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An interview for the Aquarian and the East Coast Rocker in March 2005

    Local horn virtuoso Dan Cipriano has been playing with a lot of bands lately... including a few he's never even met! Besides his gigs with legendary artists such as Wilson Pickett and Gary U.S. Bonds, as well as jamming with local favorites such as DogVoices, Dan's latest endeavor is called iHorns.com, in which he does the horn arrangements and recordings for bands anywhere in the world.
     "The site launched about a month ago and I have recorded horn sections on 13 songs so far," says Dan. "I've completed five sax solos, one flute solo and written two horn arrangements for a touring act out of New Orleans. People generally think it is great service because I let them listen to the final product before they decide if they want to pay for it. My clients are a lot more at ease sending their songs to me knowing they are not going to get stuck paying for something that they are not crazy about. '
     While the Internet may be the wave of the future, it's still live performances that are the highlight for Dan. " Getting the Wilson Pickett gig was great for me both professionally and musically," he says.  "It takes me around the world, meeting other artists and musicians. Some of the Jazz and Blues festivals we play in Europe and Australia are just amazing, and I've met some great artists along the way."
     While Dan has performed every type of music, ranging from R&B and blues to jazz and rock, it's R&B artists that have been the biggest influence on him. "Musically, Wilson, along with Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles have always been my heroes," he relates. "I learn so much more about playing horn from vocalists than I do from horn players. Listening to R&B/Soul vocalists teaches about phrasing and getting to the point musically with less notes. That style of playing really helps you connect with your audience whether it's live or in the studio. Every night I play with Wilson he sings something that blows my mind. Most often it is something rhythmically that just floors me. He is known for those blood-curdling screams, but if you really listen his ballads he can lay so far behind the beat and still keep you in the song with him. That's really special."
     Most musicians aspire to the limelight, but Dan is content with the supporting role he plays. "As far as goals go, I differ from most other musicians," he explains. "I love to work and make a living as a musician and continue to grow as a player. I don't have a need get my music out to the world or have my name up in lights. I love being a sideman and the many hats you wear as a sideman. One day you are playing a jazz gig in the village the next week you are on a big stage somewhere in Europe and the following week you are in the studio writing the arrangements and directing a horn section. That kind of diverse playing makes you a better musician and covering many styles helps you grow musically."
     Despite that, he does sometimes end up being very visible. "I played with the Allman Brothers a couple years ago along with 'The Uptown Horns'" at the Beacon Theater," he recalls. "Most of the shows I do I usually pick up a something from the concert just as a keepsake from one of the vendors. We came in before the show, and listened to the songs on a boom box that we would be performing on that night. We went into the dressing room and worked out our parts, then went up on stage and played the concert. It all moved so fast I forgot pick up something to remember the gig by.  About a week later I looked on eBay for something from the show like a t-shirt or a hat, but instead I found a bootleg video of me playing with the Allman Brothers from that night. Of course, I was the highest bidder on it.!"
     For further information about Dan, check out his web site at www.dancipsax.com. For information about iHorns, check out www.ihorns.com.