5 years. They also make frequent appearances at North by Northwest and Warmdaddy's Blues Club. In New Jersey, they've worked at many of the casino hotels, such as the Atlantic City Hilton where a series of live broadcasts was presented, the Taj Mahal, and the East Side Lounge in the Trump Plaza. The Rockin' Chair in Avalon, one of the Jersey shore's most popular spots for the college crowd, hosts the band for several summer blues and R&B dates each year. In New York City, the band appears regularly at Jack's Joint, The Supper Club, Irving Plaza, Cache, Swing 46 and others. In New England, City Rhythm has been featured at Swing City and The Swing Dance Network in Boston, The Call Nightclub and the Fleet Rink in Providence, and others. In Washington DC they've performed at the Chevy Chase and Clarendon Ballrooms. Recent tours included events at Florida's Savoy South club, California's legendary Sweet's Ballroom and San Francisco's Biscuits and Blues Club.
City Rhythm often invites guest artists to appear with them at special shows. Some of the most memorable have included evenings of sizzling latin jazz with legendary percussionists Candido and Bobby Sanabria, nightclub and festival performances with powerhouse Hammond B-3 organist Joey DeFrancesco, joint appearances with blues great Steve Guyger, shows with European sensation Ray Gelato, and many others.
City Rhythm's music has been recorded on a regular basis and can be heard on numerous CD recordings. Their first album, "Goin to Town", was produced in 1994 and was a big success with its lavish big band sound capturing the interest of both music critics and fans. In 1997, the live collaboration with Joey DeFrancesco was captured on the CD recording "Swinging Blue - Live at the Five Spot". Joey's performance with the band was a tour de force that perfectly blended his exciting solos with the striking City Rhythm arrangements. The album has received a tremendous response. A brand new studio recording of this teaming was just completed with a release planned for next year.
The 1998 CD "City Rhythm Strikes Again" crossed over into the pop world and received national air play as swing music enjoyed renewed interest. The disc is one of non-stop, high-energy swing. In conjunction with its release, the band produced a Music Video of their "Hit the Road Jack" rendition, which was aired on international television.
In 2001, a recording was made of an exciting big band concert to benefit the national medical research center at City of Hope. "Sounds of Hope" features an electrifying performance by the band and vocalists. The show includes tributes to Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington, and others. "Songs to Live By" came out in 2003 as a nod their rock and R&B alter ego. It includes an hour of great party music.
The latest release is a gem, as City Rhythm teams up again with Joey DeFrancesco on Vibrant Tones. It's a 2 disc set, including a great studio recording on the CD and live concert captured on DVD.
Selections from City Rhythm recordings have been used on national and international compilations including the "Swing This Baby!" series distributed by BMG Records, the "Live at Mayfair" collection with Stanley Turrentine and other jazz greats, and a collection entitled "Swing on the Wild Side" released by the German label Wolverine Records.
Nick Vallerio and Pete Spina play other roles in the music business besides leading City Rhythm. In 1996, they created "The Big Band Caravan" radio show for Jazz FM. The show aired on 15 stations throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. As hosts of the weekly program, they featured tracks from their vast collection of big band recordings including the vintage bands of the 30's & 40's, post war groups led by the best jazz musicians, and the top contemporary outfits.
Currently, they host "Swing City" on 950 WPEN, which airs every Saturday night at 7 PM. The show covers all of the great big bands and combos from the Swing Era, a wide array of blues artists, classic vocalists, and swing groups on the scene today.
Nick and Pete also produce various musical events in the Philadelphia area. They have successfully presented performances by classical ensembles, opera companies, dance ensembles, concert bands, and others. They served as the Executive Producers of the Old York Road Community Concert Series before taking the reigns, in 1999, of the American Music Foundation, Inc. This foundation presents musical performances of classic American music with an emphasis on significant jazz composers, arrangers and musicians. Many of the events include seminars and other educational components. The organization has recently produced commemorative concerts for both the Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong centennial celebrations.