January 2021

Dear friends,

I hope you are staying well and reveling in the joy and liberation that we share in this new political climate. What a relief-whew! I for one feel hope for the future after years of dread and frustration. Congrats – we all got out and voted, and we did it!

I have very exciting news, The Royal Bopsters’ new CD, Party of Four, our second on the Motema label, dropped in November 2020, and has received rave reviews across the board, including 4 stars in both Downbeat and Jazzwise. We are in the Top 30 Jazzweek radio charts, and are being played in: Germany, France, Russia, Japan and Canada, in addition to here in America. We were delighted to record once again with two of our Bop-a-rific vocal royals, Queen Sheila Jordan and Sir Bob Dorough, and Duke Christian McBride joined us on a couple of tunes. We feature more four part harmony vocalese solos by Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker and Bill Evans as well as tunes by Billy Strayhorn and post bop fav Tadd Dameron. We have two originals on the record, ‘Why’d You Do Me The Way You Did’, by Steve Schmidt, and ‘Spring Song’ by Pete McGuinness, both for which I penned lyrics. We recorded once again with our fav Bopsters band, Steve Schmidt, Cam Brown, Steve Williams and Steve Kroon.

Dylan Pramuk, Pete McGuinness and I mourn the loss of our fabulous alto, Holli Ross, who tragically lost her battle with cancer in the Spring. Holli was involved in every aspect of this CD, from all of the recording, mixing and album cover photos. Luckily, the four of us had an excellent 2019, back when the world was young and we could all roam about freely. In February 2019, we played Ronnie Scott’s in London and the Half Note in Athens, the Newport Jazz Festival in August, all to standing ovations and encores. Holli really hit the ball out of the park on her feature,’Cuando Te Vea’ by Tito Puente, with her lyrics, both live at Newport and on Party of Four. The three of us dedicate this album to her, we miss her so and she will always be in our hearts.

In our search for a new alto, we didn’t have to look very far. We are so happy that the excellent singer and lyricist Jeanne O’Connor has joined us, and can be seen here in the ‘On A Misty Night’ video. Jeanne and Holli were in the swinging vocal trio ‘String of Pearls’ for more than 30 years, and we have all been friends since the early 80’s. In a recent Bopsters’ radio interview, Jeanne said, “Holli was like a sister to me, and I feel she is guiding me now.” Welcome Jeanne! We look forward to years of great gigs together, while we will always hold dear Holli in our hearts.