paul_viapiano_guitarist

music, technology & life in pasadena, california

Yeah, Kenny!

With that little catch phrase, so end many nights in orchestra pits in and around LA. Local tradition holds that whenever a substitute player finishes his or her first night on a show, if they are particularly “on” (and they usually are!) someone in the orchestra will yell out, “Yeah, (name here)!” immediately after the exit music. It’s a nice accolade from fellow players in response to a good first performance. About ten years ago at the Pantages Theatre, after a great substitute performance by bassist Kenny Wild, “Yeah, Kenny!” could be heard throughout the pit and it stuck…even if Kenny is not there. So now, after the usual accolades to the evening’s players someone will always add “Yeah, Kenny!” and it cracks everyone up and puts all in a good mood for the evening hang or the drive home.

I think it’s a fitting tribute to a guy who has always been one of my favorite musicians in LA, a bassist of extraordinary feel and versatility, with a personality that is so infectious with good will and optimism that you can’t help but rise to the occasion whenever he sits next to you. That, and his playing are what has made him a mainstay in the Los Angeles studio scene for over 30 years.

Before I moved here 27 years ago, I was a fan of the band Seawind. They burst on the local music scene, after honing their songs and performance in Hawaii, with a debut album on Creed Taylor’s revered jazz label, CTI. It was a change for Creed’s label, which was used to releasing sides from jazz artists like Joe Farrell and George Benson. Their songs had a fresh sound with a tight horn section and featured incredible vocalist Pauline Wilson (then-wife of drummer Bob Wilson), keys/saxophonist Larry Williams and, of course, Kenny Wild on bass. It heralded a new direction in pop music. Almost every player in the band became popular in the studios appearing on countless recordings that were made during that rich time in LA’s music history.

Recently, Seawind got back together for a reunion CD and subsequent tour of Japan, where they were extremely popular. I’ve been listening every chance I get and it is so much fun to hear the band play new renditions of some of their most popular tunes and introduce new ones. The CD is engineered and mixed by Steve Sykes with a big sound that while modern in its aural space brings me right back to the high energy of the band’s original sound.

Seawind’s Reunion CD can be found here at seawindjazz.com along with the latest news about the band.

November 19, 2009 | Link to this entry

about

Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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