Voices from Italy talking Jazz

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Laura Campisi, Fac&Bass!

On May 29th, I was lucky to have a chance to listen to a wonderful concert at Somethin’ Jazz featuring Laura Campisi accompanied by the wonderfully eclectic bassist Ameen Saleem.

Winner of the Lucca Jazz Donna award in 2009, Laura is a talented songwriter and heartfelt performer.  Her honesty and artistry transcends her being categorized as just a jazz singer. Not surprisingly, she has performed with many well known musicians from the Italian jazz scene as well as with some of the best cats in New York.

To describe her voice is like experiencing a whirlwind of sensations.  The timbre of her soprano range is bright and warm, yet there is an undercurrent of cooler and darker tones which comforts you like a cool wave in the crystal clear Sicilian sea.  Laura’s voice took me to those beaches, the sand, the white rocks and blue sea and uncovers the hidden sorrows and painful truths that lie among the beauty that surrounds.

Fac&Bass!, her tour de force performance consisted of two instruments, two voices,and one courageous repertoire. Starting with an explosive “Ever fallen in love” the famous 1978 hit song by The Buzzocks, she amused the audience with her grace and with songs from songwriters like “Be cool” (Joni Mitchell)”Don’t think twice” (Bob Dylan) “Waitin’ in vain” (Bob Marley) she mesmerized us with her strong charisma.  Next was her outstanding interpretation of Hyperballad (Bjork) and with that made our hearts stop. Following with Gone (an original song by Peter Box )with which she won the Lucca Jazz Donna 2009 competition, she revealed her hidden blues heart.  In her incredible version of Nardis (part of her new album) she left everybody enchanted, she charmed us during “Alla luce del giorno”(in the daylight) and in “Da quando Elisa se n’è andata”( since Elisa went away) she took us away to what was like a fantastic glittering dream.

“Solitude”, her amazing ballad, she pierced our hearts with the gloom of a lost love, followed by an impeccably phrased “For all we know” and explosive passion in “Whatever Lola wants” from the 1955 musical play Damn Yankees.   Just when you think every emotion has been exhausted, she unexpectedly brought out a moment of sophisticated originality, the translation in Italian of the “San Diego Serenade” by Tom Waits, beautifully adapted and arranged.  Not to mention the hilarious yet bittersweet performance of the Buena Vista Social Club”Dos gardenias”, and the touching Sicilian folk song “Mi votu e mi rivotu” (I flip and turn in bed).

For her grand finale, she gave her sensational version of Big in Japan (Tom Waits) where she added magical colors and shades to this hypnotic  rendition, having us burning for more.

Welcome in NY Laura!

Next Performance:

June 19th (Wed) at 7.30-10.30 @ Antibes Bistro

June 22nd (Sat) at 12pm, @ the Churchyard of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Little Italy

June 23rd (Sun) at 9pm @ Somethin’ Jazz Club “Voice of Women”

June 30th (Sun) @ Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, New Jersey

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Angela Roberts,the Heart of Jazz

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The 20th of May Angela Roberts with Saul Rubin(Gt) Ben Wolfe(Bs) and Marcus Parsley(Trp) enchanted the audience of the Zinc bar.

Lady Blue Eyes is a talented singer from Jacksonville Florida whose mother from New Orleans gave her the chance to spend every summer in the most important jazz city in the world which obviously deeply influenced her music… she was brought up surrounded by music and inspired by the greatest from soul, rock and jazz like Jim Morrison, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Roberta Flack,Tori Amos,Joni Mitchell, Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, Betty Carter, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald,Bobby Mcferrin and so on.

She graduated in Jazz Voice Performance at University of North Florida, having studied under classical tenor and immensely talented William Brownthen moved to New York where she performs with many great musicians and is now starting work on a new album.
She appeared in a red, short, elegant dress, and held a two hours concert at Zinc Bar (a Talent Laboratory in NY,much like Zeb’s, where she and many other talented singers regularly perform)

Her Swing was sparkling.

Opening with Loverly from one of her favorite musicals, My Fair Lady, she opened the evening with few notes and: already her charisma was strong. In songs like You’re So Desiderable, Nobody Else But Me and Secret Love she showed her skills: smart phrasing, interesting choice of cadence: the joy of jazz.

The bluesy shades in her singing, reminiscent of Billie Holiday, are a trait that she gained from her childhood listening. It’s part of her approach, and this enriches her general style which is particularly honest, -I think underestimated.

She is an alto whose timbre warm and thick is of a color which fits perfectly into the soulful tone of her music. This was made most apparent in the funky arrangements of Comes Love, More Than You Know and Tea for Two (available on line on YouTube).

There is a constant sweetness of her nature which appears in her head voice, as she discovers new bright colors. The kindness she reveals cuts totally the initial feeling of any harshness. So what you have is something fresh, new, a blend of feelings,of cultures and styles.

In ballads like You’ve Changed , Blame It On My Youth , Never Let Me Go, she set the lyrics making each songs sound like new –  so personal, so unique. Using an astonishing palette of dynamics, she made her version of I Wish I Knew incredibly touching. Her pianissimo was so soft you could almost compare it to the sound of tears. Long sorrowful notes, delicate lines of words that entered your ear and touched your heart. Singing a dreamy  version of Invitation then  made everyone deeply hypnotized! So that in the end the audience got somewhat overwhelmed.

Her trio in every tune was over the top: the great Saul Rubin on guitar was always perfectly aware of the feelings that were going on the stage and was ready to surprise everyone; the amazing Ben Wolfe on bass was always there preparing the field and filling the atmosphere with elegant, smart and sometimes funny solutions, and Marcus Parsley on trumpet put some spice on those funky tunes  and some sweet on the ballads,which made the overall picture well balanced.

The last gifts she sung were dedicated to two important people for Angela. The first one, I Will (Beatles) was dedicated to her daughter. This was incredibly sweet and powerful, simple but intense.It still makes me think it will be beautiful to get an album of pop covers in the name of jazz (as Cassandra Wilson did) because she has the idea and taste to do it and doesn’t sound obvious.

To end the night one last song, All My Tomorrows is a piece she first sang with Johnny O’Neal, a legend here in NY; she melted the audience and Johnny, too, as he was sitting in the back listening, ready to perform next.

Thank you very much Angela,Lady Blue eyes

For more infos check out:

Angela Roberts: http://www.myspace.com/lejazzhaute

Saul Rubin : http://www.saulrubin.com/

Ben Wolfe:http://www.benwolfe.com/

Marcus Parsley http://www.myspace.com/mparsley

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Laura Brunner, a special Jazz Birthday at Zeb’s Place

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Wednesday April 10th,  night, after a hard day of work I was delighted by a wonderful voice at Zeb’s place.
Laura Brunner comes from Columbus,Ohio and graduated at the Berklee College of music, the heart of jazz in Boston.
She is a joyful singer, with an amazing background of experiences and collaborations,and this time she was accompanied by the maestro Saul Rubin on guitar, Kevin Hailey on bass, and Andrew Atkinson on drums.
The room was filled up by an enthusiastic audience who was keep repeating how unique she was. To me was totally new so I was  wondering why.
Starting with You stepped out of a dream, a well-known standard with a nice delicate intro alone with guitar, Laura made us  fall into a hottest swing in few seconds that made the blood pulsing instantly. Her voice floated everywhere like a sparkling star. Laura is blessed with a flexible instrument, and a wide range,  a powerful voice that feeds you and gives you dreaming lullabies.
Like her second tune, her original song called Untitled No. 3, which she explained was “to demonstrate I can write a regular jazz piece”…

Well girl, that is a dreamy piece in a very appropriate jazz style…we can just say thank you.
No lyrics, just a delicate scat, and the guitarist Saul Rubin made a wonderful improvisation with no pressure, as a master can do, preparing the field to others…the bassist Kevin Hailey helped the fire growing and so did the drummer Andrew Atkinson, who drove the rhythm beautifully higher  to the explosion of a super novae, when Laura entered  with her splendid timbre, a smart choices of notes, brought the sounds of the trio to heaven!
We were all in another world!
I can’t even remember what time or season we were !
Then it was time for some light and funny song like the Frim Fram Sauce,  song made famous by Nat King Cole, where Laura showed her ironic, “Ella side” with a very captivating improvisation,  6 minutes of pure jazz joy.
Then it came the time for the sweet ballad Dindi, a bossa nova sung in the original Portuguese version. Bossa is a genre that  that could melt any heart, and Laura knew that,doing a wonderful job. Saul’s guitar brings us in Rio in few chords, simplicity  with a rich tone gave room to Laura to do a short improvisation,building a nice crescendo which floated to a delicate reprise of the theme that went on to a  deep, intimate theme to conclude in the sweetest way ever. An ear balm.  This is love.
After those gentle sounds the concert moves to other lands. Nardis, the best version I had ever heard;  I guess it’s because jazz singer are afraid to go beyond the limits, embrace the real essence of jazz that means mixing cultures. Laura instead took the chance and jump into it.
She started alone, embracing the middle-eastern vocalization used in the prayers and suddenly you are out in the desert. She used velvety, cozy melodies where the scat and nothing else developed the well-known theme of Nardis in a very involving way. Rhythmically and melodically the sequence of sentences shivered the audience and the band inspiring the passionate drumming of  Andrew Atkinson who became even more passionate and tremendous if I can say that, also the touch and phrasing of Kevin Hailey became hottest,animal, and Zeb (Saul Rubin) was able to go beyond limits of creativity floating through scales, chords and all the effects a guitar can do… everything was crazy but balanced like a fantastic dream in an exotic land.
Fireworks!
Laura and Saul after this great time, were alone, in duo performing I love you for sentimental reasons. A personal dedication of Laura to her love and you could see not the singer, but a woman who loves, a heart who sings. Her tone was even sweeter,  delicate. Very personal and free. Memorable and well …a tear was unbearable.
To the end of the night it was time for a good, hot, tremendous blues: Laura is groovy and delirious!                                                  Such a fire after all this going on!

But she left us just after one last  funky  tune by the queen Eryka Baduh, accompanied  by another amazing  young guitarist Richard Padrón, with whom she plays usually some rock/pop/funk repertoire around the NYC area ( you can find info on her website)

This girl has a lot of different unexpected sides. And I fell filled up with joy. I did forget why I was tired today!

I am glad you are here  angel Laura

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–  For more info :

Laura Brunner:
http://www.laurabrunner.com/live/
http://www.myspace.com/laurabrunner
https://twitter.com/LBrunnerMusic

Saul Rubin (Gt):
http://www.saulrubin.com/
http://www.zebulonsoundandlight.com/
http://www.saulrubin.com/bio/saulbio.htm

Kevin Hailey ( Bs): http://www.myspace.com/kevinhailey

Andrew Atkinson (Dr):http://www. live.com/site/

Richard Padrón (Gt):http://www.richardpadron.com/

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Zeb’s March short reviews

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Hello my dear followers,

I am writing very late and maybe you were waiting for my look on the music events of Zeb last month?
I apologize but as you know this is my hobbies and I run out of words during the change of seasons.So welcome springtime and now,let’s talk about music!This March at Zeb’s happened more than something.There were three amazing artists from the New York modern jazz scene.

 

Emily Braden * 14th,march

The hottest fire goddess, the fire power.

time passes and Emily as good wine become rich of colors, nuances and unxpected repertoire.
Now the thing is, to put into a metaphor, you never imagine how many colors fire can have!
Swings tempos are fun for Emily, and you suddenly are captured in a whole new dimension. But
when her touching voice enhances rounded sounds and deep presence on ballads/bossa, you finally felt that hug you were looking for;
But for me the best part is where she expresses the soul/black side of her heart, that explode clearly in her timbre.
Such a power and magnificent funky groove gives you a hint of how hot fire can be!

Milton Suggs** 20th,march

Soul is Jazz, Jazz is soul

A very talented and touching pianist and soulful singer Milton embodies the great jazz and soul/r’n’b singers of the past. Its flexible scat and the precise vocalese explore all the colors of his tenor range, pumping you with energy and power in swing and funky tunes, modern originals and refreshed standards, holding low notes with control and passion, and high notes in a perfect ascension, effect of the belting school craft… but how can I describe the sweet delicacy of his voice on ballads? maybe..a lover…a warm,intimate voice of a lover who whispers gently in  your ears.
If you want to hear something different..this is unmissable!

Jane Irving*** 27th, march
The happiness of swing,the beauty of scat.
This night our jazz star from Australia was  shining more then ever!

If you are in the mood for articulate but fun, spicy improvisations, or dreaming ballads sweet as loving lullabies, or if you really need some hot funky/bluesy punch all well constructed with verve and ironic attitude(because you are looking for a friendly goddess,who’s going to take care of your bad day)….

  -breath- That ‘s the jazz singer you are looking for.

I need here a  😉  to express you my positive suggestion.

Well,see you at Zeb’s folks!

********HOT JAZZ LINKS*********

Emma Larsson. Butterflies at Zinc Bar

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Emma Larsson, Scandinavian singer, sensitive songwriter, now one of the most particular voices in NYC, had a wonderful performance with her quartet Bruce Barth (piano), Marcos Varela (bass) and Darrell Green (drums) at Zinc Bar on the 25th of February.

A talented composer and amazing modern jazz singer, she performed some originals tunes from her first debut album “Irie Butterflies” and the most recent “Let It Go”.
Starting with the gentle “Like A Sweet Refrain” where her voice,a particular intimate timbre build up an energetic yet zen atmosphere. There is swing for sure, but you can hear the influence of the sounds of John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock compositions and, the latest Betty Carter influenced the sound approach of the band.
These peculiarities appear from the beginning in songs like “As the Sun Interrupted the Moon”, “Many Moons Ago” or the touching ballad “Overtime”. It’s the sounds of suspended chords, unexpected metric solutions and relentless harmonies that characterize this repertoire. It’s a journey, no it’s her journey… maybe the one of each one of us. Something started in her hometown and developed here in this overwhelming and exaggerated city of New York.
Every song embodies every single step she made along the way. Songs dedicated to the wisdom of the elements that sometimes are source of inspiration and power like the moon and the sun in the first song mentioned above, then sky and rain as in “Sing to the Sky” and “Before the Rain Comes” which can be seen as prayers or charming meditations.

“As the Sun Interrupted the Moon” and “Busy Being Blue” are songs where an open heart describes honestly all of its prisons and sighs of freedom, and maybe that’s the use of all those changes of accents and the intense use of straight eights feel typical of contemporary sounds .The achievements, the results, the joy of new discoveries through the variety and the articulations of shimmering harmonies, mixed in a mournful yet mature voice, shining of hope from the fluttering of the wings of thousands colorful butterflies arise in the last song “Irie Butterflies”, title track of her beautiful album.
That’s what I experienced and I hope you have a chance too; the journey about life, from the darkness of chaos to the restoration of the balance.
The principle of Yin and yang as was also expressed in her black and white stripe dress.
Some of these tracks are available on her website online.Visit and listen to those gems of beauty is a duty, hearing her voice singing these lyrics is a blessing.
Thanks Emma.

A window on Zeb’s

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On February at Zeb’s, three women, three singers, three  new amazing talents perform for three absolutely diverse and charming nights.

Sometimes this place break the limit of time and space. It’s a door to the 40s or 50’s and sometimes even brings you in other places of the world. Maybe because there is no room for envy, frustrations just hearts singing stories, full of passion for music, and are commanding.
Looks like you are in that gorgeous past described in the woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris” where historical heroes of the arts are still alive and remember us of the beauty of the circle of life and death.
After the first week dedicated to the well-known all-stars jam session, Yaala Ballin opens the jazz series. From Israel comes this sweet jazz singer now New York based, representing the purest jazz tradition of the 50’s. She was accompanied by the host and virtuoso Saul Zebulon Rubin on guitar, and the always remarkable Ari Roland on an intense bass and Dan Aran on some passionate drums. The atmosphere she creates once the concert begins magic begins, it’s another world. On the stage Yaala is not just telling stories, doing her job with the elegant dignity and the precision that the style needs, she has a powerful charisma reminding you of all the jazz singers of the past…you can see as she walks the stage the elegant posture of goddess like Carmen Mcrae and Sarah Vaughan. Their inspiration affect her ideas giving back a slow and balanced phrasing in standards like “Love walked in”, “Without your love” and the wonderful “Taking a chance on love” . Her improvisations appear clear and full of nice ideas, which come out like words of others beautiful stories.
In “Dearly Beloved” and “Falling in love with love”where Yaala lingers on fast temp her phrasing is relaxed.She makes everything balanced and fun. A clear example is the last tune “I love you” where she feels at ease and her balanced phrasing touches point of elegant virtuosity like the great Anita o’ Day.
Her ballads are enchanting, it’s in the sorrow of Billie Holiday appearing now, as she sung the traditional (nowadays) “The man I love’. It’s incredible how she expresses the hopeless feelings of “That old devil called love” and the gloomy “End of a love affair” creating precious moments. Not to mention “ I’m thru with love” which is involving and hearted. Then Yaala unexpectedly embraces the blues in “I love my man”, and finally we discover a side of this singer often hidden. It’s like the pain has been treasured in her heart for long now is freely floating in those shadows of blues, enabling the creation of a passionate performance. Yaala Ballin, in her elegant black silky dress is singing about up and downs of life, with a simplicity that reminds you how it has always been just perfect like this.
Ciara Arnette,”cat’s eye” is the next wonderful singer of the month. Loved both in Usa and Europe especially in France, has a great contralto voice, vivid and powerful. If she was a wine she should be one of those sharp and persistent French wine. Ciara has the ability to sing every style with the passion of the experience, in fact she opened with the nostalgic standard “What can I say after I have said I am sorry” where her voice gives the energy you need to face the pain. Then it’s just fun and smiles as she deals with rhythm like samba on “What a difference a day made” and bossa “I fall in love to easily” and the latin “Too marvelous for words” who bring out the passion of earth’s rhythm.
Remarkable her phrases as she swings hard on the fast tempo “What a little moonlight can do” and on the always captivating “I thought about You”. Few words can be used to describe her ballads, dark, sorrowful, intense: “You’ve changed”, and the bluesy shades on “Willow weep for me” give just goosebumps. Her smooth, deep yet hot interpretation is involving.
Her charisma on stage is overwhelming.And it’s time for the last tune, fire on “Afro Blue” where you can see in the depth of the her voice memories of all her travels around the world.
The end of the month is here, and on the 27th the powerful bittersweet Marianne Solivan, one of the most talented voices of NYC, performed with Saul Rubin, the friendly and valuable Marco Panascia on bass and Lawrence Leathers drums. Her powerful and poignant performances make her one of today’s outstanding artists.
She is that kind of singer who can bring you anywhere and as her first tune “Blue in green” starts you can’t help feeling deeply moved. The sorrow of this ballad, which is so hard to interpret without falling into an overwhelmingly dramatic attitude, is very well expressed. Due to the marvelous atmosphere her timbre creates, and the dynamics she is able to combine. Then her phrasing, the way she touches the words, the touching improvisation and the sweet accompaniment of the guitar of Saul are ethereal. Bill Evans should be proud. The next song is a shining medium swing “Can We Be Friends” fill up with the well-known irony of Marianne. Can irony be a way to describe the voice or the performer of a jazz singer? Well, Marianne makes it possible. It appears in the way she stretches the phrases, in her swing, in the choices of the songs in her repertoire: “Remember” and “I Wanna Be Around” are tunes where avoiding to smile is unfair.Irony that comes from her sunny, honest personality, is clearly described in songs like “Jazz: Ain’t Nothing But Soul” and “This Is New” where this lady shows her ability to create very clever improvisations and swings very hard. In other words, it’s pure joy, reminiscent of the best singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter .And this is just part of the experience – once she got to her original song “Where Are You Now” it was time for her enthralling passion, and indomitable blues. Stunning.
Some of the best things are made with simplicity, and the duo with the amazing Marco Panascia on bass on “Sometimes I’m Happy” is delicious. How they build the phrasing and support each other is surprising. Everybody knows how hard it can be to sing with just a bass, it’s dangerous, you risk a loss of the intonation, of the path, possibly falling into repetitiveness, yet here there is just their dialogue, the comfort and the happiness of a friendship. The second duo is with Saul on guitar, a medley of “I’ll Follow you” & “Then I’ll Be Tired Of You” and Marianne seems very intimately involved. So, like a mirror shows your true self, her voice makes you realize how fragile a loving heart can be. There is a lot of the “human” and the “woman” in Marianne here, not just a “singer”.
Those colors gradually change into sweeter and gentler hues, appearing in two other ballads, both very smoothly touching “Last Time For Love” and another original “On A Clear Night” where Marianne’s sound turns even more rounded, supporting every change of range with care and taste. It seems just as delicate and pure as a teenage-girl in her first love bug. One more song to end this special night “Twisted” with its explosive vocalese. It never felt so easy and understandable!

This time you get out of Zeb’s simply with hair ruffled ….and actually isn’t it a nice change of hairstyle?!
See you at Zeb’s folks!

LINKS

Zeb’s: http://www.zebulonsoundandlight.com/

Yaala Ballin: http://www.yaalaballin.com/live/

Ciara Arnette : video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BaIOWHSFW4

Marianne Solivan: http://www.mariannesolivanjazz.com/

Jane Irving, a little of fresh air in the NYC jazzy nights.

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At Zinc Bar, down at west 3rd street, this Monday 4th of March the talented Australian singer Jane Irving                             performed with her trio. The amazing Kevin Hailey was on bass, Jack Glottman on piano and Steve Williams was on drums.
“The Great City” opened the show and Jane is ready to swing hard on this song which represents the frenetic life of NYC. Jane singing is captivating. Going through all the shades of the soprano range, and keeping a warm and bright timbre, she can be powerful and rich in fast tempos as well as sweet and intimate in slow tempos.
Her ideas during the improvisations are articulate and felt. “Detour ahead” is fresh and joyful, something different from the very famous version by the goddess Ella Fitzgerald and Billy Holiday. She learnt from that school to renewed it with her taste and abilities. The next song “Close Enough For Love” from the movie “Agatha” is a gentle ballad filled of hope that comes from her timbre, so full of interesting dynamics.

“I wish I Knew” gives us an example. You feel yourself blown out since the beginning where her sharp phrasing appears clearly just supported by the drums. And those enchanting sounds are all there once she get to “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” very catchy in its change of style from latin to swing. It Gives room to a lot of ideas, which are well developed by each musician.
Then it’s time for an unexpected song by the famous pianist and composer Michel Legrand ”Love makes the changes” a blues tune with some jazzy changes that just encourage Jane to express her beliefs. A message well received from the pianist who just sets the keyboard on fire.
Then it’s time for an unexpected version of A Night in Tunisia, where she brings her original lyrics, well written and appropriate, where you can taste also a little of vocalese. Suddenly you are in the desert in Tunisia, where Jane is singing to the sky the beauty of that land and its people. She shines.
Then it’s time for another ballad, this time coming from the blues rock repertoire “I Ain’t Gonna Let You Break My Heart” made famous by Bonnie Raitt, in the late 80’s. Jane here shows us another palette of colors, a very intimate and touching moment before the explosive conclusive funky “Ain’t No Such Thing As Superman” by Gill Scott Heron. This girl can literally spice the sound up, now even softer and full of bitterness telling about the harsh feelings of a lover who wants to be accepted from his loved one, yet of a man to be accepted in the society. Her voice it’s not just telling about love, it’s now a conscious representation of a man speaking to the society that expects superpowers from its children.
This is what happens at Zinc, but in any jazz club when good music is there, when Jane Irving is there.

For info, check this out  :

http://www.myspace.com/janeirving     http://www.janeirving.com/    http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/janeirving                         48135_10200777254057678_958316100_n