Sundays are usually a day that I devote to household chores. It’s good to have at least one day out of the week to relax and work on new material. My week had been more than busy, but I finally got the chance to eat off the profits of my labor. I can make a real good pasta when focused. Afterwards, I was drawn to watch 60 Minutes, a news program that I haven’t seen in about three to four years. This broadcast featured the work of Wynton Marsalis, a very talented Jazz musician. It was just the right type of preparation that I needed to put me into the mindset of another outstanding evening event that had been preparing all day for, The Ambitious Show.

Although I was invited to the show by three good friends of mine, Megan Berson,  Lisa Dispigno, and Steve Berson, the latter being one-half of my own group, Warlock Asylum, I decided to attend this event, as if I was a stranger aimlessly looking for an artsy venue to explore. New York City has definitely been the home of some very ingenious talent, and The Ambitious Show reinforces this legacy.

This masterpiece production under the direction of Benjamin Ickies and Anya Sapozhnikova, took me on a journey into a colorful world of adventure, love, and passion that was so reminiscent of my childhood impressions of visiting New York City for the first time. Ben Ickies, composer and songwriter of the show’s musical catalogue, really gave an outstanding performance as the lead vocalist. He provided the audience through song, intensity, and stillness, a way to look at the world through new eyes. Ickies is never alone in his quest to make music-seekers addicted to new perceptions of sound, as he is just one component in the unpredictable, but highly talented Ambitious Orchestra, wherein each member is a master unto their own self. Participants of this paradigm are Marilyn Cole (oboe), Lisa Dispigno (flute), Rebecca Buxton (alto saxophone), Dave Ruder (clarinet), Nisreen Nor (bassoon), Clyde Daley (trumpet), Jackie Coleman (trumpet), Greg Briggler (trombone), Jake Kenowitz (trombone), Ben Vokits (tuba), Maria Dessena (piano), Matt Cunningham (drums), Matthew Talmage (timpani and percussion). Jeff Young, Tom Sawfford, Ariana Rosen, Josh Henderson, Marina Kifferstein, and Adriana Mollelo all contributed on violin. Megan Berson and Eddy Malave featured their talens through the viola. Grant Zubritsky and Jason Anastasoof demonstrated their skills on the contrabass, and of course, the legendary Steve Berson played a vibrant cello. Additional vocalists were Lisa Dispigno, John Presnell, and Jeff Young. I will discuss more on the vocal highlights in a second. Everyone gave a great contribution to this experience, and readers can find out more info on the specifics of the Ambitious Orchestra by clicking on the following link:

The other essential aspect of The Ambitious Show is Lady Circus. These woman not only show the ingenuity of a “give it all you got performance,“ but are masters of it! These “femmes fatales” are extremely gifted in the art of dance and circus arts. The level of intensity brought to the arena by Lady Circus was a complete bipolar attitude when it comes to the laws of gravity, as they swung from indescribable heights, swinging down below, fire-dancing, performing gymnastic feats of divaism. This is a marriage made in heaven. Ringling Brothers would do well to take notes from Lori Barber, Anya Sapozhnikova, Kathryne Van Assche, Airin Dalton, Ashley Perez, and Vigdis Hentze Olsen. Thank you for being!

There are no dull moments tonite. I am seated in the audience, like a little boy behind the seat of a big wheel riding over the Williamsburg bridge. There is so much excitement in the room. You can feel the intensity of the energy by just taking one glance at trumpet player Clyde Daley. Another highlight of the night was hearing the voice of Lisa Dispigno in song. Lisa is the premiere flutist for Ambitious Orchestra with a style similar to Kaori Sion. Recently, she was added to the vocal canon of the group’s persona. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I must say that she did an outstanding cover of Harry Nilssen’s “One.” Lisa has the potential to be the next Cory Daye of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band fame, as her performance reminded of the Daye’s vocal range on the classic Gigolo and I (reader’s who are unfamiliar the “Gigolo and I” can click on the following link: It was during Lisa’s performance that I had the following epiphany:

“There is a big difference between entertainment and art. Entertainment comes from an idea, whereas art is inspired from the heart. While entertainers will constantly scramble for new ideas to captivate their audience, artists are inspired by the heart’s reaction to an experience and can transmit this experience with all its vital elements through song and dance, thereby using whatever abilities that they are gifted in to convey their feelings. As long as you’re doing it from the heart, people will always be able to feel it, regardless of the genre, and this is what I have witnessed throughout the show.”

I felt inspired to write some new music. After the show this epiphany was reinforced unknowingly by Ben Ickies. During a conversation between Ben, Megan, Steve, and myself, Ickies mentioned how all three of them met on the same night. Uhmm. The world always appears as an oyster of art when seen through the eyes of the heart. Looks like the House of Yes will never say no to success, as long as the Ambitious Show is running.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Leave a Reply