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Lapis Luna resurrect jazz music from the '30s to the '50s with charming authenticity
(Published: July 15, 2011)

July 15, 2011 (New York, NY) Written by Robert Sutton. Every Thursday night the Plaza Hotel's Rose Club is plunged back in time. Suddenly, it is the era when men still wore fedoras; Prohibition tightened the stranglehold of moral codes; and blaring, beat-happy jazz music exploded from smoke-filled dive bars.

For local group Lapis Luna, authenticity goes beyond skin deep. This is a band that not only looks and sounds like a jazz combo from over 50 years ago; they actually could easily be mistaken for one.

Featuring vocalist Shawn Aileen Clark, guitarist John Merrill, bassist Chris Pistorino, drummer Brian Floody, trumpeter Don Blankinship, vibraphonist Tom Beckham, and saxophonists Tom Abbott and Chris Byars, Lapis Luna formed in the ‘90s. The group was originally a swing band caught in the genre's commercial revival during that era. However, the group started to evolve a few years later, shortly after the arrival of Merrill in 2000. "We turned down the neo-swing vibe and started focusing on a classic jazz trio of guitar, bass, and vocals, with emphasis on obscure songs from the ‘30s and ‘40s, which is still one our strong point," Pistorino recalled. "When Floody came along in 2001, everything finally clicked."

Lapis Luna's two albums - 2007's Take Love Easy and 2010's holiday-themed Snowbound - offer a glimpse of their period-piece magic. But Lapis Luna draws from a larger catalog in live performance, and the results are usually spectacular. Clark's sultry take on "Our Love is Here to Stay" is among the standouts; anchored by shuffling percussion and Merrill's crystalline guitar work, it dazzles while it soothes. Clark's playful singing on "I Could Write a Book" is instantly charming, given soulful depth by Pistorino's throbbing bass. "You're a Lucky Guy" is an invigorating party song.

Lapis Luna is reeling in quite a buzz on the East Coast. They were recently the wedding band for actress Christina Hendricks, one of the stars of TV's epitome of jazzy retro-hipness, Mad Men. "We play a lot of festivals and concerts, and we get a tremendous response - 'refreshing and swinging' being a top accolade," Pistorino revealed.

(Lapis Luna perform live every Thursday at The Plaza Hotel's Rose Club at 59th & Fifth Ave at Central Park South, NYC. 9 p.m. to Midnight).

More Information: http://www.lapisluna.com

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