Guilford Jazz Musician Marcel Blanchet’s CD Spreads Good Will

With a new Christmas CD, Guilford's Marcel Blanchet captures the spirit of the holidays in a way that truly embodies good will toward others.

The talented jazz musician and producer and his jazz group Beyond the Sun will give 100 percent of sales of the 1,500-copy first release of their new holiday CD Somewhere Paradise to the ALS Association, Connecticut Chapter.

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a motor-neuron disease. The non-profit ALS Association seeks a treatment and cure while empowering the afflicted and their families by providing care and support.

Somewhere Paradise was being produced about six months ago when Marcel's family received devastating news that his step-father William "Willie" Lovallo of Torrington was diagnosed with ALS. The disease hit Lovallo, once a strapping House of David "barnstorm-league" baseball player, with unremitting speed.

Marcel says his mother Maria couldn't have coped with the immediate needs created as "Lou Gehrig's disease" stole her husband's health, had it not been for the ALS Association.

"The ALS Association was such a huge help to our family. They were right there for us. I said to my mom, 'I need to do something for this organization,'" Marcel recalls.

Marcel has gathered support for the idea from his co-artists and even noted Guilford artist Brendan Loughlin, a personal friend.

"I told him it was a Christmas CD and he said, 'Marcel, I have a great painting you can use.'"

Loughlin donated the cover art- a moonrise snow scene with cozy village homes at front and a classic New England church in the distance. Marcel says the painting's dream-like quality dovetails in more ways than one with the title song "Somewhere Paradise."

"It could be anywhere, but if you live here you know that's Guilford's First Congregational Church; that's my hometown. I love Guilford and the wonderful people, merchants, artists, and friends I've made," says Marcel, a Guilford resident for more than two decades.

One Guilford friend, Breakwater Books proprietor Maureen Corcoran, has put Somewhere Paradise on sale in her Whitfield Street shop.

"There are just a lot of beautiful people out there," says Marcel, who also thanks Beyond the Sun and the CD's guest artists. Marcel's college friend John Tuzzolo (Johnny Ray) co-wrote the title cut with him. Ray sings the lullaby on the CD.

"That song is a gift of love. I wrote it over 30 years ago, as a gift to my mom's sister, who was having a baby. Now that baby's an adult and she's having a baby, so the song's become a gift of a gift," says Marcel.

He included the lyrics in the CD jacket, so "mothers and fathers can sing it to their kids." The Somewhere Paradise CD includes seven contemporary jazz songs.

Marcel is a father of three, including oldest son Paul (at Middlesex Community College); Peter, a Guilford High School senior; and Ana, a student at Baldwin Middle School. His kids grew up exposed to plenty of music. Marcel recently produced an EP for Peter's metal alternative band Rena Surrender.

Beyond the Sun consists of Marcel (drums), Kalim Zarif (keyboards), Morris Trent (bass), and singer Carolyn Raming. The jazz group gigs in this area, across the country, and around the world, from Los Angeles to New Orleans and from Berlin to Brazil.

"We do a lot of fundraisers…It's part of my philosophy. It gives me an opportunity to be a voice for a good cause and at the same time entertain and bring an audience to jazz," says Marcel.

Marcel also contributes a summer jazz program at Connecticut Hospice in Branford.

"We raise a lot of money for them," Marcel says. "We've had musicians from all over the world."

Getting people involved in the act of contributing their talent or money is a kind of "pay it forward," approach Marcel hopes to ignite in others with Somewhere Paradise. The CD has already sold 500 copies through fan base downloads at iTunes or purchases online at Amazon.com. The CD was released Dec. 1.

"With this story, if I can help others by bringing some awareness to ALS, or even people don't buy the CD, but make a contribution or go out and support those local merchants and artists that do so much for the community, it's a way of helping others."

Copies of Somewhere Paradise are on sale now for $10 per copy at Breakwater Books, 81 Whitfield Street. One hundred percent of sales from the first release will be contributed to ALS Association, Connecticut Chapter (www.alsa.org). To learn more about Marcel and Beyond the Sun, visit www.uritproductions.com.

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