Jazz trio’s music variety soothes audiences

SINGING IN THE MOMENT – Bill Cantos entertains the crowd with his voice while Mari Falcone plays the piano alongside him on April 5, 2013 in the S2 Recital Hall. CN/Oliver Blanco


By Gabrielle Osei 


A mixture of improvisation, scatting, melodies, lyrics and passion soothed the East Los Angeles College’s “First Friday Jazz Concert series” audience April 5. A male trio compiled of pianist and vocalist Bill Cantos, drummer Michael Shapiro and bassist Hussain Jiffry took the stage for the concert. The trio has played together for seven years, but the chemistry on stage shows much longer.

Brazilian music has inspired all of the musicians alongside what the musicians described as “good music.”

As the trio took center stage under dim lighting, the engaged audience snapped and tapped their feet throughout the performance.

The “Tax Textbook Song” topped off as one of the highlights. Cantos sang page 175 of the tax textbook, which made for a good laugh throughout the crowd and was strictly improvisation.

“One word from you makes such a difference in my day” and “The way you walk into a room, you make me smile,” are some of the relatable lyrics sung by Cantos of love and life that brought smiles to the audience.

Drummer Michael Shapiro was the inspiration for a song titled “Everybody’s on the Phone,” which title is self-explanatory.

The genres of music played varied in jazz influence. Some songs sounded more like jazz and others like Latin jazz.

Shapiro used a Cajon during the performance of “Miss You So,” which he stated was improvisation.

Shapiro enjoys “doing something different with the same song.” His use of the Cajon gained the recognition of a young audience member who patted along on his lap.

Shapiro is a self taught musician and freelance drummer that describes the various genres he performs as “The way of the world. The way the world is made of all kinds of people is the same way music is.”

Special guest Mari Falcone played a number of songs with the trio as a pianist alongside her husband Bill Cantos.

“We’re a team. We don’t compete against each other,” said Mari.

He has been playing the piano since the age of five. He describes his inspirations and influence as everything.

His sister had a number of Sergio Mendez records, which inspired him and lead him to the genre of jazz, as well as his parents being apart of theater and his mother being an Opera singer.

“Good music makes me want to put something together,” Bill Cantos.

Throughout Cantos’s performance, he incorporates improvisation to involve the audience.

Bassist Hussain Jiffry played two types of basses, the six string bass and electric upright.

Jiffry being of Sri-Lankan descent, said music brought him to America. He is also a self-taught musician and has played the bass for 35 years.

Having taught at the Los Angeles Music Academy and attended the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Shapiro described his appreciation of music as having helped him become more versatile.

Cantos and Falcone closed the show in unison battling on the piano  to see who could play “Amazing Grace” better. “Thank God for the gift of music and the ability to share it,” Cantos said.

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