From: MGA Update (stevencatanzaro_at_sprintmail.com)
Date: 2003-03-10 21:38:39
Modern Groove Assembly's "Follow The Leader" is now the theme song for a
movie distributed by 20th Century Fox... (Isn't it time for them to update
the name?) The movie, a comedy called "Shoot Or Be Shot," stars William
Shatner and Harry Hamlin and should be appearing soon at a video store near
MGA vocals were provided by the stellar old-school (who said old?) trio
Hodges, James and Smith.
MGA in the press... Here's some info from an upcoming newspaper article....
but we took all the mean bits out for ya.... And, please check
for upcoming dates and a look at our new flier....
(scroll down for unsubscribe info)
Introducing the heavy jazz funk sounds of Modern Groove Assembly.... live
jazz breakbeats, deep house, and nu soul..... A jazz funk supergroup
featuring dj's, mc's, dancers, vocalists, and L.A's hottest jazz and funk
musicians... Herman Matthews, Louis Taylor, Leslie "Les" King, Stewart
Killen, Kelli Stanton, and Steve Catanzaro....
"There was a German music professor early in the 20th century" remarks MGA
leader Steve Catanzaro "Who had a chart that showed music reached its apex
in Mozart. He gave detailed theoretical reasons as to why that was, and why
its been all downhill ever since." Catanzaro chuckles. "I think I could do a
chart like that but I'd put Duke Ellington at the top."
Catanzaro considers himself an "escapee" from the insular university music
"When I decided to try a career in music, my family wasn't real happy. They
told me that if I was gonna do it, it had to be legit." He ended up getting
an MM in classical piano performance from Cal State Fullerton. "My roomate
was a girl from USC who went on to become a famous singing star, Macy Gray.
I lived a double life. All day, I would practice Beethoven and Ravel, and at
night, I would drive up to LA and try and check out the jazz and funk
A turning point came upon graduation. "Without my knowing it, [Macy] set up
meeting with this famous jazz producer she had snuck one of my demos to. He
told me he liked it, which I couldn't believe, and then he told me his
production fee, which told me I was right to be suspicious. Looking back,
$10,000 for a full album from a prominent Grammy winning producer is not
crazy, but it was all the money in the world to me, and one BIG thing about
music school... no one does anything for money, really. I didn't feel
prepared to deal with things business-wise, or music-wise for that matter."
Faced with a decision to manuver the the LA music jungle or study his art,
he chose what he now calls "the easy way out"... He left LA and went
for a doctorate in piano performance, studying with one of America's elite
teachers. "He was definitely a cut above anyone I had ever worked with, as a
musician, teacher, and as a person. But really, I was pretty bored with
classical music by then. I got really into jazz, studying it on my own,
Horace Silver, Monk, and Duke, as well as alot of newer European music, Roni
Size, Erik Truffaz and the like."
A series of family tragedies left his brother and father with major health
problems, and the caretaker role sidelined him for two years. "The whole
period was kind of a lull" he says "but it got me thinking about things in a
new way, and enabled me to do some different things."
"Different things" included starting a company, Elements Music, which filled
a niche and has swiftly grown into one of the nation's largest multi-state
providers of afterschool music programs for kids. The centerpiece of the
company is a keyboard
method that allows the kids to learn on pop hits instead of "old-fashioned"
"It's funny to hear various music industry types whine about how 'Music
education is dying! We need more instruments in schools!'" Catanzaro says.
"But they never ask more fundamental questions. What kind of instruments?
What kind of music education? We are probably raising the most musically
illiterate generation in our history, and nobody cares, really, because the
and methods that were out of date 50 years ago are still being used, and
parents don't want to inflict the same tortures they went through on their
He continues, "When Joplin published Maple Leaf Rag, they sold hundreds and
thousands, not of piano rolls, but of sheet music copies of it, and the
country was about
1/6th the size it is now. How many people in this country today can play
Maple Leaf Rag? It's not an easy piece."
He sums up, "It's wierd... I barely graduated high school. I think my GPA
2.13. But being a generally lousy student gave me insight into what makes a
good teacher...We're just trying to put some fun into learning your
instrument... to make it relevant to kids."
As his family got healthier, and his company grew, renewed independence gave
the chance to come back to LA, this time with a competitive fire he
Making up for lost time? "Definitely." Before it's too late? He laughs.
"It's all ready too late to be a music star. That's not why I'm doing this.
Not for money. I just wanna be involved with the scene, to be with the best
musicians, and learn to put on a good show... the kind of show I'd like to
see. I ask myself 'If Duke Ellington were alive today, in the post hiphop
era, what with turntables, and broken beats, and jungle, what would he do...
what kind of show would he put on?' Something that you can dance to or
listen to. But first, its dance music, just like jazz should be."
Is he inspired by his old college friend's success? "Oh, definitely. Before
that, I didn't know any famous people. Now, within the last few years,
living here, I've met alot.
That line in Spinal Tap sums it up.... It's a fine line between clever and
stupid... I've probably looked on the stupid side more than a few times but
I'm still just trying to get the music to sound right....Why not?"
And the Modern Groove Assembly? "There is unbelievable pressure in LA,
unbelievable calculation.... which move, which beat, which chord sequence,
which lyric, is gonna get you the most paid. Everybody has an opinion, and
they all cancel each other out. If 3 people in an office like something, a
whole new trend gets marketed."
"So at the end of the day, I'm just gonna create music I like, music that's
fun to play, fun to listen to, fun to dance to. We played a show at a
rave-type place, and we did a version of Herbie Hancock's Autordrive. After
the show, this guy was smiling, sweating all over from dancing and he said,
'Autodrive.... That was my favorite song in high school.... None of my
friends would listen to it.... When you guys started playing it.... I was
like.... I can't believe this is happening!' ... That's what it's about for
Future plans? "To learn more about music. It never ends. I got to talk to
Oscar Brashear the other night, the legendary horn player. I asked him
what's going on,
he said, 'Mostly trying to get into this horn.' That's inspiring. I feel I'm
starting out... Some people master their instrument when their 20.... I'm
just a slow learner.... Brahms didn't finish his first symphony till he was
so I hope I've still got time."
MODERN GROOVE ASSEMBLY:
Steve Catanzaro, keyboards and programming with;
Herman Matthews, Drums (Stevie Wonder, Tower of Power.)
Louis Taylor, Winds (Karl Denson, Donnie, Gerald Wilson Orchestra.)
Les King, Bass (Billy Childs, Maynard Ferguson.)
Stewart Killen, Percussion (Orgone, Skin.)
featuring lead vocals by Virgin Recording Artist Kelli Stanton ("the
sweetheart of Watts")
with MC Kia, DJ Theory...
Appearing TUESDAY, MARCH 18, at BOUNCE ROCK & SKATE @ Boardner's, 1652 N.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26, @ TEMPLE BAR, 1026 W. Wilshire, Santa Monica..
BOTH SHOWS @ 11:00 sharp!
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