Sunday, September 28, 2014

CD Review – Storybook Love, by Laura McMillan

Laura McMillan's third solo piano music release features fourteen original compositions based on notions of blissful, fairy tale amour.

Once again, McMillan demonstrates her flair for penning dynamic, wide-ranging tunes that are balanced by tasteful restraint. And her keyboard skills are as graceful and virtuosic as ever.

The music itself is serene and tranquil and perfect for unwinding no matter your mood.

This CD will be right at home in the collections of piano music lovers.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CD Review – Voyage of the Troubadour, by Jack Gates

Guitarist Jack Gates' latest album is a pleasant, engaging exploration of Latin jazz, with generous helpings of classical, fusion, and new age thrown in for good measure.

Gates plays acoustic and electric guitars, with some tracks featuring his wife Sharyl Gates on English and Portuguese vocals, Dean Muench on bass, and Phil Thompson on drums.

With the exception of the vibrant cover of Antonio Carlos Jobim's “So Danco Samba,” Gates composed the music and Sharyl wrote the lyrics, both of which are worthy of the Brazilian bossa nova greats.

This CD deserves the attention of fans of guitar and Latin jazz.

--Raj Manoharan

Sunday, September 7, 2014

TV – Watch People Interviewed by Me on Me TV

Several people that I interviewed during my entertainment writing and celebrity interviewing heyday can be seen regularly on Me TV.
The 6 p.m. weeknight beat is patrolled by Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox as California Highway Patrol motorcycle cops Ponch and Jon on CHiPs.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Estrada and Wilcox in 1998 for the occasion of their CHiPs '99 TV reunion movie. Estrada kept calling me “pardner,” and Wilcox, a computer business mogul at the time, invited me to his ranch in California, an invitation I regrettably never had the opportunity to take him up on.
At 9 p.m. on Saturdays, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy explore space while trying to keep the intergalactic peace as Kirk and Spock on Star Trek.
I interviewed Nimoy in 1997 for his participation in a series of radio plays inspired by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre and spearheaded by John de Lancie (Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation).
I interviewed Shatner because he was hosting The Sci-Fi Channel's remastered reruns of the show in 1998. It was thrilling to hear Captain Kirk/T.J. Hooker himself tell me he needed my help in getting the word out about his activities at the time. When I told him he was really going where no man had gone before with his Name in Space project, in which you could have your and your lover's names orbit Earth alongside his name in a space capsule, he exclaimed, “Isn't that wild?!”
On Sundays at 6 p.m., you can see James MacArthur (Helen Hayes' son) as Detective Danny “Danno” Williams getting patched through to McGarrett (Jack Lord) on Hawaii Five-O.
I interviewed MacArthur in 1997 because The Family Channel was airing remastered versions of the show. When I interviewed MacArthur, he was in his home office in Palm Desert, California, looking at posters of his films, such as Swiss Family Robinson. MacArthur told me that in return for promoting the remastered shows, rather than money, he wanted The Family Channel to give him all the remastered episodes on videotape so he could show them to his children and grandchildren. This was just before the advent of DVDs. So MacArthur wasn't just one of the stars of the show, he was also a fan!
It was great to hear MacArthur not only reminisce about his career (including working with his mother Helen Hayes, who guest-starred as Danno's aunt in Hawaii Five-O), but also recollect the late, great Jack Lord. MacArthur himself passed away in 2010, just as he was finalizing plans to guest star in the new Hawaii Five-0 TV series. MacArthur was living in Florida at the time.
Watch people interviewed by me on Me TV.
--Raj Manoharan


Books, Movies, Pop Culture – Leonard Maltin's Final Movie Guide Marks the End of an Era

This great article features two mentions of the person I did my college internship with from 1993 to 1995. He's the one whose seminal movie guide inspired Leonard Maltin and his editor to create their own:

--Raj Manoharan

CD Review – The Undiscovered Horizon, by Harrison Edwards

The fourth release by composer and keyboardist Harrison Edwards isn't what one might typically think of as new age music, but new age has come to be synonymous with contemporary instrumental music, and Edwards' new CD is a lively and engaging entry in the genre(s).

Although Edwards is the only performer on the album, he has such command of synthesizer technology that he is able to simulate the sound of a full band plus an orchestra, complete with piano, guitars, bass, drums, percussion, and strings. The result is a disc that has the feel and chemistry of a host of players and instruments, all conceived in the mind of Edwards and brought to fruition through his electronic sleight of hand.

Edwards' compositions are dynamic in their diversity, running the gamut from pensive and moody to robust and bouncy. Edwards is certainly resourceful when it comes to musical creativity and expression.

If Edwards remains undiscovered in your catalog of sounds, it is time to change that and give him a few spins.

--Raj Manoharan