Logo, Randy Taylor, Contemporary Music in Upland, CA  

(855) 484-8021
Upland, CA 91784-7327

Blog Archives

Sandra Booker & Tamir Hendelman

Students & Teachers

"A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher."

I don't care how old you are! I'm a firm believer that you never stop learning. There's always someone with pearls of knowledge & experience to teach you a few things. Particularly regarding the world of singing!

My month of May ended at Vibrato's Bar & Grill (located in Bel Air) to see my voice instructor Sandra Booker headline a concert there. Though I've taken vocal lessons with Sandra for over 3 years now, I had NEVER seen her perform live! Why oh why did I wait so long?????

Let me just say right off the bat……….THE NIGHT WAS MAGICAL! SLAP YO' MAMA FANTASTIC!

Sandra Booker commands the room with every eye glued upon her from beginning to end. Her vocal musicianship strikes the listener with its accuracy, improvisation, strength, and breathtaking delivery. Not one note lacked in heartfelt emotion or perfect diction. She brings freshness to the Great American Songbook with invigorated renditions of "On a Clear Day," "The Shadow of Your Smile," "But Not For Me," "Route 66," and more. Sandra also includes original material such as "Take Me in Your Arms" and "Café Du Monde" which pays homage to to her native New Orleans.

Now usually in the jazz world, music critics are swift to classify contemporary artists like Sandra as the next Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, or Sarah Vaughan. I won't do that here. Sandra's dynamic originality propels her into a league of her own. Timeless artistry did NOT end with the classic singers of old. Rather than "carrying the torch" of these classic vocalists, Sandra Booker carries her own self-created torch with unparalleled excellence and proves herself a timeless vocalist in her own right.

Accompanying Sandra was the phenomenal band: Thomas White (drums), Graham Dechter (guitar), Darek Oles (Bass), and of course…..another UCLA professor and mentor of mine Tamir Hendelman (piano).

What can I say? The night was quite memorable and the music fantastic! Sandra Booker has deeply impacted my life as a vocal instructor and now as a live performer. Can't wait to see her live again at Vibrato's…….but I'll skip the 'less than stellar' Caesar Salad that I ordered!


Visit to Jimmy McHugh

Jimmy McHugh

What A Most Unusual Day In LA!!

When’s the last time you met music royalty? Or the relatives of such royalty?

Now don’t get me wrong…….both my singing & radio careers grant me frequent abilities to meet famous people. That’s always a treat! But a recent meeting I had last weekend in LA has compelled me to write my 1st blog ever!!!

So I had the awesome privilege of meeting Lee Newman, the great-grandson of legendary songwriter Jimmy McHugh. Some of McHugh’s classic songs include “I’m in the Mood for Love,” “It’s a Most Unusual Day,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and my personal favorite “A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.” Great-grandson Lee promotes and manages McHugh’s body of work (approving the music being recorded, performed, and featured on TV & film).

My visit to Lee’s office was amazing!!!!! You immediately notice a light green upright piano when entering. This was McHugh’s actual piano he used to compose his timeless classics, given to him by another classic songwriter and friend Irving Berlin. Of course I had to take a picture at the piano! Lee possesses sheet music, vintage movie promotional photos, and an extensive collection of albums & CDs. He graciously toured me through his office, discussing everything displayed within and also about his great-grandfather’s life. In the world of the Great American Songbook, McHugh was iconic. Legendary performers such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole have recorded McHugh’s body of work.

As a member of the legendary “Ink Spots Generations” & on-air personality for “Martini in the Morning,” I thoroughly appreciated this meeting and tour with Lee Newman. In the midst of keeping his great-grandfather’s music alive & relevant, Lee personally invited me into his office. He also gave me quality advice about the music business & advancing my own singing career. I left Lee’s office heavily inspired to compose my own music and keep the Great American Songbook alive. I’m working to perform globally and feel I’m on my way!

 This was definitely a highlight of my year.

 - Randy