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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jazz in The Georgian, January 25 and 26: Jazz Guitarists Ron Peters and Paul Sawyer

On January 25 and 26 at Jazz in The Georgian we featured two outstanding jazz guitarists: Ron Peters and Paul Sawyer.  Here are a couple videos from both nights.

Stomping at the Savoy featuring Ron Peters

Black Orpheus featuring Paul Sawyer

Please visit our YouTube channel to see and hear more highlights of Jazz in The Georgian, and Smooth Groove Productions special events.

Jazz in The Georgian every Friday night Saturday nights, 6pm-10pm at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University Street, Seattle, WA 98101, 206-621-7889.

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Elevate your special event with live music.  We don't miss a beat!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Smooth Groove Productions Special Event: Weddings in Woodinville

Weddings In Woodinville

On Sunday, January 27,  we participated in a unique wedding show called Weddings in Woodinville.  It was our first time doing this show that debuted four years ago.  The show takes place at seven wineries in Woodinville, WA.  Each winery is assigned an event planner who is in charge of organizing and putting together vendors from each discipline that serves a function in a wedding.  The vendors were all seasoned wedding professionals ranging from caterers, photographers, live entertainers, DJs, limo services, wedding planners, decor, cakes/desserts, floral, and more.  

woodhouse wine estates

We were at The Woodhouse Wine Estates with Chesney Schmidt who was the planner for this small yet elegant venue with grande chandeliers suspended from the ceilings.  The show started at 11am and ended at 5pm.  The plan was to have brides, grooms, their family, and friends take a tour of the participating wineries while procuring the services of the vendors necessary for their wedding.  Butler Seattle provided chauffeur-driven luxury transportation escort between each venue.  This event was a great way to showcase the many different types of wedding vendors as well as expose people to each unique winery of the tour.  It was a great day to gather information for future weddings and to taste stellar wines along each stop.  A brilliant combination!

I brought my jazz trio to showcase ourselves and to provide the live entertainment for our venue at The Woodhouse Wine Estate Winery.  I had a couple great veteran pros on hand: tenor saxophonist and flutist Tony Rondolone and jazz guitarist Ron Peters.  These guys are seasoned players that come to the table with decades of musical experience and knowledge.  It's a great pleasure to perform with musicians that know very many songs in the Great American Songbook.  We just called tunes and played absent any written music charts.

Here is a video from the show of my jazz trio.  This is a tuned called Out of Nowhere done as a Latin/Brazilian rhythm called a bossa nova.  Interesting trivia: I just learned (from a buddy--so don't pin me to this) that the original Star Trek theme was derived from this old standard.  Gene Roddenberry asked Alexander Courage to compose the theme around the melody of Out of Nowhere.  Listen for the similarities.  Check it out: "Space the final frontier...where no man has gone before"....."Out of Nowhere".....get it?!

Out of Nowhere.....where no man has gone before.....

Tony Rondolone on flute playing Swinging Shepard Blues

It was a great day at Weddings in Woodinville.  We were happy and grateful that Smooth Groove Productions got to be a part of this fantastic show.  We are proud to be associated with many of the best professionals in this business.  It was fun to see familiar colleagues and industry peers.  We met many nice people who will be hitched together sometime in the near future.  We hope we get the privilege of being a part of these folk's very special day.  We would love to be the live music soundtrack for their wedding.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jazz in The Georgian, January 18, 2013

Guitarist Frank Seeberger was in the house this past Friday at Jazz in The Georgian.  We played lots of tunes and had a great time.  Here are a couple cuts from the gig.  This first one is great tune by Bronislau Kaper called Invitation.


Here is a song by the great legendary jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery called Four On Six.
Four On Six

Please visit our YouTube channel to see and hear more highlights of Jazz in The Georgian, and Smooth Groove Productions special events.

Jazz in The Georgian every Friday and Saturday nights, 6pm-10pm at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University Street, Seattle, WA 98101, 206-621-7889.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Elevate your special event with live music.  We don't miss a beat!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Smooth Groove Productions Special Event - Fairmont Hotel Staff Party

 On Sunday, January 13, my jazz trio played for The Fairmont Olympic Hotel's annual staff party.  It is a gala event in which about four hundred of the hotel's employees and their spouses celebrate the end of 2012 and a fresh start for 2013.  The night started out in the Spanish Ballroom Foyer where hors d'oeuvres and cocktails got everyone in the right attitude.  My jazz trio with pianist John Hansen and tenor saxophonist Brian Kent set the sonic ambient tone with some stellar live jazz music.

At the end of the cocktail hour, all the guests sauntered into the elegant and posh Spanish Ballroom for a marvelous three-course meal by Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson.  The theme for this year's party was the roaring 1920's.  General Manager Dennis Clark looked uncannily like Robert De Niro's character of Al Capone in the Untouchables.  The hotel staff party is an opportunity for recognition and to award employees and managers whom have been exemplary in the roles of their jobs.  It is also an opportunity to celebrate a great past year as lots of accolades abound for the tremendous staff at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel.

Costume party, break dancers, dancer execs, casino games, DJ, and dancing.  It was a great event that we were happy to have been a part of!

For your next special event, elevate it with live music.  We don't miss a beat!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jazz in The Georgian, Friday, January 11, 2013

This past Friday at Jazz in The Georgian I had the fortune of reconnecting and playing with Hammond B-3 player extraordinaire Joe Doria.  I last played with Joe about 15 years ago on some blues gigs back then.  We haven't crossed paths since and I have been thinking about how cool it would be to invite him into The Georgian to play.  There are so many musicians in Seattle and circles of players that you may never come in contact with.  One of the great things of being a bandleader and having this amazing gig is that I can bring players in that I would not ordinarily play with.  I don't receive a lot of calls to play with many guys.  There are a few reasons I believe for that: for one I am a bandleader mainly so other bandleaders won't think of me as a sideman for their gigs.  I play here at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel every Friday and Saturday nights and have been here going on seven years.  I am simply not available on those gig heavy weekend nights.  Also, there is a plethora of great bassists in Seattle.  There are literally dozens of highly qualified stellar professional acoustic jazz bassists here.  The rule of thumb is that in most places good bassists are few and highly in demand.  It seems like many good bassists have all decided to congregate and settle in Seattle.  There are many bass players to call upon and leaders all have their favorites.  So with that in mind I need to bring the players to me that I wish to play with.  Otherwise, I would be sitting indefinitely by the phone or computer waiting for a call/email that won't come.

This brought me to look up Joe whom I vividly remember as a smoking B-3 player.  He is very well known in town and I've heard about the many projects he does and the fine musicians he plays with.  I told myself that I need to hook up with this cat.  I contacted him after the New Year and our first gig together in about fifteen years happened last Friday.  Joe knew who I was but he didn't actually remember the instrument that I play.  Up to the very point when he walked into The Georgian, he thought I was a sax player.  When he saw the bass standing against the corner I think it was a confusing moment for him.  A perplexed look came across his brow and then he suddenly burst into laughter confessing the thought that he was totally prepared to kick bass with his left hand since in his mind I was a sax player.  That was some funny shit.  After helping him load-in his stuff going through the load-in from hell that is the infamous load-in procedure at the hotel that many who have played events at the hotel would attest (it's not really that bad), we got down to business playing tunes.

From the first song All of You and onward, it was groove central from that point on.  I felt at "home" immediately.  Home to me is in the pocket.  Pocket is the sanctity of the groove that is time and feel squared.  The swing is tangible and something you can hold onto.  The Groove: when it swings hard and deep it just confirms why I do this occupation as a professional bassist/musician -- my calling in this lifetime.  I am in the constant pursuit of that feeling.  Groove is everything.  It is the essence.  I believe that it goes beyond music.  I want to groove in every aspect of my life.  Joe is all about the Groove.

Here are a couple takes from the gig.  This is a tune by Dr. Lonnie Smith called Jungle Soul.  Joe is actually kicking bass mostly, and I am playing bass drum and snare on my upright.  This was fun stuff.

This song is called C.C. Rider

It was a real treat to play with Joe after all these years.  One thing for sure is that it won't be another 15 years till the next time we play.  I foresee lots more playing in the near future with Joe Doria.

Joe Doria's website

Please visit our YouTube channel to see and hear more highlights of Jazz in The Georgian and Smooth Groove Productions special events.

Jazz in The Georgian every Friday and Saturday nights, 6pm-10pm at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University Street, Seattle, WA 98101, 206-621-7889.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

The Year in Review

2012 is history.  Another fast flying year gone.  2013 has arrived and is a week old as of this post.  2012 was an outstanding year for us in terms of gigging, special events, and resetting business methods and goals.  For a year that was steeped in anticipation for its hype of end-of-world implications, it was a relatively tepid year compared to 2011, which was a volatile year of mega-earthquakes, ongoing and non-ceasing Japanese nuclear meltdown disaster, Wall Street occupations, and world wide uprisings for better human, economic, and political conditions.  2012 didn't deliver the bang that was anticipated for years.  The Mayan Calendar end of world December 21 came and went and we are plugging away yet again to another year in the making.

2012 was a turning point for our business.  I started Smooth Groove Productions in 1999 and have had much successes as well as much challenges.  During that time we went through the dot-com crash at the end of 2000 and a recession that resulted.  9-11 happened as well and further deepened the woes for the special events industry as well as most industries.  The economy came back around the mid-2000's only to be hit with another recession beginning in 2007, and culminating in the fall of 2008 with the economic crash.  That crash is still reverberating around the nation as well as the world.  Unfortunately, this business that I am in is not recession-proof.  The special events industry is especially vulnerable to economic decline.  People are not as apt to using live entertainment and music for their events when the economy goes south.  In a party you need food and a place to celebrate, but the live music/entertainment is one of the first things that gets dialed back or totally lopped off from an event budget. I spent much of my time during the recession years doing what I could to produce revenue and garner business.  I understand what it means to work twice as hard just to get to "par".  It's a tough battle.  It isn't just the economy that has been challenging but the nature of business itself has been shifting and morphing.  Business marketing has changed quite drastically since I started in 1999.

With the advent of social online networking such as Facebook and Twitter, the marketing landscape has transformed profoundly.  When I began as a small business owner, e-commerce was not established yet.  It was brand new and there was no precedent for it to determine what would happen.  Back in 1999 print marketing material was the norm.  I had great brochures, sharp looking marketing folders with inserts printed on thick quality paper, and the essential fax machine.  I used to regularly mail  heavy info laden promo packs to prospective clients.  Now, other than printed business cards, all of my marketing and promo material is online.  I still have an old fax machine, but rarely does it get used.  Still, I have been behind the curve these last few years in making the transition from the old ways of printed marketing to fully leveraging the world wide web.  I remember when I finally got a MySpace account it was on its way out.  All of a sudden Facebook and Twitter are the things to be in.  I personally don't gravitate towards these social online networks.  I don't really engage in Facebook like many people do.  I am quite ambivalent towards it and I seldom log onto my personal Facebook page.  However, I do understand that having a Facebook and Twitter presence is important for business.  Practically every business has the icons of these two social media behemoths on their products, signs, and websites.  2012 marked the year that I needed to catch up and become modernized in the current business playing field.

One of my biggest goals and intentions at the beginning of 2012 was to figure out what to do in regards to Facebook, Twitter, and any other relevant online tools to grow business.  I saw a speaker back in February at NACE my catering association.  He spoke of the role of social networks and how important their role is.  He also mentioned that maintaining a blog for your business was of utmost importance.  See what I'm doing now?!  This lead me to contact him and see if I could get on the right track.  Being a small sole proprietor, I wasn't a qualified client for this person and his company.  They deal with big companies.  But, he referred me to an individual that could help me.  His name is Ben Rapson and he is a University of Washington grad who works with film and social media.  He is very savvy and on the cutting edge on how to leverage social media and online marketing.  I ended up hiring him to create and set up the Smooth Groove Productions Facebook page and YouTube channel.  For a four-month period beginning in May, Ben managed my social media and acted as my voice on Facebook.  He did a great job for me.  At the end of our stint he moved on and got married and continues to do his numerous projects in film and marketing.  I was fortunate to meet another individual who is just as knowledgeable with social media and could continue where Ben left off.

 Carey Fuller is a contributor on Huffington Post and is a tireless crusader in advancing the causes for the less fortunate.  She is also doing some PR work for a start-up record company that I have been a part of since March, which is how I met her.  Carey is one of the most remarkable and interesting people that I have met.  She has been managing on a weekly basis our Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other pertinent sites.  She has been acting as my voice by scheduling tweets, Facebook posts, and  maintaining my business presence online.  I'm very fortunate to have met her and have her do what she does for the business.

So, I basically reset my business in 2012 and made a point to update the website and have a stronger business presence online.  I feel pretty good about where things are at.  It took some years to get here.  I wasn't sure exactly what to do and how to go about utilizing social media. And, this is an area that is always evolving and morphing into the next thing.  Who knows?  Maybe Facebook will end up like MySpace and lose relevancy, and we'll be having to latch onto the next big deal.  But, at this time, I feel as if I have caught up to what needs to be done in terms of having my business postured to leverage the social media tools.  We're on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest (I still am not sure how this one works), and now maintain a blog.  Our YouTube channel has been a terrific thing.  I bought a pocket camcorder in May and have been recording almost all my gigs at The Georgian.  I have over 100 videos posted on YouTube.  It's been a great tool for being able to give prospective clients a very accessible and easy way to see what we do.  The confirmation that we're doing something right came back in September when I got a call from CKC Structural Engineers to provide entertainment for their company's 25th Anniversary at Escala Towers in October. The owner Cary Kopczynski told me that they had vetted out many bands and had settled upon us as their choice based upon our YouTube videos.  I couldn't have been more thrilled!  That was a tangible ROI!

So here we are at the start of 2013.  My hope is to continue to make progress in growing this business.  I look forward to meeting new folks, clients, and playing with all of the great musicians in The Georgian, events, weddings, and special occasions.

In Gratitude

I must acknowledge where I am at and the fact of the matter is that I could not be where I am at without the ongoing support of key people in my life.  This year will mark the seventh year of performing in The Georgian at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  When this gig started in mid-2005, it was an experiment to try to bring back some live music into the Olympic Hotel after it had transitioned from the Four Seasons to The Fairmont Hotel.  Back in the Four Season Olympic Hotel days, The Garden was the nightclub of the hotel for many many years.  I played there at the tail end of the Four Seasons before it became The Fairmont.  The Garden ceased operating as a restaurant/nightclub and became a private banquet room for special events.  With this room dark there was no live music ensembles in The Olympic Hotel.  In 2005 the General Manager Dennis Clark and his executive staff tried to find a way to bring back some live music.  I was called in to attempt to see what we could do.  The first night we brought my jazz quartet.  It was a bit too much in terms of volume and intensity for what the role of live music should be in The Georgian, which is for ambiance.   The Georgian is as elegant a room that one will find in the Pacific Northwest fine dining experience.  The gig became a jazz duo with myself and guitarist Dan Sales.  I eventually replaced Dan and opened up the seat three years ago in order to feature a different stellar jazz musician every night.

I have to say thank you to Mr. Dennis Clark for having me there all these years.  I always wanted a house gig where I could play jazz twice a week, learn tunes, and play consistently.  I am thankful that Mr. Clark and the management has allowed me to grow in this gig.  It took me about a year and a half to realize that this music experiment was the dream gig I always wanted.  It was an experiment that kept on going for almost seven years.  I am just very thankful to have the opportunity to be at one of the best gigs in town.

Thank you, Mr. Clark!

In appreciation to the fantastic people at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel: Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson, all of the great and professional managers, staff, and servers of The Georgian, Food and Beverage Director Yvon Lambert, Director of Operations Guy Bittner, Patti at accounts payables, the concierge personnel, everyone in catering and sales, past executives, and everybody whom I have interacted at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  There are no better group of folks.

2012 Holiday - December in Review

The 2012 Holiday Season was a very busy time for events and celebrations.  Here is a review of some of the notable events we were a part of during that time.

BizXchange Holiday Showcase

BizXchange had their annual Holiday Showcase and Party at the Pacific Market Center. BizXchange is a business to business barter network.  We've been involved with them since 2004.  The Holiday Showcase is an opportunity for the participating businesses to show off their products and services to other members of the network. It is also a celebratory and festive atmosphere to get into the holiday spirit.  Here is my jazz trio that performed for this event.  This is a holiday song classic Winter Wonderland.  Ti's the season!

Beacon Plumbing Holiday Cruise Party

I got a call from Bill Cahill the owner of Beacon Plumbing on a Friday evening just before I was to head out to my Jazz in The Georgian gig.  He asked me if I was available to play on a party of his on a cruise ship out of Lake Union for Sunday, just a couple nights away.  Talk about last minute!  Well, we happened to be available fortunately.  I thought it was going to be on one of the cruise lines like Waterways or Argosy.  But, it turned out to be Bill's yacht.  It was a holiday party, but there was a deeper purpose.  The guests for this cruise party were the children and family of slain local police officers.  As somber as that sounds, it was definitely not the case.  It was a very joyful and festive occasion.  Bill brought my jazz trio, a wonderful Santa, and terrific catered food by O'Asian Kitchen.  The yacht went out and joined the procession of ships that were a part of the Argosy Christmas Ship Festival.  That was a really neat experience to be in the procession especially when the lead boat the Royal Argosy got close to shore and broadcast a live choir concert.  

Our role was to provide live jazz entertainment. Bill is a trumpet player and big jazz fan.  My jazz quintet actually played for one of his holiday parties years ago.  Bill remembered us and I was thrilled to get the call from him.  Santa was along for the whole ride and made sure that everyone sat on his lap and got a picture taken .  He was a great Santa!  Here's Santa with my jazz trio: pianist John Hansen, tenor saxophonist Brian Kent, and myself.

You really can't say enough about the immense heart of Bill Cahill.  He put out all the stops and went all out in providing his yacht, food, entertainment, and the good will towards the children and families who have gone through unimaginable trauma of losing a parent while serving in the line of duty.  Bill Cahill is a big supporter of the law enforcement community and he expressed that support in a most gracious and selfless way. He really exemplified the true spirit of the holidays.  Thank you, Bill!

New Year's Eve 2012 in The Georgian

We closed out the year in a big way at The Georgian inside The Fairmont Olympic Hotel on December 31.  Overall, it has been a very great year of playing at The Georgian.  The hotel had one of its best years ever in terms of business.  I have had the privilege of being able to play at the finest dining room in Seattle.  I'm not just saying that.  The Georgian room is something to be experienced and is a unique room in the Pacific Northwest as is the landmark Olympic Hotel.  Executive Chef Gavin creates incredible food that makes it a fantastic dining experience in this Triple A, Four-Diamond Restaurant.

Because of the popularity and demand from last year's New Year's Eve, there were two dinner seatings this year.  The first dinner was from 5pm-8pm.  My jazz trio consisting of Tony Rondolone on saxophone/flute, Ryan Burns on keys, and myself on bass played during this time.  The Gala Dinner followed at 9pm-1am.  After the first dinner was cleared we brought in vocalist Kelly Eisenhour and drummer Brian Kirk to join the rest of the band for the main act and the big countdown to 2013.  We had the same personnel from last year. This band is a terrific veteran group of professional musicians that have about 150 years of experience between everyone. 

Everything went well this night.  There were no glitches on any part of the evening.  The Georgian staff flawlessly executed their roles.  At one point Georgian Manager Andy Hata told us to take an early break because the guests were on the dance floor and needed to focus on eating so the servers could bring out the courses in time.  I think that's about as good a compliment a band can get when told to stop playing because the folks are dancing too much.  People partied, danced, and had a great send off of 2012 into 2013.  

Here are a couple clips from the evening.

Stella By Starlight


All in all this was a great way to end an outstanding year.  We are looking forward to many events and good times to be a part of.  

Happy New Year to all!

Please visit our YouTube channel to see and hear more highlights of Jazz in The Georgian and Smooth Groove Productions special events.

Jazz in The Georgian every Friday and Saturday nights, 6pm-10pm at The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, 411 University Street, Seattle, WA 98101, 206-621-7889.