Pamela Ruby Russell, Peter Calo, Carly Simon, Alex Taylor, Bellvista, Ingrid Saxon

A Chapter of Joe Viglione's Guide to New England Music write

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guitarist/Songwriter/Producer Peter Calo, Pamela Ruby Russell, Carly Simon, Liv Taylor, Alex Taylor, Kate Taylor, Ingrid Saxon

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Peter Calo plays guitar on the soundtrack to the new film HAIRSPRAY (2007). He is also working with Carly Simon and Jimmy Webb on their upcoming recording project.

Bellvista THE PAINTER 1982 with PETER CALO
The Painter

Review by Joe Viglione

Jazz guitarist Peter Calo's brilliance is all over this 1982 debut by his band Bellvista. Years before his film soundtracks and work with Carly Simon, this out-of-print six-song instrumental album contains 36 minutes of exquisite musicianship. Chris Brown does a fine job of capturing Calo's borderline rock solo in the opener, the nine-minute-and-22-second "Once Upon a Fantasy." Jeff Potter's drums hit Chip Graham's electric bass head on. Boston Globe critic J. Harper is the executive producer and writes the liner notes. He heard the band at Ryles, a famous Boston area jazz club, two years prior to this recording and says that the band was together only six months before he saw them. In a bit of hyperbole he states "Bellvista means 'good view' — of the sound of the '80s and beyond," but decades after the critic penned those words, it would be hard to disagree with him. Calo proved himself with his fine solo releases along with his efforts on recordings for luminaries of the film and music world. The band theme "Belle Vista," separating their name, is pretty and more restrained than the fiery first track. These are all Calo originals, with an interesting suite that makes up side two. There's "The Poet (For Elaine)," followed by the album's shortest tune, a three-minute "The Dancer," and the tour de force nine-minute title track, "The Painter." This is an album that needs to be re-released with anything the band may have left in the tape vaults. Perhaps there's a live show that could fill out a full-length compact disc. It's extraordinary from top to bottom in sound, performance, and packaging.

Spoonerism 1983

From AMG Reviews

Peter Calo's Spoonerism six-song EP from 1983 displays his clever grasp of pop, especially on "When It's Good," which has the markings of multi-format smash written all over it. This was released on Calo's own En Route label and is another example of how record companies in the '80s failed to do what they did in the '60s -- to pick up great regional music once it found its way out into the world on its own. The black-and-white cover is as clever as the music, unique artwork by Richard Fitzhugh on the front, the four-piece band facing each other at a coffee shop, with Calo peering at the listener from inside a mirror on the back. Side one is titled "Concave" and is hollow and curved like the inside of a circle, while side two is called "Convex" and is curved out, like the outside of a sphere. Three songs have vocals, while three are instrumental. "Next to You" is George Benson-style jazz-pop, some scat singing with dancing guitar and keys. "Sunbathing" contains no voices, and needs none -- it is just a stunningly beautiful piece of music. With the high profile this artist would receive working with singer Carly Simon, along with crafting Hollywood soundtracks, it is really a shame that this exquisite song hasn't been rediscovered and had the chance to penetrate the consciousness of the masses. Both "Sunbathing" and "When It's Good" are outstanding finds, well-produced statements packaged with care. The record was engineered and mixed by Phil Green, former guitarist in the band Swallow, and some of the music goes into territory explored by another great Boston jazz artist, ex-Orchestra Luna guitarist Randy Roos, whose Mistral album has much in common with Peter Calo's Spoonerism. The curve of a spoon and the curve of a circle reflect this sound, which takes diverse elements from Atlanta Rhythm Section, Genesis, and other artists, but comes up with its own uniqueness. "There's a Reason" is the only song which has a collaborator, co-written with Elaine Davies, while the fine musicianship of the bandmembers is on display in another instrumental, "Captain Squirrel Cheeks." PCB, the Peter Calo Band, released another track, "Fine Line," on The Boston Rock Roll Anthology, Vol. 7 around this time. All of this is music which should be made available again, and perhaps will, as journeyman Peter Calo is an artist who many respect and appreciate.

- Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

The Boston Rock & Roll Anthology Volume #7 1987 PCB (Peter Calo Band) "Fine Line"

Cape Ann 1995

Genre: New Age
Release Date: 07/25/1995
Run Time: 51:16

Peter Calo's delightful instrumental album, Cape Ann, was recorded in between his work on two records by Carly Simon, 1994's Letters Never Sent and 1997's Film Noir. Simon says "What a joy and what a find!" about her guitarist in the accompanying booklet, and for fans who go all the way back to his 1982 jazz group Bellvista's four-song EP, The Painter, or 1983's Spoonerism by the Peter Calo Band, this is a unique and exciting setting for Calo. The virtuoso guitarist brings forth creative bursts and ideas over 14 titles, many in the four-minute range. Outside of sounds from his own voice as an instrument on "Candlelight" or Bob Patton's soprano sax on track four, "Pashka," the CD is filled with bright, lightly played guitar improvisations. Each melody has its own distinct character and is very pleasant. "The Devil's Game" and "Early Sunday Bells of Summer" clock in at one minute and 55 seconds and one minute and 57 seconds, respectively, the former acting as a nice bridge between longer essays, while "Early Sunday Bells of Summer" brings the CD to a close. A photo of Calo on the rocks of Cape Ann with the water behind him reflects the easy mood of this new age/jazz solo instrumental album. Very pleasant.

~Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Wired to The Moon (1998) Peter Calo

Peter Calo has worked with Kate Taylor (sister of James Taylor), was musical arranger for Carly Simon, performed on the soundtrack to the DeNiro film Flawless, among other admirable exploits in the business of music. A journeyman from Boston, relocated to New York City, this album is chock of full of the smooth pop and finely crafted tunes that Calo is known for. On "Situation Totally Insane" Calo plays mandolin, shakers, acoustic guitar, whistles, and sings the lead and backing vocals. He sounds like one voice of the Everly Brothers on "Memory of You" and evokes the sound of Hall & Oates if they were successful solo. "Way Up on a Mountain," the tune which starts off the CD, "The Way You Looked," the exquisite "Full Moon Tango," the title track, and "The Wind and the Waves" are all fascinating. In fact, these five songs make strong candidates for appearance in film -- perhaps that is where Calo is shaping his career. Lilting and smart pop, it's adult contemporary with spirit and soul. If you admire Harriet Schock and Laura Nyro, Calo writes on that level. It's the kind of music you wish Billy Joel would put out... it's more serious than Joel and deserves to be as commercial. Calo's musicianship is so fine he could easily crossover to other formats. "Driftwood" is simply acoustic guitar, dobro, bass, and vocal riffs of Lauren Kinhan and Rob Markus. Ever hear bluegrass-jazz? From the wah-wah guitar of "Guns Are Not Enough" to the final track, "I Don't Know If It's Love," Calo does things vocally and lyrically that seem to be missing in pop today. This is not just Triple-A format; there are more than a couple of hits in this compact disc. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Cowboy Song

Cowboy Song
  • Artist: Peter Calo
  • Flags: Lyrics are included with the album


Peter Calo is known as both a jazz performer and session man, but on Cowboy Song ("Contemporary Arrangements of Songs From the American West") he turns his attention to traditional songs of the American frontier. The liner notes explain that the artist was inspired by the composition "Red River Valley," with its theme of parted lovers. Calo found many of these tunes in a book published in 1910 by University of Texas professor John Lomax, as well as in poet Carl Sandburg's collection The American Songbag. What he's created is an extraordinary 13-track collection of new interpretations of timeless melodies. Both ambitious and commendable, the artist flavors these renditions with his impeccable timing, sparse but eloquent instrumentation, and a sense of adventure. "Shenandoah" starts the album off, followed by a medley of "I Ride an Ol' Paint"/"St. James Infirmary." These are the performances with the most jazz influence, but things get decidedly more Old West with "A Cowboy's Lament," featuring Antoine Silverman's very nice violin work. Calo essays his thoughts on much of the material in the liner notes, and the eight-page booklet is very detailed. The musicians attack this material as if it is their own, and that's the beauty of Cowboy Song -- sincere reworking of music, much of which came from a time before tape recorders. In probably the same fashion as classical music has floated down the rivers of time, so too "Red River Valley" is reborn with cello, violin, and Calo's acoustic guitar. "The Old Chisholm Trail" gets a slinky, eerie treatment, with Mike Harvey's vocals and what sounds like wah-wah meets slide guitar. The guitarist calls these "songs of the cowboys, the way I hear them now," and his vision is itself as exciting a find as the old sheet music that inspired him. The almost instrumental of Hank Williams "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is a far cry from B.J. Thomas. Mike Harvey adds only dashes of vocal sound, blending it in with the electric guitars and violin. "Home on the Range" plays like Jimi Hendrix doing an acoustic version of his classic "Star Spangled Banner," while Calo's jazz roots invade the country picking of "Oh, Dem Golden Slippers." "The Streets of Laredo," "Yellow Rose of Texas," "Jesse James," and other selections get the treatment, and it is most enjoyable. There are lyrics to nine of the songs and even a bibliography. A really different kind of project worthy of attention. ~ Joe Viglione, All Music Guide

Peaceful Easy Feeling: The Music of The Eagles by Peter Calo

All Music Guide / Barnes & Noble

Multi-instrumentalist Peter Calo is a familiar name to fans of Carly Simon, Linda Eder, and contemporary film soundtracks, here putting his energies into no vocal takes on a dozen songs made famous by the Eagles, just as his Here Comes the Sun disc on the same label, Rhode Island's North Star Records, is an "instrumental tribute to the Beatles." It's a far cry from the smooth jazz/rock of his PCB unit which performed in Boston two decades prior to this in 1983, the artist moving into a Roger Williams/Ferrante & Teicher/Perry Botkin Jr. area with this work. Calo plays piano, banjo, lap steel, guitars, and additional string and percussion programming with appearances by Anja Wood on cello, Clint deGanon on drums, and other players all laying back and letting the popular melodies take center stage. They succeed at supplying a pleasant and entertaining backdrop without going overboard. That's the dilemma for fans of Calo's work as on many of the songs he has to be technician rather than innovator. They do embrace "One of These Nights" and create a haunting work which pulls away from the pack, the strings taking the place of the Eagles' backing vocals with the guitars bringing the copyright to a different time and place. "Hotel California" gets a lovely Spanish feel as does, naturally, "Tequila Sunrise." These tracks show the most improvisation and because of that stand out to those who have followed Calo's work. "Lyin' Eyes," "Desperado," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," and "New Kid in Town" are more by-the-book -- soothing to listen to but sticking to the program as the Eagles' own performance on "Best of My Love" does. The band's success came from keeping it all very simple and what is interesting here is a virtuoso like Calo holding back. It's a lovely work that will appeal to many, though fans would be more interested in the guitarist putting more of his creative spark into the mix as he did on his introspective and very satisfying Cowboy Song album. Joe Viglione

Here Comes the Sun: An Instrumental Tribute to the Beatles
Peter Calo

PETER CALO article from Arts Media Magazine

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Peter Calo Article


By Joe Viglione

Peter Calo was born in a small town in Alberta Canada and moved to Boston with his family when he was in high school, 9th grade. At that point in time he took up the guitar and within two years or so was invited by the MIT Classical Guitar Society (founded in 1971 by Vo Ta Han) to perform a concert at Kresge Auditorium in Cambridge. "I started out playing classical guitar, that was my first love along with the blues and funk" the guitarist said from his home in Croton on Hudson, New York in an interview mid-October, 2005.

By 1982 his jazz band Bellvista released a six song E.P. followed by his own "Spoonerism" in 1983 and a track, "Fine Line", on 1985's "Boston Rock & Roll Anthology Vol. #7" (Varulven), the first real look at Calo on record performing rock & roll.

With Sarah Caldwell and Leonard Bernstein in Bernstein's masterpiece, "Mass", Peter Calo was the only person to have performed both the singing role of the rock musician in that opera as well as playing the guitar. "After the performance Leonard Bernstein came up and gave me a hug as I took my bow - I'm looking for the photo of that" (in Calo's personal archives).

A mainstay of the Boston scene, Calo was involved as an original member of both Down Avenue (the band which had Charles Pettigrew of Charles & Eddie "Would I Lie To You" fame) and The Heavy Metal Horns. After his stints with both groups Peter moved to New York where
he began doing session work, producing and eventually hooked up with Carly Simon, beginning what is now a ten year relationship with the legendary singer/songwriter.

Calo noted, on his work with Carly: "we've been working off and on for ten years...the first tour was 1995. I met her in August - we did an impromptu gig." They also did a concert taped exclusively for "Lifetime" and Calo's datebook filled up quickly. Over the years he's performed on shows with Dobey Gray, Debbie Boone, Lesley Gore as well as "The New York Voices", a four
piece vocal band which toured with Peter as part of the backing trio, performing on their 1993 GRP album, "What's Inside", as well as their 1998 RCA disc "New York Voices Sing The Songs Of Paul Simon". He also worked on Carly Simon's 1994 disc "Letter's Never
Sent" (Arista" and her Grammy nominated 1997 disc "Film Noir". A long-time member of the Broadway show "Hairspray"'s orchestra, he is on their Grammy winning 2002 cast album on Sony. " He goes to bat for the artist when he's producing" said well-known Boston
vocalist Pamela Ruby Russell. "He's very inspiring, I learned so much from him. He's kind, professional, very organized, great producer ...and a guitarmaster." Russell also feels that Calo's
musical vocabulary is phenomenal "because he plays in so many genres, in so many types of music." With so many accolades a second opinion was needed, so Arts Media Magazine contacted New York chanteuse Ingrid Saxon, daughter of Vaudeville star David Sorin-Collyer
- the man who was vocal coach to Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Paul Simon and so many others. "It was awesome recording with him, he's brilliant" said Saxon - echoing Pamela Russell's sentiments from hundreds of miles away. "Before we even went into the studio he
came to my voice studio with his equipment, recorded my rehearsal with Paul Trueblood so that we could hear it back, and started giving us input. His ears are so incredible, (and) he directed both of us. He really directed us musically like the third set of ears, it was incredible." Saxon knows show business, having appeared on "Ryan's Hope" and "Days Of Our Lives" soaps, continuing with " He's very encouraging, really suportive. Peter knows so much about the recording process - he's been on so many sessions; he knew how to work with the engineer, work with the pro-tools. He had every angle covered."

Along with involvement soundtrack to the 1999 Robert De Niro film "Flawless" and other movies, Calo's recorded output is becoming voluminous - work with Linda Eder, Rosie O'Donnell, Joe Pesci, David Osborne, Kate Taylor, Kate's nephew Ben Taylor, and, of course, Ben's mom, Carly Simon. Which brings us back to Boston and the Orpheum show, November 19, 2005. Peter Calo will be performing with opener Ben Taylor - son of both James Taylor and Carly Simon, as well as with Carly. The songs, of course, will truly move the audience along
with Simon's presence (her star-power cameo in 2004's "Little Black Book" made that movie so extra special), but Calo's signature guitar lines can't be ignored. In a concert with Mary Gatchell in Epping New Hampshire in May of 2005 his guitarwork fit with Gatchell's keyboards so hand-in-glove. Mary Gatchell's "Indigo Rose" album was produced by Calo, who may tour New
England in 2006 with a number of his acts including opera singer Adelmo, Ingrid Saxon, Mary Gatchell, Pamela Ruby Russell and others.

With all this output his own work gets somehow lost in the shuffle. It shouldn't. Peter Calo's "Cowboy Song" album is historical and an instant classic that should be in libraries across the country. The artist recorded contemporary arrangements of songs from the American West including "Shenandoah", "Red River Valley", and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." A big departure from his instrumental tribute albums to The Eagles and The Beatles, two separate discs, on the North Star label, and his own "Wired To The Moon" and "Cape Ann" albums. For more information on this influential and important artist who worked many a Boston/Cambridge nightclub and theater, go to

A Lot of Livin' To Do Ingrid Saxon - Produced by Peter Calo

Ingrid Saxon's extraordinary voice, October 14, 2006
Intuition is the key element a vocalist must possess in order to move an audience with a recorded or live performance. Ms. Saxon may have achieved that intangible force on her own, or perhaps by osmosis as her dad, the legendary David Sorin-Collyer, vocal coached Bette Midler, Paul Simon, Michael Bolton, The Ramones, Melissa Manchester, Buzzy Linhart, Moogy Klingman and so many others. Young Ingrid grew up in that environment and went on to put her voice to children's recordings on
the Polygram and Playskool imprints, some produced by another legend, Bugs Bower, (credits including Burt Bacharach, Bing Crosby, Bobby Rydell and Ingrid!). Producer Peter Calo understand's Saxon's enormous talent and creates a mood with Paul Trueblood's piano not unlike the sparse John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album where the accompaniment adds flavor but the voice is allowed to work its magic. Taking on chestnuts like "Tenderly" or Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" is a gargantuan task. The trio know the risks and superbly reinvent these standards with this formula of bare elegance. On contemporary standards, Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager's "Come In From The Rain", it is without The Captain and Tennille's wonderful backing tracks, so all that is there is the voice with the 1 AM cabaret piano and producer creating the closing time drama. Though Saxon seems to spend more of her time with her television work and live show, "A Lot Of Livin' To Do" is so strong that it requires an immediate encore. Perhaps a live disc if her workload is too demanding and if Trueblood isn't off on tour with Marianne Faithful. The Petula Clarke medley appears on a very cool compilation disc which also features Doris Troy, Ray Manzarek, Marty Balin and Bobby Hebb. Superb company indeed.

Highway of Dreams Pamela Ruby Russell Produced by Peter Calo
Reviewby Joe Viglione

"Tengo Razon," a beautiful essay, is sung in Spanish, embellished by Evan Harlan's accordion, which is on four of the ten tracks that embody Highway of Dreams by Bostonian Pamela Ruby Russell. An album that boasts Carly Simon guitarist and arranger Peter Calo playing numerous instruments and co-producing, 'Til Tuesday guitarist Robert Holmes, and others finds incredible unity and a truly original sound. "Avenue of Tears" combines these talents for a rather complex presence behind Russell's dominant voice. The pan flutes and charango of Roberto Cachimuel play along the dirge-like guitar. Imagine Black Sabbath getting subdued and backing Marianne Faithfull. Comparisons will also be made to Loreena McKennitt, with lots of haunting keyboards, voices, and flutes finding their way into these folk-rock arrangements. Calo is a formidable talent, and he brings so much out of Russell -- the party atmosphere of "Is There Any Love" takes the sounds Lulu and Twiggy were crafting in '60s pop, redefines them, and re-establishes them. Co-producer Bob Patton's baritone saxophone comes out of nowhere on "Is There Any Love," replaced by Ana Pacanoska's violin, more flutes, and more accordion. This music is dense and thought-provoking, but it doesn't take away from the performance. "Sounds of the Sea" features kena, soaring solos, and Miguel Jimenez on the pan flutes. Russell is a character, and her very serious music has a charm that many musicians fail to express in the recording process. "Boxcar" is a great opening, specifically the drone of "Walk Thru Fire" where "we glimpse through fire and the future." It feels like gypsies spying on a black mass listening to this tune -- incredibly moody and perceptive. There is little of the shrill homogenized Top 40 production that stops so many good records from becoming great. Ernesto Diaz plays strong gothic percussion on "Walk Thru Fire," setting up the listener for the tour de force performance: the title number. The singer walks across a roadway that reaches over water and into the stars with a full moon above her and a red rose piercing the blue. The cover is an exquisite reflection of this great song, with heavy contributions from Holmes. It's rare to find a statement like Highway of Dreams; music this good shouldn't get lost in the shuffle of life.








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LIV 1971