Shades of Blu
HUDSON VALLEY — Shades of Blu released their first album, “The Other Side of Love,” in October 2010. Since then, the duo, Antonio Regina, a composer and pianist from Verbank, and Marc Alexander, a vocalist from Stanfordville, have been lauded for their music.Singer and guitarist Richie Havens singled out Shades of Blu saying that “great music, plus brilliant lyrics, equal magic.”Regina was wowed by the endorsement. “Havens is exposed to so much music that I would think after a while he would think another two guys, big deal. But he really liked it, understood it and got the complexity of it. He was very moved by it.” Shades of Blu music is difficult to describe and people who hear it have trouble placing it in a genre.“Beyond Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, Shades of Blu is a triumph of vocal and piano mastery,” said Jay Spica, host of the WVKR Radio Show “Thin Air.” “With the flare of Grand Opera this music boldly transports us.”The duo said they thrive on creating music with meaning.All of the songs on the album were written by Regina and deal with love and the variety of emotions that love can entail.“That’s kind of why we call ourselves Shades of Blu, because of the different shades, emotions and feelings related to romance,” Alexander said.Both Regina and Alexander were already accomplished musicians when they met through Alexander’s son, who was taking piano lessons with Regina. Alexander studied voice theater in California when he was in college, but he didn’t start singing professionally until he became involved in a regional theater production of “Les Miserables.” When he moved to New York, he took a hiatus from a music career to raise a family. Then he met Regina.“Marc told me he was a singer and gave me a copy of a CD he had recorded,” said Regina. “But a lot of people say that to me, so I don’t get very impressed. When I listened to his CD I was very moved by his voice. He has a very good voice and a very dramatic quality that I love in a singer.”When Regina was a child, his parents got him a toy piano but he wanted the real thing; by the time he was 5 years old his parents bought him one.“I had a very unusual experience at my first piano lesson,” said Regina. “My teachers showed me the notes and within minutes I knew how to read every note. My parents couldn’t believe it. At that moment I fell in love with music because it was like knowing this mysterious language.”Regina was composing by the age of eight and by the time he was nine he had performed at Carnegie Hall. “I always tell people when you’re in the room with Antonio you’re in the room with Mozart,” Alexander said. “Because until you are you can’t fully understand and grasp what he’s capable of writing. What he has done in his life musically is all hidden, nobody knows about it, the world does not know about it.”A partnership was bornRegina began writing songs for Alexander to sing and through conversation they decided to work together and start Shades of Blu.They consider their music to be a new genre; romantic realism. As they see it, it relates to the romance and passion of falling in love that can be shared by people of all generations.“Everything today is more about sexuality and we wanted it to be about what love used to be,” Alexander said. “Courting and romance but also the pain and hardships of relationships, and what the various problems are through just loving.”The pair perform twice a month at the Vassar College Alumnae House and since they have begun to perform they have had a positive reception from young and old alike.“I think people of all ages like it because it represents an emotion that people recognize even if they’re young,” Regina said, “whereas a lot of music that I think is current may be good but on a superficial level. But when something is real or true you can’t help but relate to it.”Regina said the greatest compliment he received about their music was from an older woman who was a widow; she told Regina after a show that their music made her want to fall in love again.“The songs that we sang that night were not happy they were about pain,” said Regina, chuckling. “But what we have learned from that is people want to feel something, even if it’s pain. They would rather feel something than nothing at all.”The best way to understand the impact and power of Shades of Blu is to hear their music. Their next winter concert is Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012, at the Vassar Alumnae House, at 161 College Ave., Poughkeepsie. Tickets are $25 and can by purchased by calling Antonio Regina at 845-235-3402.