Archive for the ‘Bands’ category

Can Jazz Trios play ‘other’ styles of music?

April 26, 2012

Traditionally, Jazz Trios play…well, Jazz.  They might add some light pop, easy listening…but given the instrumentation of a typical Jazz Trio (be it Guitar, Upright Bass, Sax or Keyboards, Upright Bass, Female Vocal, to name a couple), the Trio will generally play the music appropriate for the instrumentation, the event, and the client’s requested ambiance (usually ‘background’ music).

However, that isn’t to say there aren’t exceptions…!!  :)

A perfect example is the Robin Kelly Jazz Trio (…yes, my Trio…).  With the instrumentation of Keyboards, Upright Bass, and Female Vocals, we were hired to play at a corporate awards dinner for the Council of Academic Programs last Thursday evening at the Newport Beach Marriott.   Don French (Keyboards), Dave Eastly (Upright Bass) and I were ready to play Jazz Favorites (i.e., It Had to Be You, My Funny Valentine, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Route 66…you get the idea).  The evening started off just as we expected – we played nice background music while guests mingled and socialized following their Awards Presentation.

About 45 minutes in to our 3-hour playing time, things started to evolve…people started to dance a little (though there was no dance floor), they started pulling chairs around and sitting in theater formation to ‘watch’ the Trio…and then the requests started coming in…

“Play some R&B!”

“Do you know any 80′s?”

“How about Nora Jones?”

“Can you do I Will Survive?”

Well, hmmm…let’s see…Disco…with Keyboards, Upright Bass…no drum machine…I didn’t even have a tambourine!

As always, it’s our aim to please, so with the good humor and terrific talents of Don and Dave we played the guest’s requests to the best of our ability.  Dave added his vocals and we sang back-up vocals for each other.  During a break, Don hooked up a vocal mic so he could add his vocal talents to the mix.  Then, to my great amazement and delight, during that same break Dave found a ‘Drum Machine’ app on his mobile phone.  He and Don hooked up his phone to Don’s keyboards to amplify the sound…and for our last set, we played to a mobile phone app Drum Machine!!  Now, this Drum Machine had only basic types of rhythms to choose from, at whatever tempo was set at the factory.  So, it was…find a rhythm/beat/tempo we liked, listen to it for a few seconds, think of what song might go well with it…then we were off and running!

Robin Kelly Jazz Trio

Robin Kelly Jazz Trio

The crowd loved it!  They continued to dance and sing along, and shout out more requests.  We had a ball!

Thanks again to the exceptional talents of Don & Dave, The Robin Kelly Jazz Trio was able to change hats and accommodate the requests of the guests.  Frances Laven, Executive Director of C.A.P., our Client representative, was very appreciative, and acknowledged that the crowd had taken us down a different road than originally intended.  I just smiled…and encouraged her to hire a full dance band next year!  :)

Featured Performer – Tom Liston, Steel Drums

March 22, 2012

Not only is Tom Liston an exceptionally talented musician, he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet!  Always with a smile on his lips and a kind, gentle greeting, it’s always a delight to have Tom at your event!.

Tom loves what he does…and it shows!

Tom plays a wide variety of instruments and plays a wide variety of musical styles.  We book him primarily as a Steel Drummer, but he also plays Trombone, Guitar, Banjo…too many to mention.  He plays in Steel Drum Ensembles, Dixieland Bands, Jazz Ensembles…again, the list is long!

Watch a few snippets of Tom playing LIVE!

Be sure to make a comment and let us know what you think!  :)

Deana Martin Sings with The Essence Band at Vince Ferragamo’s Daughter’s Wedding Reception

November 16, 2011

On Saturday, November 12, 2011, The Essence Variety Dance Band, 9-piece, performed at the Wedding Reception for the new Mr. &  Mrs. Venessa (Ferragamo) and Javier Gutierrez!  The event was held at the Grand Newport Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA, and catered by Turnip Rose Elite Catering.  Chrissy Sherbanee, Turnip Rose, along with Wedding Coordinators Jeanette and Tori, made sure everything ran smoothly!

Father of the Bride, Vince Ferragamo (yep – the LA Rams Quarterback Vince Ferragamo!), was a warm and gracious Host and exuded joy from every pore!  I (Robin) was particularly impressed with how contagious his warmth and joy were – he made an amazing effort to introduce himself to all members of the Band, check in with us and compliment us at every turn, and really made us feel welcome and appreciated.

Robin Kelly, Band Leader, with happy Host / Father of the Bride, Vince Ferragamo

Another big treat of the evening was when Ferragamo family friend, Deana Martin (daughter of famed Dean Martin), walked up to the stage to join me (Robin) singing, “That’s Amore!”  –  Deana strolled up and casually said with a big smile on her face, “You know, my Dad sang this song…” – we handed her a microphone, and history with The Essence Band was made!  (A big thrill for me, as you can well imagine!)

Robin Kelly & Deana Martin sing "That's Amore"

Robin Kelly & Deana Martin

"That's Amore" being sung by Robin Kelly & Deana Martin at Ferragamo/Gutierrez Wedding Reception, 11-12-11

Deana Martin sings one of her Dad's hits with The Essence Variety Dance Band


Visit Deana’s website for information on her Recordings, Concert Tours, etc.  Deana performs November 23rd, 2011, in Hollywood at The Catalina Jazz Club!  She also has a NEW Christmas Album available!  Visit Deana’s Store!

I can say with confidence that the entire Band had a great time at the Ferragamo/Gutierrez Wedding Reception, and we wish the Newlyweds, Venessa and Javier, all the BEST as they begin their new adventure together!

(All photos taken with my (Robin’s) little camera…if I can get some shots from the Wedding Photographer, I’ll post ‘em!)

(Thanks, Paul, for taking the shots of me with Deana!)

MPI-OC October Event Hosted by Fairmont Newport Beach

October 7, 2011

Wednesday, October 5th, found us at the Fairmont Newport Beach Hotel attending the Meeting Professionals International – Orange County Chapter (MPI-OC) October 2011 Event.  Wow – what fun!

Can you spot yourself in this video?!

(OOOPS!  I’m still learning…I made Titles too big, even though they looked OK while creating video – I’ll have to go back and create video again with corrections!  Hope you enjoy it anyway – check back to see the corrected one!!)

The Staff at Fairmont NB outdid themselves and hosted a terrific event…quote “…they’ve set the bar very high!”   A lively 1920′s theme was accentuated by the Dave Eastly Jazz Trio (Upright Bass, Guitar, Violin) which played for Cocktails out in the Foyer, then moved inside the Ballroom and played throughout Dinner.  To further enliven the theme, two “Flapper Girls” greeted the Guests during Cocktails.  (Both provided by Essence Entertainment.)

Dinner was highlighted with a quick little “raid” (provided by Fairmont NB Staff), followed by the Keynote Speaker, Patrick O’   Patrick shared his valuable knowledge of and experience with Social Media, and highlighted areas particularly appropriate for the Event Planning industry.  He is an expert particularly with Linkedin, and I learned quite a bit from his presentation.  Thanks, Patrick!


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