LEWISBORO, N.Y. Lewisboro is filled with professional musicians who call the town home. But the number of them making a living playing the vibraphone can probably be counted on one finger. Thats Steve Shapiro.
And even though you might not know his name, Shapiro, also a producer and composer, may well be one of the most successful musicians to live in town.
While working primarily as a session musician in New York City, Shapiro has credits that have created an impressive and elected resume, including working with major jazz and pop artists, composing music for television shows, feature films, commercials, and multimedia. As a jazz vibist, he has co-released three CDs with acclaimed Nashville guitarist Pat Bergeson. His most recent CD is entitled, Backward Compatible.
Shapiro grew up in Connecticut but moved with his wife and twin sons to Lewisboro 13 years ago. I was looking for a place with a barn so I could put in a studio and we fell in love with the property, he said. I knew some cool musicians who have lived in South Salem; they were always talking about it. It just turned out to be where we ended up.
Shapiro began his musical career as a drummer, but fate would soon draw him to the vibraphone. I went to Hall High School in West Hartford and we had the best jazz band in the country, he explains. We won awards from Downbeat Magazine . The school produced a lot of great musicians. They would take the elementary school kids to see them do this show and I decided I really wanted to be in this band.
He eventually did join the band as a drummer, but wasnt getting to get to play as much as he wanted. Since the vibraphone is another percussion instrument, he made the switch. When I got through college and got to New York and saw how many incredible drummers there were, I realized I should be focusing on the vibes, he said.
It was a good move. Shapiro has recorded with artists such as Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, Ornette Coleman, Pat Martino, Regina Belle, and Spyro Gyra. He appeared on Steely Dan's Two Against Nature album, which received four Grammy Awards including Album-of-the-Year.
Being a huge Steely Dan fan, getting a chance to play with them was a thrill for Shapiro. It was their reunion album they hadnt done anything in 20 years and that was very exciting, he said. I always thought Asa and Gaucho were two of the most amazing albums ever made. Playing with them was like playing right field for the Yankees for a few days.
Shipiro also composes music for many television series, films, TV commercials and trailers, and is a long-time producer/arranger for the Walt Disney Company, with credits on an array of projects related to over 35 feature film releases. He has received awards from Berklee College of Music and IAJE, and has been featured and reviewed in magazines such as Mix, Downbeat, JazzTimes, The Village Voice, JazzEd, Video-Systems and Modern Drummer.
However, right now Shapiros heart is into playing locally and is hoping to make gigging a Le Chateaus new JP Lounge a regular thing. I hadnt played that much in the area, other than a concert I did at the library a few years ago, he said. There arent many venues for me to play vibraphones and the jazz stuff. JP Lounge opened last year and I checked it out and I thought it would be a good place. We did a show in September and had a lot of fun.
Shapiro has created a trio with two area musicians, both renowned in their own right. The band includes Joel Rosenblatt on drums and Dave Anderson on bass. Shapiro wants to make the JP Lounge shows a regular thing.
I am hoping we can keep it going and have a gig there every four or six weeks, he said. Theres a need to keep live music going. Its a beautiful atmosphere to play in and they have an attitude that they want to get younger people to come over and thats been working out well. The next gig at the JP Lounge is Thursday night, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Theres no cover.
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