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There are eight million stories in the Naked City—and a song to go with each of them.

For decades, songwriters like Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Ellington, Bernstein and Coleman have been fueled by this city’s places (“Manhattan”, “Lullaby of Broadway”) and roller coaster existence (“Sophisticated Lady,” “Another Hundred People”). A show for New Yorkers—or anyone who's ever wanted to be one.

Deborah Grace Winer, artistic director and host
John Oddo, music director
Mark Waldrop, stage director

Klea Blackhurst, vocals
Darius de Haas, vocals
La Tanya Hall, vocals
Leslie Kritzer, vocals
Jeffrey Schecter, vocals
Billy Stritch, vocals & piano


Aaron Heick, winds
Jack Cavari, guitar
Jay Leonhart, bass
Jim Saporito, percussion

Explore the Music

(Click the names below to expand info.)

Artistic Director's Note

By Deborah Grace Winer

I happen to like New York. I do. And as a New Yorker, I think the reason I happen to like that phrasing coined by Cole Porter is that it’s a pleasant, matter-of-fact statement that simultaneously throws attitude: “I happen to like it. You have a problem with that?

Of the seven shows I’ve created for Lyrics & Lyricists (with musical director John Oddo and director Mark Waldrop), this show about the many facets of Gotham life hits closest to home—because the city’s been my home since the day I was born. I’m a quintessential New Yorker. But it’s a unique hallmark of our city that quintessential New Yorkers come from everywhere. It’s an identity that is earned, a shared DNA mutated by passion and fortitude, by the idea that despite its grinding aggravations the city is the world’s pinnacle of possibility and hope and a weird kind of civility. And the belief that, to paraphrase John Updike, people who live other places must be, in some sense, kidding.

For centuries, New York has been a magnet for writers. The only actual reason there are eight million stories in the naked city is because eight million people who don’t remotely belong together are forced by a sheer lack of square footage to coexist—eat, drink, shop, walk, complain and commute in unseemly bodily contact virtually every second of the day and night. As a result, New York life revolves around the two major ingredients necessary not just for over-achievement, but for storytelling: conflict and eavesdropping.

For writers from Henry James, Edith Wharton, Dorothy Parker and Damon Runyon to late 20th- and 21st century literary lights, the city has been narrative fodder, a backdrop onto which every kind of human experience is projected. And a character unto itself. It has been the same for generations of songwriters, Broadway composers and lyricists, from George M. Cohan to Billy Joel. The great writers of the American Songbook wrote tirelessly about New York (other American cities with the occasional exception of Chicago and San Francisco are usually treated as places to be shuffled off to.…)

It helped that a large number of those songwriters were natives—of the struggling Lower East side (Irving Berlin, the Gershwins), or well-to-do Upper West Side (Rodgers and Hart, Dorothy Fields); Brooklyn (Harry Warren, Betty Comden), or the Bronx (Adolph Green, Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh). Other authors of quintessential New York songs and shows came from elsewhere: Leonard Bernstein (the “big three”: On the Town, Wonderful Town, West Side Story), from Massachusetts; the ultimate Park Avenue sophisticate, Cole Porter, from Indiana; ultimate Harlem sophisticate, Duke Ellington, from Washington, DC. What’s fascinating is that despite myriad voices and points of view, there is no discernible difference in passion for the city between those who were born to, or mutated into that identity of being a New Yorker.

With this show we wanted to conjure all that passion to celebrate the kaleidoscopic, breathtaking, soul-sucking, absurdist, exhausting, always fascinating ride that is life in this city. We’re glad you’re on the ride with us.

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Selected Song List

As a special preview, here is a selection of songs from
New York: Songs of the City”:

AUTUMN IN NEW YORK
Lyrics & music by Vernon Duke
From Thumbs Up / Revue (1934)

MANHATTAN
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers
From Garrick Gaities / Revue (1925)

NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Lyrics & Music by Billy Joel
From Turnstiles / Recording (1976)

OHIO
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, music by Leonard Bernstein
From Wonderful Town / Musical (1953)

SOPHISTICATED LADY
Lyrics by Mitchell Parrish, music by Duke Ellington (1932)

SPANISH HARLEM
Lyrics & music by Jerry Leiber & Phil Spector (1960)

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK
Lyrics by Carroll Coates, music by Peter Nero
From Sunday in New York / film (1963)

TAKE ME BACK TO MANHATTAN
Lyrics & music by Cole Porter
From The New Yorkers / musical (1930)

WAITING FOR THE B TRAIN
Lyrics & music by Christine Lavin
From The Subway Series / recording (2001)

WHAT MORE DO I NEED?
Lyrics & music by Stephen Sondheim
From Saturday Night / musical (1955)

(program subject to change)

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Artist Bios

Deborah Grace Winer, artistic director, writer and host

Now in her seventh season as Lyrics & Lyricists series artistic director, Deborah Grace Winer is an author and playwright who has written extensively about the American Songbook. She has led six previous Lyrics & Lyricists shows: “Jerome Kern Coast to Coast;” “The Crowd’s at El Morocco,” about the heyday of the New York nightclubs; “Fred and Ginger in so Many Words;” “I’ve Got Your Number,” a celebration of Carolyn Leigh; “The Last Girl Singer,” a tribute to Deborah’s friend Rosemary Clooney; and “Dorothy’s Side of the Street,” the Dorothy Fields Centennial salute. In November 2009, with her mentor, Robert Kimball, Deborah was co-artistic director of “I Remember You,” the Johnny Mercer Centennial Tribute Concert.

Deborah is the author of On the Sunny Side of the Street: The Life and Lyrics of Dorothy Fields (Schirmer Books) and The Night and the Music: Rosemary Clooney, Barbara Cook and Julie Wilson Inside the World of Cabaret (Schirmer). She is co-author of Sing Out, Louise!: 150 Broadway Musical Stars Remember 50 Years (Schirmer); and I Remember Too Much: 89 Opera Stars Speak Candidly of Their Work, Their Lives and Their Colleagues (William Morrow). She also authored three companion coffee table books included in each of three box sets of the complete early recordings of Rosemary Clooney (Bear Family).

Deborah’s articles on music have appeared in The New York Times and Town and Country, among other publications. She was featured on the PBS “American Masters” special, “Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley,” and on A&E’s “Biography” episode on Rosemary Clooney, and she has appeared on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “Morning Edition.”

Her musical revue, Sing for Your Shakespeare (conceived with Wayne Barker and Mark Lamos and based on a Lyrics & Lyricists concert) premiered last summer at the Westport Country Playhouse, directed by Lamos. Her plays include The Last Girl Singer; Little Shows, Big Important Issues; The Real Tabasco (a Eugene O’Neill Theater Center finalist); and Buzz, and they have been variously developed at Lincoln Center Theater, Primary Stages, the Women’s Project, the Westport Country Playhouse and The Actors Studio, among other theaters.

Deborah has written benefit shows for venues like New York City Center and Town Hall; among her favorites are Fans!: The Sally Rand Centennial Celebration and Gotta Dance: A Dance Tribute to Hollywood, during which she wrote for, among others, Cyd Charisse and Esther Williams. Deborah is a native of Manhattan and a graduate of Swarthmore College.

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John Oddo, music director

Having started his career as a pianist, arranger and composer for Woody Herman and his Thundering Herd, John Oddo met Rosemary Clooney in 1983 and served as her music director, pianist and arranger for more than 18 years. His credits include work on 20 of her recordings, as well as countless live and televised performances.

As music director, John has collaborated with Deborah Grace Winer on all seven of her Lyrics & Lyricists shows. He has been a longtime collaborator of Michael Feinstein’s, as both music director for his New York shows and writing symphony and big band arrangements for his tours. He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for his orchestrations for Feinstein and Dame Edna Everage’s 2010 Broadway show, All About Me. He was music director and arranger for Feinstein’s two recent PBS shows at the Rainbow Room, as well as for PBS’s “Live From Lincoln Center: James Naughton: The Songs of Randy Newman.”

As music director/arranger/pianist, his collaborators also Christine Ebersole, Melissa Errico, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Barbara Cook, Cheyenne Jackson, Maureen McGovern, David Hyde Pierce and Linda Ronstadt. Among his recent recording projects, he wrote arrangements for Tom Wopat and John Schneider’s 2014 Christmas CD, Home for Christmas; Steve Tyrell’s It’s Magic: The Songs of Sammy Cahn; and Debby Boone’s Swing This.

Other projects include composing and performing the music for PBS/ Showtime’s “Our Town,” directed by James Naughton and starring Paul Newman, and being conductor, pianist and arranger for the NBC special “Scott Hamilton & Friends." He has performed at the White House for four of the last five presidents.

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Mark Waldrop, stage director

Mark Waldrop returns to 92Y to direct his ninth Lyrics & Lyricists production. On Broadway Mark directed and provided special material for Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, which earned a Tony Award nomination for unique theatrical event. He similarly directed and wrote material for Bette Midler on her Divine Miss Millennium tour, and he has directed cabaret and concert performances for Faith Prince, Sutton Foster, Brooke Shields, Rebecca Luker, John Lloyd Young and Edward Hibbert, among many others.

Off-Broadway, Mark’s directorial credits include the New York City Center Encores! production of Zieg feld Follies of 1936 as well as the shows Till Divorce Do Us Part, Newsical, Inventing Avi, My Deah; Game Show; Pete ‘n’ Keely and Listen to My Heart. He was director, book writer and lyricist for the multiple award-winning and now legendary Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly, and he co-devised the revue, Hot ‘n’ Cole. Regionally, Mark has worked for leading venues like Paper Mill Playhouse, The Muny at St. Louis, Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.

In 1995 Mark received the prestigious Edward Kleban Award for lyricists. Among his writing credits are the lyrics and script for Radio City Music Hall’s 75th Anniversary Christmas Spectacular and the lyrics for three TheaterWorks USA scores: Gold Rush, A Christmas Carol and Bunnicula. As an actor, Mark was in the original Broadway casts of Evita, La Cage aux Folles and The Grand Tour. He can be heard on the soundtracks of Disney’s Aladdin, Pocahontas and Mulan, and on the cast recording of Hey, Love.

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Jessica Daryl Winer, backdrop drawings

Jessica Daryl Winer is an artist noted for her paintings of New York cityscapes and performing arts subjects. Her drawings have appeared in The New Yorker, and in large public works, including Dance Space at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and the Sardi’s Screens, a 27-foot wide freestanding mural in the banquet room of the famed restaurant.

Jessica’s work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and public spaces and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of the City of New York, American Ballet Theatre and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Her website is jessicadarylwiner.com.

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Klea Blackhurst, vocals

Klea Blackhurst has received accolades for her award-winning tribute to Ethel Merman, Everything the Traffic Will Allow. Her other acclaimed shows are Autumn in New York: Vernon Duke’s Broadway and Dreaming of a Song: The Music of Hoagy Carmichael, in collaboration with Billy Stritch. All are available on the Ghostlight Records label. She is currently working on a new musical based on the iconic maid Hazel, with music by Ron Abel and lyrics by Chuck Steffan; a reading of the project was held last October and directed by Lucie Arnaz.

This past December Klea appeared with Billy Stritch and Jim Caruso in “A Swinging Birdland Christmas” for the fifth year in a row; a live CD of the show is available. Her other New York theater credits include A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Bingo, Radio Gals, Oil City Symphony and Happy Hunting for “Musicals in Mufti.” She has performed at 14 Mabel Mercer Foundation cabaret conventions, and she has appeared at the Royal Albert Hall, London Palladium, Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

Klea recently starred in The Goodspeed Opera House’s 50th anniversary production of Hello, Dolly! Previously she starred in the premiere of the Marvin Hamlisch/Rupert Holmes musical, The Nutty Professor, directed by Jerry Lewis, in Nashville. Her other regional credits include Rose in Gypsy at the Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago, Call Me Madam at 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco, and Annie Get Your Gun at Glimmerglass Opera. Klea’s radio and television credits include “Onion News Network,” “Sesame Street” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Her website is kleablackhurst.com.

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Darius de Haas, vocals

Darius de Haas made his Broadway debut in Kiss of the Spider Woman and was in the original cast of Rent. His other Broadway credits include Marie Christine, The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm and the Lincoln Center revival of Carousel, as well as the Actors Fund staged concerts of Dreamgirls and Hair. Off- Broadway, Darius won an Obie Award for his performance in the title role of Running Man and he appeared in The Bubbly Black Girl and Saturn Returns.

Darius was in the national tour of Once on This Island and appeared in the world premiere and on the cast album of John Adams’s I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky. His regional work includes Cain in Children of Eden at the Paper Mill Playhouse, Jesus in Jesus Christ SuperstarGOSPEL at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, Feste in Twelfth Night at the Westport County Playhouse and The Best of Both Worlds at the American Repertory Theater. He can be heard on the soundtracks of Anastasia, Chicago and Martin and Orloff.

As a soloist, Darius is starring with Capathia Jenkins in “Classic Soul” for such orchestras as the Philly Pops and the Atlanta, Charlotte, Harrisburg and Jacksonville symphonies. He made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Cincinnati Pops, and he has appeared on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series in his own tributes to Billy Strayhorn and Stevie Wonder. He made his solo debut CD, Day Dream: Variations on Strayhorn for PS Classics, which was followed by Quiet Please for Bridge Records, a collection of American popular songs with pianist Steven Blier. His website is dariusdehaas.com.

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La Tanya Hall, vocals

With a versatility in a variety of musical genres, La Tanya Hall has collaborated with some of music’s most celebrated artists, including Diana Ross, Michael Feinstein, Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle. Since 2002 La Tanya has been a member of Bobby McFerrin’s 12-voice ensemble Voicestra and was prominently featured on his recent recordings, SpiritYouAll and Vocabularies. For the past three years, she has toured with Steely Dan and will tour with them again this spring, as well as with Rob Thomas over the summer. This season she is also performing across the country with her own show, “To Sarah, With Love: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Sarah Vaughan.” She has appeared as a soloist with the American Composers Orchestra and the Colorado and St. Louis symphonies.

Early in her career, La Tanya toured with Harry Belafonte for five years. She sang with thim in “Skin to Skin,” on both the recording and the PBS special, “An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends.” She also toured with Steve Tyrell and can be heard on his recording, Back to Bacharach. In 2008 she released her own debut recording, It’s About Time, on Bridge Records, to great critical acclaim.

A frequent Lyrics & Lyricists artist, La Tanya’s theater credits include Cotton Club Parade with Wynton Marsalis and Promises, Promises for New York City Center Encores! as well as the role of Deena in the last national tour of Dreamgirls. She has appeared as Sabine Winston on CBS’s “Blue Bloods” and has been a guest star on “Law & Order,” “The Sopranos” and others. Her website is latanyahall.com.

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Leslie Kritzer, vocals

Leslie Kritzer burst onto the musical theater scene in 2001 with a critically acclaimed performance as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl at the Paper Mill Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut soon after in Hairspray, followed by Legally Blonde, winning the Clarence Derwent Award for most promising performer; A Catered Affair, earning a Drama Desk nomination; Sondheim on Sondheim; and most recently ELF, in which she starred as Jovie.

Last year Leslie was seen Off-Broadway in the new musical, Piece of My Heart, at the Signature Theatre; in 2013 she starred in Nobody Loves You and The Memory Show; the cast album of The Memory Show was released earlier this month on the Yellow Sound label. Her other Off-Broadway credits include Rooms: A Rock Romance, which earned her an Outer Critics Circle nomination; The Great American Trailer Park Musical, earning her a second Drama Desk nomination, and Bat Boy: The Musical. She played Hildy in On the Town for New York City Center Encores!, and she was in the national tour of Urinetown. Her regional credits include Pop! at Yale Repertory Theatre, Every Tongue Confess at the Arena Stage and First You Dream at the Kennedy Center.

Leslie received critical acclaim, a TimeOut New York Award and a Special Achievement MAC Award for Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches, a recreation of Patti LuPone’s famed nightclub act. The show had a sold-out run at Joe’s Pub, followed by performances at The Plush Room in San Francisco. Leslie recently returned to Joe’s Pub with her new solo show, Beautiful Disaster. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieKritzer.

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Jeffrey Schecter, vocals

Jeffrey Schecter was last seen on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get It. He made his Broadway debut in Beauty and the Beast, and he appeared in the original musical, The People in the Picture, and the revivals of Anything Goes, The Pajama Game, Wonderful Town and A Chorus Line, playing Mike (“I Can Do That”); he was featured in the documentary, Every Little Step, which followed A Chorus Line’s auditions. Off- Broadway, Jeffrey, or Schecky, as he is better known, appeared in the New York City Center Encores! productions of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Bells are Ringing, and in The Tin Pan Alley Rag for the Roundabout Theatre Company. Last November Schecky starred as Young Max at San Diego’s Old Globe in Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! He had previously appeared at the Old Globe in the world premiere of the musical, Robin and the 7 Hoods. His other regional credits include On the Town at the Paper Mill Playhouse and Babes in Arms for Reprise LA. He has toured nationally with Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Ragtime and The Mambo Kings. Also a filmmaker, Schecky wrote and starred in the short film, Tyco Parks the Car, and co-wrote and starred in the feature film, Farm Girl in NY. He has also been seen in Meet Dave, Mix and EDtv, and “Boardwalk Empire,” “Spy TV,” “Titans” and “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.” Also a highlyacclaimed coach and dance teacher; Schecky has taught classes and conducted master classes around the world. His website is jeffreyschecter.com.

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Billy Stritch, vocals & piano

Billy Stritch is one of the premier singerpianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scenes. He has appeared in many Lyrics & Lyricists shows, and was artistic director for the tributes to Peggy Lee (2013) and Mel Tormé (2009). Billy’s most recent Broadway credit was as musical supervisor and pianist for the Tony Award–winning musical event Liza’s at the Palace, for which he also reconceived the vocal arrangements of the legendary Kay Thompson and The Williams Brothers. In 2001 he originated the role of Oscar, the rehearsal pianist, in the Broadway revival of 42nd Street, and he played the part for 488 performances.

In addition to his 24-year collaboration with Liza Minnelli, Billy also accompanies and arranges for Linda Lavin, Klea Blackhurst, and Marilyn Maye; last month he and Ms. Maye had a week-long engagement at Birdland. Billy created the arrangements for “The Best Is Yet to Come—The Music of Cy Coleman” at New York’s 59E59 Theater in 2011. He is music director of Jim Caruso’s openmike Cast Party on Mondays at Birdland.

Billy is featured on numerous albums including Linda Lavin’s Possibilities, Sunday in New York with Christine Ebersole, Dreaming of a Song—The Music of Hoagy Carmichael with Klea Blackhurst, and his latest solo release, Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé. he has just been named ”Musical Director of the Year” by readers of Broadway World for the second time, and his other awards and honors include a BMI Song of the Year; a Grammy Award nomination for “Does He Love You,” recorded by Reba McEntire; four Backstage Bistro awards and six MAC Awards. His website is billystritch.com.

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Aaron Heick, reeds

Originally from Seattle, Aaron Heick is a member of the “Late Show with David Letterman” CBS Orchestra. Aaron was also featured as a soloist with Sting, both live and on his recent album, Symphonicities. Among other highlights of his career, Aaron toured and recorded with Chaka Khan through most of the 1990s and participated in Barbra Streisand’s 2006 US and 2007 European tours. Aaron and has recorded with dozens of artists, including Tony Bennett, Carly Simon, Audra McDonald, Donald Fagen, Michel Legrand and Phillip Glass. He has also recently released his first solo CD, Daylight & Darkness. His website is aaronheick.com.

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Jack Cavari, guitar

Jack Cavari enjoys a successful career playing for Broadway musicals, television and movie soundtrack. He has recorded and performed with artists including Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Luciano Pavarotti, Art Garfunkel and Aretha Franklin. As a versatile guitarist, Jack is well known in the New York recording studios, and he has played on thousands of TV and radio jingles, and various TV specials, including The Tony Awards. Jack has also taken part in many 92Y starstudded galas, celebrating the music of Burt Bacharach, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Recently on Broadway, he performed in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, starring Harry Connick; Promises, Promises; Pippin and Lennon. He has accompanied Lea Salonga in concert throughout the US and Canada and in her celebrated engagements at the Café Carlyle and Town Hall. Other notable Carlyle appearances have been with Barbara Cook and Andrea Marcovicci.

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Jay Leonhart, bass

Bass player and vocalist Jay Leonhart attended the Peabody Conservatory as a child; he became a jazz musician while at the Berklee College of Music. Among Mr. Leonhart’s many associations have been Marian McPartland, Jim Hall, Chuck Wayne, Phil Woods, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz and pianist Mike Renzi. He has been named most valuable bassist in the recording industry three times by the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences. In the 1980s, Mr. Leonhart became known as a lyricist when he began leading his own recording sessions and his songs started to be recorded by other singers. As a leader, Mr. Leonhart has recorded 15 albums for DMP, Sunnyside, Nesak and DRG. He has created a one-man show of his own songs entitled The Bass Lesson. His website is jayleonhart.com.

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Jame Saporito, percussion

James Saporito has enjoyed a flourishing career as a freelance drummer/percussionist in New York City. He has played on more than 60 major motion picture soundtracks and 150 records with such artists as Marilyn Horne, Gladys Knight, Billy Joel, Barbara Cook, Tony Bennett and Celine Dion. His extensive Broadway resumé includes the original La Cage aux Folles, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Sunset Boulevard, Jekyll & Hyde, Jumpers, Little Women and The Wedding Singer. James is principal percussion of the New York Pops Orchestra and associate principal percussion of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, and he often performs with the New York Philharmonic. He is also a member of the Westchester Philharmonic and the American Composers Orchestra, and he often performs with the New York Philharmonic. His jazz trio with pianist Kenny Ascher and bass player Dick Sarpola has released its first CD, Pentimento.

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