Talking With Steve Tyrell – May 29, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Steve Tyrell

This week, Ira spoke with Steve Tyrell. To listen to the interview click below.

Steve Tyrell will be performing It’s Magic: The Songs of Sammy Cahn” in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center, Friday and Saturday, May 30 and 31 at 7 p.m.

With his breakthrough performances in “Father of the Bride” and “Father of the Bride II,” Tyrell reinvented and re-popularized classic pop standards for a modern-day audience.

Tyrell’s hits, “The Way You Look Tonight,” “The Simple Life,” “Crush On You” and “The Sunny Side of The Street,” have launched thousands of weddings and millions of romances.

At the request of the Sinatra family and Quincy Jones, Tyrell was the featured performer with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra at their season opening concert in which Frank Sinatra was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. Also at the request of the Sinatra family, he reprised that performance at Carnegie Hall. This is one of the rare times the family has reached into the vault of original Sinatra arrangements to share them with another artist.

In 2005, after the passing of the legendary Bobby Short, Tyrell was asked by New York City’s Café Carlyle to take over their revered Holiday Season of November and December, which Mr. Short had not missed for 36 years. In 2013 Tyrell’s contract was extended through his 11th season, starting a new Carlyle legacy that now also includes performances in May.

His work in the studio as a record producer has included collaborations with such diverse and legendary artists as Rod Stewart, Diana Ross, Ray Charles, Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Blood Sweat and Tears, Mary J Blidge, Chris Botti, Dave Koz, Dolly Parton, Smokey Robinson, Burt Bacharach, Bette Midler, and Stevie Wonder.

As an artist, all 9 of his American Standards albums have achieved top 10 status on Billboard’s Jazz charts, 7 of which have achieved top 5, and his first album “A New Standard” was amongst the best-selling jazz albums for over 5 years.

His songs have been recorded by such artists as Ray Charles, Diana Ross, LL Cool J and Elvis Presley, and his song “How Do You Talk To An Angel,” written and produced for Aaron Spelling’s Fox television series “The Heights,” was a No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Charts.

Aside from being a Grammy Award winner, Tyrell has earned 2 Emmy nominations, received a daytime Emmy, 3 Ace Nominations, 2004 American Society of Young Musician’s “All That Jazz Award,” 2004 The Wellness Community “Human Spirit Award,” 2006 Society of Singers “Lifetime Achievement Award,” and 2008 Los Angeles Jazz Society’s “Jazz Vocalist of the Year.”


Talking With Richard N. “Rick” Velotta – May 22, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Rick Velotta

This week, Ira spoke with Richard N. “Rick” Velotta. To listen to the interview click below.

Richard N. “Rick” Velotta is a tourism and transportation business reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and has been a professional journalist for more than 40 years.

He produces the weekly “Road Warrior” column on transportation issues for the Review-Journal.

Velotta spent more than 23 years at the Las Vegas Sun as a business writer and editor and wrote a weekly column on tourism in its VEGAS INC business publication.

He also has worked as news editor of the Standard-Examiner in Ogden, Utah; managing editor of the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Ariz., and as a photographer and sports writer for the Aurora Advocate, the Aurora Advocate-Sentinel and the Aurora Sun, in Aurora, Colorado.

Velotta has won numerous awards from the Nevada Press Association and the Arizona Press Association and was with the Las Vegas Sun when it won a Pulitzer Prize.
On Twitter: @ RickVelotta


Talking With Ben Vereen and Jane Monheit – May 15, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Combo Ben and Jane

This week, Ira spoke with Ben Vereen and Jane Monheit . To listen to the interview click below.

Few entertainers today are as accomplished or versatile as Ben Vereen. His first love and passion is and always will be the stage. “The theater was my first training ground. It taught me discipline, dedication and appreciation of hard work and values that will stay with me a lifetime,” says Vereen..” The stage sharpens the creative instrument and encourages you to go deeper inside and try new things.”

On Broadway, Ben Vereen has appeared in Wicked, Fosse, I’m Not Rappaport, Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grind, Pippin, Jelly’s Last Jam and A Christmas Carol. Off-Broadway credits include the award-winning original production of The Exonerated. His role in Pippin garnered him both the prestigious Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for “Best Actor in a Musical.”
Vereen’s acting credits include the unforgettable Chicken George in Roots and Louis Armstrong in Louis Armstrong – Chicago Style. His television guest appearances include Grey’s Anatomy, for which he won the Prism Award, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, OZ, Touched By An Angel, Second Noah, New York Undercover, The Nanny, Star Trek – The Next Generation, The Jamie Fox Show, The Promised Land, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as well as recurring roles on Silk Stalkings, Webster, J.J. Starbuck and Booker.

“Everything I’m singing now is a reflection of my truest self,” says Jane Monheit. “After all this time in the industry, after touring for 13 years, it’s time to just be me, with complete and utter freedom.”

Monheit’s sense of liberation is apparent throughout “The Heart Of The Matter,” the acclaimed, Grammy-nominated vocalist’s ninth studio album. It can be felt in her wide- ranging choice of material, in the unique arrangements, and in her own fearless performances and interpretations. The diverse and very personal set of songs includes both familiar standards and compositions by Lennon/McCartney, Randy Newman, two songs by Ivan Lins, recorded in the original Portuguese, and, for the first time, a Monheit original.


Talking With LeAnn Rimes and Gary Puckett – May 8, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Composite LeAnn and Gary

This week, Ira spoke with LeAnn Rimes and Gary Puckett . To listen to the interview click below.

LeAnn Rimes is one of the most successful entertainers with a career spanning more than 20 years. With album sales of more than 40 million, two GRAMMY Awards, three Academy of Country Music Awards and 12 Billboard Music Awards, Rimes has made her mark in the world of music. She was the youngest person to ever win a GRAMMY Award and was the first country artist to win the GRAMMY Best New Artist trophy. Widely regarded as one of the finest vocalists in music in the last three decades, Rimes is known for her powerful and flawless voice and a sound that is simultaneously fresh and timeless.

Gary Puckett and The Union Gap was one of the most successful musical groups of the sixties. Gary’s unmistakable signature voice garnered six consecutive gold records and top ten Billboard hits, including “Young Girl,” “Woman Woman,” “Lady Willpower,” and “Over You.” Puckett has performed on more than 30 network television shows and prime time specials during his career, even adding a command performance for the President and Prince Charles at the White House. He continues to tour nationally and internationally.


Talking With Frank Cullotta – May 1, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Frank Cullotta

This week, Ira spoke with Frank Cullotta . To listen to the interview click below.

Frank Cullotta was born in Chicago in 1938. He began his decades-long criminal career as a teenager, graduating from petty theft to burglary, armed robbery, arson and murder. While growing up he met another young tough on the streets of the Windy City: Tony Spilotro. The two boys became friends and criminal allies. Spilotro went on to become a made man and feared enforcer of the Chicago Outfit. The Outfit bosses sent him to Las Vegas in 1971 to keep an eye on their casino interests.

After getting established in Sin City, Spilotro invited Cullotta to join him. Cullotta accepted and functioned as Spilotro’s lieutenant. He watched his friend’s back and formed and ran a crew of burglars, robbers, arsonists, and killers that became known as the “Hole in the Wall Gang.”

The two men had a falling out in 1982; and at Spilotro’s request the Chicago bosses approved a contract to have Cullotta killed. Facing either life in prison for his myriad crimes or death at the hands of Outfit hit men, he rolled and became a government witness. His subsequent testimony resulted in the convictions of several of his former associates. He was preparing to testify against Spilotro in June 1986, but Spilotro himself was murdered by the Outfit just prior to the trial getting underway.

Under a new identity, Cullotta opened and ran a small business and became one of the Witness Protection Program’s success stories. In 1995 he was contacted by screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi regarding the Martin Scorsese film, “Casino.” He was hired as a technical consultant to the movie in which actor Joe Pesci played a character based on Tony Spilotro; and Frank Vincent played “Frankie,” a character based on Cullotta. In the film he appeared in several scenes as a killer, including one that was a fictionalized version of a murder he actually committed in Las Vegas in 1979.

Since then, Cullotta has appeared in several organized crime documentaries and given talks before law enforcement and college groups. In 2007, he wrote his biography titled “CULLOTTA – The Life of a Chicago Criminal, Las Vegas Mobster, and Government Witness.” His second book, “Hole in the Wall Gang,” was published in December 2013.

In February 2014, Frank launched the Las Vegas-based bus tour Casino — The Real Story Behind The Movie. He is also a consultant to the Las Vegas Mob Tour and is co-producer of Mob-Con.