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Singing Jazz in Syracuse, A Quick Jam with Julie Howard

Jazz. It deserves a bigger presence in Central New York, for certain. But, it is here. Now, I’ve seen and heard a lot of jazz and jazz musicians. As a musician, myself, who grew up under the musical tutelage of my Jazz pop and his jazz buddies, they took special care in making sure that I knew what “doing jazz right” was, even though I am not a jazz player. I am a rocker … who has a strong jazz “wannabe” thing going on.

Julie Howard is the real deal. One of those singers who appears to be born with an incredibly unfair head-start as compared to the rest of us vocalists. She masterfully handles classics from the Real Book, American Songbook, and pop-era hits from artists, such as, such as Stevie Wonder. She teaches by day and sings at shows by night.

“All I do is sing,” she explains.

She afforded us a few minutes to chat a bit about jazz in Syracuse and her place in it.

Chuck Schiele: Hi, Julie. Thanks so much, for chatting with Sounds of Syracuse.

Julie Howard: Thanks, Chuck.

CS: How did you get started in music? How long have you been playing?

JH: My dad threw me up on stage when I was 12. He is a famous drummer from around Central New York. I have been performing for 30 years.

CS: What groups or projects are you currently involved with?

JH: I am performing in a big musical show called Magic Carpet Ride at the Carriage House theater in Auburn Saturday November 2nd and Sunday November 3rd.

CS: Please share a bit of history of your music career?

JH: I have been performing with the best musicians up and down the East Coast.

CS: What do you enjoy most about singing? Or … What does being a singer mean to you?

JH: I love making people happy with my voice – especially the elderly.

CS: What singers and musicians are you most influenced by?

JH: Ella Fitzgerald, my dad Dick Howard, and Ann Wilson of heart.

CS: What are your thoughts on Jazz music, today – in general as an art form. What do you have to say about the Jazz presence in CNY?

JH: I feel that it’s magic when you have just the right players playing together, like we do at Funk and Waffles. We need more places to play jazz in CNY.

CS: You teach singing. What are your tips for aspiring singers?

JH: I tell all the singers that are out there now to sing with as many musicians as you can. Try to sing all styles of music.

CS: Tell us a bit about your career highlights, please.

JH: Playing with Hammond B3 master Tony Monaco, Jeff Martin, and Joe Cortini Last Summer.

CS: What’s coming up? What’s in your near future, musically?

JH: Jazz Fest in Syracuse – when they start up again!!

CS: How do fans stay in touch with you and your music?

JH: Facebook.com/julie.howard and the newspaper.

CS: Thanks you for doing the interview, Julie.

JH: Thanks.

Dave Frisina’s Soundcheck Celebrates 40 years of Local Music!

Thanks to the top King-Ambassador of Syracuse’s treasure chest of locally grown music, Dave Frisina, Soundcheck will celebrate it’s 40th Anniversary with a ‘live’ stream of musical acts from 443 Social Club and Lounge on December 1st from 7-10pm. The show proudly features Todd Hobin, Isreal Hagan, Mike Powell, Bob Halligan Jr., Joe Whiting, All Poets & Heroes, Simplelife duo, Gary Frenay & Arty Lenin, Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman, the CNY Songbirds, Los Blancos and Mark Doyle & the Maniacs. This bill includes eleven SAMMY Hall of Famers! Tickets will be limited, and will go on sale around November 1. Proceeds of the show will go to the Food Bank of CNY. For more details and updates, please visit www.therebelrocks.com. Streaming is available through the website, mobile app: The Rebel Rocks, and smart speaker systems (Amazon Echo/Google Home).

REVUE REVIEW

The Charisma of Three Killers

Okay, Syracuse. As promised, I told you we’d start exposing and encouraging the great songwriters, musicians and the music of the CNY area by producing and throwing compelling live shows that feature these great musicians. And further, I’ll be talking about it here in this column. This is our first take so pay attention people, and read well.

Last month, Revue Review featured the seismic talents of Bob Halligan, Jr., Colin Aberdeen and Christopher Ames all of who came out and riveted the full-house audience at the 443 Listening Lounge & Social Club. Not only stellar, mood-altering songs – they also shared the stories that led to these songs. As far as the depth of soulful, inspiring and thought-provoking musical experiences go – this basically left the audience drooling in amazement.

Colin Aberdeen can tell a story like no other and he does so with the gentleness of a parent telling a story to their kid sitting on their knee. His stories and his general person are gentle, but let me tell you his proficiency is not. When it comes to songwriting, guitar playing; and singing from a place of authenticity he is a cold killer. His songs —steeped in his very own style— draw you in the same way slumber draws you into a vivid and dreamlike slice of real life. From the first line I noticed everyone tune in like those times we were all watching Apollo missions on TV. This is the charisma of Colin Aberdeen.

Bob Halligan, Jr., is a man who is musically resident on at least thirty million copies, worldwide. You can have a ball when you look those stats up. Bob played piano and sang a variety of tunes representing some of the different genres he works in supported by stories that give a personal context that I think we all found unique. But, also, by lending an insight to the actual mechanics of songwriting itself in a few cases. With stunning songs supported in beautiful piano playing and honest, heartfelt singing, Halligan took us on a journey, evoking a sense of real places and times. It’s one thing to play a song, it’s another thing to play a song that reaches people. And, yet again, it’s another thing to play a song that transports people. And this is the charisma of Bob Halligan, Jr.

Christopher Ames had us in stitches and wowed the audience from the moment he opened his mouth. An incredibly accomplished triple threat musician, Ames had us “glued-to-the-set” of his music the whole way through. He could be described as a magnetic force. Charming. Funny. An artist with the ability to make you fall in love —or cry— by the time you make it to verse two. Again, it’s one thing to write a song. But, it’s a whole other thing when somebody can flip through your emotions with a few songs in the exact same manner some folks flip through channels on their remote. It would be fair to say his edge was a bit more on the modern side as compared to a roots-influenced Aberdeen and a classics-esque Halligan. All of which made for an incredible chemistry between these gentlemen– and for that matter, the audience.

I was personally very happy that everyone who attended expressed robust appreciation to the artists. Indeed a success as even other online publications have jumped in reviewing he show even before we got to this column, here. And that’s how one knows when a good thing is a good thing. So, I’m proud, honored and delighted that it was this much of a success.

The next installment takes place on December 4, 7-10pm at 443 Social Club & Lounge to feature a roots-centric circle of songwriters. The circle-in-the-round will showcase the great John Cadley who posses not only song-credibility up the whazoo, but a staggering catalog of great songs; Mikal Serafim who has essentially established himself as the new musician in town with a bullet next to his name … every guitar player in the city is looking at this guy and flicking their bics at him. Also on the bill: Meet my good friend Anna Troy (pronounced “Ahh-nah”). I knew her in San Diego as a hard-working, hot blues player with a new edge to it. She was signed to Elektra Records at the age of 15. Since then, she’s been headfirst into exploring blues and roots music. Another triple-threat, she can play guitar with the big boys, writes like a woman who’s lived a life twice her age and when she sings it makes you realize what the true potential of beauty can be. Get there early as the last show was packed. See you December 4th.

Jamie Wallace