This is a song I composed as a commission from the University of Saint Joseph Art Gallery in West Hartford, CT inspired by this Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Enjoy!
It’s still so fucking cold out! I did go skiing with Louise and Roger, Bird Man, the other day at Catamount. I felt the crisp cold northeast air on my face while I walked up the bunny slope in my snow boots, pulling Louise who was attached to a red harness strap thing.
It was a good week at Kite’s Nest. We composed a new song, Cannibal Animals that is a combination of chord progressions the kids created that was run through a looper, singing, live percussion and guitar. It’s fun exploring the ways in which to compose music and share that with these kids. They are engaged and enthusiastic for the most part about what we’ve been exploring and creating.
In Hawthorne Valley news, I’m officially an assistant teacher to the jazz program. Sweet! I taught there today and performed a little concert for the high school with my friend Stu, a killer flute player who started the jazz program at Hawthorne Valley. In jazz band, we worked on different ways to approach improvisation as well as soloing over ‘stop time’. I told them about clusters and how to use them as tools to improvise.
PrizeBobby Previte, an incredible jazz drummer who I’ve been playing with in his band, Voodoo Orchestra North, among other things called me the other day to see if I was interested in doing a couple of gigs.He just won the Greenfield, their mission being “… to bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broad as well as the artistic culture of our society.” The reason I mention this is because he asked if I’d like to go down to Sarasota, FL, play a little bit and be his liaison at the award ceremony because he’s going to be on tour in Kalamazoo with Charlie Hunter. I said, yes. The other gig is the following week at a 24 hour drone festival down at the Basillica in Hudson.
I’m going to go for a walk outside despite the freezing temperature. It will get warmer, right?
This is one of my favorite jazz standards. Enjoy!
It’s the dead of winter and bitter cold outside. I’m thankful for my warm apartment and to be where I am, though I am looking forward to warmer weather. I’m thinking that the ground hog who saw his shadow was correct in predicting there’d be 6 more weeks of winter.
I had a couple amazing teaching moments at Kite’s Nest this week. We’ve been working on composing and looping in the class I’ve developed called Re-Sound. In the last class, we worked on understanding what a chord is and how to write it as a roman numeral. We used IIV roman numerals representing the 7 scale degrees of the major scale. I then had them choose any four chords, or roman numerals and write them out in any order they wanted. Next I played them on my keyboard, telling them what the number of chord I was while playing. We then randomly chose two chord progressions and I looped them in Ableton Live. We thought about what we’d like to hear along with the chord progressions and started building the track. Most of the kids got up and recorded something that we looped. The first amazing teaching moment was when the kids organically started harmonizing along with the track. I slowly turned down the volume of the loop to listen to everyone harmonizing together. Such a beautiful moment!
After lunch I had everyone individually compose lyrics or a poem inspired by the track we created in the morning. Everyone got up and sang or spoke their song on a microphone that was run through a speaker. Before performing, I had each of them choose a band name. I think this helped bring some levity to the nervousness some of them may have had in performing in front of their peers. After each one played, the others cheered wildly, some jumping up on chairs and shouting their band name. Everyone was encouraging and I had some remarks after each piece. I told one of the young girls who wrote and sang her song that she had a beautiful voice. A look of surprise, embarrassment and pride, among others flooded her face as she said, “No one had ever told me that before!” Seeing the smile and expression on her face is at the core of the joy you find and can create in teaching.
The week prior I had a gig at Helsinki Hudson playing solo piano in a benefit for the hospital in town. Glen David Andrews, a hot jazz trombonist from New Orleans was there with his band to play after I was finished. To transition from the end of my set into his, Glen joined me for a number by the baby grand in the ballroom. For those of you who don’t know the incredible layout of Helsinki Hudson, it’s a restaurant, club and event space. There’s an upstairs ballroom that leads down to a dining room that can open up into a night club. It’s a gorgeous layout and Glen sang and played his trombone like the pied piper leading the party downstairs and into the club.
I didn’t know that any of this was going to happen until after I got to the gig. I’ve known of Glen and have heard him but hadn’t met him yet. I found him outside in his red van, trying to keep warm while sitting on a doughnut and smoking a cig. Pete, the sound guy introduced us. Glen rolled down the window and asked what I wanted to play. “Bourbon Street Parade,” I replied. “What key?” he asked. “Ab”. “Perfect” he said before rolling up his window shortly after that to keep warm. It was incredible when he came out and started singing while I was at the piano. What a booming N’awlins voice and spirit! Everyone followed him downstairs and into the club where the band picked up “Bourbon Street Parade” and the party was on.
My daughter, Louise and I are going to be hanging this weekend. I’ve been teaching her how to knit and we’re working on a scarf for her doll, Lemona.
Here’s a little love song I wrote a little bit ago. It feels a little bit more like a warm weather song, something I’m looking forward to in this freezing dead of winter. I spent last night in NYC playing a Mardi Gras event with my friend Kat and my friend Conor playing drums. I just got back in time to release a song for this week. Enjoy!
Just Give Me a Reason is a pop song performed by Pink and Nate Ruess. I love playing pop songs and coming up with alternative ways of playing them. Enjoy!
I spent the morning in bed with Louise today. She’s been sick the past few days and has a really bad cough where every minute or so she says, “Owie! Owie!”. We read a bunch of Peter Pan and watched a little of the Jungle Book as I held her and she coughed.
I’ve been thinking the past couple of days about passion. I heard an interview on the Daily Show with Wes Moore, an inspiring author among other things that sparked my introspection into this subject. It made me think about where passion lives in my life. Music has always been a huge part of my life and I almost expect it to be my passion. I play, teach, compose, direct and many other things musically related. That being said, I don’t always feel a burning passion for it. It’s not something I wake up to and jump to the piano like I did when I was younger and growing up. I remember when I was in middle and high school, waking up and doing scales, practicing and doing more scales at study hall, lunch and after school. I had a natural urge to practice and felt a passion towards it. It’s not easy to admit this current diminuendo if you will, though it is honest to acknowledge that I’ve somehow misplaced that constant passion.
I’m not saying that passion in music doesn’t exist for me, it’s just not that same burning passion I used to have that I need to do like my life depended on it. That being said, it might not be entirely true.
I thought in creating this challenge for myself, releasing music, art and blogging this year, I would somehow relocate that consistent passion. In ways I have and in ways I haven’t. I was also sick this week and spent some time in bed which always kind of deflates me and makes me maybe be a little harsh towards myself.
In looking at my life a little more holistically, I tried to think of what’s missing or making me not feel a motivation or constant passion towards what I’m doing. I think the thing that’s missing is moving and using my body. Much of my life consists of computer and music work, two things that doesn’t call for much movement, besides my fingers. As far as movement goes, I like to have a purpose for moving, not just running in circles or going to the gym. I like physically doing something that accomplishes some goal or has a purpose. The first step to change is acknowledgement. What better, or maybe humbling way to do it then in an open blog post.
Maybe she’s born with it, Maybe it’s Maybelline? I don’t know why I just thought of that but I did.
In other music related news, I subbed for the music teacher at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School today and had a great time working with the jazz band. I did feel a passion there, that being said after my passion rant. I also had a great week at Kite’s Nest. We took the kids over to Musica, (selfie pic of the kids) the local music store in Hudson and Rob gave a great tour of some of the musical instruments he has there. I have a couple gigs this weekend and we’re supposed to get more snow. Bring it!