Award-winning composer, arranger, pianist, producer, and bandleader Lou Pomanti has worked in countless areas of the music business and has received accolades in each.
After working on numerous projects for other artists, Pomanti has used some of the time over the pandemic to work on a project that finds him hosting a musical party featuring some of his best mates on a new record appropriately titled Lou Pomanti and Friends.
It’ll be launched with an all-star event at the Paradise Theatre on May 27. Pomanti joined us on the line to tell us a little more about it.
It’s great to hear this new record. The cover photo — which is hilarious, by the way — the list of guests, the pieces themselves, the arrangements… The whole thing is fabulous. Let’s start from the beginning: How did the project come about?
The project came about from my monthly stint at the Jazz Bistro here in Toronto. I started a monthly gig called “Lou Pomanti and Friends,” and I’d invite a few singers or instrumentalists out to perform with me. It went so well that I was selling out every time I played there. Then of course, the big bad COVID hit and that got sidelined. We had a little reprieve, a year later I went back, it was selling well again, and that’s when Jaymz Bee said to me, “Look, this is obviously working. Why don’t we do a record?” I said Jaymz Bee, you’ve got it.
You’ve done so many things. The world in which you work is wide and varied. What does this particular album mean to you?
You know, I’ve been a journeyman, a behind-the-scenes guy my entire life. My second career started in 1983. I disappeared from the live stage for 15 years. You did not see me. Then I formed my band the Dexters, and that was a bit hit, and blah blah blah. Anyway, I’ve done many, many things in my life — everything from arranging to production to being a sideman; I even wrote some jingles in the true Toronto tradition of Doug Riley and all of those guys. Now, I don’t do a lot of things. The present that I’ve given myself at this age and at this stage in my career is that I’m really just making records, and I’ve stopped the whole TV and film business. I’m just making records and playing live with people that I really want to play with — and that’s it.
When it comes to choosing the people and music involved, how did you make the choices for this album?
A couple of them were easy, because some of them are just my favourite people on Earth. The last five years of working with Marc Jordan and producing his last two records, [he’s] one of my favourite people … and he’s one of the most über-talented guys, so he was a natural. David Clayton-Thomas, whom I’ve worked with since 1980, was a natural. Emilie-Claire Barlow, who was my next-door neighbour when she was 15 years old, was a natural. And my new great buddy Randy Brecker, who I’ve been using on all my records for the last four years or so, was a natural.
It was the people closest to you. In general, there’s a friendship and a connection, so the musical connection is an obvious one?
There are no strangers here. It’s all people that I’ve known. I’ve produced John Finley’s record. I’ve produced June Garber’s record. I’ve worked with Dione Taylor many times. I’ve co-produced Matt Dusk’s last two records. And one of them is my son. So, there are no strangers. It’s not Lou Pomanti and Acquaintances.
That’s the next record.
Yeah, and as Ronnie Littlejohn says, the third record will be Lou Pomanti and People I’ve Blocked on Facebook.
The record is going to be released on May 27 at the Paradise Theatre. What can people expect from the show?
The fabulous Paradise Theatre, they’ve revamped [it] and spent $7 million. It’s a fabulous place. I’m going to have a whole bunch of friends there. I’m going to have Marc Jordan, Robyn Black, John Finley, Irene Torres, and I’m going to have a great backup band. We’ve got Queen Pepper opening. It’s going to be me playing most of the tunes off the record, and maybe even a few tunes from my first solo album Welcome to the Boogaloo Lounge.
This interview has been edited and condensed.