Zupe & Nichols
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Zupe & Nichols

Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States

Altoona, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Jazz Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Fun and Well Performed"

By Walter Kolosky

According to my cursory research this Zupe guy is quite an entertainer and character out and about Altoona, Pennsylvania. He and Dave Nichols, a partner in crime for two decades, co-wrote the music on Speechless. I would simply call it "party music." Mostly it is a very heavily blues-based rock with an occasional jazz flourish. I don't quite hear the supposed influences of Jeff Beck, Joe Zawinul and Max Weinberg as touted in the press material. Joe Zawinul? But the music is fun and well performed.

"Speechless" is the album's final cut. After an expressive slow start from Zupe on keys, the piece turns into a classical progressive rock number before again changing to a light funk groove. The song continues to morph into a saxophone ballad followed by blues guitar and a repeating synthesizer riff to put the cherry on top. No one at the party is going to try and change the CD when this is on.

Rating explanation: Four points were removed because of the over-cleanliness of the recording. This is not Smooth Jazz. But when you eliminate all the rough edges in the recording process, you take away a bit of its character. I hope and trust the band sounds a bit rougher live
- www.jazz.com

"A Tasty Masterpiece"

By Jim Price

“Speechless” is a twelve-song instrumental album, and the result of a three-year musical summit between Altoona-based one-man band, entertainer, and composer Zupe and Somerset-based guitar vet Dave Nichols. With Zupe playing keys, trumpet, and trombone and Nichols playing electric guitars, the longtime collaborators match musical wits on compositions that blend funk, rock, jazz, and blues flavors. A number of musical guest contributors color and flesh things out; including Jamie Peck on sax, flute, and pennywhistle; Jerry Sandusky on sax; Bill Smith on bass; and Chuck Knepper on acoustic guitar and bass. Amazingly, there is no singular drummer on the album, but drum loops and samples adeptly weaved and sequenced together into a tight, percussive backdrop.

Zupe and Nichols ace the challenge of giving each composition its own distinctive style and flavor through their various arrangements, meters, and modes of instrumental attack. The continuous interaction, nip and tuck between the two musicians and their guests provides a constant highlight throughout the album. Many flavors come to play here, including robust R&B on the frisky opener “Step On It,” swing-styled boogie on “Dear Deke,” a bold, brassy Big-Easy-styled blues-jazz flavor on “Rib Joint,” adventurous funk on “A Dash of Dementia” with its tribal outback-flavored midsection, and reggae-meets-blues overtones on “Captain & Coke.” Compositions such as “Chronologic Breakdown,” “Do The Math,” and “Screamin’ Mimi” hint at Steely Dan-styled jazz-funk; while “Creepin’” and the busy shuffle “Caterpillar” recall some of Jeff Beck’s and Jan Hammer’s jazz-rock experiments from the 70’s. The arrangements are efficient and tight, avoiding bombast or overblown jamming; nary a note is wasted.

Produced by Zupe and Nichols and mostly recorded at Zupe’s Woposonic Studios in Altoona, the mixes are bright and balanced, giving each instrumental component clarity and voice. Every track shines on its own merit, yet the album as a whole is consistent and cohesive. The musicianship is constantly excellent, the modes are colorful, and the album sounds like it was a lot of fun to create. Zupe & Nichols hit a clear-cut home run with Speechless, a tasty masterpiece that will have listeners revisiting is again and again to enjoy its vibes and uncover its subtleties. Fans of top-notch musicianship will easily find this worth savoring. (The CD can be purchased through www.cdbaby.com.)
- wbxg.com

"Listeners Will Not Be Disappointed"

“Speechless” by Zupe & Nichols is a superb blend of jazz, rock, and blues-infused instrumental tracks. The musicianship on this album is energetic and highly accomplished. In fact, both the guitar work and the keyboard work are clearly the products of virtuosos. The rest of the band is top-notch as well, and come together to provide a very tight sound and effective groove on these complex arrangements. “Captain & Coke” is one track that hovers very high, starting off with a reggae vibe and quickly transitioning into a heavy blues sound. The electric guitar solos and piano runs on this song are phenomenal. Moreover, the title-track also stands out due to its free-flow, ever-changing nature. Listeners will not be disappointed by this collection; it is composed and performed with aptitude that many strive for. Even more enticing is its deliberate and top-quality production. - RadioIndy.com

"Songwriters Have Magic For Music"

By Tom Lavis

Robbing two area songwriters of their music would be like depriving them of oxygen.

Dave Nichols, 54, of Somerset and Zupe, 41, of Altoona are well-known throughout the region for their
musicianship, but few people realize their original music has gained national attention.

The pair have collaborated on writing, recording and publishing tunes for advertisements and jingles
for more than a decade and have attained more than a modicum of success.

They have released a new compact disc titled “Speechless,”which was nearly three years in the making
and features 12 instrumental selections that underscore the men’s musical mastery.

This new CD is a combination of jazz, rock and funk and is designated as a new arrival on CDBaby.com, where it is available for $12.

“Because of our individual performance schedules, I would say we averaged about one day a week, over the past three years, where we could sit down and tackle our musical ideas,” said Nichols, whose compositions and guitar expertise have been used by such bands as the Johnstown Classic Rockers, Red Alert and The Boomers.

Zupe (pronounced Zoop), like Cher or Sting, changed his named 15 years ago to a single moniker and is well-known for his one-man band and composing skills.

The writers are on the same wavelength and it’s not unusual for them to finish each other’s
sentences.“We fight not to be pigeonholed to a common degree musically,” Nichols said.

The men’s teamwork dates to 1995, when they composed music for the Johnstown Chiefs.

“The team’s motto at the time was ‘Hockey With an Attitude’ and we composed music that depicted that slogan,” Zupe said. “It was played when the team scored a goal or came on the ice.”

Their published works have appeared on a variety of television programs, including Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle,” and “The Simple Life,” NBC’s “Dateline,” MTV’s “Road Rules” and “Real World,” and several shows on cable networks, such as A&E and The History Channel.

“Two of our songs were used on a History Channel documentary on America diners, titled ‘Highway Hangouts,’ which was hosted by (actor) Jerry Stiller,” Zupe said.

Nichols and Zupe have collaborated on writing 30-second television spots for such businesses as a local candy company, travel agency, an electric supply company and a plumbing and heating company.

In describing some of the opening cuts on “Speechless,” Zupe issued a warning about driving while listening. “It’s high energy and people would have a tendency to push the pedal to the metal,” he said.

The song “Rib Joint” jolts the listener with a blues sound that percolates with a blend of dynamic horns.

Nichols said songwriting has been a natural progression for the pair, who have spent their entire careers making music. “When you reach middle age, the allure of wearing Spandex on stage looses its appeal,” laughed Nichols.

On a more serious note, Nichols said the support system of family, friends and fellow musicians has been invaluable. “We couldn’t do this without knowing that our families believe in what we are doing and give us unrelenting support,” Nichols said.

The duo also supports each other. “It’s rare when an impasse is reached because one of us generally can pick up the other if we get stumped,” Nichols said. “But when we are both cooking, it can be described only as magic and the music just flows.”

Now that the CD is released, the pair is confident the music will stand on its own merit.

“We are moving on to other projects,” Zupe said. “We generally make three or four trips to Nashville to showcase our material, as well as trips to New York and L.A.,” Zupe said.

But Nichols said the greatest asset for songwriters has been the Internet. “Technology has opened a lot of doors for us, and we want to take advantage of each opportunity,” Nichols said.
- www.tribdem.com


Zupe - "The Light" (single 1995)
Zupe - "Christmas Piano" (JEK Publishing 1998)
Zupe & Nichols - "Speechless" (Menthol Bees Records 2007)



Zupe is an accomplished composer and performer, currently residing in Altoona, Pennsylvania. His published works have appeared on a variety of television programs, including Fox's "Malcolm In The Middle," and NBC's "Dateline."

Guitarist Dave Nichols, of Somerset, Pennsylvania, has worked with Zupe for more than twenty years. His talents are constantly in high demand, by various bands, throughout the Commonwealth. Dave's high-energy compositions have been used for various sports themes, and together with Zupe, has had works appear on MTV, A&E, and The History Channel.

Zupe & Nichols' latest CD, "Speechless," is raising eyebrows throughout the industry. Already the winner of a Grindie Award by RadioIndy.com, for superior arrangements and production, "Speechless" is also a contender for 8 Grammy nominations. The disk is available at CDBaby.com and digital downloads at Broadjam.com.