Author Archives: Ira

Talking With Ben Jaffe – April 10, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Ben Jaffe 1

This week, Ira spoke with Ben Jaffe . To listen to the interview click below.

Ben Jaffe, the son of Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe, was raised in and around Preservation Hall. Jaffe marched in his first Carnival parade at the age of nine alongside his father and parrain (godfather) Harold “Duke” Dejan. When he was thirteen, the lease on the building that housed the Hall was up for renewal. His father sat the family down and asked Ben whether they should continue. By 1984, many of the original musicians who had played at the Hall in its early days had passed away, yet the soul of the Hall remained the same. The young Jaffe replied, “Of course, you continue!”

Less than ten years later, the day after graduating from Oberlin College, Jaffe flew off to play upright bass with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in France and began overseeing operations at the Hall. He now serves as the Hall’s creative director and plays tuba (sousaphone), upright bass, and banjo in the band. Jaffe remastered and released several archival recordings of the early Preservation Hall Jazz Band, including some by Sweet Emma Barrett and Sister Gertrude Morgan. The band’s newer recordings include collaborations with the Blind Boys of Alabama, Pete Seeger, Tom Waits, Trombone Shorty, Mos Def, Lenny Kravitz, the Edge, and many others.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band returns to The Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz. celebrating its 50th Anniversary, April 11-12.

Talking With Bill Boyd – April 3, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Bill Boyd

This week, Ira spoke with Bill Boyd . To listen to the interview click below.

Bill Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming Corporation. He co-founded the company with his father, Sam. Bill has been a respected gaming figure for decades, and recognized for his extensive community philanthropy.

Bill’s father, Sam A. Boyd, came to Las Vegas in 1941 as a dealer. Through hard work and a keen business acumen, he became a stockholder in the Sahara, the Mint, and the Union Plaza hotels in Las Vegas. Bill practiced law in Las Vegas for over 15 years and was a partner with his father and others in the Union Plaza Hotel & Casino and the Eldorado Casino in Henderson. In 1973, Bill left his legal practice and began his full-time career in the gaming industry when he and his father co-founded Boyd Gaming Corporation. The Company’s first property, the California Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, opened in January, 1975.

Sam passed away in January, 1993. Bill served as chief executive officer of Boyd Gaming until January, 2008, when he was succeeded by current Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith.

Bill has been an active philanthropist and civic leader for decades. He was on the board of directors of the Las Vegas Downtown Progress Association and a past president of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Nevada. He was president of the Nevada Resort Association, served on the board of directors of Nevada State Bank for 20 years, founded Bank West (now Bank of Nevada) and presently serves on the board of directors for Western Alliance Bancorporation.

Bill and his wife, Judy,  Boyd Gaming and the Boyd Foundation have been major donors to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Boys and Girls Club, Boy’s Town of Nevada, National Judicial College, St. Rose de Lima Hospital, the United Way of Southern Nevada, D.A.R.E., and Nevada Blood Services, among many others. Through a significant $30 million gift that will benefit generations of future legal scholars, Bill Boyd provided funding for the creation of the nationally-ranked William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.

Talking With Master Chef Alex Stratta – March 27, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Alex Stratta

This week, Ira spoke with Master Chef Alex Stratta . To listen to the interview click below.

Alex Stratta, a celebrity chef and restaurateur of mixed Italian and French heritage, played the role of Iron Chef Italian on the television show “Iron Chef USA.” He was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Southwest in 1998 and was executive chef and owner of his famous namesake restaurant, Alex, in Las Vegas until its closure on January 15, 2011. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and became a cancer survivor.

Stratta is a fourth-generation hotelier born to parents from locales well known for their culinary traditions; his Italian father is from the Piedmont region, and his French mother from Nice along the Cote d’Azur. As his father was president of Princess Hotels & Resorts, Stratta spent much of his early life living in luxurious resorts in countries all over the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, France, Mexico, and Pakistan. This upbringing helped him become fluent in French, Italian, Spanish, and English. He attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, California and graduated with honors in 1983.

Stratta began his career as a patissier-in-training at the Stanford Court Hotel. He then accepted an internship at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco; soon after, Alain Ducasse invited Stratta to join the team at his Louis XV restaurant there. After two years, Stratta returned to the United States, and at Ducasse’s recommendation began working for Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque in New York City. Both Ducasse and Boulud acted as mentors who heavily influenced Stratta’s development as both a chef and restaurateur; Stratta credits Ducasse with showing him “how to make basic, simple food taste phenomenal and Boulud for his creative influences as well as business skills.

In 1989, Stratta took on the executive chef position at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. While there, he was featured in Food & Wine Magazine as one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs.”

Under his tenure, the restaurant earned a 4-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide and also received critical acclaim as the best restaurant in the Phoenix area.

In 1998, Stratta became executive chef of the Renoir restaurant at The Mirage in Las Vegas after being invited by Steve Wynn. The restaurant earned Mobil Travel Guide’s highest rating of 5 stars just six months after opening.
In 2005, Stratta opened his namesake restaurant Alex – once again at the invitation of Steve Wynn, but this time for the grand opening of Wynn’s namesake casino resort and country club, Wynn Las Vegas. Stratta’s restaurant was billed as a “triumph” and has been extremely well reviewed; it received ratings of 5 stars from the Mobil Travel Guide, 5 diamonds from the AAA Restaurant Ratings, and 2 stars from the Michelin Guide.

On Facebook: Alex Stratta
On Twitter: alpostratta

Talking With David Sanborn – March 20, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo David Sanborn

This week, Ira spoke with David Sanborn . To listen to the interview click below.

Six-time GRAMMY®-winner and multi-platinum alto sax star David Sanborn will be performing at the Smith Center on March 21 in “Satin & Soul,” part of the JAZZ ROOTS Series. Also performing is platinum-selling singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler in a show that will combine elements of Africa, America, Jazz and Soul.

Having contracted polio at the age of three, Dave was introduced to the saxophone as part of his treatment therapy. By the age of 14, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton. Dave went on to study music at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa where he played and studied with the great saxophonist JR Monterose.

Later traveling to California on the advice of a friend, he joined the Butterfield Blues Band and played Woodstock with Paul Butterfield. Following that, Dave toured with Stevie Wonder and recorded for Wonder’s Talking Book album, played with The Rolling Stones, and toured with David Bowie with whom he recorded the famous solo heard on “Young Americans”. At the same time, Dave was touring and recording with the great Gil Evans, dividing his time between the two. After moving to New York City and studying with George Coleman, Dave started his solo career where he later collaborated with such artists as Paul Simon and James Taylor.

Dave’s solo release of Taking Off in 1975—still considered a classic—further solidified his career. His 1979 release of Hideaway became a popular hit and further propelled Dave’s ascent with the single, “Seduction” being featured in the movie, American Gigolo. Veteran bassist and composer Marcus Miller joined Dave on the 1981 album, Voyeur. The single, “All I Need Is You” won Dave his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. In 1983, Dave released the hit album Backstreet that included Luther Vandross as a featured guest vocalist. Later albums have included guest artists such as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden, Wallace Roney, Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, and Eric Clapton.

Moving onto television, Dave hosted the show, Night Music from 1988 to 1990. Produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, the show featured films of jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Billie Holiday, as well as banter and memorable music jams by a remarkable list of musicians including Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Sample, Pharoah Sanders, and many others. Additionally, Dave has regularly hosted the “After New Year’s Eve” TV special on ABC. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dave hosted a syndicated radio program, The Jazz Show with David Sanborn. Dave has also recorded many shows’ theme songs as well as several other songs for The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.

Talking With Max Robins – March 13, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Max Robins

This week, Ira spoke with Max Robins. To listen to the interview click below.

A columnist for, J. Max Robins have been covering the business of media, entertainment and technology since 1990. During that period, he has contributed to a myriad of publications, including “The Wall Street Journal,” “The New York Times,” “The Los Angeles Times” and “New York.”

In his former position as Executive Director and Vice President of The Paley Center for Media, Robins founded the groundbreaking “Next Big Thing” series, bringing together the hottest startups in the industry with top venture capitalists and thought leaders from the around the world.

Before joining the Paley Center, he was the editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, where he oversaw a relaunch of B&C across platforms. Before taking the reins of B&C, Robins was a senior editor and columnist at both TV Guide and Variety.

Robins has commented on media-related issues for several major news outlets, including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, “Charlie Rose” and NPR. For the last 15 years he has had a weekly live segment dubbed “Max Mondays” on WRKO’s top-rated “Howie Carr Show.”

On Twitter : @jmaxrobins

Talking With Jimmy Mulidore – March 6, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jimmy Mulidore

This week, Ira spoke with Jimmy Mulidore. To listen to the interview click below.

Jimmy Mulidore will be appearing in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center in “Jazz For The Ages,” March 7-8, along with jazz saxophonist Eric Alexander and the New York City Jazz band.

Mulidore took up the saxophone at the age of ten, then added the classical clarinet, studying with Albert Calderone, one of the best teachers around. He spent his high school years frequenting the Cleveland jazz clubs and soaking up the influences of such greats as James Moody, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown. When he was old enough, his summers were spent on tour with Billy May, Hal McIntyre and Ralph Marterie.

At Ohio State University, Mulidore was chosen solo clarinetist for their orchestra. Impatient with his progress at Ohio State, he took off for New York’s Julliard School of Music where he studied theory and composition with Hall Overton.

In the late fifties, Mulidore and bassist Scotty La Faro began a trip to Los Angeles that included a stop in Las Vegas. It proved to be a turning point in his life-he stayed on in Las Vegas while Scotty went on to L.A.

Mulidore’s career blossomed in his new home. He worked with the Red Norvo Quintet; Carl Fontana’s group; a band that included Sweets Edison, Leroy Vinegar and Jackie Wilson; and with Georgie Auld. He also lent his talents to some very special recordings: “Louie Bellson “Live At The Thunderbird,” Red Rodney’s “Super Bop,” albums by Sinatra, Streisand and Nat King Cole and, a flute solo on Elvis Presley’s “American Trilogy.”

Mulidore met Elvis Presley through Joe Guercio, then the Las Vegas Hilton’s musical director. When Guercio left the Hilton, Mulidore was chosen to succeed him as musical director for both the Hilton and Flamingo Hotels. Through those years, he conducted for such stars as Louis Armstrong, Ann Margaret, Gladys Knight and Olivia Newton-John.

Talking With Robin Leach – February 27, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Robn Leach unpixelated

This week, Ira spoke with Robin Leach . To listen to the interview click below.

Robin Leach always knew he wanted to be involved in the communications world. He edited the class magazine at age 11 and the school magazine at 14! At age 15 he became a general news reporter for The Harrow Observer and started a monthly glossy town magazine at age 17. Leach moved on to the prestigious Daily Mail as Britain’s youngest page one reporter at age 18. In 1963, he immigrated to America and wrote for a number of publications (New York Daily News, People, Ladies Home Journal etc.) before launching GO Magazine and then was show business editor of The Star and Rupert Murdoch’s worldwide publications for 10 years.

Leach began his television career simultaneously on KABC-TV in Los Angeles and WABC-TV in New York. In 1980, he joined CNN’s “People Tonight” and also helped launch “Entertainment Tonight” for which he was roving editor for its first three years. In 1983 Robin created Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous, which ran 14 unprecedented years. Leach has produced and hosted over 500 hours of TV series and specials including the ABC-TV daytime series Fame Fortune & Romance.

He hosted a nightly primetime call-in talk show in 1993 to launch the new Television Food Network, a 24-hour cable channel, for which he also acted as spokesman with cable affiliates until 1998. For 4 consecutive years he hosted MTV’s Worlds Most Expensive Video’s Countdown special. He was celebrity judge on PBS’s Master chefs series and A&E’s Top Ten Celebrity Chefs special. Leach appeared regularly on the syndicated Extra series.
Currently, Leach is partnering in a new state of the art HD television studio production facility in Las Vegas where he makes numerous guest appearances on programs from the resort playground/gaming Mecca. In addition his Total Vegas Television Company produces Vegas video vignettes for YouTube’s LuxeVegas Channel and the daily Vegas Deluxe website at
On Twitter: @Robin_Leach

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Talking With Adam Corolla and Chloe Louise Crawford – February 20, 2014

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This week, Ira spoke with Adam Corolla and Chloe Louise Crawford. To listen to the interview click below.

Comedian Adam Carolla brings his popular live podcast, “The Adam Carolla Show,” to Treasure Island Theatre on February 21 at 9 p.m.

Carolla co-hosted the syndicated radio program “Loveline” from 1995 to 2005, as well as the show’s television version on MTV from 1996 to 2000. He was the co-host of the popular Comedy Central series “The Man Show” from 1999 to 2004, and a regular performer on “Crank Yankers” from 2002 to 2007. Carolla has also appeared on several reality shows including “Dancing with the Stars” and “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“The Adam Carolla Show” is the Internet’s most downloaded daily broadband show and has held that position since its debut in March 2009.

British born Chloe Louise Crawford, who balances performing in two shows on The Vegas Strip (Murray Sawchuck’s “Celebrity Magician” at the Tropicana and “Fantasy” at the Luxor Hotel & Casino), has been selected as Playboy’s “Cyber Girl of the Month” for February.
Crawford is a trained dancer, magician’s assistant, and choreographer. Her variety skills include aerial silks and pole choreography.
She performed for several years in Europe and moved to Las Vegas in 2012 to join Murray’s show. In 2013, Chloe appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition, on the cover of Strip LV Magazine and Tradeshow Lifestyles. She has guest-starred on History Channel’s Top Gear USA, Hallmark’s Home and Family, The Marie Show, and Masters of Illusion..

Talking With Helen Reddy – February 13, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Helen Reddy

This week, Ira spoke with Helen Reddy. To listen to the interview click below.

Grammy winner Helen Reddy returns to Las Vegas after a ten year hiatus from live performing. She’ll be appearing at the Orleans Showroom on Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16 at 8 p.m.

Best known as a recording artist, Reddy had more fifteen singles on the Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 – six if which hit the Top 10, with three reaching No. 1 – including her signature hit, “I Am Woman.” In addition to Billboard chart success, Reddy was the first recording artist to win a “Favorite Pop/Rock Female” American Music Award, the first Australian to win a Grammy Award and to have three No. 1 hits in the same year.

Reddy’s hit songs “I Am Woman,” and “Delta Dawn” have been a part of numerous television and film soundtracks: “Sex and the City 2,” “Cold Case,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “The Simpsons,” among others.

On television, Reddy was the first Australian to host her own hour-long weekly primetime variety show on an American network, along with several specials that were seen in more than forty countries. She has also acted on the large and small screens with roles in films and television shows such as, “Airport 1975,” “Pete’s Dragon,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “The Love Boat,” “Fantasy Island” and “Diagnosis Murder.”

In theater, Reddy starred in the musical “Blood Brothers” on London’s West End and on Broadway. As a solo concert artist, she has played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, as well as the Royal Albert Hall and the Palladium in London.
In 2006, Reddy released what became a best-selling memoir “The Woman I Am.” “The Woman I Am: The Definitive Collection” and many of her early recordings continue to be downloaded worldwide.

Talking With Béla Fleck – February 6, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Bela Fleck

This week, Ira spoke with Béla Fleck. To listen to the interview click below.

Grammy-Award winner Béla Fleck, who will be performing at the Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 8, is considered by many as the premiere banjo player in the world.

Any world-class musician born with the names Béla (for Bartok), Anton (for Dvorak) and Leos (for Janacek) would seem destined to play classical music. Already a powerfully creative force in bluegrass, jazz, pop, rock and world beat, Béla at last made the classical connection with “Perpetual Motion,” his critically acclaimed 2001 Sony Classical recording that went on to win a pair of Grammys, including Best Classical Crossover Album, in the 44th annual Grammy Awards. Collaborating with Fleck on “Perpetual Motion” was his longtime friend and colleague Edgar Meyer, a bassist and an acclaimed composer. Béla and Edgar co-wrote and performed a double concerto for banjo, bass and the Nashville Symphony, which debuted in November 2003. They also co-wrote a triple concerto for banjo, bass and tabla, with world renown tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain entitled “The Melody of Rhythm.”

In 2011, Béla wrote his first stand alone banjo concerto, “The Impostor,” on commission with the Nashville Symphony.

The recipient of Multiple Grammy Awards going back to 1998, Béla Flecks’ total Grammy count is 15 Grammys won, and 30 nominations. He has been nominated in more different musical categories than anyone in Grammy history.