Thursday, November 11, 2004

C'est la Vie!

Hello there -

I think the last time I wrote we had just gotten back from Europe, and were about to start "Le Jazz Au Bar" in New York. What a great place 'Au Bar' is. It's now one of my favorite places to hear and play music in NYC - a very spacious, lovely room, great sound, and very nice people. The owner (Howard Stein) actually LOVES JAZZ!

So, two weeks there (even during the Republican Convention) was lovely.

Bruce Barth sounded amazing, my guys Danny, Bob & Todd sounded as beautiful as ever. Also some friends dropped by to hear us. Among them: Laura Caviani, Steve Wilson, John Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Bill McGlaughlin.

Next were a couple stops 'out east' - Harrisburg, PA and Manchester, CT. Both very nice halls and crowds. It was a pretty part of the year to drive there. A few days off, then onto Anapolis, MD at the Ram's Head; then opened up for Steve Tyrell at the Keswick Theater just outside of Philly. Next, flew to Toledo Ohio - also opening for Steve. Both beautiful halls and great crowds.

Our flights were very mixed up, along with lost luggage so that was a big drag and extremely time consuming but c'est la vie! on the road unfortunately. Can't ALL be good?

About a week off, and onto San Francisco to see friends before heading on to Yoshi's in Oakland, one of our favorite places. Portland based pianist Randy Porter played with us there -a real treat.

October was intended to be my 'month off' and I guess it kind of was ... BUT the ACTUAL 2 weeks (when all is said and done) went extremely fast. I did go campaigning one day for John Kerry in Pennsylvania on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters for which I am a member. That was interesting and necessary. Gotta keep that spirit alive.

Then a gift to myself, a stop in Hawaii to see my sister (and my other sister was able to join!) on the way to our tour in Japan. This was very special. Also visited the Big Island - beautiful!

Just now finished 10 days in Japan with eight concerts throughout. This is always a pleasure with the Concord/Fujitsu Festival - very well run, and also real varied in that we visit a lot of places (8 concerts in 10 days) most times taking the bullet train, some bus, some planes. Needless to say the train is the best!

Rod Fleeman sounded poetic and swinging as usual, Honolulu bassist, Bruce Hamada was a treat to work with and Todd kept us all where we should be! (Very tastefully of course.)

We were on the 'bill' with two wonderful bands on this fest: Terry Gibbs and Ken Peplowski (a very swingin' band) and the John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton Orchestra. What an inspiration they were! John Pizzarelli sounded great with them too.

Some other folks I got to hear lately: Dave Frishburg & Jay Leonhart @ Birdland, Lynne Arielle @ Birdland, Eliane Elias @ Au Bar, Gene Bertoncini @ Le Madeline, Ann Hampton Callaway at The Jazz Standard and Randy Brecker (w big band) at the Iridium.

So, now back to the 'mainland' - to my 'hometowns' of Omaha and Kansas City for performances, via MY home (now) first, New York for 24 hours. We do get around, albeit circuitously.

As always, I thank YOU for listening, it means everything to us. And as somebody once sang, “What's so funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?”

I like that.


Monday, August 16, 2004

From Europe to Brazil

Hi there.

It's taken awhile to catch my breath since returning from all of these travels. Our European tour started in Vienna. I had never been there before. Played a cool club (actually, it was very HOT there!). We were just there for one night, so not much time to look around, but it seemed like a lovely city.

Straight onto England after a four hour layover in Milan and having some trouble in Customs. We got right on a bus ride to Rocheford - a very long day but luckily an extremely charming little town. The venue was a lovely hotel/restaurant which is owned by (booked by too) Derek Renouf, the chef! We did the gig that same evening to an enthusiastic crowd of about 50. (That is how small this sweet place is - one of my favorite, intimate ways of performing.) We had the next day off thankfully, and had a look around the town, back to dinner at Renouf's who took very good care of us.

Next day, back on the bus to the Wigan Jazz Festival, performing in a totally different setting. It was a very large hall with a crowd of about 400 to 500 folks.

Flying out the next day to Rome. After discovering a couple of us had no luggage, we met our very nice host, went on to the hotel and had a 'night off.’ The venue in Rome was a “new” one although the building is very old and beautiful outside. It is connected to a music school there. We played two nights there, then onto Vietri by train. This was lovely. On the way we passed 'Mt Vesuvius' - the volcano that ruined Pompei. Our wonderful hostess, Antonia, picked us up and we were soon climbing the beautiful hills along the Amalfi Coast to our sweet little hotel. What an amazing, enchanted place. Our gig was that same night - again, outdoors connected to a very old museum. We got to stay one more night there, had a lovely meal by the sea and walked around the city. It was like being on the set of 'Il Postino' - beautiful! They were lovely to us.

Then driving to Salerno airport the next day, flying onto Paris where we stayed for the remainder of the tour. We played at a cool little club called “Sunset.” The night before we played there, we stepped in to hear the drummer Jeff Ballard's trio. They sounded great. Of course, for me (and soooo many others) Paris is very special, no matter what you're doing. One thing we had to do was get our visas for Brazil! This turned out to be easier than getting one here. Also had a fun picnic under La Tour Eiffel, and of course always visit our friend and restauranteur Franco Della Corte. Also saw our friend Luigi Trussardi (great bass player who also sat in with us).

All of us back home for two whole days before heading to Brazil. Both clubs - Bourbon Street in Sao Paulo and Mistura Fina in Rio are great and the promoters take very good care of us. Many thanks to Inez, Herbie and Christian. The audiences were/are always glad to hear Brazilian songs and sing along which I love. It's a very special feeling when that happens. They're also very familiar with the “new material” of Wild For You (as are Europeans). This was a nice surprise to me, very welcoming.

One of the last “off” days in Rio we were invited to a friend's friend's for dinner in Barra di Tjuca - a suburb of Rio ... a drive up the coast, looking at the amazing favellas. These friends are great people who do great work for the poor children in Rio. I hope to work with her someday, she has an incredible MUCH needed foundation.

After the long trip home to the US, I had a week with my family in Minneapolis and in Wisconsin (where it was a record cold of 48! Non-stop rain) BUT we saw beautiful wildlife: eagles, loons (and heard their incredible sound too) deer, blue birds, and heron. This was lovely.

Onto California this week, then two weeks in NYC at Le Jazz Au Bar with special guest Bruce Barth.

Thank you for listening.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A Very Cool Line Up

Hi all -

I think last I wrote we were on our way to Florida (April) for more “Concord Jazz Festival” gigs with Oleta Adams, Diane Schuur and Sara Gazarek. We've had a lot of fun with these performances - a very good mix of vocal styles and songs. We sing together much of the time too, so lots of interaction. Great band too, with Danny, Laura Calvin, Todd and Scott Steed, along with Alates husband/drummer John Cushion. Beautiful places and venues too. We did have a scare later in the month when Deedles had to have an emergency operation, but I know she's just fine now.

We (my band & I) had several gigs between those: Buffalo then, New Jersey, and the Birchmere (one of our favorite stops) and Scullers in Boston (another favorite). While in Buffalo, we got to hear Leo Kottke - love his stuff!

Onto KC (of course, another favorite!) at the Blue Room. Great seeing a lot of friends there. Then, we did a week at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago - a great, historic club. Took a short respite to see family in Minneapolis. Then, onto Hollywood at the new Catalina's (also another favorite). Got to see several great friends and musicians there: Bob Shepard (who played with us one night), Tom Warrington and Joe LaBarbera, Steve Houghton. Also played with Bill Cunliffe and Dave Loeb. And it was a real thrill to have Melissa Manchester come in the club and sit in. She & I sang “Midnight Blue” together. She's lovely.

Another small respite in Boulder to see a dear friend before our Denver gigs - we had some great hikes which I love. The Denver club was fun - Dazzle - very nice people. Then onto the Topeka (Kansas) Jazz Festival for one night. Saw many great friends there too. Next was Milwaukee for the Pabst Theater - what a great theater! Beautiful place with a very cool line-up of artists.

On my one week at home in NYC we MOVED (our home) to a great place still in Manhattan. During this time we also played BB King's in NY - great fun. (Bruce Barth was with us that night.) Then a very cool place called the Kortright Center in East Meredith, NY - a wonderful refurbished church in a beautiful setting.

“Wild For You” was released on June 8th and our first gig promoting it was at Jimmy Mac's in Portland, OR - another great little place. Got to see and hear two of my idols there: Nancy King and Dave Frishburg who both sat in with us as well as Randy Porter (great pianist) and Jerry Hahn (guitarist).

Then onto another favorite spot - the Dakota in Minneapolis. It’s always fun. It's really great when a 'smaller' place is successful in expanding, like the Dakota. They do a really wonderful job. Laura Caviani also sat in and we had several guests in the audience like Garrison Keillor, Bill McGlaughlin, Leigh Kammon, my Mom, sister and Aunt! Then onto Idaho - I had never been there before. A great little festival called “Jazz in the Canyon,” a 'mini' Grand Canyon. Played deep down in there ... it was very pretty. I got to do some hiking around there too.

Just finished with (yet another) favorite place - Jazz Alley in Seattle. It’s always a lovely week there and another success story of 'expansion' I'm happy to say. Jeff Johnson sounded great on the bass and it’s always good to hear Floyd Standifer who sat in with us. The STAFF @ Jazz Alley made us an incredible HOME COOKED meal the last night - so sweet of them!!!

It's been fun playing the new music from “Wild For You!” I try to reassure people that we are indeed, still a jazz band - no worries there. Danny and the band have never sounded better and this stuff has expanded our repertoire and ways of doing things. (Thanks Gil!) And just last night in Santa Cruz at Kauumbwa Jazz Center, the audience was so warm and excited about the new material - feels good!

Now, a MUCH needed week at home before we hit the road again for Europe and Brazil.

Thank you to all who make the trips to come hear us! We love seeing you and appreciate your support.

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Wild For You

Hello there -

It's been awhile since I wrote. A lot has happened since December. We recorded our new cd 'Wild For You' here in NYC at Sear Sound (same studio as “In Blue”) - lovely studio. Gil Goldstein did a beautiful job arranging the new material and my players (Danny, Rod, Paul, Bob and Todd) played great on it. The release date is June 8 and we are looking forward to that!

During that same recording week, we performed at Zankell Hall (Carnegie Hall) on a double billing with Louciana Souza. Then, onto LA for mixing of the cd, and doing a performance at the beautiful Orange County Performing Arts Theater (opening for Steve Tyrell). Next, was a private function in Kansas City. Then, to Hawaii! First was some R&R in Kona, then to Honolulu for family and some work at the Honolulu Academy of Arts and Maui Performing Arts Center. As usual, a very special time there.

Australia was the next 'stop.' It was my first time there and we really loved it. A huge country of course and we traveled it! We went from Sydney, to Melbourne, to Camberra and finally the Perth Jazz Festival. Each venue was so different, from a small great club in Melbourne to a large festival in Perth. What beautiful cities!

We also got to play with a fine young bass player from Perth, Peter Jeavons. On the last day he was kind enough to take us to the wild life park outside of Perth. (It was extremely hot that day!) There, we got to see Koala bears, kangaroos and even more exotic creatures in a 'wild' setting - great! Since I am a wild life lover, it was really special - the birds too, of course. On the way back from the park, we stopped at few wineries and then to the beach! Got in and was shocked at the force of the waves, especially coming from Hawaii. (I didn't swim on the North Shore! We went to Kaimana Beach and Kailua Beach which are pretty tame.) Then back on the airplane from Perth to Honolulu for two days. (On the trip to Australia, we had a new (my first, really) road manager -Thomas, who was great! We think we'll keep him!)

I arrived in NYC having just enough time to pay bills and get a hair cut, then, onto St. Louis for a very fun gig at the Sheldon Theater. Great crowd and a lovely hall. Finally back home for two weeks! Got to hear my friend, James Williams at a cool new club called “Au Bar” on the east side. He and his band sounded great and I sat in for a few.

Back to the west coast for gigs in Fallon, NV, Palm Springs and San Juan Capistrano along with meetings and friends in LA. The wonderful pianist Bill Cunliffe played with us once which is always fun. One night I stopped in the new Catalina's Bar & Grill (Beautiful new 'digs'!). Heard Pat LaBarbera's big band (with Joe of course) and so many other luminaries like Steve Houghton, Tom Warrington, and Bob Shepard, just to name a few. Great seeing and hearing them all. We all got the sad news that night that Chuck Niles, the great music lover, proponent of jazz and DJ of KJAZZ (formerly KLON) passed away that night. He was truly a gem and will really be missed.

I then went back through Omaha to see family and do my taxes. Enough said there!
I have mostly been back in NYC since then and gotten out and about in 'my city.' Spring is very grumpy here this year. We are anxiously awaiting, but she's reluctant.

I did a live WBGO appearance with Fred Hersch one early Sunday morning. (Just got back from Omaha on a fight was at 6:00 A.M.! ) It was for the Broadway Cares Project and CD ('Two Hands, Ten Voices'). Also, went to hear Fred at the Village Vanguard. What a wonderful and interesting pianist and composer he is.

Since being home, my family and I learned that a dear cousin of ours, Bob Laemer of Seattle died suddenly of an aneurysm. He was only 53. Such a great guy. He (and his brother, Jim) built wooden ships! In traveling to Seattle, I got to know him a little better and am so glad I did. My getting to be with family and friends along the way helps balance the craziness of this life. I don't write about a lot of that here because it is so personal ... but we will really miss Bob. Our love goes out to his wife Karelle, brother Jim and folks, Bob Sr. and Joan.

OK, C’mon Spring! See you in Florida where we have some exciting gigs coming up with Diane Schuur and Oleta Adams along with the band: Danny, Todd, Laura Caviani, Scott Steed and John Cushon. Then, our own performances coming up in Connecticut, Buffalo, DC area, Boston, Pennsylvania and more. Also, back to KC at the Blue Room, then on to Chicago at the Jazz Showcase and Catalina's in LA.

It stays interesting to say the least! And you help keep it that way, thanks for listening and reading.

Peace to ALL,