Chapter 13 Madison Singers

Chapter 13

Madison Loves Its Singers


Jan Wheaton’s first album appearance was on an LP listed as “The Peter Lundberg Trio featuring Jan Wheaton,” Small World (Isn’t It?).  The band (with Wheaton) is pictured on the front cover – pianist Lundberg, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Jim Latimer, although Michael Weiss drums on part of the 1988 self-released album.  (Lundberg was a skilled pianist, but for years now has run Janus Galleries in Madison.)  The author was able to find a copy of this album recently in a Madison record store.  A more recent, and more mature album from Wheaton is her 2005 Expressions of Love, with pianist Matan Rubinstein (also self-released).


Since Gerri DiMaggio decided to spend more time on her music career she has released Comes Love in 2005, with pianist Paul Hastil, drummer John Becker, bassist John Mesoloras and trumpeter Dave Cooper; and, in 2011, It’s Coming on Christmas, with Hastil and bassist Nick Moran.


Albums that I have found by Lynette are:  Lynette:  1989, with Jeff Eckels, Dan Kleiman, Michael Weiss and Dane Richeson (percussion).  This album presents a mix of musical material.  Look for the Silver Lining:  2000, includes some heavy company including Howard Levy, Ben Sidran (who is also the associate producer), David Stoler, Dane Richeson, Jeff Eckels and David Cooper.  This album includes standards but mostly Jewish songs.  Love of Life:  2007, features pianists Paul Hastil, Jane Reynolds and David Stoler, and Eckels on bass.  It is largely standards.  And, of course, an important milestone in Lynette’s recording career is Ben Sidran’s Life’s a Lesson, described in the chapter and below.


When I asked Jackie Allen about her favorite or most meaningful albums that she has done, the first she mentioned was The Men in My Life (2003, A440).  Why?  “I think because that was maybe more of my own brainchild . . . Ralph Jungheim, who’d had a couple Grammies working with different people:  It was his concept . . . but I think I really like the way that was put together.  I enjoy that; it’s still a very popular album, even though it’s out of print.”  The concept is songs associated with (male) singers or songwriters who were strong musical influences for Jackie, from Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra to Paul Simon and Sting, and including Milwaukee’s Al Jarreau.  The next album she spoke about was “this one we’re doing now; [My Favorite Color, 2014, Avant Bass] is still quite new, but I think with [the] maturity that I have . . . you know, I’m still too close to it to say it’s the best, but it may well be.”  She spoke to the varied nature of the material on it.  “There’s this really straight-ahead beautiful aspect to [some songs] . . . and there’s this really demonic dark, rocked out stuff . . . “  Notable is the fact that for years, her band has included her husband Hans Sturm on bass, Appleton-based percussionist Dane Richeson and two Chicago-based musicians, guitarist John Moulder and pianist Ben Lewis.

Jackie also has some fondness for her one “major label” release, Tangled (2006), on Blue Note.  “That was kind of cool, that I even had that, and . . . it’s been a great calling card.”  It has the usual suspects, with pianists Lewis and Laurence Hobgood (best known as vocalist Kurt Elling’s pianist) splitting duties.  Also noteworthy are two quite different albums:  her duo album with Sturm, Landscapes – Bass Meets Voice (1999, Red Mark); and Starry Night (2009, Avant Bass), recorded live with the Muncie (IN) Symphony Orchestra, with arrangements by an outstanding group of veteran writers.


Kelly De Haven recorded a couple of CDs as leader.  You Are There. (1994) presents De Haven with a band of Vince Fuh, Jeff Eckels, Dane Richeson and Dave Cooper (with Paul Hastil in place of Fuh on some tracks), performing classic jazz tunes, standards (most in inventive arrangements) and originals by De Haven along with Cooper or Eckels.  Season’s Change (2003) is a similar mix of standards and originals by De Haven and David Cooper, performed by the very same players.  Kelly also appears on 1991’s There Is No Greater Love with her dad Doc and the Misbehaven Band – Fuh, Eckels, drummer Clyde Stubblefield, joined on some tracks by saxophonist Bill Grahn and guitarist Roger Brotherhood.  There are some strictly instrumental tracks on this album, but Kelly is prominently featured, often with just trio or quartet backing.  She sings one track on Doc’s 1996 Jazzscapes (see Chapter 14 discography).


Harmonious Wail.  Sims and Maggie Delaney-Pothoff had plenty of thoughts about their recorded output when I spoke with them in 2014.  The first record that Sims wanted to mention as important was the first that the band made, Vintage Jazz, released in 1988, then re-released on CD in 2007.  (All of the Wail albums are on their Bufflehead label except for Gypsy Swing.)  Produced by Richard Davis, this features the original band – Sims, Chris Wagoner, Jon Cooper and Laurie Lang – on classic jazz tunes.  Sims called Airborne (1993) “special”; Maggie called it “exquisite.”  There is a revolving cast of players on this one, but besides Sims and Maggie, the principal players are guitarist Doug Brown, violinist Doug Vriesacker and bassist Jeff Eckels.  Besides standards, there are originals as well.  In 1995 the band made Live at the Zelt Musik Festival in Germany, with Brown and bassist Henry Boehm.  “That was nice, for a live recording.”  Sims said, “Then was Nonchalant (2002),” which Maggie called “the jazzy one.”  And it is jazz tunes, with Boehm and guitarist Ed Fila.  Their one national release was Gypsy Swing, on Naxos (2003).  This album turns all manner of selections – from real gypsy tunes to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – into gypsy tunes.  (The other musicians were Tom Waselchuk, guitar; Boehm on bass; Randy Hoecherl, violin; Brian Erickson, accordion; and Todd Stewart, drums.)  Another favorite is The Vegan Zombie’s Lament (2010; originally on Range Records, now on Bufflehead).  “There’s some real sweet stuff on that record.”  The “favorite, favorite, favorite” was their then recent Bohemian Tango (2013), with Jeff Weiss and a number of guests.


Ben Sidran replied in 2011 to an email I sent asking him about his albums.  It is worth quoting in full.

My favorites tend to be the later ones and for obvious reasons:  Life’s a Lesson (1993), the Jewish music CD, was a labor of love and a very beautiful result.  The concert for Garcia Lorca (recorded 1998, released ’99) was a gift from the sound man in Granada, Spain — that is, I didn’t know it was being recorded and when he gave me the tape it was weeks before I even listened and then, it was a revelation.  I very much like Walk Pretty (the music of Alec Wilder, 2001) because it was a real challenge and so far out of my normal comfort zone.  On the other hand, Nick’s Bump (2003) is a favorite because it was so far in my comfort zone and the band was tight and loose at the same time.  And finally, the recent Dylan Different (2009) has a unique atmosphere and a vocal ease to it that must reflect the exotic circumstances of the recording sessions (in a small village in France).

(The first three of these are on Sidran’s Go Jazz label; Nick’s Bump and Dylan Different are on Nardis.)