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Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton

Burbank, California -- 2010

Do you recognize this guy without his long curly locks? When I met pop singer Michael Bolton just after Valentine's Day, he was still hip and handsome though cleaner cut than when he rocketed to stardom in the late 80's. His bright blue eyes still had that sexy sparkle.

In anticipation of the Mother's Day USA release of his new CD, One World One Love, Michael Bolton was putting together an entirely new band for his 2010 tour. He enlisted the help of the Emmy-nominated musical director of American Idol, Rickey Minor, who presided over the auditions. Chad Wright, the new drummer and music director for Bolton's band, called me to fly down to Burbank within 24 hours to audition. As a fellow Berklee College of Music alum, he felt confident that I was just what they were looking for; "a female saxophonist that can really play."

Before I got to play for Michael Bolton, however, I had to impress Rickey Minor and the other guys in the band, including keyboardist Brian BecVar, guitarist Errol Cooney, and bassist Derrick Ray. First, I was asked to blow on the old favorite, Georgia On My Mind, the re-make of which had been a big hit for Bolton from his Soul Provider (1989) recording. Then, after playing a bit of the title track, Rickey declared, "Michael is gonna hear two notes and absolutely love you!" He asked me to come back to Burbank two days later to begin rehearsals with the band and to play for the star himself. Armed with a few charts and all the recordings for the entire show, I flew home anticipating that much of Valentine's Day would be spent preparing tunes.

My black and gold saxophone immediately attracted attention when Michael Bolton entered the rehearsal studio, and he commented on it's beauty. Nice ice breaker. He gave me a friendly handshake and big smile, then listened attentively as the band and I played four tunes from his show. After hearing me play the first song, he exclaimed, "You sound great. I don't just mean good... I mean GREAT!" I guess Rickey was right. Everyone was so enthusiastic with me that I felt pretty confident the gig was mine.

I hung out with Michael, Rickey and the band into the early evening hours, then returned home to the San Francisco Bay Area to await the final details. My mind was spinning from the unexpected whirlwind of the past three days, which entailed two last-minute trips to LA plus about 35 hours of preparing tunes and rehearsing. I was still trying to wrap my head around this potential career opportunity that would require making big life changes on short notice in order to launch a very demanding tour schedule for the better part of a year.

The next morning I got a surprising phone call from Rickey Minor. Good news and bad news. Michael Bolton had chosen myself and my friend, trumpeter Anne King, for the tour. Yay! However, Bolton's new management team had held a big pow wow that evening after I left the studio. They crunched the numbers for the tour again, and gave Michael the bad news that he could not afford both his two horn players AND his two background vocalists this time around. So, the horns got cut.

What a roller coaster ride! You just never know how things are going to turn out in this crazy business. Regardless of the outcome, I was excited to have the opportunity to meet some sweet, talented people and make new friends. Playing with such an awesome band was great fun! And I suspect that new possibilities will arise in the future from this adventure.

After all was said and done, my musician friends were very encouraging. Chad Wright emailed, "thanks for taking the chance... you were really close... it wouldn't surprise me if this comes back around..."

For more about Michael Bolton, visit www.michaelbolton.com.