Cat's a Bear
|May 1993, Bay City Nights
(Cat's a Bear performing as Tito)
Exploring Jazz with Tito
Tito is an original, contemporary jazz band whose members have more than 50 years of combined professional musicianship. According to Joe Dorris, Tito's drummer and percussionist, the band has accomplished what they originally envisioned by playing their own style of music, a style that can't be placed in any other genre.
And what an original jazz style it is. Frank Singer, Tito's principle composer and guitarist, composes with such high energy and creativity that each arrangement reaches peaks and explores valleys quite unlike the one before. Often, what begins as a jam session becomes the band's next tune once Singer's formidable composing abilities have a chance to work on the jam's recorded sound.
Tito's main sound combines traditional American jazz with Latin rhythms and the contemporary style of each of its members.
Dorris has pursued drum studies with Gary Chafee and played in Boston with such performers as George Schwartz, Dave Zox Trio with Ted Casher, Ibrahema, and big band show featuring Cab Calloway, Vanessa Williams and Jackie Eagle, among others. He has also recorded and arranged various commercial projects.
Singer graduated magna cum laude from Berklee College of Music and received that school's Richard Levy Award for Composition in 1980. He has privately studied guitar and piano with Charlie Banacos and performed as featured soloist and sideman with Cab Calloway, Jack Jones, Jackie Eagle and Vanessa Williams, among others.
Tony Stefanelli, Tito's bass player and one of its composers, played and studied in New York City with Dave Holland. After moving to Detroit, he performed with several bands including Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones. Locally, Stefanelli has performed with such bands as Wave, Angel Fire and Quintessence.
Tito's saxophone player, Phil Papotnik, is also known as the founder of Erie's Raven Sound. He has appeared with Marty O'Connor and Dave Blates, the Erie Philharmonic, and performed with several of the tri-state rock and jazz bands.
Tito's members have a short-term goal of getting out into the public and gaining acceptance for what they are doing with original composition. Their long-term focus is a CD scheduled for release in early fall. The CD promises to be a learning experience for new listeners; and for jazz aficionados, a rocket ride through arrangements played with unmatched musical technique by some very serious talents.
Tito is a mysterious musical genius, without whose influence and encouragement, the band would not exist. Like most geniuses, however, this dynamo could not be tied down to one place, one time, one band. So, after inspiring Tito, he went in search of even hotter, funkier rhythms. He can often be found in the jungles of Central America fighting the war, or in Bosnia working on peace and acceptance of ethnic diversity. Recently, he was spotted handing out loaves of bread to unemployed military families in Russia, and hanging out in Waco, Texas, helping law enforcers distinguish great music from psychological warfare. Where Tito will appear, and how long he will stay, remains a mystery.