Finding the Blanca Mora Quartet was an unexpected thrill that awakened a sleeping passion. I LOVE this music.
As a Singer, jazz standards written and produced by such Masters as Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and Johnny Mercer delight my soul. My heroes are the singers of that era who could accomplish the melodies, rhythms and techniques from the 1920s through the 1950s with seeming ease. Often the melody is nowhere in the accompaniment. This skill and ability required is impossible to impart in words.. You have to experience the challenge to appreciate the accomplishment.
The Blanca Mora Quartet expertly performs a genre of music that is challenging. It is rare for me to find another musician who loves this genre and can accomplish these songs. It was by accident that I stumbled upon Blanca Mora and the talented musicians that make up her quartet.
A Quartet Makes Four starting with The Voice
“Music is my medicine.” Blanca Mora
Blanca Mora is a Singer. She is a vocalist that started out singing Gospel songs who progressed to being able to cover songs from most genres, from Rock to Blues. She sings to spread joy and share what she describes as “an interesting life experience”.
The Strings: Guitar and Bass
Dr Joseph A. Baldassarre
Those who Can – also Teach. This Professor of Music, Emeritus, at Boise State University in Musicology and Guitar Studies adds a touch of soul on an upright bass and magic on electric guitar. Electric bass is also added when the tune calls for a sound from a different era.
Dr. Joe A. Baldassarre is a Composer and Singer-Songwriter with a double-doctorate in music: classical guitar, performance and medieval music musicology (history and research).
He has taught at Boise State University for 36 years retiring in 2009 as coordinator of the Music History and Guitar areas.
All but two of the nine songs on his progressive rock CD are his own compositions and he provided almost all of the recorded vocals and instruments.
I asked him four questions:
PJ: When did you become interested in music?
Dr. B: When I was 4, my father (from Italy) was teaching me to read music while my mother (from Sicily, but spoke English and served as an interpreter in WW2) was teaching me the alphabet and how to read English. I’ve never considered myself anything other than a musician, it is the reason I was put on Earth.
PJ: When did you become interested in jazz?
Dr. B: My first two guitar teachers, from when I was 6 to 15, were jazz guitarists: the famous Jimmy Hall and Carl Poliafico. I was a studio musician in Cleveland when I was 13 and one had to be capable of reading music prolifically, and covering several styles: jazz, pop, rock, folk and ethnic (polkas, waltzes, etc.)
PJ: What do you like best about performing?
Dr. B: The stage is a comfortable place for me. I enjoy the interplay amongst the players, getting feedback from the audience and expressing myself through my instruments.
PJ: What do you like best about being in a quartet?
Dr. B: I enjoy performing music regardless of the size of the group or type of music being played – although I do like small bands best.
If you have never experienced a live stand-up bass, it is well worth your while to seek out and enjoy Dr. Joe A. Baldassarre in performance. There is nothing like it.
It is not enough to say, “Elizabeth plays keyboard.” Elizabeth Findley is a Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist and Producer who has been writing songs since fifth grade.
Since 2012, she has been going to studios, turning her creations into polished recordings and those songs have been played on local radio.
Her degree in music gives her a foundation to draw from in her Pop, Rock Country and Blues-styled Indie songs, but it is the love of jazz standards that she shares with the Blanca Mora Quartet.
Only a creative person with an understanding of music can bend the rules as is necessary to pull off the intricate and complicated play required for the performance of jazz keyboard. When Elizabeth Findley takes a solo, it is her ability to create combined with her knowledge of music that comes together in a sweet new creation of her own.
“It’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it’s also true that a word is worth a thousand pictures.” Marty Johncox
Percussionist, Marty Johncox describes himself as an “exercise fiend and knife thrower”.
Raised in Mexico Marty Johncox volunteers, teaching African Percussion and is founder of New Americans Code, “a school and a way to help refugees find a path to become productive members of society”.
Latin rhythms are often a component of Jazz, so it is not surprising that Marty Johncox was raised in a bicultural household. His mother immigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1950. From her, he says he learned and understands the difficulties people face when adapting to a new culture.
I have always been amazed by jazz percussionists. They can keep up intricate rhythms at perfect tempo while chatting with you. It is so natural to them. Marty Johncox is the pulse – the heartbeat of this excellent group of skilled talent.
Listen to the Blanca Mora Quartet at the following links:
Find BLANCA MORA
Find DR. JOE BALDASSARRE
Find ELIZABETH FINDLEY
Find MARTY JOHNCOX