Talking With Freddy Cole – September 29, 2016


This week, Ira spoke with Freddy Cole. To listen to the interview click below.

Lionel Frederick (Freddy) Cole, appearing in Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center October 7-8 in “The Freddy Cole 85th Year of Celebration,” was born on October 15, 1931, the youngest of Edward and Paulina Nancy Cole’s five children. His three elder brothers, Eddie, Ike and Nat (12 years Freddy’s senior) were all musicians.

“I started playing piano at five or six,” Cole remembers. “Music was all around me.” In the Chicago home of his youth, visitors included Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Lionel Hampton. He also credits Billy Eckstine as a major influence. ” He was a fantastic entertainer,” Freddy recalls. ” I learned so much from just watching and being around him.” After a possible career with the NFL was shelved due to a hand injury, he began playing and singing in Chicago clubs as a teenager. Although he was ready to hit the road at 18, his mother intervened and he continued his musical education at the Roosevelt Institute in Chicago.

Cole moved to New York in 1951, where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and found himself profoundly influenced by John Lewis, Oscar Peterson and Teddy Wilson. He got a Master’s degree at the New England Conservatory of Music and then spent several months on the road as a member of an Earl Bostic band that also included Johnny Coles and Benny Golson.

It was back in New York that Cole successfully laid the groundwork for a career that continues to flourish to this day. He developed a vast repertoire of songs in Manhattan bistros and concurrently began to supplement his live performances with television and radio commercial jingle work.

A resident of Atlanta since 1972, Cole has been a recording artist since 1952, when his first single, “The Joke’s on Me,” was released on an obscure Chicago-based label.

Cole doesn’t apologize for sounding like his brother, Nat “King” Cole. There are certain unmistakable similarities. He plays piano and sings and performs live with guitar and upright bass, just like Nat. Yet his voice is raspier, smokier, jazzier even. But he has emerged from the awesome shadow cast by his elder brother. In truth, his phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than that of his brother and his timing swings a little more. His vocals are among the most respected in jazz.


Talking With Tom Zaller – September 22, 2016


This week, ra spoke with Tom Zaller. To listen to the interview click below.

Tom Zaller is President and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions. Imagine Exhibitions is the company that is presenting REAL BODIES at Bally’s Las Vegas. REAL BODIES is a look at the human body through physiology, culture and emotion.

Zaller is a 25-year veteran of the entertainment and exhibition industry and has been instrumental in creating, producing and marketing some of the world’s most popular exhibitions and attractions seen by over 50 million people around the world.

As the founder, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, Inc., Zaller is filling a void in the exhibition field through his extensive industry experience, introducing priceless objects and their stories, to the world, in a fully-engaging, entertaining and content-rich environment unlike anything seen before.

Zaller has created a number of major exhibitions from the ground up, including: Jurassic World: The Exhibition, Angry Birds Universe, Titanic The Exhibition, The Human Bodies Exhibition, Dinosaurs in Motion, and, most recently, REAL BODIES at Bally’s. In addition, he and his team have collaborated on the creation and touring of The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, Discover the Ice Age, Da Vinci The Exhibition, Living Dinosaurs and many core science and natural history exhibitions.


Talking With Vinnie Favorito – September 15, 2016


This week, Ira spoke with Vinnie Favorito. To listen to the interview click below.

Most of stand-up veteran Vinnie Favorito’s comedy comes from his finely honed ability to think on his feet. Scripted material just isn’t a priority for this Boston-born comic who earned his stripes at the Improv and the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.

On his second stage appearance ever, Favorito won a Top 40 Star Search Competition, simply on the strength of his natural wit and more than two decades after his debut, the comedian has been headlining in Vegas since 2003.

He typically begins his routine with a monologue, not unusual in the stand-up world. But it gets progressively more interesting from there as the comic then focuses on the audience, targeting many of its members. The fun element with Favorito comes not just from his insults, but because he mixes them in with observations on current events.

Favorito has appeared on the “Best Damn Sports Show Period,” “The Late Late Show” with Craig Kilborn and a variety of Comedy Central shows. He’s been performing on television and in comedy clubs for more than 20 years.


Talking With Jarrett and Raja – September 8, 2016


This week, Ira spoke with Jarrett and Raja. To listen to the interview click below.

Vegas magic duo of Jarrett & Raja, co-starring in “One Epic Night,” along with performers from “American Idol,” “The Voice” and an all-star band at the Plaza Hotel & Casino.

J&R just appeared on ABC’s hit TV show “Shark Tank” where they performed and stood before Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec. Jarrett & Raja were one of only 140 entrepreneurs selected from over 43,000 applicants to the ABC show, produced by Mark Burnett Productions.

The magic duo has also been seen on NBC’s #1 hit show, “America’s Got Talent” as semi-finalists and were Howie Mandel’s favorite Wild Card pick (season 7) where they produced a full orchestra on stage. They also appeared in SyFy’s “Wizard Wars” with Penn & Teller (2014), BBC’s “The Slammer” (2013), and are currently on their third season of The CW’s “Masters of Illusion” hosted by Dean Cain (2014 – 2016).

The two talents came together in an impromptu performance at The Friar’s Club in NYC. They first performed as a cabaret act in Greenwich Village, Lincoln Center, and at Hollywood’s prestigious Magic Castle. After moving to Las Vegas, they immediately landed a residency at The Regent Hotel in Summerlin. They could also be seen in the popular “Golden Rainbow” shows in Las Vegas.

Magician Jarrett Parker studied under the legendary Harry Blackstone, Jr. and was mentored by the creative mind behind Doug Henning and numerous Broadway hits, Charles Reynolds. Currently he and Raja work with Johnny Thompson as a consultant for shows and television.

Pianist Raja Rahman is a graduate of The Juilliard School, having studied with Seymour Lipkin, Jerome Lowenthal, Byron Janis, and Lev Vlassenko. Raja has toured Europe with legendary conductors Mstislav Rostropovich, Sir Georg Solti, and Iona Brown. In addition, he has taught at The Juilliard School and currently teaches privately in Las Vegas. When not performing with Jarrett & Raja, Raja is a concert pianist with frequent appearances at the Met in NYC. He performed on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in October of 2015.


Talking With Steve Schirripa – September 1, 2016

FotoFlexer_Photo Steve Schirripa

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

Steve Schirripa was born in Brooklyn, NY – a city noted more for the “mob” stereotype. But stereotypes, like a wise guy’s alibi, can be misleading. Well known for playing fan-favorite character ‘Bobby Baccalieri’ on David Chase’s acclaimed HBO drama “The Sopranos,” the Brooklyn College graduate has not stopped working since.

From 2009 to 2013 he starred on the hit ABC Family series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” He currently stars on the CBS hit drama “Blue Bloods,” playing Anthony Abetemarco, a new investigator for the DA’s office, with Season 7 premiering on September 23.

When Schirripa is off set, he ventures into the world of food. He has developed a line of organic, non-GMO and kosher certified pasta sauces called “Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties.” The line stays true to his late mother’s recipes, Italian heritage and comfort of family. The sauce is now available across the country in big super markets such as Whole Foods, Gelson’s and Stop and Shop as well as the smaller mom and pop stores.

Steve’s acting odyssey began while working at a hotel on the Las Vegas strip. As once the entertainment director of The Riviera Hotel, Steve worked with such comedians as Drew Carey, Kevin Pollack and Bruce Baum. His cameo roles in their comedy specials led to episodic work on the big and small screen.

Clarkson Potter published Steve’s book, “A Goomba’s Guide To Life,” in September 2003, making him a national bestselling author in a series of three Goomba guidebooks.

Schirripa resides in New York with his wife and two daughters.