The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
The Death Whisperer Series available at

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jake Langley & Castle Rock Pinot Noir

You’ve probably heard the music of tonight’s featured guitarist, you just didn’t know it. Guitarist Jake Langley has emerged as one this generation’s great young talents on the instrument. His Jazz credits read like a who's who with the likes of Jazz icons Bobby Hutcherson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Steve Gadd, Pat Labarbara, James Moody, Trudy Pitts, George Coleman, Houston Person, Pee Wee Ellis, Scott Hamilton, Garth Hudson, Ron Blake and Bill Cosby and others. He’s been heard in many Broadway productions such as The Color Purple, Mama Mia and Jesus Christ Superstar. Jake won the Canadian National Jazz award in 2004/05 and has been on over 100 recordings, as well as performed on countless jingles, T.V. shows, and movie soundtracks. I hope you enjoy his smooth sounds and now that you’ve heard him, see if you can’t pick out his work in a T.V. show or commercial.

Goodbye Pork Pie Hat:

Reincarnation of a Love Bird:

Makin the Changes:

Close My Eyes:

Along Came Betty:

Dis Here:


Playin Wes Montgomery:

In the studio:

Duet Jamming:


Getting Greasy:

Take It Easy:

Just as you may be surprised how often you hear Jake Langley’s music, you’ll be surprised at a nifty little Pinot Noir that I had recently while at a science meeting in Marco Island, Florida. The makers of Castle Rock’s 2009 Pinot Noir ($10.00) started their winery in 1994 with the goal of making high quality wines at affordable prices. This Pinot Noir is proof they’ve accomplished their goal. On the nose, it has delicate floral notes tinged with strawberries. The strawberries follow on the palate complimented by a mid-palate of Bing cherries that linger through a slightly dry finish laced with subtle tannins. The high quality is quite unexpected for a wine at this price, especially a Pinot Noir. So grab a bottle and groove to the music of Jake Langley. Enjoy!


Friday, February 25, 2011

Stump Jump Shiraz and the Eagles

It’s impossible to detail the history of the Eagles in a short paragraph or two. Suffice to say they are one of the most successful American rock bands in history made up of some incredible guitarists that include(d) Bernie Leadon, Glen Frey, Joe Walsh, and Don Felder. They’ve had five number one singles, six Grammies, five American Music Awards, and six number one albums. Hotel California ranked among the 20 best selling albums of all times. I’ve included my own favorites from the group as well as several songs by the individuals. Glen Frey’s Smuggler’s blues, Hotel California (acoustic version), and Don Henley’s End of the Innocence are rock classics. Their music is a great way to kick of the weekend. Enjoy!

Hotel California:

Take it easy:

The one you love: 

The heat is on:

You belong to the city:

Smuggler’s blues:

All she wants to do is dance:

Funk 49:

You belong to the city:

Boys of summer:

End of the Innocence:

I’m pairing the Eagles with a $10.00 wine rated a 90 and the # 63 wine in Wine Spectator’s top 100, namely, the d’Arenberg’s Stump Jump Shiraz. Its name relates to a significant South Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. This plough became a popular piece of machinery for ploughing fields because of its ability to ride over stumps and gnarled "mallee" Eucalyptus roots and snags, saving valuable time and resources by not stopping the draught horse.

Unscrewing the cap unveils brilliant aromas of plum, raspberry, and flowers. I recommend you let it breathe for at least a half hour, after which it’ll really open up revealing juicy red fruits on the palate complimented by black raspberry and ripe cherry. It has considerable complexity, balanced tannins, and a nice mineral finish. And for $10.00 and a load of music by the Eagles, you can’t go wrong. Have a great weekend.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Albert Collins & Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc

It’s Saturday night and time for a little bit of the blues courtesy of the late Mr. Albert Collins. Nicknamed the Iceman, Collins was born in Leona, TX and was a relative of Lightning Hopkins. His major influences were Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy McGriff, and Guitar Slim. He was known as the Master of the Telecaster, a guitar he began using in the late 1950’s and continued to favor until his death. He substituted a Gibson PAF humbucking pickup in the neck position for the usual single coil, which together with minor tunings and a thumb and index finger picking style, gave him his unique sound. He favored an open-F-minor tuning (low to high: F-C-F-Ab-C-C) and often used a capo so he didn’t have to change his fingerings.

In 1983, his album “Don’t Lose Your Cool” won the W. C. Handy Award for Best Blues Album of the Year. In 1987, he won a Grammy for his “Showdown” album that he recorded with Robert Cray and Johnny Copeland. The following year, his solo release “Cold Snap” was also nominated for a Grammy. His death from lung and liver cancer in 1993 at the age of 61 left a hole in the blues world, but his music lives on.


Travelin South:

Black Catbone:

I ain’t drunk:

If Trouble Was Money:

Love Me Like You Say:

Shoe On The Other Foot:

Honey Hush:

Austin Texas (Iceman):

Further On Down The Road:

A Good Fool Is Hard To Find:


The weather’s been so spring like this past week with temps in the 60’s and 70’s that I feel like a white. So I’m pairing Albert with a Craggy Range 2008 Sauvignon Blanc ($19.00). I love Craggy Range’s Pinot Noir and their Sauvignon Blanc met all my expectations for this excellent New Zealand winery. It has round ripe citrus and apple fruit with good acidity and a nice dry finish. The Craggy Range Sauv has all the trademark herbal notes, but seems gentler than some of the other New Zealand Sauv’s that I’ve tasted. All in all an excellent wine that’s great for some toe-tapping, head nodding blues by Albert Collins. Enjoy!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Lee Ritenour & R. Muller Reisling from Octavian Wines

I was working out on a cross trainer earlier tonight and one of my favorite smooth jazz guitarists came on my Pandora channel. Lee Ritenou is a Grammy award winning guitarist with a repertoire that spans jazz, rock, Brazilian, and fusion music. He’s the kind of guitarist that you sit back, close your eyes, and let his sound take you to a better place. He started out as a studio session guitarist and rose to be one of the top first-call musicians in L.A, playing over 3,000 sessions with artists like Pink Floyd (The Wall), Steely Dan (Aja), Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, Simon & Garfunkel, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand. At the age of 16 he played with the Mamas and Papas and followed that with sessions with Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. His forty year eclectic and storied career is highlighted by 17 Grammy nominations, numerous #1 spots in guitar polls, and a Grammy Award for his 1986 collaboration with Dave Grusin for “Harlequin.” He has recorded over 40 albums, with 35 chart songs, notably the Top 15 hit "Is It You," which has become a contemporary jazz radio classic. So, it’s time to decompress from the week. Enjoy!

Night Rhythms:

Captain Fingers:

Sugarloaf Express:

Is It You:

A Little Bumpin:


24th Street Blues:



Rio Funk:

With Brian Bromberg:

Forget Me Nots:

Give Me One Reason:

Blue in Green:

I’ve become a big fan of Octavian wines. These are boxed wines, but they’re not cheap crap in a bag. I would classify them as high quality table wines, the kind I like to drink during the week when I’m working in my office or polishing up my next thriller novel. My current favorite to which I’m addicted is their Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. At least it used to be my favorite until I tried their 2009 R. Müller Reisling ($22.00/3L). I love reisling and this is an excellent example with a bouquet of honey and green apples. Good acidity and just the right amount of sweetness makes it an excellent accompaniment to reading, writing, and music. Plus it’s low alcohol content (9.5%) means it goes down easy and doesn’t turn you into a puddle after two glasses. That’s a good thing because I went through my first box in five days. Trust me. It goes great with Lee Ritenour. Enjoy!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Slide guitarist Roy Rogers and Chateau de Sancerre

Just returned from a science meeting in Marco Island, FL where I was forced to trade -25 degree temps, inches of ice, and feet of snow for 80 degree temps with wind chills of 83 degrees. It’s a tough job, but someone had to do it. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a hotel room balcony with a glass of wine watching the waves roll in off the Gulf accompanied by some good guitar music. I’ve been in a blues/slide guitar mood lately, so tonight I’ve got an exceptional practitioner of the genre.

Roy Rogers has been widely recognized as one of the finest practitioners and innovators of modern slide guitar. Guitar Player said, “Many guitarists dabble in slide guitar, but the number of modern masters can probably be counted on one hand. Roy Rogers is surely one of them.” Rolling Stone offered, “Rogers is an exceptionally articulate slide guitarist… one of the rare guitar heroes who values feeling over flash,” while USA Today commented, “Pundits who bemoan the scarcity of guitar gods haven’t laid ears on Roy Rogers, whose slide riffs could peel a crawfish.”

He was born in Redding, California in 1950, and began playing guitar at twelve. He joined his first band at the age of 13. True to the fashion of the times, the band wore gold lame jackets and played covers of the music by Little Richard and Chuck Berry. Early on he discovered the blues, and was especially affected by the music of Robert Johnson whose guitar playing convinced him to take up the slide. He’s developed a distinctive style that is immediately recognizable. ..and yes, he’s named after the King of the Cowboys. If you like blues and slide, you’re going to like him.

Walkin Blues:

The Sky is Cryin:

Devil Got My Woman:

Terraplane Blues:

King Bisket:

Down Home Girl:

Baby Please Don’t Go:

Bad Situation:


Black Cat Bone:

White Lies with Sammy Hagar:

On Robert Johnson:

The warm breezes off the Gulf call for a refreshing white like a 2008 Château de Sancerre ($20.00). Château de Sancerre was built in the 10th century by the Count of Champagne and is both the most prestigious property in Sancerre and the only one that can use the Château de Sancerre name. The wine is golden colored with a typical nose of Sauvignon Blanc from which it’s made. It begins with aromas of flowers, fresh fruit, and citrus but it’s quite different than a New Zealand Sauvignon. It’s light, crisp, and lively in the mouth with flavors of green apples, lemon, and a touch of butter and a long finish. Goes down smooth, but leaves me wanting more, just like the music of Roy Rogers. Enjoy!