It seems like yesterday that Milwaukee jazz guitarist Jack Grassel and his wife, singer Jill Jensen, launched their residency at St. Francis' Carleton Grange Pub.
But CDs don't lie -- OK, maybe sometimes, but not in this case -- and Grassel and Jensen celebrate the release of "Live at the Carleton Grange Pub" as they mark their third anniversary performing at the venue's Sunday brunch.
Curiously, despite the fact that Grassel is an active issuer of recorded music, this is the couple's CD debut as a duo. The disc reflects the pair's Carleton Grange repertoire, says Grassel.
"Since the old jazz standard repertoire has become quite tired and overdone, we are using -- with the exception of 'Ain't Misbehavin' -- newer songs for the jazz treatment. In a survey we did of our audience at the Sunday brunch, these songs were picked as their favorites. This CD commemorates our third year of weekly Sunday brunches and the audience keeps building."
"Live at The Carleton Grange Pub" includes readings of Joni Mitchell's "Be Cool," Del Shannon's rock 'n' roll classic "Runaway" and Rupert Holmes' "The People You Never Get to Love," among others.
The 10-track disc was recorded live with no overdubs.
"It's just Jack and I," says Jensen. "No band. Jack IS the band, and no overdubs. All exposed."
In the record's liner notes, Carleton Grange owner Eric Ellsworth says that when he launched his brunch in 2007, he wanted to find appropriate music and that Grassel and Jensen fit the bill perfectly.
"Their unique style and song choices are just right for enjoying good food with friends and family," writes Ellsworth. "The excellent acoustics allow our guests to thoroughly enjoy the band while easily carrying on conversations. Over the years, Jill and Jack have garnered a loyal following of fans who attend our brunch weekly."
Jensen notes in the same space that the duo tinkered its approach to suit the kind of experience Ellsworth was looking to create.
"To meet the music needs of the Carleton Grange Pub, Jack and I distilled our band down to the two of us," Jensen writes. "As on his two solo guitar CDs, Jack performs melodies, bass lines, percussion and harmonies with his unconventional techniques. I thrill to see Jack joyously breaking new ground with his guitar after working hard to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
"Being accompanied by a loved one whose goal is to showcase my singing is powerful magic. Our mutual trust encourages risk-taking. Add to that the encouragement of a fine venue and the result is nothing short of miraculous. Jack and I both agree that after three years, our brunch duo music experience is the most exhilarating, comfortable, challenging, and gratifying -- ever."
Although the duo performs alone at the brunches, when it hosts a CD release party and concert at, where else, The Carleton Grange Pub, it will be joined by Warren Wiegratz on flute. David Seebach will also astound with his magic, but presumably not while the musicians are performing.
The two shows take place Saturday, March 20 at 4:30 and 7 p.m. Admission is $15 per show or $25 for both. There will be drink specials, door prizes and free appetizers.
You can buy the CD for $10 at the show and get a free drink coupon. There will also be a raffle to benefit Community Projects for Seniors.
Advance tickets are available at The Carleton Grange or by calling (414) 747-9669.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.