Angie Pontani (center) and the Pontani Sisters - (Photo: www.pontanisisters.com)
Local Jazz fans who keep an eye on the clubs for young
players coming out of University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of
Music no doubt remember trumpeter Brian Newman in the late ’90s/early
’00s. A Cleveland native, Newman ultimately landed in New York City
after graduation and started working. He’s been there over a decade now.
Newman hit the NYC scene hard, earned a
steady stream of gigs and met some key contacts. Putting together a band
with some fellow CCM grads (including Alex Smith on organ, Paul Francis
on drums, bassist Scott Ritchie and Steve Kortyka on tenor sax), Newman
scored a sweet residency at the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room. His shows have
been a big draw, as Newman and crew do the “hip lounge lizard” thing
with a healthy dose of humor thrown in. Turns out Newman is a pretty
solid singer as well, lending his hearty vocals to standards like “It
Had to Be You” and “That’s Life.” Along
with a slew of other performing gigs, Newman also holds a residency at
Duane Park, where one of those “contacts” — Newman’s girlfriend (now
fiancé) Angie Pontani — came into play.
One of the biggest names in modern burlesque, Pontani (of The
World Famous Pontani Sisters, pictured) and many of her dancer friends appear at
the shows (and no doubt do wonders for the draw).
with Lady Gaga’s boyfriend also led to a friendship and professional
relationship with Gaga herself. He’s Gaga’s go-to Jazz guy, performing
with the Pop star and his CCM pals, notably, on her network TV special, A Very Gaga Thanksgiving (where Newman got to perform with Tony Bennett, as well), the Today Show and the MTV Video Music Awards. Gaga has performed on Newman’s turf also — her guest appearances during Newman’s Jazz gigs often make music news headlines. Recently featured on the soundtrack to the movie Friends With Kids, Newman has also just issued a live document of his Oak Room shows, Live from New York City.
Newman and Pontani are doing a trio of Ohio shows this week as
“Burlesque-a-Pades,” featuring Jazz from Newman and his quintet and
dancing from Pontani and friends. Tonight, they'll shake things up at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club. Showtime is 7 p.m. and this event is
open to those 21 and up only.
Here's a clip from the Gaga TV special. That's Newman introducing the festivities (and rockin' the trumpet).
And here are the Pontanis doing their thang with longtime collaborators Los Straitjackets last year.
And here is Newman and Co. from earlier this year.