Jamestown-born Sylvie Yannello appears in New York blues artist Mike Muller’s latest release. “Travel on.”
Müller wrote the song in 2011 about the sudden death of his cousin’s teenage son. Yannello perceived the song as a duet for piano and voice and wrote an accompaniment for Muller’s composition inspired by Allen Toussaint. They recorded the song in Long Island City and Manhattan this fall. “Onward travel” will be released on October 13 on Muller’s bandcamp.com page, and sheet music for the duet is available on Yannello’s website.
Muller is an integral part of the New York blues scene. He plays bass locally with stars like Big Ed Sullivan, Arthur Neilson and Joey Kelly and tours internationally. Müller refined his craft in clubs in Richmond, Virginia and toured Georgia / Carolinas in the early 1980s before playing with the new wave band Single Bullet Theory. In addition to numerous blues appearances, Müller also plays bass with the anti-folk group Too Many Lauras and composes and produces for various artists, including the German singer Annie Moore, who was trained by Juilliard. Muller is producing Yannello’s original debut EP due out next year.
Yannello is a professional pianist, drummer, and music teacher based in Long Island City, Queens. Since 2013 she has been accompanist and music director at the Rose Academy of Ballet in Forest Hills. Yannello began her musical training in Jamestown and studied piano with Helga Hulse for 10 years. After completing her bachelor’s degree in music from NYU, she studied ragtime piano with Dr. Mark Birnbaum. She has performed in numerous New York institutions as a solo pianist and drummer for the alt-rock band Her and the Gray (which broke up in 2016) and the pop-soul band Phanrosy. In 2014 she published piano / vocal sheet music arrangements of five Elvis Costello songs.
Yannello began performing her original piano / vocal compositions on Open Mics in 2019. She and producer Muller are expanding the songs into complete band arrangements for their upcoming EP.
“My first song took seven years to write” Says Yannello. “I am not a ‘natural’. My parents don’t play instruments, nothing musical was easy for me. Even after 20 years of musical training, it was still a struggle. I try to help others benefit from my difficulties. I tell my students, “I’ve already spent 20 years looking into this process so you don’t have to.”
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