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Randy Halberstadt and Susan Pascal - Hands Across the Border

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Hands across the Border

On May 24, 2008 Sylvan United Church in Mill Bay will feature Seattle's pianist Randy Halberstadt and Susan Pascal on vibraphone for the popular monthly Jazz Vespers program now in its third year. Performance time is 4:30 pm, admission by donation at the door, includes light refreshments following the program. Information 250.743-4301 or sylvanjazzvespers.com.

The same evening at 8 pm the duo will perform at Hermann's Jazz Club, 753 View Street, Victoria, BC, admission at the door $15. Call for reservations 250/388-9166.

To top off the weekend, Sunday May 25th Randy and Susan perform at Church of the Advent in Colwood for the monthly Jazz Vespers program beginning at 7 pm, 510 Mount View Avenue, Victoria. Admission is by donation. For more information call 479-3031. Biographies Randy Halberstadt has been a major figure on the Pacific Northwest jazz scene for many years. A multi-dimensional pianist, he is equally at home playing be-bop, Latin, down-home blues, straight-ahead swing, free and eclectic jazz. In addition to leading his own trio and producing his own recordings (Inner Voice, Clockwork, and Parallel Tracks), he has performed with Herb Ellis, Buddy de Franco, Nick Brignola, Terry Gibbs, Slide Hampton, Pete Christlieb, Bobby Shew, Joe LaBarbera, Lanny Morgan, John Stowell, David Friesen, Kim Richmond, Don Lanphere, Jiggs Whigham, Roswell Rudd, Jack Walrath, Gary Smulyan, Julian Priester, Mel Brown, and many others. Recently, Randy recorded with Bay area guitarist Mimi Fox and the world renowned Ray Drummond on bass. On the local Seattle scene, Randy performs with vibraphonist Susan Pascal, vocalists Gail Pettis, saxophonist Jack Klitzman and many others. He is the pianist for the esteemed Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and has performed repeatedly with the Seattle Symphony.

The accompanist

On the strength of his large repertoire, great sense of swing, and acute listening skills, Randy has established himself as a first-call accompanist for jazz vocalists. He has performed with Sheila Jordan, Rebecca Parris, Kevin Mahogany, Marlena Shaw, Karrin Allyson, and Ernestine Anderson, as well as with the world-renowned tap dancer Brenda Bufalino. In 1997 Randy performed with the innovative Jay Clayton at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He is featured on Jay's 1997 recording Circle Dancing (Sunnyside). In May 2004, Randy and the fabulous vocalist Meredith d'Ambrosio did a short tour of Israel. Randy works frequently with some of the greatest vocal talents in the Pacific Northwest, including Gail Pettis, Greta Matassa, and Katy Bourne.

The composer

While Halberstadt's recordings showcase his formidable pianistic skills, they also establish him as a first-rate composer. Inner Voice (1991, Pony Boy Records) features Randy's compositions in the jazz trio format, which range from blues to Latin to polymetric to hard-driving swing. Seattle's KPLU FM has kept Randy's finger-snapper “Bad Bud" in heavy rotation for the past thirteen years. Clockwork (1996, Pony Boy Records) presents Randy's beautiful songs with original lyrics and features five of the Northwest's best vocalists, including Jay Clayton and Kendra Shank. One of these songs, “When Springtime Turns to Fall," was re-recorded in 2000 by Kendra on Reflections (Jazz Focus), in 2005 by Seattle vocalist Kelley Johnson on Music Is the Magic (Sapphire Records), and was published in 2002 in The All-Jazz Real Book (Sher Music Co.).

The arranger

More recently, Randy has demonstrated his talents as an arranger. He arranged most of the music for Seattle vocalist Janis Mann's recordings, “A Little Moonlight," “Lost In His Arms," and “So Many Stars" (Pancake Records) and for Greta Matassa's recording “All This And Heaven Too--Live at Bake's Place" (Origin Records). At the Kennedy Center concert, Jay Clayton and her quintet performed Randy's arrangement of the haunting ballad “The Sweetest Sounds." Randy has just issued a new recording of unique standard arrangements, Parallel Tracks (Origin Records).

The teacher

While Randy continues to expand his talents as a pianist, composer, and arranger, he takes equal pleasure in helping younger musicians fulfill their potential. As a full professor at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Randy teaches jazz theory, vocal standards, and private lessons. He also serves on the faculties of the Bud Shank New Mexico Jazz Workshop and Jazz Festival Southwest in Albuquerque and the Centrum Jazz Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington (both in July). Randy is available for concerts and clinics.

The author

In 2001 Randy wrote a book called Metaphors For The Musician: Perspectives from a Jazz Pianist. Since its release it has garnered rave reviews from top professionals, readers, and the press alike. Intended for both instrumentalists and vocalists, it deals with almost all aspects of musicianship, including improvisation, theory, piano, and professional requirements. (Read some excerpts here.) The book is published by the Sher Music Company and is available at select music stores nationwide and online at shermusic.com.

Susan Pascal (vibraphone)

Vibraphonist Susan Pascal is a popular mainstay on the Pacific Northwest jazz scene. Her performances display energy, lyricism, and a fascination with a repertoire spanning classic standards to contemporary jazz. Susan's quartet features the region's finest jazz musicians; their music is shaped by contrasts, from driving rhythm to sensitive nuance.

Susan Pascal's music strikes a fine balance between spontaneity and imaginative arrangements, originals and great Jazz and American songbook standards.

Susan Pascal: Music of Vibes is Like a Language by Stephanie Thompson, Seattle Times Staff Reporter Thursday, July 11, 1996

For Susan Pascal, music has always been about evolving.

At age 5, her parents started her out on xylophone lessons, and she spent her elementary school years learning to read music and tap out the sounds on the wooden instrument. Later, attracted by the sounds of the marimba bands her parents used to listen to, she picked up that instrument. Then she started studying classical percussion, but she eventually switched to the vibraphone, which is essentially an evolved model of the xylophone.

Her affinity for melodies and lack of patience is what made her stop playing percussion. “I got tired of counting empty measures and waiting for the triangle part," she said. “(The vibraphone) feels very natural, kind of like your first language."

Now Pascal can be found playing the vibraphone, or “vibes," in clubs around Seattle. Developed in the 1920s and '30s, the vibes are arranged like a piano. Made out of metal alloy bars, the instrument has a vibrato mechanism and a piano-like damper pedal.

Playing with two wooden mallets in each hand--a technique picked up from Gary Burton, whom she considers one of her biggest influences--Pascal is able to achieve a rapid, intricate and surprisingly melodic sound, working the three-octave range of the instrument.

A part-time freelance graphic-designer, Pascal received a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Washington and has played locally with several different bands, including The Jazz Police, a 20-piece contemporary big band; the Savoy Swing Band, which played Benny Goodman tunes; and Red Fish Blue Fish, a seven-piece jazz ensemble that plays at The Speakeasy Cafe.

Pascal appeared in the Seattle Art Museum's Art of Jazz concert series, and has been featured on KPLU-FM's Jazz Northwest program.

Currently, she is also playing with a bassist and a drummer in the Susan Pascal Trio. It performs jazz standards, and Pascal spends her time, when she's not playing in clubs or working, practicing new arrangements. She said she's looking to record an album by the end of the year, and isn't seeking to learn another instrument. Rather, she'll continue to evolve, but as a vibes player.

“There's nothing to get tired of, there is always something new to learn," she said. “It's a real giving experience." www.susanpascal.com RADIO: KUOW-FM 94.9's Weekday and The Beat, Jazz Northwest on KPLU-FM 88.5

CONCERTS: Seattle Art Museum's Art of Jazz series, Downtown Seattle Association 's Out to Lunch series, the Bellevue Live series, KPLU-FM's jazz cruises

FESTIVALS: Centrum's Jazz Port Townsend, Ellensburg Jazz in the Valley, The Vibe Summit X, Bumbershoot, Bite of Seattle, West Seattle Jazz Festival, Marymoor Heritage Park Festival, Issaquah Jazz Festival, Seward Park Jazz Festival

CLUBS: Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, The New Orleans, Tula's, Bake's Place, Salty's on Alki, Grazie in Bothell

RECORDINGS: Connie Evingson's Gypsy In my Soul, Neil Andersson's C'est si bon, The Plymouth Trio's Trust, Greta Matassa's All This and Heaven Too, slide guitarist Orville Johnson's Slide and Joy, The Jazz Police's Butterfly, Daniel Barry's redfishbluefish, motion picture soundtracks for The Wedding Planner, Office Space and Eulogy.

“Fluid stick work and coherent, compact solos make this vibraphonist a delight." --The Stranger, Seattle

“breathtaking" --All About Jazz

“blazing 4-mallet technique" --Earshot Jazz

This story appears courtesy of All About Jazz Publicity.
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