Coast To Coast


He’s recorded and performed with music legends such as Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Dion, Al Kooper and countless others and in 2018, sax player/flutist/composer Jerry Vivino steps out on an action-packed, mostly instrumental album of solid jazz that was recorded both in L.A. and N.Y. / N.J. entitled Coast To Coast. Information already known to fans of late night television, for the past two decades Jerry Vivino has performed alongside his talented brother, Jimmy Vivino in the Conan O'Brien TV show band, and he carries forth that same expertise on his 2018 Blujazz album release Coast To Coast. The ten track album features a mix of originals written by Jerry, along with covers of the jazz standard "Here's That Rainy Day" and a rousing “Honeysuckle Rose”, recorded here as a vocal. The album-closing “Miracles” was written by Jerry and his daughter Natalia Vivino. Speaking about his 2018 Blujazz CD, Jerry tells "I do feel that Coast To Coast is special. It defines who I am, where I’ve been and who I have made music with from coast to coast." Key to the album are the three tracks featuring now 91 year old jazz guitar master Bucky Pizzarelli, who first met Jerry when he was 10 years old thanks to Bucky's long time friendship with Jerry’s Dad, the late Jerry Vivino, Sr. Mostly recorded in 2017, Coast To Coast also adds in two newly unearthed tracks cut in October 2005 with the late great horn player Lew Soloff. With ten tracks that redefine the meaning of cool jazz in 2018, Coast To Coast features insightful liner notes by Jerry along with cool, vintage looking album art. / presents an interview with

mwe3: Did you set out to make a timeless kind of record, one you might think could have happened in the 1950s or ‘60s? From the CD cover art down the tracks, Coast To Coast has a real timeless effect.

Jerry Vivino: I did not plan on making a timeless kind of recording. However, after all was said and done it did become just that. The cover was created after the tracks were cut. So after listening back to both the 7 originals and 3 covers it was unanimous by all parties involved in the decision of a retro 1950’s / ‘60s album cover.

mwe3: Is the album kind of centered around a reunion recording with Bucky Pizzarelli? You’ve known him for ages, over half a century. Sounds like a premeditated act!

Jerry Vivino: As far as a reunion with Bucky Pizzarelli goes, I wouldn’t call it that. Bucky grew up in Paterson, New Jersey with my father, Jerry Vivino, Sr. I met Bucky through my pop when I was 10 years old. My father would take me to band shell concerts to hear Bucky. After hearing Bucky and his band mates perform I knew right there and then that I wanted to be a musician. Some 15 to 20 years later I found myself sharing the stage with Bucky and many other world class musicians of his generation. It was an education that could not be taught in music school. I shared the stage with Bucky on only a few occasions, but never recorded with him. That was something I thought would never happen until... I was on the phone with Bucky’s son bassist Martin when I asked how Bucky was doing. Martin replied he’s right here and he wants to say hello. Without wasting any time Bucky asked me when we were going to play together again. I said why don’t we cut a few tracks together. He quickly said, 'tell me where and when.' A few days later I found myself recording 3 tracks with Bucky. He wanted to record "Body And Soul" and "Honeysuckle Rose". The third track was an original composition that I appropriately named "Paterson". Having recorded 3 tracks and loving what we had, made my decision to continue the project a no brainer.

mwe3: You’ve been in L.A. with the Conan O'Brien show since 2009. How long have you and your brother been performing in the band on the Conan O'Brien O’Brien TV show? Does the show run new shows all year round and what’s Conan O'Brien like as a boss? We know he’s musical, and how’s your brother Jimmy these days? He must be under pressure to put on a show every night. So what’s that pressure like?

Jerry Vivino: My brother Jimmy and I have been on the Conan O'Brien show for 25 years now and counting. The show runs all year. Conan O'Brien is the greatest! He loves music, musicians and talent of any kind. Even though he is my boss I think of him more as a friend. He jams with the band almost every day during rehearsal. Even though he is an avid Red Sox fan I love him like a brother. My brother Jimmy is doing an outstanding job as musical director and band leader. No pressure cranking out shows for Jimmy and the Basic Cable Band. After 25 years we know what to do and what not to do.

mwe3: The Coast To Coast album is partly dedicated to tracks you made with Lew Soloff a while back. How did you meet Lew and what are some of your favorite Lew Soloff recordings? I was just remembering his work on the historic Blood Sweat & Tears album from 1969.

Jerry Vivino: My Coast To Coast CD/album features 16 different musicians from L.A. and N.Y. I met Lew Soloff on a jingle date in NYC circa 1985. In 1969 my father kind of introduced me to Lew. On his drive home from work he heard Lew’s signature trumpet solo from "Spinning Wheel". So my pop, being a trumpet player at heart took a detour to Sam Goody’s before coming home that night. We listened to the album together. While listening and reading the album credits my pop let it be known that the trumpet solo on “Spinning Wheel” was played by Lew Soloff. Besides Lew’s work with BS&T I also love Lew’s recordings on his own albums. So many to choose from. His Air On A G String and Sketches Of Spain are two of my favorites.

mwe3: I want to ask you about the track you made with Lew, “Category 5”. Does that track date all the way back to October, 2005? Wow, that was a crucial month indeed. Sounds like it is hurricane related. Are you into predicting paranormal phenomena because the worst hurricane ever to hit Florida was a week away.

Jerry Vivino: On October 17th 2005, Lew recorded 2 tracks with me. “Category 5” and “Lew’s Blues”. I pulled them from my archive recordings and had them remixed for Coast To Coast by Todd Winmill. Lew’s ferocious trumpet solo on “Category 5” was the reason I named the tune just that. The track builds and builds until Lew takes it to a climax of a 'Category 5' hurricane. It had nothing to do with the Florida hurricane that same year and month. Before his death on March 8th 2015, Lew and I played together in the horn section for The Fab Faux of which I continue performing with to date.

mwe3: Interesting your vocal on “Honeysuckle Rose” comes as a surprise. Tell us something about your interest in Fats Waller’s music. I’m amazed how influential this track still is. When did you first hear it? Are you underrated as a singer?

Jerry Vivino: “Honeysuckle Rose” was one of the tunes that Bucky wanted to track. It is one of his signature songs. I do quite a bit of singing on my live gigs. People like my voice and the tunes I sing are entertaining songs in the style of Louie Prima, Louie Jordan, Van Morrison and Fats Waller. I spent 7 years on the road with Keely Smith so the Prima vibe came from all the gigs I did with Keely. So back to “Honeysuckle Rose”... Bucky asked me to sing on that track. You ask if I am underrated as a singer? I think I am. That is until people hear me sing.

mwe3: The track “Miracles”, co-written by your daughter is excellent and has a kind of East Coast vibe to it. A real NYC way to close the album right? You said in your notes, it was a vocal track at first?

Jerry Vivino: “Miracles” was written by myself, pianist Ken Levinsky and my 20 year old daughter Natalia Vivino. It was recorded with a vocal by Natalia for a soon to be released album titled The Vivino Sisters D.N.A. I have 3 talented daughters Donna, Natalia and Antonia. D.N.A. Look for a October/November release. So I rearranged “Miracles” for Coast To Coast as a jazz waltz. Glad you like it!

mwe3: What can you tell us about the title track “Coast To Coast”? How did you write the track with Andy Langham? You wrote it in L.A. so do you think it has that West Coast cool sound? I can almost picture Wes Montgomery playing on it even though there are no guitars on it.

Jerry Vivino: The first track “Coast To Coast” was indeed written by me and pianist Andy Langham. Andy and I get together at times and we just start playing. We talk over the changes and construct a melody. Then we tweak the changes and melody until we are happy with what we have created. Or not? That’s how “Coast To Coast and “Spud Time” and “Paterson” came to be.

mwe3: How would you compare Coast To Coast with your 2014 album Back East? I saw you had Bob DeVos playing guitar on that album.

Jerry Vivino: I can’t compare Coast To Coast with Back East. Back East is a wonderful album that features Brian Charette on hammond organ, Andy Sanesi, drums and Bob DeVos on guitar. That album is an organ trio album with tenor sax and quite a bit of flute. Coast To Coast features a roster of 16 world class musicians from N.Y. and L.A.

I am happy with both albums. I do feel that Coast To Coast is special. It defines who I am, where I’ve been and who I have made music with from coast to coast. Since I named the musicians on Back East here are the cats on Coast To Coast. Drummers; Bernie Dresel, Shawn Pelton and Karl Latham. Pianists; Andy Langham, Ken Levinsky, Brian Charette and Mitch Forman. Bassists; John Leftwich, Kevin Axt, Kermit Driscol, Martin Pizzarelli and John Arbo. Guitarists; Bucky Pizzarelli and Mark Sganga. Trumpets; Ron Stout and Lew Soloff. Tenor sax, soprano sax , alto flute and vocals; yours truly.

mwe3: What are your favorite venues and clubs to play in both NYC and L.A.? Is the vibe different for musicians playing in each place and does L.A. have the same energy for you as NYC? Have you done any recent shows in Florida and other states?

Jerry Vivino: My favorite venues to play in NYC are Birdland (NYC) Maureen’s Cellar (Nyack, N.Y. ), Shanghai Jazz (Madison, N.J.) and the Dearhead Inn (Delaware Water Gap, PA.) In Los Angeles; The Baked Potato, Vibrato, Vitello’s Upstairs and The Light house.

New York is known for its energy and Los Angeles for its laid back cool vibe. All I can say is that I enjoy the musicians on both coasts with equal respect. I am blessed with the opportunity to make music and share stages with only world-class musicians. I have not done any shows in Florida.

mwe3: You have a very musical family. In addition to your career, tell us about your Dad who was also a musician and your daughter and the album of hers that you produced.

Jerry Vivino: My Dad played the trumpet and my mom the piano. My Dad was not a full time musician. He certainly could have taken that route. He made his living building homes. His passion was music. Growing up our house was filled with music and art.

My daughter Donna has had a wonderful career. At the age of 8 she was the original Young Cosette in Broadway's Les Mis. She has not stopped working! Movies, T.V. Broadway shows… Hair Spray, Fame Becomes Me and Elphaba in Wicked to name a few... Donna was recently nominated (2017) for an Ovation award for best actress in a musical for her role as Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along.

My other daughters Natalia (21) and Antonia (19) are following in their sister’s footsteps. At 19 years of age, Natalia was nominated (2015) for an Ovation Award for best actress in a musical best actress in a musical for her part as Yonna in Children of Eden. At 16 years, she was the winner of the Jimmy Award for best high school actress in the State of California. She is actively performing and writing music, as well. My youngest daughter, Antonia age 19 is a triple threat. Right out of high school she toured with a national Broadway Christmas show, Rudolph. She is currently working in Los Angeles as a voice over artist and performing at Disney Land. Donna’s solo album Beautiful Dreamer is available on Amazon and thru Sh-K-Boom Ghostlight records. One of my proudest productions to date. But you ain’t heard nothing yet! Coming soon, The Vivino Sisters D.N.A.

mwe3: I was also remembering that Uncle Floyd is your older brother. How’s Floyd doing these days? I think John Lennon used to watch the Uncle Floyd Show.

Jerry Vivino: My brother Floyd, everybody’s favorite Uncle is doing great! He writes a column for The Italian Tribune. Has a drive time radio show on WFDU-FM and continues to work his stand up act nationwide. He does appear now and then as Uncle Floyd entertaining, singing and playing old time chestnuts on the piano. John Lennon, David Bowie, Paul Simon, Soupy Sales and The Ramones were fans of his T.V. show The Uncle Floyd Show.

mwe3: What saxophones and flutes are your favorites to play? Did you study harmony and other in depth musical studies?

Jerry Vivino: I play Selmer and Yamaha saxophones. Muramatsu, Yamaha, Haynes and Artley flutes. Buffet and Selmer clarinets. I play Vandoren mouthpieces and Vandoren reeds. I studied music at Manhattan School of Music 1972-74

mwe3: Are you happy with the way the internet has taken over the music industry, including everything from selling music on Amazon and ebay all the way to the downloading phenomenon on you tube, spotify and soundcloud / bandcamp. Some people are saying it’s bad for recorded music yet others are saying they are reaching a lot more people. Seems like the changes are still being worked out.

Jerry Vivino: I can’t say I am happy or unhappy with the internet taking over the CD/record sales etc. I would like to think that the listener would like to hold product in their hands, read liner notes, find out who that drummer is and listen to music with friends or family. Streaming is the future. Everything is held in one’s hand today. People listen thru ear buds that plug into their phone. Pandora, Spotify everything is free. Yes, you could be reaching a lot more people. Time will tell…

mwe3: Being summer time now, are you taking some time off and have you slated any other time for writing, recording, producing and performing? Is the Conan O'Brien show running through the Summer 2018 months too? Any other plans for 2018 and even ’19?

Jerry Vivino: Conan O'Brien will run thru 2018. I’m not sure if we will be picked up in 2019. If not I will have more time for writing and performing with my jazz quartet/quintet.


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