By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 24, 2023 at 7:38 AM

The review desk at OnMilwaukee is chock full of fun new music and more. Here is some we've enjoyed recently.

Bethlehem Records Jazzuary vinyl reissues (Bethlehem/BMG Records)


While familiar classic jazz favorites seem to get regular reissues, these four 1950s LPs – released throughout January on 180-gram vinyl – are lesser-known gems from some very familiar names. First up is Charles Mingus’ “East Coasting,” released Jan. 13, record in 1957 with Bill Evans on piano and frequent Mingus sideman Dannie Richmond on drums. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers’ “Hard Drive,” recorded in October ‘57, with a Messengers lineup that included Bill Hardman, Johnny Griffin, Junior Mance, Sam Dockery and Spanky DeBrest, is out on Jan. 20, as is “Duke Ellington Presents,” recorded in February ‘56 with his orchestra. The last of the quartet, “John Coltrane in the Winners Circle,” featuring the musicians that topped the DownBeat magazine critics poll in 1957, is out on Jan. 27, and features performances by top-notch talent like Oscar Pettiford, Kenny Burrell, Al Cohn, Art Farmer, Freddie Green and others. In facsimile sleeves, with original artwork and liner notes (which say that these releases were originally pressed with “New ‘Micro Cosmic Sound’”!), these are some exciting releases since they’re ones that will be unfamiliar to many fans.

“The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1: 1969-73,” by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair (Dey Street Books)


Since I devoured Mark Lewisohn’s nearly 1,000-page “Tune In” about the Beatles’ career up to their second single, it’s probably no surprise that I was similarly engrossed in this first volume of a deep dive into Paul McCartney’s solo career through 1973. Across nearly 700 pages, we learn about the dissolution of the Beatles and how it affected McCartney as a person and as an artist, from his solitarily-recorded solo debut, to “Ram,” in collaboration with his wife Linda, the creation of the first version of Wings and more. By 1973. McCartney hadn’t shaken the Beatles – will he ever? – but he finally seemed to figure out how to move on and had begun to find his groove, with “Band on the Run” and the “Live and Let Die” title song. Engaging and interesting – and neither fawning nor sycophantic – the book flies by and by the time I’d finished, I wished volume two had been released (like a “Tune In” sequel ... not yet!), because I wanted more. I still do.

SeaBea ready-to-eat pouches


Around since 1957, SeaBear seafood from the Pacific Northwest offers a wide range of products, from smoked salmon and trout to crab legs scallops to salmon jerky and more. I recently got to try a range of its ready to eat pouches – smoked salmon, smoked steelhead, ready to eat salmon bellies – and they were a revelation. Tired of dull tuna salad sandwiches? Try smoked salmon salad. Want to elevate your boring breakfast omelet? Add some smoked salmon bellies. Use the smoked Idaho trout with some capers and a little lemon and parsley atop toasted baguette for a quick and easy cheese tray boost. The 3.5-ounce packets are easy to use – fully cooked, no refrigeration required. Find them at

"Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins," by Aidan Levy (Hachette Books)


A life and career as colossal as Rollins' deserves a book of a similar girth and that's exactly what Levy provides in this weighty 700-plus-page look at Rollins' outsized influence on jazz since he arrived on the scene in the 1940s. If I worried at the outset that it might – unlike its subject – be a little dry in style, that quickly passed and I've been knee deep in bebop, post-bop and beyond for weeks since. While Bird and Coltrane have always gotten more attention, Rollins was, ahem, the bridge between the two and continued to soar ever higher long after those guys moved on. Casual fans might wish for a little less detail, but those of us that enjoy Rollins' deep and wide and tall improvisations, will savor every note.

Elton John – "Honky Chateau" 50th Anniversary Edition (Rocket/Universal)


Following on the heels of the half-century edition of "Madman Across the Water" comes a similar treatment for Elton's first real big breakout record, 1972's "Honky Chateau," which included hits like "Honky Cat" and "Rocket Man" and was the first in a stretch of John albums to hit No. 1. This CD version has the original LP, plus nine session demos and, best of all, eight live versions from a 1972 London Royal Festival Hall gig. There's also a booklet with a great essay, photos and more. There's a double-LP vinyl version that has everything but the live tracks and there's also a single LP vinyl version of the original LP on gold wax.

D.B. Shrier – "Emerges" (Omnivore Recordings)

Although tenor saxophonist D.B. Shrier was a fixture on the Philadelphia jazz scene in the 1960s, he only made one recording and that was an immediately scarce 1967 LP that had all but disappeared. Now, Omnivore – co-founded by Milwaukee ex-pat Cheryl Pawelski – has gotten hold of the tapes and produced this expanded reissue with five bonus tracks complementing the five original sizzling LP tracks. The vinyl version omits the bonus tracks. Reissues like this one, highlighting a fiery band at work, remind us that cities across the country boasted jazz scenes full of talented musicians that never made it onto our collective radar. And they work to rectify that.

Bobby Watson – "Back Home in Kansas City" (Smoke Sessions Records)


... Speaking of which: While alto man Bobby Watson is not exactly a secret, he's surely never really achieved widespread attention beyond the close-knit jazz scene before, either. The musician, composer and educator has recorded nearly two dozen records as a leader and seemingly countless more as a sideman with Art Blakey, Sam Rivers, 29th Street Saxophone Quartet and others, and his latest celebrates his return to the Midwest. For more than 20 years now, Watson – a Kansas native who grew up on the Missouri side – has been director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri–Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Though recorded in New York City, the straight-ahead session celebrates the Kansas City jazz scene that gave us the likes of Charlie Parker, Count Basie and other talented lights, like Watson himself.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.