Artist Spotlight: Lew Tabackin

Lewis Barry Tabackin, born in March 26, 1940 is a tenor saxophonist and jazz flutist. He is widely known for leading larger ensembles with his wife Toshiko Akiyoshi since the 1970s. Lewis is said to be one of the very few jazz musicians who has been able to create two different musical personalities on two completely different instruments. He has created a hard bop style on the tenor sax and a delicate play on the flute.

Born in Philadelphia, Lew first took to the flute at the age of 12 which then led him to play the saxophone at the age of 15. Many of his influencers have been cited as Al Cohn, and Coleman Hawkins. He studied music with composer Vincent Persichetti as he studied the flute at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music. After graduation from the Conservatory in 1962, Lew worked with the U.S. Army and then would follow to have his very own chair in The Dick Caveat Show and the Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinsen. in 1972 he moved to California after the Tonight Show relocated from New York, this would allow him to play with some well known musicians in California such as Shelly Manne and Billy Higgins.

Throughout his time he is still well known as a great supporter of jazz that he has become part of the Jazz Foundation of America. He has enlisted his help to save the homes and the lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians that survived Hurricane Katrina. He has sat on Advisory Committee to the Foundation since 2002. 

Much like Al Cohn and Coleman Hawkins, Lew Tabackin has become one of André’s greatest jazz influences. Much like Lew, André has learned to excel in many aspects of musical personalities thanks to his delicate soft vocals that reach such heights that will leave you smiling from ear to ear.

Artist Spotlight: Eladio Reyes

Warren Farrell, PH. D., author of “Why Men Are the Way They Are” and “Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say,”  speak about Eladio: “Eladio’s music resonates in my soul. Its quality- the recording, voice and music- not only makes me appreciate his music, but deepened my appreciation of Jazz.”

Clarence Mc Donald, Piano Legend & Grammy Recipient, speaks about one of Eladio’s CD’s entitled: Home. “Home is a great and refreshing project. It is unusual these days to hear a CD that has the character of live musicianship coupled with meaningful and timely lyrics. Home has a young feel and old appeal.”

I met Eladio Reyes in June of 1999 when he was just starting his CD project called ‘Home’  He couldn’t stop talking about Susanna Reyes and how she moved him, she was pretty special in his life. A third generation Angelino, Eladio was born the seventh of nine children, the youngest of four boys. Raised by a single mother married to an evangelical religion, Eladio the first half of his life spreading the gospel before local congregations and traveling door to door, from South Central projects to Bel Air estates. Eladio the evolving artist, however, soon exhausted evangelism’s spiritual offerings. At age 23, his natural gifts of instrumentation and composition in hand, he took leave of evangelism’s safe haven in the direction of musical experimentation. At the time, his new CD entitled ‘Home’  we are benefited by Eladio’s journey, as one the few are emboldened to take, as it allowed him to transcend the limitation of the close and familiar in order to offer his audience the vicarious means to do likewise.

From his bag of musical tricks, Eladio extracts a stunning variety of classical and contemporary fugues. Where these might clash in the hands of another, here they  settle into an easy, but by no means simple, coexistence. Such synergy in sound is no doubt a mystical function of Eladio’s own diverse origins; for in his music, as in his features, no one origin exists apart from the others, or is even singularly identifiable. Listening, as in looking, the moment you’re certain you’ve isolated one genre, it becomes something other — teasing, inviting further listening.

In his busy schedule, we had an opportunity to collaborate on now the opening song of my current show entitled: “Something to keep me hangin’ on.” Every time I sing it – I think of him. He was a gentle spirit and he once wrote for me an autograph: To – André – “My dynamic beautiful loving brother from another mother. You are full of light and jumping with joy….I am so honored and inspired. Love and blessings, with all the dressing.”- Eladio.

While I was on tour in Montreal, Canada last year, Eladio died suddenly after visiting the hospital. Gone to soon, I said…and what will I do to keep his name alive….

Along with this blog, my new CD entitled: Naturally is dedicated to Eladio Reyes and Ken Swiatek.



Artist Spotlight: Thom Bell

Born on January 26, 1943, Thomas Randolph Bell, or better known as “Thom Bell,” is an American songwriter, arranger and producer born in Jamaica. Thom is best known as one of the creators of the Philadelphia style soul music within the 1970s.

Thom was trained as a musician, once he was classically trained as a musician growing up, he moved to Philadelphia as a teenager. He was inspired to sing with artists such as, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Daryl Hall. It was in Philadelphia where Bell’s first big break would happen. His big break in soul music came from Cameo Records which was stationed in Philadelphia. He was then introduced to a local group called The Delfonics in 1967, and had then gone on to produce two singles for them on the label, Moonglow. His smooth and luscious style to soul music made for great display of his talents. He went on to use those production talents and be a part of large group hits for the Philly Groove Label. These hits included La-La (Means I Love You) and Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time), which were such a great hits that in 1970 they were nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1971, Thom had moved into another local group and began producing for them, they were known as The Stylistics, which were part of Avco Records. Bell then teamed up with the Philadelphia songwriter known as, Linda Creed. This partnership then included Russel Tompkins, JR and the lead singers of The Stylistics, by teaming up with them, Bell then went ahead and helped them generate three albums with such memorable tracks. This would set Thom Bell and Linda Creed up to be one of the era’s dominant soul songwriting teams. This team would produce such hits like “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart),” “You Are Everything,” “Betcha by Golly, Wow,” “Break Up to Make Up,” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New”.

By 1972, Bell had then decided to move over to Atlantic Records and begin production with the group The Spinners. The group had been with Motown Records for a while, but later moved over to Atlantic Records after receiving very little attention. This huge collaboration with Thom Bell would successfully last for seven years and within those years they would create 8 original albums, to which five of those albums were gold and included many top chart hits such as “Mighty Love,” and “Ghetto Child”.

When 1975 rolled around, Thomas Bell was awarded a Grammy for Best Producer of the Year. Subsequently, Bell had much success within the R & B realm and went ahead to work on and continue creating such commercial appeal all the while still creating hit singles.

Thomas Bell has always been such an inspiration to André and his musical endeavors. Growing up listening to hits such as “Betcha By Golly Wow” would only push young André to later produce the song himself. The song is nothing short of a hit as, to why this song brings back such fond memories to André from when he was young. This heartfelt single will leave you with an attitude so positive and loving, that you cant help but to just smile when you listen to it.