Carmela Rappazzo grew up in upstate New York learning the Great American Songbooks at an early age, as her father was a big band swing coronet player and the large Sicilian family gatherings always included live music. She got involved in musical theater in high school but was enthralled by jazz. She moved to Boston in her late teens hanging out in Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop listening to the greats play live and sitting in as a singer with friends who were attending Berkley.
Arriving back in New York City she attended 'Theatrium' (a Strasberg Institute training) and became involved in off-off broadway theater and appeared in a few independent films, later training with Eric Morris. Carmela moved to Los Angeles in '92, working in the L. A. Theater scene and on several feature films with such notable film directors as Rob Reiner, Wolfgang Petersen, Jonathan Lynn and Ken Kwapis. She continued her vocal training with Dan Balestrero. She began to perform in the L. A. Jazz scene with the Jon Mayer trio and recorded her first record 'Black and White' , a straight ahead standards
record with them.
After appearing in many of the local clubs she began to branch out and work with established musicians recording her second cd with Paul Smith, Jim DeJulio and Joe LaBarbera. This cd 'Regarding Frank' was a tribute record to Sinatra and his 50's Capitol years. Shortly after this she formed her own trio which featured guitarist/ song writer Hirth Martinez. Out of this trio 'The Girl Who Dreams Out Loud' was conceived. This cd was a departure from covering familiar jazz standards, into a new exploration of original materials by such notables as Hirth Martinez, Donald Fagen, Mike Melvoin and Carmela.
Her latest cd, "Joseph City", combines straight ahead covers, with some very unique standard arrangements and some originals by Carmela. For this project Carmela worked with Pete Snell, Armando Compean and Lee Spath, and featured on this cd is tango master Coco Trivisonno on bandoneon, cellist Chase Morrison and horn players Steve Marsh and John Fumo, with Stu Elster on Hammond B3 and Scott Breadman on percussion.
Carmela now resides in New Mexico and continues to perform and write
her own music.
Joseph City, Carmela Rappazzo's fourth CD is a series of her most expansive collaborations to date. The New Mexico landscape was the environment that Rappazzo recorded these familiar Jazz standards with their unique arrangements. New Mexico, where Rappazzo now resides has proven to be highly inspirational for her. The fertile earth serves as a metaphor for her compositions and fresh sounding ideas. On 'Joseph City,' Rappazzo once again enlisted a core of A list musicians that play versatile and from the heart.
4 New 'ON' this week: 35 Total
SYND: Music Of Your Life, KHZtv Markets include: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Houston, Taos, INTER includes: Canada, France, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand Direct: AllTVMusic
Joseph City, Carmela Rappazzo's fourth CD is a series of her most expansive collaborations to date. Familiar Jazz standards with Rappazzo's unique arrangements
The New Mexico landscape where Carmela Rappazzo now resides has proven to be highly inspirational for her. The fertile earth serves as a metaphor for Rappazzo's compositions and fresh sounding ideas. On 'Joseph City,' Rappazzo once again enlisted a core of A list musicians that play versatile and from the heart. Led by the highly creative guitarist Pete Snell, along with bassist Armando Compean and drummer Lee Spath, together with Rappazzo, they bring her ideas to life. The title song, a collaboration with Rappazzo's husband Mark Carroll was written on the stretch of highway between Santa Fe New Mexico and Los Angeles, and references the places, sights and towns that one drives through on that trip. Interestingly, the town of Joseph City is quite a contrast to the landscape, as it's home to the Cholla Lake power plant, which is currently underway with a $430 million upgrade. Juxtapose this image with the stretch of road where life size dinosaur figures pop out of nowhere, so that you almost crash the car. Rappazzo represents this dichotomy, with trumpeter John Fumo's haunting muted sound.
Rappazzo returns to some of her favorite standards on Joseph City. One of her most often requested songs during live performances is Bye Bye Blackbird. It has always been one of Rappazzo's favorite tunes, and the band nailed it live on the first take. Let's Fall In Love , and All The Things You Are made the CD because Rappazzo loves Charlie Parker, and she is always reminded of Bird, with both tunes. So it was the suggestion of drummer Armando Compean to do "All The Things" as a ballad, and the result has been life changing for Rappazzo as the slow the tempo, opens up a whole new meaning to the tune for her. It Might As Well Be Spring was done in 6/8 time. Don't try this at home, but Rappazzo remembers the experience as "not easy, but a hell of a lot of fun." Rappazzo recalled that Old Black Magic was a tune she had no intention of recording. While in a junk store in LA, she came upon the Billy Daniels version on 78. Well that was that, and that round vinyl is now, one of the only records Rappazzo still owns. She usually performs the song often with just drums and percussion, and it usually brings the house down. Scott Breadman (The Rippington's ) created some phenomenal percussion parts on this track.
Michael Triandafils contributed Lit Up From Behind which features the beautiful Cello of Chase Morrison (Joni Mitchell, Ron Carter). This was recorded at Larry Mitchel's studio in Cerillos New Mexico, where the amazing views are only matched by the gorgeous sound Larry gets in the room. The lyric for Rappazzo's composition: Miss You So happened as a 'pull over to the side of the road i have to get this down' moment. She had always wanted to work with the renowned Bandoneon player: Coco Trivisonno, and this was the perfect time, and the two really connected. Rappazzo recalls Coco's son Fernando telling her that he weeps when he hears his father play, and Trivisonno playing on this track is a testament to that. Ask Coral is about one of Rappazzo's neighbors. Coral is the neighbor, and is the source of much info in their little valley hideaway in New Mexico. "Coral is like the cactus and the cotton woods" says Rappazzo, and on the tune, Producer Pete Snell brought in Steve Marsh (Lyle Lovett) who really delivers that big horn sound that they were looking for. Pandora is, you know, the chick with the box of sorrows, or more simply, about obsession. I guess you have to have been in one or two to get it and luckily for Rappazzo all the musicians who played on it got it. Again the amazing Chase Morrison added her sweet cello, and the dark feeling needed on this track.
The Girl Who Dreams Out Loud, represents a departure for Carmela Rappazzo, from the familiar jazz covers of her past, into a new exploration of original material by such notables as Hirth Martinez, Donald Fagen, Mike Melvoin, Michael Triandafils, Pete Snell, Mark Carroll and Rappzzo herself. These tunes cover a wide range of styles that will please the straight ahead Jazz listener, as well as Samba and Bossa Nova lovers alike.
When Carmela Rappazzo started working on this, her 3rd album, making another CD was the last thing on her mind. Both of her prior 2 recordings covered a collection of jazz standards, arranged in a 'straight ahead' style, and although Rappazzo loves this music and continues to cover the repertoire in live performance, trying to come up with new arrangements and new ways to sing these tunes was proving to be elusive. It seemed to her that no matter how unique the arrangements she wrote were, the definitive versions had already been recorded by the extraordinary jazz singers from the past.
With this mindset as a backdrop, Rappazzo got in touch with legendary guitarist Hirth Martinez. Hirth's tunes were a far cry from the material Rappazzo was familiar with. Hirth's singing style, which has often been compared to Bob Durough, with it's wide range and unique phrasing, interestingly attracted Rappazzo, and to the idea of working with him. After work began on several of Hirth's tunes, 'All Together Alone', 'These Days', 'Do Wrong Shoes', and 5/4 Samba', Rappazzo was still considering playing it safe, and putting in some standard covers to fill out the album. It was around that time that miracles started to happen. First, Hirth introduced the title song, 'The Girl Who Dreams Out Loud,' which he co-wrote with Donald Fagen. Rappazzo immediately fell in love with the tune and the two, bare bones recorded it one morning with Rappazzo singing live on a hand held Neumann, Hirth playing a gut string guitar, and the pair enlisted Grammy Winning engineer Dave Dale for some work on hand drum and shaker. The trio loved the intimate quality of working the tune that way, and although Rappazzo later added another hand drum with Lee Spath, the tune remained on the album, as it was originally laid down.
Then two more amazing things happened. First, monster pianist Ark Sano, so shy, so humble, played the obligato vibe parts with such great finesse on 5/4 samba, that his additions are what made the group decide to keep the tune in. Then 3 more killer tunes were added, 'I'm In Love Again', 'These Words', And 'Sweet Contentment.' These songs literally showed up on Rappazzo's door step, compliments of composer Michael Triandafils. Rappazzo had a really strong reaction. Michael is a sweet soul, and not only do the songs have a great feel, but also very deep lyrics. Triandafils then introduced Rappazzo to the Composer/ Producer Pete Snell, who ended up producing all of Michael's tunes for the album. Snell who toured with Lyle Lovett, and has played with so many greats throughout the years, is currently scoring Diane Keaton's new movie, Because I Said So. He brought in bassist Armando Compean, and drummer/percussionist Lee Spath for Michael's tracks, and these sessions went very smoothly. Rapazzo recalls how easy it was: "I had to pinch myself" she said. "We pretty much laid down the rhythm tracks in the morning and the vocal tracks in the afternoon. These guys were so easy to work with."
At that point it was fate, and the group agreed to finish the CD using all originals. So now there were 8 tunes, and Mike Melvoin who Rappazzo has known for a while, was now brought in to contribute 'It's Always You.' Rappazzo fell in love with the song one day as Melvoin sang the lyric. This is a beautiful but very hard song to sing and play, so at the recording, it was decided to keep it spare, and was played only one time through to allow for the beauty of the music and the sentiment of the lyric to come across. Melvoin is an amazing musician, and has played, written and arranged for everyone from Frank Sinatra to Tom Waits. To finish the album, Rappazzo made it a family affair. 'Here's Another Tune,' was a melody that was stuck in Rappazzo's head for a long time, and up against the deadline, she finally ended up writing the song in the middle of the night, and 'Vacation' which is based on a true story, was co-written by Rappazzo and her husband Mark Carroll.
Carmela Rappazzo Brief Bio:
Born into a musical family, Carmela Rappazzo's father and seven of his fifteen brothers and sisters were big band jazz musicians. With this backround, Carmela knew the great American songbooks by the age of 12, and it was that early in life that she developed a passion for the jazz standard . Her first solo record, "Black and White", pays homage to Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day, June Christie and Sarah Vaughan, and her second recording ,"Regarding Frank", contains some of Sinatra's well known covers and includes the renowned Paul Smith on piano, Jim DeJulio on bass and Joe LeBarbera on drums.