Got The World On A String

Mike Gellar - guitar; Christiana Drapkin - voice; Chris Battistone - trumpet; Bob Shann - bass; Dominic Smith - drums

1. RealAudio I've Got The World On A String
2. RealAudioYou'd Be So Nice To Come Home To
3. RealAudioThe Nearness of You
4. RealAudio Laverne Walk
5. RealAudio Friends Again
6. RealAudio The Peacocks
7. The Way You Look Tonight
8. There's A Small Hotel
9. Tennessee Waltz
10. For Baden
11. You're Looking At Me
12. East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)
13. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
14. I'll Remember April

It seemed rather improbable, how Christiana and Mike's paths crossed, and a deep musical friendship grew despite the many miles separating them. Mike and his wife Meribeth, along with their golden retriever Samba, two cool cats, a gaggle of geese, and a frog named Dave, all lived in a place filled with music and tucked away at the end of a long dirt road in the hills of western Maryland. Christiana - although (or maybe because) she grew up in Germany's Black Forest - considered herself a "dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker" ever since settling in Brooklyn in the early 1980s.

They met more or less by chance, at a weekend visit with mutual friends in the area, and played at a music session together. Once or twice a year, Christiana found herself in Mike's neck of the woods, and one jam session led to another. They found common ground in the old Standards like "The Nearness of You" and "You Stepped Out of a Dream", especially enjoying their work as a duo. So they decided to develop their shared repertoire and started booking gigs between DC and New York.

Studying with Brooklyn jazz pianist Charles Sibirsky, who carried on the lines and harmonic developments characteristic of the Lennie Tristano school, Christiana brings her own scat-inflected repertoire of the Standards. Mike takes his inspiration from composers such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Tadd Dameron, Johnny Mercer, Burke/Van Husen and Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarists Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Joe Pass and Oscar Moore. Together, they developed their own "book", crossing over into each other's territory, inspiring and enriching their music in the process.

Mike brought his more contemporary repertoire into the mix with his instrumental cuts of "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Laverne Walk". They shared the wordless musical lines of guitarist Jack Wilkins's "For Baden", and "Friends Again" by West-Coast sax player Lanny Morgan. Their love for trading and soloing together, and Mike's Latin repertoire - so ably supported on this CD by Dominic Smith on drums and Bob Shann on bass - made them delve into "I'll Remember April". Chris Battistone's cool and tasteful trumpet lines complement this cut, as well as the title tune, "I've Got the World on a String", "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To", "There's a Small Hotel", "You're Looking At Me".

Mike introduced Christiana to the 1970s Nancy King - Steve Wolfe album, "First Date", which took them to a later recording of King's and a reharmonization of "Tennessee Waltz". In another nod to her, they couldn't resist including an intimate version of "There's a Small Hotel". Mike first heard pianist Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" on his album with Stan Getz, and they included this challenging and haunting song for a rare vocal rendition. They rounded out this CD with "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" and "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To".

Here is what Mike Gellar says about his band:

Christiana and I have a special rapport that inspires each of us to create a result that is the greater than the sum of the two individuals. We love the interplay and counterpoint that happens between us. Part of our close collaboration is due to our love of the same music and performers. I look at Christiana as a jazz musician, and one who is adventuresome, rather than as a vocalist who sings with jazz musicians. She brings a great deal of joy to the music and is not afraid to take chances.

Bassist Bob Shann always lays down a smooth, warm, supportive sound and is a wonderfully melodic soloist. The Ray Brown influence comes out on Bob's solo on "I've Got the World on a String", and he plays a beautiful solo on "There's A Small Hotel".

Drummer Dominic Smith is a master of taste, dynamics and textures. I love his brush work on "I've Got the World on a String", "There's A Small Hotel", "The Peacocks", and "The Way You Look Tonight". Listen to the beautiful cymbals in "The Peacocks".

Trumpeter Chris Battistone and I go back over 20 years. We have performed together, he recorded with me and wrote an arrangement for my 1998 debut-CD "Perdido", and he has even helped me improve my ear from time to time. Chris' playing is always so tasteful, he makes me think of Harry 'Sweets' Edison. Enjoy him backing up Christiana and his solo on the opening tune. I loved trading 8's with Chris on "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To". He reminds me of Randy Brecker, along with Bob and Dominic really laying down the rhythm.

I love the interaction between us on the CD's instrumental cuts, "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Laverne Walk". - Guitarist Steve Herberman turned me onto this Oscar Pettiford tune during a gig together. I thought a bluesy, rhythm changes-type tune would be a nice complement to the others on the CD. And I even threw in a lick from my earlier rock days.

"Friends Again" is alto saxophonist Lanny Morgan's composition which he recorded with guitarist Bruce Forman. Chris Battistone and I used to play it, and one day Christiana and I decided it would be fun to do together. Tony DeCaprio helped me improve my picking on this challenging tune.

I play an incredibly wonderful and expressive handmade guitar by Gary Mortoro.



1. MP3 Perdido
2. MP3 Indian Summer
3. There Is No Greater Love
4. Israel
5. Angel Eyes
6. MP3 The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
7. Alice In Wonderland
8. MP3 On The Trail
9. I Love You
10. MP3 Wendy
11. Mohawk
12. Broadway

This CD features Mike in duo, trio, quartet and quintet settings. Musicians featured on this recording include Steve Abshire on guitar, Chris Bacas on sax, Chris Battistone on trumpet, Tommy Cecil, Paul Langosch and Dave Wundrow on bass, Mike Smith and Alan Wonneberger on drums.