Success Dangles in the Balance

by Corinne Lyons

Corinne Lyons sat down with Dangling Success a Jazz based group to find the secret to their strong stage presence. The five members Mark "Dr. Sax" Niekrewicz, Gioron Wilkins, Sr., Mike McDonough, Paul Rossman, and Daniel Odescalchi come from all walks of life to make music enjoyable for their listeners.

D.A.M.: How did the band get together?

Dangling Success (All): Well, that’s a story since there are so many influences that lend to our sound and we came from many different places and backgrounds. Mike and I (Dan) have played together back in the eighties in a pop band. We are the longest dangle members. Gioron played with the Isley Brothers and we found him online. Paul was playing congas in another jazz band and we approached him at a gig. And Mark, or “Dr. Sax” as he is known, has a varied background, much of it including performances with big bands.

A few years back, after going through many incarnations, we had Gioron and Dr. Sax sit in with us at a gig. That night it was like something clicked. Suddenly the five of us were playing off one another effortlessly. It was a winning combination of players. It was something that probably every musician searches for but rarely finds. Early on Gioron said that this was a “longer term” band and he was right. It’s great to have this musical chemistry from five very diverse guys.

D.A.M.: What are some things that you do before you go on stage?

 DS (All): We all say a prayer that Paul remembered his snare stand and cymbals. It’s now a running joke after he showed up at a couple gigs forgetting something. Then the four of us watch Dr. Sax set up his two saxophones, which takes him longer than it does for everyone else to set up the PA and all other instruments. There is a lot to laugh at in this band, which helps keep the levity up which relaxes us before a show. We try to warm up and relax at the same time. We put on a fairly physical show. Dr. Sax jumps out into the audience, stands on chairs and drops to his knees in front of fans. Gioron gets down on the dance floor with the audience. They never miss a note in the process. So we try to preserve our energy.

D.A.M.: How would you describe your music?

DS (All): Hmmm … Grover Washington Jr, meets Steely Dan, meets Sade, meets Kool and the Gang, meets Chuck Mangione and someone even added Fleetwood Mac in there once. We are a smooth groove band. Smooth Jazz, Rhythm & Blues & Motown blend together in our music. All at once, it’s smooth and sultry, yet energetic and electrifying. Sweet and sweaty sax melodies by “Dr. Sax” soar above the textured and smart rhythms on guitar. We have a good solid bass groove. It’s the kind of music you make love too, but also dance to and you put the top down on the convertible while you play it in the car.

D.A.M.: Where can fans find your music?

DS: First place to visit is our website, www.danglingsuccess. com. You can also find us on itunes, CDbaby, rhapsody and of course, YouTube.

 D.A.M.: What made you get into music?

Dan: I think girls got me into music first. But once I started playing I became fascinated by well written, well executed music. The album that influenced me most profoundly was Steely Dan’s Aja album. I was a 15 year old guitar player at the time and I was blown away. With my friends I was listening to heavy metal, but when I was alone, it was Steely Dan.

Mike: Music was always part of our house. Mom sang, dad played banjo, but once I heard the Beatles and Motown, that was it. There was no turning back.

Gioron: My parents. They were musicians, and they forced me to take piano lessons. They made me stick with music, but eventually I took up guitar. Today I’m grateful my parents did that.

Dr. Sax: My father was a musician and had me listening to music before I was even born. I wanted to imitate and improve upon what I heard. I started playing my father’s guitar, but when I was 10 he bought me a saxophone. I enjoy entertaining people and love music. Being a musician was a natural.

Paul: Had an older cousin who was into drums, I saw them and that was it. I was hooked.

 D.A.M.: Who are your main influences?

Dan: Steely Dan, Grover Washington Jr., Marcus Miller, the honorable Wayman Tisdale, Rick Braun & Richard Elliott, and a lot of seventies funk.

Mike: Gordon Edwards, Stuff, Loved the Crusaders, even Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Santana, Wilson< Pickett

Paul: Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich, Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Jack De Johnette, Ray Earatta

Dr. Sax: I’m influenced by so many artists across so many genres, it’s hard to narrow it down. It ranges from Charlie Parker to David Sanborn to Euge Groove.

Gioron: Sly and the Family Stone, Isley Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, Larry Graham.

D.A.M.: What areas of the U.S. do you perform in? Do you think that you will ever expand that scope to other parts of the country and the world?

DS (All): At the moment we play anywhere in the northeast that will invite us. Since we are a New York-based band, we obviously play in New York. We recently played at the Unicity Festival in Salisbury, MD. You can see a video diary of that trip on our website. We have also played the Hartford International Jazz Festival and the Litchfield Hills Music Festival in Connecticut. But we have a following around the country thanks to the airplay that our debut CD received. Nationally we got airplay as far away as Hawaii, Washington State, California, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and of course in the northeast too. We were on DMX radio as well as overseas. Thanks to the internet, we’ve sold CDs in Russia, Thailand, Japan, France, Sweden and Lord knows where else. We hope to get out and perform in all these places.

D.A.M.: What are something’s that make your performances different from everybody else?

DS (All): Hmmm … We are the Van Halen of smooth groove. Although our music certainly speaks for itself, said that our “live shows are events to behold.” Dr. Sax, Gioron and Mike will dive off the stage into the audience. Dr. Sax stands on furniture, runs out on the street, drops to his knees in front of your girlfriend without missing a note. Often Gioron and Mike are right behind him. We often invite audience members onto the stage and have them play percussion. It’s really a lot of fun.

 At our last gig at the Shrine in Harlem, we shot an impromptu video (which you can see on our website) in which the audience followed us out into the street and dance around us as we played. We guarantee a good time.
But the other aspect that makes us unique is that we improvise a lot. No two shows will ever be the same. Not many instrumental bands work an audience into frenzy like we do.

D.A.M.: What advice do you have for somebody that wants to get into music?

DS (All): We have a saying in the band that we think applies to everyone. “Successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.” There are no short cuts. Behind every overnight sensation there is a decade of grueling work. And the other familiar saying also holds true, “practice makes perfect.” We hope kids are still anxious to learn instruments and put their parents through the agony of listening to them practice.

 D.A.M.: Other than your own, what music do you listen to?

 Dan: Steely Dan … still. David Sanborn, Wayman Tisdale, Dave Koz

Mike: Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Doobie Brothers, anything with Steve Gadd

Paul: Jazz music like Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Waylon Jennings, Coltrane

Dr. Sax: Charles "Bird" Parker, Poncho Sanchez, Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione, The Manhattan Transfer, Sade,

David Grusin, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Grover Washington Jr, George Benson, David Sanborn, Gato Barbieri, David Koz, Gerald Albright, Boney James, Richard Elliot and Euge Groove.

Gioron: Peter White, Boney James, Gerald Albright, Najee