Monday, November 18, 2002

Something for Everyone!

Hello Friends -

What a busy time this has been. I think the last time I wrote was in September - after the QE2 Floating Jazz Festival. Since then alot has been going on. We played the Blue Note for a week, double billed with Joey DeFrancesco which was good bill I thought. Something for everyone! :) They sounded great. Danny, Bob, Todd and James Williams were grooving hard together - it's an interesting room to play. You NEVER know who's going to be there. Joe Pesce came in to hear Joey - they're friends (left their cell phones off this time!) He's a jazz fan.

Have had MANY interviews, lots of papers, radio and talked with folks from Berlin, Singapore, Japan too, along with several television 'things' - one for Brazil, NYC Channel #5, Alexandria cable channel, and Boston's 'Chowda' show.

Played the Birchmere in Alexandria VA just outside of Washington D.C. Really liked that club - a very large music room with their own brewery and had a beautiful sound system. We had a great crowd -and that was just the night before they caught the DC Snipers... (It was quite tense -you could feel it. No more guns!!!! Enough already!! But I digress....)

Then onto Western Mass - the Iron Horse, another cool 'music room' where they not only feauture jazz, many different kinds of music - cool intimate and funky place. Got to watch beautiful fall colors along the way (while our new road manager, Kimberlee drove - what a great thing to have her along) Then to Zanzibar Blue in Philly and Wilmington Deleware - both beautiful clubs with great food and ambiance Loved the staff there too.

Went to LA to record a duet with Diane Shuur - that was a trip. She's something else. I've enjoyed her music for years. Barry Manilow was helping produce in the studio (his tunes -very lovely!) And good to meet him. Watch for her release on the Concord site.

Back east to Worcester MA with WICN radio - my long time friends. Played in a beautiful theatre which was designed by a woman architect for women to use (Tuckerman Hall) - wonderful crowd. Then onto Scullers in Boston - wonderful pro-club! That is, too short a visit there! Great crowd there too. Onto Hollywood Florida and played with Bob Berg at that fest. - what a sound he has! ... beautiful, deep and SINCERE folks!

Finally, Oshkosh, WI This was a lovely old opera house (the Grand) with great acoustics and staff - and a wake up call for winter - about 30 degrees. Also got to meet a lovely singer from that area - Janet Planet. Check her out - she's also a good friend of one of my favorite singers on the planet (no punn intended), Nancy King. So we had a great time after. Am 'decompressing' now and getting ready to leave again for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Rochester.

I've been asked many times lately in interviews, what 'keeps me going' and/or 'inspires' me. Well, SO MUCH of that has to do with YOU people who support us and come to the performances. We need this music more than ever right now ... we need solidarity and compassion. The current political scene (not to mention our environment) is VERY worrisome to me and as Mose Allison says, “People are running around in circles - we don't know what we're headed for” I'm afraid that's the truth - especially now. Whatever your political beliefs are, love and compassion, not to mention positive, creative outlets are paramount. MUSIC is one of the best I know.

Thanks for listening,

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

From the Ocean to the Desert

Hi folks -

The QE2 was a great experience. What a ship! This time it went from NYC (after having people on board from SouthHampton England) to Bermuda to Newport, Rhode Island and back to NYC. I actually prefer to be out on the open sea longer, rather than stopping here and there. Being remote (and unreachable) is a LUXURY!!! But Bermuda was really beautiful. A few of us rented a small 'boat' (if you could call it that!) and went to a snorkeling area - really pretty.

Enjoyed meeting some folks on the QE2. Diane Schuur was on with a big band. Very good to meet her. I'll be singing a tune with her on her next CD (recording end of October) which I'm excited about. Heard Jon Hendrick’s group and dug that. He's one of the best jazz lyricists EVER! And still writing and creating with his 'Vocalestra'. Our group (Danny, Paul, Bob and Todd) played many of his tunes during our sets in his honor. Also enjoyed Venessa Rubin's group.

Then onto Sedona Jazz on the Rocks - beautiful place! We had to get there in a big hurry to be on Good Morning Arizona TV show so it was tiring, plus I got food poisoning in the airport, so it wasn't much fun. The gig went very well, especially since it rained on us and the crowd, but everyone hung in there and it was worth it. Heard Terrence Blanchard's band and they sounded wonderful.

Went on a great hike the next day with a dear friend. Now back to NYC and getting ready for a week at the Blue Note - I'll actually be working at HOME for a whole week! It'll be good to play with James Williams again along with Danny, Bob and Todd. All the best to you and yours and thank you for checking in.


Monday, August 12, 2002

Harmony with Garrison Keillor

Hi there -

No better place to write road notes than the airport ... especially waiting for a delayed flight. This is just one of the very glamorous parts of the job. Wouldn't it be great to find a way to fine airlines somehow when they are several hours late and don't bother to let us know? They definitely demand better behavior from passengers .... they show no mercy! Anyway!!!

Last time I wrote I think we'd just gotten back from Japan. Since then, many travels ... a lifetime of them! Performed on Garrison Keillor's A Prarie Home Companion in Tanglewood at the end of June. Such an interesting production to watch too, as well as hear. Tanglewood is of course, the home of the Boston Symphony and is a beautiful place. The Juilliard String Quartet was also on the show. What a treat! We did something from In Blue and a few others. I also got to sing a harmony line with Garrison on one of his sweet original tunes. It's great to see the cast do the voice talent/sound effects!

On to the Nemacolin Festival in Pennsylvania - another pretty place and resort. Then to the Deerhead Inn in Water Gap, PA ... this is an experience. A funky great place that's been featuring live jazz since...? Many years anyway. Met Bob Dorough - it's a hang for many musicians who live around there. Also Phil Woods bassist and drummer - it was a very cool experience. My band (Danny, Paul Bob & Todd) played beautifully and were - as always - troopers! Then onto our favorite LA club for the week - Catalina's in Hollywood. Wonderful crowds (all of these have been). Playing a lot of material from In Blue that we're enjoying. Pianist Bill Cunliffe joined Danny, Tom Warrington, Joe LaBarbera and me. That was a treat.

After that I got to spend a few days with my sister and niece in Hawaii ... went kayaking, and saw beautiful sea turtles, rainbows, all that Hawaii has to offer. Then to Kansas City at the Blue Room (always fun). Drove to the Dakota in St Paul for 3 nights - great to be back there, and onto Chicago's Green Mill for the weekend, all great and spirited clubs.

I had never been to Ann Arbor before but played there at the Firefly last weekend. The owner, Susan is tireless and a singer herself. Check that club out - it's another winner.

So, now (next day) I'm off to Santa Barbara's SOhO with Danny, Paul Todd and Tom Warrington. Get to see good friends along the way, celebrate the release of In Blue (August 13th), then to Yoshi's in Oakland for the weekend, and onto Seattle's Jazz Alley for the week.

I'll stop there although there's more, along with MANY radio and press interviews, which certainly help get the word out; KRML's Jazz & Blues Store, Filoli Jazz Fest & Spazio's in LA for a one night CD celebration in their concert space.

Thank you for checking in. I've truly enjoyed all these places and appreciate people showing up in such numbers! And so enthusiastically!


Tuesday, June 18, 2002


Hi there .....

We had a wonderful tour in Japan ('Jazz Elite'). It was especially good to get to meet (and hear) McCoy Tyner and his trio and the Cyrus Chestnut trio - great guys and wonderful players.

We played in beautiful halls with great pianos to very enthusiastic crowds. We started in Kashiwa, moved onto Kofu, Yamagata, Musashino, Mitaka, Takasaki, Kumamoto, Sasebo, Okayama. Then a much needed night off (!) in Kyoto where Danny, Joe and I were treated by a good friend to a Geisha house - what an interesting experience! (pictures on this site soon) Then onto Osaka, Nagoya, Yaizu and finally Tokyo.

My favorite memories/experiences (besides the music and people) were massage, mineral baths (sadly - only once), the Geisha house, japanese food and beer/saki, watching the lush landscape and rice paddies from the tour bus and train, backgammon with Jim on the bus.

Then, another good friend taking Jim, Bruce and I to a great little karaoke bar (SOMEHOW Danny and Joe opted out!) and hanging with those folks for awhile. They take this karaoke singing very seriously - very fun time there. Takao (our gracious promoter) went too. He's a great sport (and a legend in producing jazz in Japan!)

Finally, experiencing the warm and gracious hospitality of the Japanese people. Our road crew was amazing too.

I was pleased to be able to speak with McCoy several times, and his playing knocked me out. And Cyrus ... forget about it! What a sweetie. Danny and Joe played as beautifully as ever with me and we had two friends from Honolulu join us - Bruce Hamada and Jim Howard. Both are great players and tour mates.

Then onto Bloomington/Normal, Illinois for a concert for WGLT Radio - a lovely outdoor event with my KC players - who never have ANY fun! Now onto meeting with the Concord folks in LA for planning for “In Blue” - my next project due out August 13. Lots to prepare for, but exciting.

Thank you for checking in and farewell for now.


Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Some Difficult Times

Hi there .....

I think the last time I wrote (I hope YOU check this site more often than I DO! :) ) it covered February and part of March. Since then, my dear friend and webmaster of this site - Dean Hampton scared us anb went into the hospital. Very glad and relieved to have him BACK! Also, my Dear Grandmother was ill, so much of my family gathered around in Omaha - some difficult times.

As for gigs: We had a great time (as always) at Birdland, had Danny and Bob there, and worked with drummer Jon Wikan who's a great person and very talented. Danny and Bob never fail to make great music and a groove. Then to KC at the very cool, old Uptown Theatre for a concert - always great to be back in KC.

On to St Louis (which I don't visit often enough - especially being from KC) at “Jazz at the Bistro” for four nights - a lovely club with a wonderful jazz series. I had my whole KC band there - Danny, Paul, Bob and Todd. That's indeed a pleasure. To get to play so much of our repertoire together again is a treat and really enjoyed the crowds there.

Back in NYC now, enjoying a beautiful (if a little apprehensive) Spring. Been preparing for the next project (which is now due out August 13) and we are excited about it. Getting ready to leave the country for a month (Japan & London). People often wonder what musicians do during the DAY! That always makes me laugh. It's a busy life, things don't happen out of thin air, so there's so much preparation, recovery (!) from travel, getting caught up... trying to have a life. Let alone trying to practice or work on music! Always great to get home for awhile, but I'm USUALLY ready to go again when it happens. Be safe and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Go hear some music! (Another thing I like to do with 'time off' is go hear others.) Thank you for visiting and for listening.

Til next time .....

Friday, March 1, 2002

Truly An Exciting Experience

Hi there .....

Thank you for checking in. And I'd like to very sincerely thank those of you who have written in to wish me luck and good wishes on the Grammys. It was truly an exciting experience, and as I said last time - one that I got to share with my Mom and two sisters along with the Concord folks. We had a blast! I also got to meet Bonnie Raitt which was a thrill for me, as I've been a big fan for a long time. She was very gracious and sweet. I also got hang out some at the Grammy party with Charlie Haden. Congratulations to him on his Grammy win!

Of course, I would LOVE to have taken that grammy home with me for ALL of us - but as I also said before, it was an honor just to be in the running with Shirley Horn, Mose Allison, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves — wow!. Sending your good thoughts and wishes meant a lot to me - thank you again.

Our new 'record' now looks to be out in July! It's another gratifying project for me, still in the process...the musicians sound WONDERFUL (Mulgrew Miller, Danny Embrey, Peter Washington and Lewis Nash).

Our week at Catalina's was a very good one - Joe LaBarbera and Tom Warrington - my West Coast dudes with my 'right hand man' Danny Embrey. Also added two greats on the weekend: Bill Cunliffe and Bob Sheppard. Enjoyed Rochester with Danny and Clay Jenkins. (And thanks to Jason Crane for the interview on WGMC-FM - 90.1 in Rochester.) William Paterson University (Wayne, NJ) with James Williams, Danny and Mark Helias was another wonderful gig.

Planning many good concerts for this year, stay tuned and check the schedule often for frequent updates. Thanks for LISTENING...


Thursday, January 31, 2002

2 Grammy Nominations!

Hello friends ....

January was full of surprises. I'm very proud and honored that BALLADS has been nominated for two Grammy’s. It's interesting that - (at least it seems) folks tend to think of this one project (BALLADS: Remembering John Coltrane) as being 'the successful thing.' I was just thinking today that for me, I'm very happy (and just plain lucky!) when a project 'works.' Even our most heartfelt projects don't always come across the way we want them to or think they should.

We do so many things day to day, small and not so small, that add to our creative process and lives. These are all important for THE PROCESS, although it doesn't always show itself in visible ways. So, even though I'm very proud and thrilled about BALLADS receiving these nominations, it's more of a recognition of many years of hard work - not just for this project. I'm also very glad for the people who have supported me, my musicians and music for so long. I think it must feel good to them (and you) too! A little verification - but that should start from within of course, right? I'm proud of all seven CD's in so many ways, and of course would change things here and there if I could. But you gotta let go somewhere! So, those are my thoughts on that for the moment.

Had a good turn out for the IAJE clinic - “Singers Are Musicians Too.” I enjoyed that and seeing many buddies I don't get to see too often. So much talent out there! Our gig at Steamer’s was as fun as ever, great place. There were Joey DeFrancesco and Joe Pesce in the crowd - Joey sat in and wailed! Danny, Joe LaBarbera and Tom Warrington were as swingin as ever. Then off to Hawaii at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts. Great turn out there, and always great to be back in Hawaii - such a very special place.

A lot is in the works - getting ready for the new project and to Rochester, NY - never been there. Looking forward to playing with Clay Jenkins, Mark Helias and Danny) then to William Paterson University with James Williams, Danny and Mark Helias. Then back to LA at Catalina's Bar and Grill for the week with Danny, Tom Warrington, Joe LaBarbera and special weekend guests; pianist Bill Cunliffe on Friday and the wonderful Bob Sheppard on Saturday. Then I am attending the Grammy’s with my Mom and sisters. LA will never be the same! :) All the best to you and yours, and THANK YOU for listening.