Title - The Big Pitch
Artist - L.A. Cowboy
For those unaware, a project has crossed our desk with all the mystique, enigma and intrigue of the music industry documentary Searching for Sugar Man, and thus we most definitely have to share it with y’all.
To begin with, we highly doubt that most of you have even heard of L.A. Cowboy. We certainly hadn’t - and are now, and openly, wondering why!
J. Frederick Millea wrote his fist song sitting in a bathtub in the early nineties. Shortly thereafter he took the stage name L.A. Cowboy, as an homage to the eclectic nature of his work.
In the ensuing 9 years he would write a remarkable string of philosophical songs that his artistic associates dubbed poetry in motion and musical mini-movies.
While most songs strive to express and thus induce a particular emotion, his convey complete stories, rife with subtle wit, tightly framing profoundly moving thoughts, feelings and reflection on life, love, loss, resignation and hope.
By 1997 he had produced his first full CD of invisible art as he himself coined it, soon getting top representation. Offers initially came as a series of boilerplate deals, mostly seeking to tie up access and publishing ownership regarding his extensive catalog.
In early 2000, just when it seemed he might acquire a reasonable professional relationship with a major label, the truth finally leaked out: An A&R rep who was highly enthusiastic that he had located the flagship artist his major label was lacking was summarily informed by the President of the label that he deemed L.A. Cowboy’s work to be more of a potential problem that a benefit, stating: We sign acts here -- not artists.
When the A&R man protested that another label would swoop him up, the President simply shrugged and revealed, They’re also aware of him, and we’ve all agreed, nobody is going to sign this artist.
The caliber of the material was just something that the label heads did not care to embrace and champion, unanimously concluding that they would have to justify the comparatively lower quality of so many on their rosters.
Devastated and disgusted with the industry, L.A. Cowboy sadly walked away. It would take 17 years, some insistent fans and financial backers as well as the maturation of the internet to convince him to make his return, revisiting his previous material to once again present evidence of what the gatekeepers in the music industry had purposefully forsaken so many years ago.
Understandably, the selected songs here on the just-released The Big Pitch (Reconcile Recordings) showcase an utterly charming, salutary, tongue-in-cheek ode to Tinseltown.
As he himself puts it: I was determined to show the timelessness as well as intersective reach of these tock songs. So I decided to dress them up in tuxes on this current outing.
1. Stories to Tell
2. Forget About Her
3. Flyover Land
4. Angel in L.A.
5. The Museum
6. The Big Pitch
7. Love Songs
8. Why Do I?
With all the songs written, arranged and produced by the L.A. Cowboy himself, this quite harmoniously wonderful album opens on the storytelling of the aptly-named Stories to Tell and the mid-tempo balladry of Forget About Her and never once looks back.
Millea then seamlessly backs those up with the gently fervent Flyover Land and the ornate hipsway of Angel in L.A., before bringing us his hypnotic tale of The Museum.
Next up is the free flowing ambiance of a man decidedly on top of his musical game within one of my own personal favorites here, the title track itself The Big Pitch, and then the album rounds out on the earnest balladry of Love Songs, coming to a close on the self-questioning ponderances within Why Do I?
L.A. Cowboy - Vocals
Sam Hirsch - Steinway Piano
Fino Roverato - Guitars
Johnny Hatton - Standup Bass
Claudius Kannbanger - Drums
Jaime Havorka - 1st Trumpet
Ron Brown - 2nd Trumpet
James McMillen - Trombone
George Shelby - Alto Sax
Mike Nelson - Tenor Sax
Terry Landry - Baritone Sax
Co-orchestrated with master musicologist James McMillen
Featuring Lady Millea and special guest John Millea on backup vocals
Ensemble Cast: The Hiplomats