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Country Club jazz guitarist hits the big time

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For years, Stadium Avenue resident Lou Volpe played in a jazz band all over the city. Now he’s out on his own.

Volpe operates a studio in Country Club where he gives music lessons, but lately he has turned his focus on a new endeavor: a concert series, “Lou Volpe on Broadway.”

The series kicked off on Friday, October 1 at the Jazz Room downstairs at Charley O’s, a restaurant on Broadway at 49th Street, near Times Square. Volpe will continue to play there every Friday night at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

“I’m very excited about this,” said Volpe. “Joe Franklin, the talk show host, along with some jazz promoters are backing me and I get to play this great spot on a regular basis.”

On Monday, September 27, Volpe had a CD release party at the Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Triangle. He said it was a thrill to meet so many fans, new and old, and said a couple that met him at Barnes & Noble actually liked his music so much they came to see him at the October 1 show.

In his new concert series, Volpe, who attended St. Raymond’s High School for Boys, plays a mix of solo songs and band-accompanied numbers. His piano player for the series is actually from Co-op City: Onaje Allan Gumbs, who Volpe refers to asa life-long friend.

His bassist is Bob Cranshaw, who has played with the Sonny Rollins Band, and the drummer is Buddy Williams.

All of this comes on the heels of Volpe’s new album, which is called “Hear and Now.” The album is, except for one song, entirely original music that Volpe wrote himself.

But there’s something else new about it. “It’s the first time I recorded live bass, drums, and piano all together,” he said.

For Volpe’s previous recordings, the accompanying instruments were inserted with over-dubbing, which is when the other instruments are added into the track after the guitar workis recorded.

Recording everything live, with all instruments going at once, is “more of a contemporary, straight-ahead jazz style, but still saluting the old masters,” according to Volpe.

“Hear and Now” is an independent recording, but this was no amateur cassette recorded in a basement. A friend of Volpe’s helped the group with finances and they were able to record at a studio in Englewood, New Jersey that is owned by Tony Bennett.

“The vibe was so nice,” Volpe recalled of the spot, “and that’s what you’re going for in this. You want to feel comfortable in a place so that the music you record has a life to it.”

For now, the album is available on Volpe’s web site, louvolpejazz.com, and CD Baby. But he is looking at getting it on Amazon.

Volpe does not have any overtly Bronx-inspired songs, but said he believes that the borough has influenced his music in countless ways. “Prince Charming,” for example, is a song he wrote about his pet beagle, who he found in Pelham Bay Park.

Even as he promoted his new album, Volpe is already on to the next project: he’s working on a recording of Sinatra songs, with just jazz guitar.

Meanwhile, at Charley O’s, he’ll continue to fly his listeners to the moon.

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