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Joe Marchetti, Jo Salas
by Philip H. Farber

Reviews of new albums by Joe Marchetti and Jo Salas.

Artist: Joe Marchetti
Album: Stay On the Line
label: self-produced
Rating: **** (out of 5)

Some time back, I received a demo tape from Joe Marchetti that featured a fine band playing some great pop and jazz-inspired music. Marchetti and company have now re-mastered the songs from that demo into a new album, "Stay On the Line." This is great news - the songs, which were excellent to begin with, have benefitted from the attention to production values and the clean digital recording.

The first thing that strikes your ears when you pop this baby into the CD player is the clear and soaring scat vocals of Sandy Lomax, which are featured throughout the recording. Sandy slides into some hot R&B style lyrics that top off one of Marchetti's spare and tasty melodies. The rest of the band are all notable area musicians as well; Bobby Lustgartern's guitar alternates between laid back rhythm and on-target leads, Mike Ralff's bass guitar and Rich Syracuse's electric upright, equally tasty, mesh with Gene Randolph's drums to hold the tune to a groove, Keith Slattery's keyboards add dimension and color, and the arrangements as a whole are pristine and crystal sharp.

The style of Marchetti's songwriting harks back to pop, R&B, and jazz favorites of, perhaps, the '60s, but the lyrics and ultimate presentation are fresh and contemporary. Elements of rock mingle in, as with the soaring guitar lead on the title cut, and there's a classic quality to the whole presentation that could carry this material to a very wide audience.

Personally, I can't get enough of Lomax's vocals on these recordings. She explores a few different modes, from wonderfully melodic scat to full-throated R&B, to absolutely sweet pop vocalizations. She is headed for major recognition, and Marchetti's material is a great vehicle for her.

"Stay On the Line" came accompanied by a second CD that had two mixes of a song that doesn't appear on the first album, "The Smaller They Are." These cuts feature the vocals of Bobby Lustgarten, along with spoken word contributed by newsreader Mary Schultz. These tracks are pure pop with an upbeat social message - a well-produced presentation that could find some radio appeal.

Artist: Jo Salas
Album: Listen and Remember: 23 songs for groups
label: Tusitala
Rating: **** (out of 5)

Jo Salas is a singer who has been performing in our area for years in several different modes. One of her musical expressions comes out of her work with Playback Theater, where she often leads groups in singing together as a method of meeting and getting to know each other. The songs on her album, "Listen and Remember," are the songs that she uses for such group work. These are simple and accessible songs drawn from folk and world traditions, mixed in with a few of Salas' originals.

The musicians who provide the simple and appealing backdrop for the easily-remembered vocals are some of our area's most memorable musicians, Ken McGloin of Lunchmeat and White Boys on Swing fame, Joakim Lartey of Futu Futu note, vocalist and keyboardist Debbie Lan, and Jill O. Altrades on violin.

If you do work with groups, sit around campfires, or have children, this album could be a great resource. It's probably also a good thing to have if you have participated in any of Salas' group presentations, as a means to help remember the songs. Jo Salas will be at the Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck with her Playback Theater group this evening, at the Unitarian Fellowship in Kingston on February 20, 1999, and the Woodstock Artists Association on March 19, among other planned events. The album is available at Handmade and More on North Front Street in New Paltz, or by mail from Tusitala Publishing, 137 Hasbrouck Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561. For more information, call 255-8163.

Philip H. Farber is a freelance writer who lives in the Hudson Valley. He writes for a variety of area publications, including the Kingston Daily Freeman and the Woodstock Times, as well as national magazines, books, web sites and anyplace else that will offer him money or gratification.
He can be reached at

Posted on February 18, 1999

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