GNlive Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir
Live in Concert – May 7, 2014

Mark Doyle ready to set the mood with ‘Guitar Noir’

Mark Doyle gives it a thumbs-up in his work room in his home on the east side of Syracuse. That’s his “Guitar Noir” and “In Dreams: Guitar Noir II” CDs and the bio for his performance at the M&T Jazz Fest this summer at his feet.

Yes, Mark Doyle can play guitar.

When I moved from suburban Washington, D.C., to Syracuse in the late summer of 1983, I was always on the lookout for good live music.

I mean, during the six years I lived in suburban Maryland, I got to see local players like sizzling guitarist Danny Gatton, and blues kings The Nighthawks with top guy Jimmy Thackery on the axe and up-and-coming power pop guitarist Tommy Keene.

Spoiled, somewhat, I had become.

And then one night sometime into this Syracuse journey of mine, I saw a line forming outside of a joint called Copperfields. The crummy looking marquee said The Doyle-Whiting Band. Hell, my schedule gave me Thursday nights off. I pulled in, found a spot, joined the long, snaking chain of Syracusans.

Drank some beer.

The band played.

Joe Whiting sang. Mark Doyle played guitar. Good rockin’ tonight. Ring of fire.

I knew I liked my job in the sports department of the big daily. I was making friends, fast.

Great local music, too?! Score.

I told Mark Doyle how I remembered seeing he and Whiting play that night while we were talking about his upcoming show May 16 at the Auburn Public Theater in Auburn. Tickets are $15. You can buy them by clicking here.

He smiled.

Doyle will be thrilled to be playing guitar with the band and string section he’s carefully assembled to perform works from his 1999 album “Guitar Noir,” the eventual sequeal “In Dreams: Guitar Noir II,” and 2001′s “Out of the Past.”

On July 11, he’ll also be leading the five-piece core band and the string section for a set at the M&T Jazz Fest, on the campus of Onondaga Community College.

It’s a big summer for the seven-time Syracuse Area Music Award Winner, member of the SAMMYs hall of fame, and musician and producer with a national resume that includes work with Meat Loaf, Maurice Starr, Andy Pratt, and, most recently, Mary Fahl.

Folks in Central New York know him for his many guitar collaborations with singer and sax man Joe Whiting. Mark’s father was jazz man Bobby Doyle. Mark is an accomplished jazz pianist. Most recently, on the guitar, he’s led the British blues-influenced power of Mark Doyle and the Maniacs.

The “Guitar Noir” style has its grips on him in the here and now.

“Every week, we add layers,” he says of the rehearsals of the song lists, separate for the two shows. “It reflects the fact that this is a good body of work, (the three albums), what (Syracuse radio host) calls ‘The Trilogy.’ This is a cool body of work. It’s got a style.”

It’s a hard style to describe.

Really, you want to hear it to believe it.

It’ll make you want to go to the movies.

I mean, the album that started it all begins with the theme from the old show “Perry Mason.”

It delves into a dreamy classic “When I Fall in Love.”

Here’s a site where you can do some streaming.

Bring on a good spaghetti western to go with some Guitar Noir.

If you’d like to read my story about the genesis of these two shows, and the band Doyle will work with, on the Syracuse Public Media site Click the link. (or read the article below ~ webmaster)

- Mark Bialczak – May 7, 2014

Mark Doyle Eager to Bring Back His 'Guitar Noir' Sound

Instead of drawing up a list of resolutions for 2014, Mark Doyle says, he came up with a bucket list.

"I said to myself, 'What would you do if this was your last year?' " the musician explains as we sit talking about life on a gray spring afternoon in his comfortable work room in his home on the east side of Syracuse.

"And 'Guitar Noir' was at the top of the list," Doyle says.
That's the name of the album Doyle recorded in 1999, a big, layered, string-filled, moody and introspective soundscape that he was so proud of that he recorded another album of a similar mood "In Dreams: Guitar Noir II" in 2011.  Oh. In 2001, that musical mood lingered with the release of "Out of the Past."

Let's get this out in the open right here.

I thought so much of "Guitar Noir" that I wrote a feature story for it for the Stars magazine section of the Syracuse Herald American, which included a cover shot of Doyle, in October 1999.

Doyle remembered that article way better than I did as we talked in his work room, bringing up how I wrote that Matt McCaffery of New York City publication The Tip Sheet had listened to his demo tape and called the style "Guitar Noir," giving Doyle not only the album title, but inspiration to write the song to go with it in just a half-hour.

Back to that bucket list.

Doyle had worked with his friend, vocalist Mary Fahl, arranging and co-producing "From the Dark Side of the Moon," inspired by the classic Pink Floyd album. But a week before it was supposed to be released,V2 Records folded.

"Mary was broken-hearted," Doyle says. "But she has the same tenacity as I have. So I assembled a band for her. I got Josh, Edgar and Bill."

He also took note -- again -- of the fickleness of the music industry. And he knew he had something good with Josh, Edgar and Bill.
That would be Josh Dekaney, percussionist; Edgar Pagan, bass player; and William DiCosimo, keyboardist, the longtime core of Syracuse roots band Grupo Pagan. With Doyle playing guitar and acting as band leader, since last year, they've toured opera houses around the northeast.
Playing the music of "Guitar Noir" with that kind of lineup took up the first two lines on Doyle's bucket list. All he had to do was add his Mark Doyle and the Maniacs band mate Terry Quill on guitar and a string section.

The first wish was to play the songs live in a show at the Auburn Public Theater.

The second wish was to play the songs live in a show at the Syracuse Jazz Fest.

Dreams do come true.

Doyle will perform his "Guitar Noir" show with the band and string section at 8 p.m. Friday, May 16, at the Auburn Public Theater. Tickets are $15 to see him perform at the 200-seat theater in the city in which he grew up.

And at 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 11, Doyle and those musicians will perform on the big stage at the free-admission M&T Jazz Festival on the campus of Onondaga Community College.

The core band will consist of Doyle with Dekaney, Pagan, DiCosimo and Quill.

The string section will include Ally Brown, Leila Dean and Shelby Dems on violin; and Kate Wilkinson on cello. Claire Wilcox will play viola at the Auburn Public Theater; her mother, Michelle Wilcox, will play viola instead at the jazz festival.

"They're all really good, vetted," says Doyle, displaying the seriousness with which he's taking these two performances.

The two shows will be totally different. What they both will contain is the intense, lush and layered instrumental sound that led Doyle back to the time when he was in love with creating this "Guitar Noir" style of music.

The first set at the Auburn Public Theater will start out with "The Theme from Perry Mason," from "Guitar Noir," "to get people's attention. Then we'll play the entire 'In Dreams' album. In the second set, we'll play as a five-piece, without the string section, selections from 'Guitar Noir' and 'Out of the Past.' "

At Jazz Fest, he'll take second-set songs from the APT show and add string arrangements for the full ensemble, and believes pieces from 'In Dreams' will have an entirely different feel when performed "outdoors, with the warmth of the sun."

Doyle has spent the last four years concentrating on the heavier blues sound of Mark Doyle and the Maniacs. Now he feels that a break to concentrate on his jazzier, Noir self won't confuse his followers.

He's loving it.

"We've been in intense rehearsals," he says. "It is heart-warming to do this stuff. It is so cool. What is good for me is how technology has come so far in the last 15 years. Josh has his Roland pads, and he can play the loops I had in the original stuff, and it sounds like the record."

And after the Jazz Fest, the seven-time Syracuse Area Music Award winner and SAMMY hall of famer will reach even further back into his past.

On Aug. 2, he'll team with singer-sax man Joe Whiting for a set of Doyle-Whiting Band material at the Deauville Music Festival at Emerson Park in Auburn. Those two guys? They've only been playing in bands together since the band Free Will in 1967.

- Mark Bialczak – May 9, 2014

Mark Doyle to curate his musical imagination at 'Guitar Noir' concert May 16

If you go
WHAT: Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, May 16
WHERE: Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange St., Auburn
COST: Tickets $13.50-$15
INFO: Call (315) 253-6669 or visit

One of 13 children born to a jazz musician and a jazz aficionada, guitarist Mark Doyle grew up in a small house without bedroom doors, the air hazy with secondhand smoke and patchouli, and long hair absolutely everywhere. The place teemed with siblings, but my brother Mark escaped by pressing his ear up to the horn of our huge hi-fi, and blacked-out to Andre Previn, or whatever new jazz album our piano player father had recently purchased.

A dreamland whose pleasures could be accessed while awake, music entranced Mark very early.

“I gravitated to the piano when I was 4 or 5 just from hearing dad play so much at home," he said. "Then I started lessons with Sister Gabriel at Holy Family, finally graduating to Mrs. Long, whom I remained with through my teens. If I did my classical lessons faithfully I could take summers off to study jazz from dad. But I was really learning jazz all the time by listening to him and the records either he or I would buy.”
A piano major in college, he quit after three semesters to go on the road with Free Will/Jukin’ Bone. Immediate success with the band in the form of an RCA recording contract and a significant nod from CREEM magazine was just the beginning of a distinguished career as a guitarist, arranger and producer. His current band, the highly acclaimed Mark Doyle and the Maniacs, just won its third Syracuse-Area Music Award for Best Blues Album, and enjoys a fervent following in central New York.

Yet Mark is an expatriate in the land of rock guitar, where he taught himself the language. His musical mother tongue is jazz piano. Though this avatar rarely performs publicly, he often records CDs of our mom’s favorite jazz standards, a gift she cherishes and which has prompted her to declare that Mark’s piano talent has surpassed that of our late father’s. But we don’t talk about that. Next week, however, his musical personalities will unite for “Mark Doyle’s Guitar Noir,” a concert at Auburn Public Theater Friday, May 16 — a sort of Jekyll and Hyde moment made more so by the program’s promise to take the audience on a fantastic voyage of the imagination with a conceptual song list influenced by film noir, horror/sci-fi movies and psychedelic rock, and with the singular style of Mark’s electric guitar, simultaneously five-alarm and emotionally transportive. Performing the instrumental albums "In Dreams," "Guitar Noir" and "Out of the Past" with him will be guitarist Terry Quill, keyboardist Bill DiCosimo, bassist Edgar Pagan and drummer Joshua Dekaney, as well as violinists Ally Brown, Leila Dean and Shelby Dems, cellist Kate Wilkinson and violist Claire Wilcox.

"Guitar Noir," voted best local album of 1999 by Mark Bialczak of the Syracuse Herald-American, was inspired by the shadowy atmosphere of the film noir genre of the 1940s, with its characteristic blurring of boundaries blessing the album’s blend of dark with ambient, of moody with beauty, of rock with jazz. As Bialczak said in a review of a live performance of "Guitar Noir," “The songs were all instrumentals. Doyle’s dazzling guitar work did all of the talking. And he’s fluent in many musical languages.” The album opens with a version of the "Perry Mason" theme that morphs from a penetrating musical call to arms, with guitar, keyboards and cello sharing the spotlight, into a tenacious solo in which the guitar, coolly ignoring the sirens in the background, swags and struts as both bad guy and enforcer, cranking out phrases reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. In Doyle’s version of “When I Fall in Love,” the guitar serves as both the voice for the song, but also the voice of the unspeakable in the human story about the poor, vulnerable heart. Replete with gorgeous, haunting jazz voicings in the style of pianist Bill Evans, the guitar is soft as rain, tenderly strummed to convey the ingenuity of love, but ultimately storms out of a shadowy nook for a phrase or two, passionately rejoicing in the truth of love, its sublime and terrible iterations. A song reprised by so many, this version can truly awaken our sleeping emotional dragons.

A concept album, "In Dreams: Guitar Noir II" is designed for serious grooving out. The dozen dream-themed songs, rather than tripping me down a rabbit hole, resurrected memories of a younger, more daring and more dreamy self. Maybe you heard me blasting Mark’s version of Roy Orbison’s “Dream Baby” while driving down Genesee Street on Monday.

I was the one in the rusted-out green minivan filled with booster seats, but which nonetheless had a little swing in its hips as it drove lazily through town. These songs, beautiful with layered harmonics played by what must be an octopus, inspire a clarity of feelings that don’t often see the light of day. Another beauty is “All I Have to Do is Dream.” Originally done by the Everly Brothers, this version knows when to be pop, rock and jazz, and the effect is so pretty and smooth, even Franklin Street potholes can’t kill the buzz.

The neo-psychedelic album "Out of the Past" features songs from the '60s, but with decidedly modern punctuation. The rendition of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a multigenerational, genre-blending assemblage. A 21st-century dance beat is joined by tanpura, tambourine, bag pipes — you name it — but the guitar is the transcendent guru at this altar, paying homage to its spiritual ancestors with a bit of Hendrix-like dive-bombing.

When he was a kid, Mark received a telescope one year for Christmas, and on the night of a full moon, he lined up his brothers and sisters in a tiny bathroom to view the extraordinary spectacle. Next Friday at Auburn Public Theater he will again offer a glimpse of another world, the sometimes buried one inside our hearts and minds, using a guitar this time.

Amy Doyle is the coordinator of The Citizen's Newspapers in Education program with Auburn schools, and sister to Mark Doyle.

- Amy Doyle - May 14, 2014

Live version of Guitar Noir tops Doyle’s life list

His 2014 mission is to revive his Guitar Noir project

Mark Doyle’s career is decorated with accomplishments, much like the walls of his studio, adorned with original Beatles vinyl and platinum records. But the musician doesn’t live his life complacently: He continues to strive for his next goals.

Although he’s well known for his powerful blues rock band, Mark Doyle and the Maniacs, his 2014 mission is to revive his Guitar Noir project, which has never been performed live. Doyle will present his strings-based showcase on Friday, May 16, at the Auburn Public Theater. He’ll also bring a different collection of Guitar Noir-inspired material to the Syracuse M&T Jazz Fest in July.

“This New Year’s Day I was doing some resolutions, although I don’t really believe in those because I’m always trying to be the best I can be,” Doyle recalls. “I asked myself what I would do if this was the last year I had to do this. Right at the top of the list was Guitar Noir. It felt like unfinished business.”

Doyle, son of well-known jazz pianist Bobby Doyle, grew up in Auburn and was a piano prodigy. He’d study classical music for nine months of the year, but yearned for the three summer months he could study jazz with his father. By the time he was 10, he was performing with his father on local television and radio programs, along with working with him as he composed and arranged. But when Doyle saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he picked up a guitar that has seldom been set down since.

Doyle started Free Will in 1967, which later changed its name to Jukin’ Bone; by his late teens the band was signed to RCA. After Jukin’ Bone ended, Doyle worked with artists such as glam rocker David Werner and realized he could produce as well as the best in the business. His skills led him to work with Arif Martin, Andy Pratt, Cindy Bullens, Hall and Oates, Judy Collins, Meat Loaf, Maurice Starr and Bryan Adams. It also offered him the opportunity to branch into writing string arrangements.

“People were coming from Japan,” Doyle explains. “It’s outrageously expensive to make records there, so they’d come to Boston to record strings. My friend called and said, ‘Can you do string arrangements?’ I hadn’t done them in years, so I said, ‘Yes, I can.’ So I went to the library, got orchestration books and frantically started putting it together. My dad was still alive, so I would call him and say, ‘Can I do this and this?’ He talked me off the ledge a few times. But since I did such a good job, that’s how the original introduction to Maurice (Starr) came about.”

That connection led to years of production and performance work in the industry, but also brought Doyle back home. For Doyle, home is where the heart is — and the art is.

Strings Players Enlisted For Risky Work in Auburn Theater Show

Mark Doyle excels at writing for strings which is a major component in his Guitar Noir work. At the Auburn show, Doyle will feature Ally Brown, Leila Dean and Shelby Dems on violins, Claire Wilcox on viola and cellist Kate Wilkinson. He’ll also be joined by keyboardist Bill DiCosimo, Edgar Pagan on bass, drummer Josh Dekaney and guitarist Terry Quill.
“It’s risky, brave, esoteric work,” he says. “There was always a chance that nobody would get it. It turned out to be true: A lot of people didn’t get it. People knew me as a burning, blues-rock guitar player.”

The music from these albums is about as far from burning blues-rock as it gets: vibe-oriented, drifting, surreal and intricate. In Auburn, Doyle and his group will perform In Dreams in its entirety, plus selections from Guitar Noir and Out of the Past.

“We’re trying to make every show completely unique,” Doyle says. “Doing In Dreams from beginning to end with strings is only happening at the Auburn Public Theater because it’s the right place for it. At Jazz Fest we will probably leave most of In Dreams by the wayside. It will be outside, in the daylight. The thing is so vibe-oriented, with dreaming and surrealism. I’m going to write arrangements for the basically kickin’ songs we’re doing in the second set at the Auburn show.”

For more information, visit

By the numbers

Doyle is the eldest of 13 children.

The evening’s material will span three Doyle albums: 1999’s Guitar Noir (1999), Out of the Past (2001) and In Dreams: Guitar Noir II (2011).

Guitar players Doyle names as the hallmarks of his style: Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Kim Simmonds.

Advice from the Artist

“As an artist, you have to keep your heart open, but also protect your heart. For me, I surround myself with really good people. And live your life in readiness. To be ready and not be called is sad, but to be called and not be ready is tragic. If somebody calls you to do something and your first reaction isn’t ‘Hell, yeah,’  you should say no. Saying no will give you the time to do all the cool stuff you want to do. You have to have some regard for yourself. Respect is the coin of the realm these days. Don’t play for free. There’s a period where you’re learning craft. You gotta make craft before you make art. When you’re learning craft, play anywhere and everywhere. Study from the greats of the 1960s and 1970s. Once you get to the point where you find your own voice, don’t sell yourself cheap.”

Just the Facts
Mark Doyle’s Guitar Noir. Friday, May 16, 8 p.m
Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange St., Auburn. Tickets are $15.
For details visit or call 253-6669.

- Jessica Novak - May 15, 2014

Mark Doyle returns to Guitar Noir at the Auburn Public Theater Friday

For decades, Mark Doyle has worked to establish himself as a rocker. Throughout Central New York and beyond, he's known for his bluesy work with groups like Jukin' Bone and Mark Doyle & The Maniacs.

But beyond the bluesy rock that puts him on stages across CNY, Doyle is an accomplished songwriter, arranger and jazz musician. He was raised on jazz piano. He arranged strings for groups like New Kids On The Block. And in 1999, he released one of his most impressive pieces of work, an album called "Guitar Noir."

Friday night at the Auburn Public Theater, Doyle will grace the stage in a role he hasn't taken in nearly 15 years. He'll perform the entirety of his 2011 "sequel" to that 1999 album, "In Dreams: Guitar Noir II."

The show is a divergence from the smoky brand of blues for which Doyle has come to be known. He's established himself as the area's premiere guitar player. But Friday, fans will be treated to a different side of Doyle's sound - one they might not expect to hear at many of Syracuse's other stages.

"I haven't performed in this guise for about 15 years," Doyle said of Friday's show. "But starting in January when people do their resolutions, I asked myself what I would do if this is the last year I could play. And this was unfinished business for me."

"In Dreams" is a conceptual arrangement, steeped in toneful, patient guitar. It's both jaunty and dark -- a carefully built singular work best heard as a whole.

For his part, Doyle says the album's roots date back to his formative days of piano and jazz.

"It's so completely different," he said "I started as a jazz piano player. I would say musically this is much more akin to my piano playing. I've got to really burn brightly with the Maniacs. This is a whole different way to burn."

Helping Doyle burn is an ensemble of accompanists.

"I had missed writing for strings, so I went on the hunt for some great players."

He rounded up Ally Brown, Leila Dean, Shelby Dems, Claire Wilcox and Kate Wilkinson for his string section and put together a five-piece band that features Bill DiCosimo on keyboards, Edgar Pagan on bass, Josh Dekaney on drums and Terry Quill on guitar in addition to Doyle.

Doyle specially arranged string parts for the upcoming show. He'll take the project to the public again this summer when he performs at Jazz Fest. And, he said, he's really hoping to someday team up with Symphoria for a Guitar Noir show.

If you go:
What: Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir performing "In Dreams" and selections from "Guitar Noir" and "Out Of The Past."
When: Friday, May 16, 8 p.m.
Where: Auburn Public Theater, 8 Exchange St., Auburn
Tickets: $15, available at or by calling 253-6669

- Chris Baker - May 17, 2014

Guitar strings and more, wonderfully arranged by Mark Doyle (review)

Mark Doyle and band Friday night at the Auburn Public Theater.

I had a vivid dream last night, in color and stereo.

I was in a 200-seat theater filled with people thrilled to be there on a Friday night, smack dab in the proud little upstate New York city of Auburn.

The air was charged by wonderful music set forth by the guitar and mind of a neat, floppy-haired guy by the name of Mark Doyle. I could tell he was the one in charge not only because he told stories about the songs the marvelous collection of musicians he put together played, but by the way he commanded their respect with his presence, leadership and talent, too.

I couldn’t believe the manner in which he’d gotten his guitarist and bassist and drummer and string section to play the songs from his album “Guitar Noir: In Dreams.” They were as technically precise as a studio session.

The arrangement of these songs that this veteran musician carefully put together for these two sets of music — yes, this was one long and pleasant dream — made me very happy. Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams,” which closed the first set, even gave me one of those am I dreaming or am I awake moments. But my dear wife Karen and my great friend Dave and his girlfriend Sue walked out into a hallway to chat after that, so, yeah … The string section was done after the first set, but that allowed my mind to focus more intently on the core band during the second. During “Warmth of the Sun,” the classic beach song from Brian Wilson and Mike Love, I was mesmerized by Doyle and second guitarist Terry Quill intently mirroring each other on that pristine, familiar, melodic lead line.

I thrilled at how this Central New Yorker’s four original compositions stood up in this jazzy, dreamy, bluesy, earthy, soulful parade of classic music.

The finishing one-two-three punch of The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship,” the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” slapped me upside the head about how good bassist Edgar Pagan, keyboardist Bill DiCosimo and percussionist Josh Dekaney meshed with Doyle on this special, two-show live project to showcase the songs from his three-album soundscape “Guitar Noir” “Out of the Past” and “In Dreams.”

Hey, I felt that slap!

It wasn’t a dream at all.

I had really talked to M&T Jazz Fest founder and executive director Frank Malfitano about how this was one of the best live nights of Central New York local music, ever.

That second set of this Guitar Noir project comes July 11 at Malfitano’s fest on the campus of Onondaga Community College.

Here’s just a short video to give you a taste, the start of last night’s take of the classic “Mr. Sandman,” shot from my iPhone 4, from my seat.

- Mark Bialczak - July 9, 2014

Trombone Shorty, B.B. King Headline M&T Jazz Fest This Weekend at OCC

It's back to the campus of Onondaga Community College for the 32nd edition of the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest.

After two years at Jamesville Beach Park, the music returns to the hills below Gordon Student Center Friday and Saturday night, with Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue headlining the first evening with a set scheduled to begin around 9:30 p.m., and legendary bluesman B.B. King closing the music the second night with a set that will start around the same time.

This weekend's fest includes local, national and international stars on the National Grid Main Stage, with Central New York award-winning high school vocalists Julia Goodwin and Nick Ziobro starting the music on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Syracuse star Mark Doyle continues the cool vibe Friday with his lush sound of Guitar Noir, followed by the retro swing of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and then the New Orleans funk of headliner Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

Second up on Saturday is the rousing big band sound of Igor Butman & The Moscow State Jazz Orchestra, joined by one of the most popular pop singers in Russia, Fantine Pritoula. That 19-piece combo will be followed by Raul Midon, a singer and guitarist from New Mexico who's been blind from birth. The timeless blues guitar and voice of Mr. B.B. King wraps the music up.

I asked founder and executive director Frank  Malfitano for his take on the 32nd edition he so carefully constructed.

Let's call it Five Quick Questions with Frank Malfitano.

Q: What would you say is the single biggest thing you are looking forward to about this weekend's /M&T Syracuse Jazz Festival?
A: The fact that it's actually here and happening for the 32nd year is what I'm looking forward to most, Mark. It's finally here after a year in the trenches preparing and shedding. I'm psyched. Can't wait to see how the Jazz Fest audience reacts to B B King and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue and all the rest of our visiting national and international artists, along with the reception that will  greet their local heroes. 

Q: What went through your mind when you saw Julia Goodwin made it through and got glowing comments with her voice on "America's Got Talent" a few weeks ago?
A: Not surprised in the least. She's a superstar in the making. And big things lie on her horizon. She's going to be mega. As a 15-year old high school sophomore, she's already light years beyond many of her contemporaries. Hopefully her opening night Jazz Fest appearance will  serve as a springboard to other festival appearances around the country, but there's no  doubt in my mind that she's destined for greatness. 

Q: When you saw Mark Doyle and all those gorgeous strings playing at the Auburn Public Theater in May, what did you want to say in the Jazz Fest liner notes then?
A: The guy's a flat out genius, and arguably one of the most versatile artists to ever emerge from Syracuse. In my eyes, he's an absolute musical giant. And he's an amazing human being and one of the sweetest cats I've ever been around. If we had a jazz, blues and rock hall of fame in Syracuse, he'd be in all three. As it is, he's a SAMMYS Hall of Famer and a 7-time SAMMY winner. But he's also a consummate fundamentalist, and his composing chops and arranging skills are superlative in every regard. I mostly want to thank him for bringing this amazing large scale Syracuse-based project to the Jazz Fest stage. It's what's been missing. 

Q: To those not fortunate enough to have yet seen Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, what can they expect at OCC?
A: An amazing cat and a son of New Orleans keeping the Crescent City flame burning brightly, with a Treme-based band that's at the absolute top of their game and currently peaking.  It's a flat out, high energy superfunk aggregation of the first magnitude that blends New Orleans traditional brass band sounds with funk, rock and hip-hop to create a contemporary musical style and sound like no other.

Q: When was the first time you remember hearing B.B. King and when was the last time you remember seeing B.B. King?
A: The last time I saw B.B. King and his Orchestra was when I presented them in Utica at the Stanley Theatre for their Grand Reopening back in 2008 or 2009. The exact date escapes me. The first time I saw Mr. King was when they were playing the chitlin' circuit back in the day on a series with the likes of Ike & Tina Turner and The Ikettes and James Brown & The Famous Flames in the 1960's at places like the old P.L.A.V.  (Polish League of American Veterans on West Genesee Street).

The nearby presence of the SRC Arena, notwithstanding, be ready for two full nights of outdoor music at the free-admission event.

Malfitano says any word that's been filtering about town -- such as a comment at the introductory news conference in the lobby of M&T Bank on South Salina Street in April -- that rain this weekend could send acts from the main stage to a setup inside the arena is not true.

"Never," Malfitano reports. "An indoor rain policy has never been, and will never be, a part of the Jazz Fest plan. We're staying outdoors with Jazz Fest now and forever more. Period. For me, the definition of a festival is multiple days and outdoor stages. Other cities string together a bunch of indoor concerts in concert halls and call it a 'festival,' but there's nothing festive about that format and model. That may work for other cities and presenters, but it doesn't do it for me or for our fans or our artists, who love and thrive on the energy and vibe that an outdoor gathering brings to the party. So, mark these words, you'll never see us adopt that type of format or indoor rain backup policy at the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest. It's never going to happen  on my watch."

Hopefully, it'll be a non-issue. I've sat through enough Jazz Fest sets in the rain, though, at Long Branch Park, at Clinton Square and at OCC, though ...

Fest facts
Admission is free.
Parking is $5 per car.
Some seating is provided, first-come, first-served. It's encourage to bring your own lawn chairs.
No coolers, backpacks, alcoholic beverages, or glass allowed into the site.
The schedule
5:30 p.m. Julia Goodwin
6:30 p.m. Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir
8 p.m. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
9:30 p.m. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
5 p.m. Nick Ziobro
6:30 p.m. Igor Butman & The Moscow state Jazz Orchestra featuring Fantine Pritoula
8 p.m. Raul Midon
9:30 p.m. B.B. King & The B.B. King Orchestra
After the music is the Price Choppers Fireworks Display

- Mark Bialczak - July 11, 2014

Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir: A hauntingly beautiful tribute to the Golden Age of rock (review)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It felt a bit like 1966 for an hour at Jazz Fest Friday evening.

Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir took the stage for the first real meaty set of the festival and paid homage to a long gone but not forgotten era of rock 'n roll. In particular, Doyle & Co. hit on the fuzz-rock, theremin and rattling guitar riffs from that golden year nearly half a century ago.

The group covered Brian Wilson. Roy Orbison. Even the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Yet each song was carefully arranged to highlight the five-piece string section, wailing synth and dueling guitars.

Doyle's Guitar Noir project dates back to a concept album he penned in 1999. He resurrected the music several years ago for a "sequel" album, but hadn't performed the ensemble live for more than a decade.

The set was far removed from the Doyle's normal repertoire of blues rock. The Jukin' Bone and Maniacs guitarist gave way for a more complex tapestry of songs that unraveled like the score to a James Bond film.

Most notable, aside from the rattling of Doyle's lo-fi, fuzzy guitar, was the mini orchestra that lent depth to each number. They accompanied on rock and jazz alike, all of it arranged masterfully and carried out with sweeping precision and grandiosity. It was dark, sometimes dissonant, yet hauntingly rich and beautiful.

With no vocals and a subdued Doyle calling the shots between songs, it was a mellow, kick-back-and-enjoy-your-wine kind of set.

Certainly it proved the calm before the brassy storm that is Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

- Chris Baker - November 7, 2014

Mark Doyle’s ‘Guitar Noir’ Scheduled at O.C.C. on November 22

Jazz Fest founder and producer, Frank Malfitano, has announced the Syracuse Jazz Fest has added a fifth concert to its series. Mark Doyle’s Guitar Noir Project has been added to the sixth Annual Legends of Jazz Series at O.C.C. on Saturday, November 22 at 7:30 pm in the college’s new Recital Hall.

After a sold-out performance in May at The Auburn Public Theater, then sharing the Syracuse Jazz Fest 32 stage with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue in July, this will be the final appearance of Guitar Noir until April 2015. Unlike the previous shows, the string quintet will be featured for two full sets as the 10-piece ensemble presents the full In Dreams album in set one, then reprise some of the funkier R&B numbers they brought down the Jazz Fest house with in set two. As always, Doyle never rests on his laurels and he has several surprises up his musical sleeve for the audience at O.C.C.

Doyle says, “We wanted to do an intimate show in Syracuse, I’m grateful to Frank for suggesting O.C.C.’s new recital hall – I really didn’t want to wait until next April to perform again with this project. And as the nights get longer and we head toward winter, the Noir concept really starts to take on an added dimension.” Malfitano went on to say that the project was simply too stellar to lay dormant over the winter months. “Mark, as everyone knows, is a Legend, and a seven-time SAMMY winner and SAMMYS hall-of-famer who is equally adept at Blues, Rock, Pop and Jazz, but this dectet chamber/jazz/rock ensemble is a very special and unique project that really deserves to be seen in its entirety. Because of time limitations at Jazz Fest we were only able to scratch the surface of this amazing presentation this past summer, so presenting it in its entirety in late November was simply too irresistible an opportunity to pass up.”

The November 22 concert at O.C.C. will feature guitarist Mark Doyle’s critically acclaimed Guitar Noir Project, which features a core quintet composed of Doyle and Terry Quill on guitars, Bill DiCosimo on keyboards, Edgar Pagan on bass, and Joshua Dekaney on drums, along with a five-piece Guitar Noir String Ensemble comprised of Ally Brown, Shelby Dems, and Leila Dean on violins, Claire Marie Wilcox on viola and Kate LaVerne on cello.

Doyle’s incredibly varied career began as a child prodigy jazz pianist before seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. His first band ‘Jukin’ Bone’ was signed to RCA when he was in his late teens and produced two albums that were labeled by Creem magazine as “seminal classics of early ’70s hard rock.” He served as lead guitarist/arranger/right-hand man for David Werner, Andy Pratt and Cindy Bullens performing band-leader duties on many tours with them besides numerous sessions with the likes of Hall and Oates, Judy Collins, Leo Sayer and many others. The ’80s found him doing several world tours and television appearances as lead guitarist for Meatloaf and adding a shiny disc to his studio wall by arranging and singing background vocals on “Straight From The Heart’ with Bryan Adams. A move to Boston brought Mark another direction as String Arranger for most of Maurice Starr’s acts including New Kids On The Block, Tiffany and The Stylistics also contributing his production skills and immeasurable musical prowess to each. After a stint in Japan playing keys and acoustic guitar for the Epic/SONY and Pioneer labels, Mark returned to Syracuse and concentrated on his internationally critically acclaimed solo career while producing and performing regionally. His Guitar Noir and Out Of The Past CDs, along with his double CD/DVD release Solstice At The Cathedral bridge his multifaceted influences and talents, leading to more current work with his blues/rock band Mark Doyle and The Maniacs which is his ongoing guitar project. Doyle is also performing select Opera House concerts as guitarist/pianist and band leader with Mary Fahl (former lead singer of October Project) who recently released, Live at The Mauch Chunk Opera House, reviewed on these pages and previously issued ‘From The Dark Side Of The Moon’ a reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s classic album in 2011. A long-awaited follow-up to Guitar Noir in In Dreams: Guitar Noir II, plus three studio Maniacs issues, one live CD, a live DVD and a behind-the-scenes DVD have kept Doyle at the top of his game, but if you know the man at all, he doesn’t really know any other way.

Tickets for this first-ever full Syracuse performance by Guitar Noir are priced at $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the show, and are on sale now (cash only!) at Sound Garden in Armory Square, located at 312 West Jefferson Street, Syracuse. Only 150 tickets will be sold for this event, so get your tickets early and don’t get left out as many did at The Auburn Public Theater show.

- Greg Jackson - November 12, 2014

Mark Doyle Gets in the Mood

Music writer Jessica Novak profiles the triumphant return of Mark Doyle’s evocative Guitar Noir music even

Mark Doyle’s Guitar Noir project has enjoyed a banner year, with a sellout performance last May at the Auburn Public Theater followed by an impressive set on the main stage of the M&T Syracuse Jazz Fest in July at Onondaga Community College.

Doyle is more than ready to keep the fire burning behind his moody conceptual work, even though he hadn’t planned to reprise the show until next year. Yet talks between Doyle and Jazz Fest founder and producer Frank Malfitano led to the idea of an additional 2014 performance.

“He asked what’s next and I said there wasn’t another Guitar Noir date until next April (at the Auburn Public Theater),” Doyle recalls. “I said it was feeling so good, it would be awful to have to wait that long. We hadn’t done an intimate show in Syracuse, just the big stage at Jazz Fest, even though it’s really suited for an intimate space with lighting.”

Doyle believed that Eastwood’s Palace Theatre was too big and the Redhouse Arts Center’s space too small. But a slot within Malfitano’s Legends of Jazz Series, part of OCC’s Arts Across Campus initiative, was just right. The series has already featured Chick Corea and The Vigil and the Heath Brothers (both of which Doyle attended), and will host Cecile McLorin Salvant and the Rebirth Brass Band in early 2015.

Most of the Legends of Jazz performances take place at Storer Auditorium, yet Doyle’s Guitar Noir will go on at the new Recital Hall. “It seats 150 people, which is perfect,” Doyle says.

And those who attend will get to see a very different kind of show. “It’s the only gig I’ve ever done where you want the audience to fall asleep,” Doyle jokingly says, especially regarding the extremely surreal “In Dreams” set featured in the project.

This performance will also highlight the string section throughout both the first and second set. “I love writing for and playing with strings,” he says. “Nobody else is doing this. It’s its own thing and the people who get it, really get it.

“It’s turning into a really cool thing,” Doyle says about Guitar Noir. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. In a way, it’s almost like vindication. I started this thing in 1999. To have that feeling that things are falling into place, the times are coming around for this, it makes me feel like I’m on the right path.”

Doyle, who has been active in the local and international music scene for years, also performs with his own blues-rock band, The Maniacs, and singer-songwriter Mary Fahl. “With The Maniacs, I’m an extrovert,” he explains. “And then I get to touch the introvert side (with Guitar Noir). And with Mary, it’s all about versatility. People will say, ‘You don’t even show any chops!’ But it’s not about that at all. It’s about being a good music director, playing piano and acoustic guitar. I get to express a bunch of sides I don’t get to elsewhere.”

Doyle is also honored to be a part of Malfitano’s programming once again. “Frank’s such a good presenter,” he says. “Whoever he presents, you know it’ll be great.”

Just the Facts
Mark Doyle’s Guitar Noir
Onondaga Community College’s Recital Hall
Saturday, Nov. 22, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 in advance, available at Sound Garden, 312 W. Jefferson St.; $25 at the door
Directions to Recital Hall Patrons should enter via the college’s north entrance on Route 173 and follow signs at the third left for Parking Lots 6 and 7. Academic II is the large white building on the right located across from the parking lot. Recital Hall is directly inside the building’s entrance.

Guitar Noir musicians include:
Terry Quill, guitar
Bill DiCosimo, keys
Edgar Pagan, bass
Joshua Dekaney, drums
Ally Brown, Shelby Dems and Leila Dean, violins
Claire Marie Wilcox, viola
Kate Wilkinson, cello

- Jessica Novak - November 14, 2014

Mark Doyle's Guitar Noir at OCC's Recital Hall on Nov. 22

I saw veteran Mark Doyle and his guitar at center stage in the intimate Auburn Public Theater last spring, and I saw him at the expansive Syracuse M&T Jazz Fest in the summer.

This Guitar Noir project of Doyle’s has legs. He’s bringing the string section and core band to play the instrumental selections from his albums for the first show ever at Onondaga Community College’s new Recital Hall, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22. It’s a late addition to the Legends of Jazz/Arts Across Campus Series.

Like the first two shows — both of which I gave top reviews — Doyle’s core band will consist of Terry Quill on guitars, Bill DiCosimo on keyboards, Edgar Pagan on bass and Joshua Dekaney on drums. Unlike those shows, however, the string ensemble will play during both sets of this show. That will include Ally Brown, Shelby Dems and Leila Dean on violins, Claire Marie Wilcox on viola and Kate Wilkinson on cello.

Tickets are priced at $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the show, and are on sale at Sound Garden in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square.

- Mark Bialczak - November 17, 2014

This week in CNY Music

Saturday night, Mark Doyle reprises his increasingly popular Guitar Noir project at the new recital hall at Onondaga Community College. Following Doyle's abbreviated performance of the project at Jazz Fest this summer, he and festival director Frank Malfitano wanted to give it another home. Malfitano, then, added Saturday's show as part of his Legends of Jazz series at the college.

"I really didn't want to wait until next April to perform again with this project," Doyle said. The performance features Doyle's genre-hopping ten-piece band, including a five-piece string section. Tickets are $20 in advance, available at Sound Garden in Armory Square. Tickets at the door are $25.

- Chris Baker

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