Monday, October 3, 2005


Hi all -
Looking back to April dates (just after the Blue Note)

We had a lovely time at the Woodcliff Lounge in Fairport, just outside of Rochester, NY. It’s a very well run and cool venue/resort. We were there for two nights, and had wonderful crowds both nights. They also treated us to some of their new spa happenings which was so nice, especially when on the road. Clay Jenkins and Gap Mangione sat in with us. Rod Fleeman, Bob Bowman and Todd Strait played great as usual.

Onto Boston at Scullers - a favorite club for two sold out shows in that great city. Then to St Louis at a new and very nice club called Finale. It was a pleasure to play with Bruce Barth, Steve Wilson, Bob and Todd.

We flew to Minneapolis and then drove “way up north” to Grand Marais, right on Lake Superior - so beautiful! They do a wonderful job with their series. Laura Caviani joined us there. We really reveled in seeing some bald eagles along the way and the beautiful shoreline and hikes. Back down to Minneapolis for the Dakota. It’s always like coming home for me. We were joined again by Steve Wilson and had two great nights of music there.

I went back to New York and got to sing with Marian McPartland at Dizzy's in Lincoln Center. What a thrill to be with her and in that wonderful room. We left for Melbourne the next day for the first year of their Umbria Jazz Festivals. I really like Australia! We heard some great players too. Among them were John Scofield's trio, and Australia's own Joe Chindamo - wonderful pianist/accordianist who played with us one night. That was way too short a trip. Hope to stay longer next time.

Back in the US, we made our way to Canada. We decided to drive from NYC (the scenic route) with my Mom 'in tow' to Montreal first. We met up with Joe LaBarbera, Tom Warrington and Larry Koonse for these dates. A great trio! Had only one night in lovely Montreal at Club Soda - a nice, roomy music club. Then, onto Toronto at the Top of the Senator. We really enjoyed the crowds there, even though the Senator is under new management and definately going through some changes. But the folks who came were wonderful. Pat LaBarbera sat in with us there.

Back home for me for a few days. Then I made a “pleasure trip” to Portland to hear and see friends - mainly Nancy King. I also caught Laura Caviani who had some gigs there with Todd and Scott Steed. Also had to stop by Jimmy Macs and say hi to friends while there.

Next week I was off to Kansas City to sing with Bobby Watson and the 18th & Vine Big Band at the American Jazz Museum’s Rhythm & Ribs Jazz Festival. I don't often get to do big band gigs but love it when I can. It was a thrill! Then, onto Dallas at Sambuca's - a nice supper/ music club. They took very good care of us. Then to Edmund, OK for their great venue. They also took great care of us and the crowd was happenin'.

Back home for some much needed time off. Then, onto Ann Arbor, MI for the Firefly (sweet place!) and Lansing Michigan at the Creole Gallery. They do wonderful job there! Then I took a few days off and went camping in Boulder, CO with my good friend Beth - beautiful!

After getting home for a few days we headed to Litchfield, CT for their festival. Great crowd there and we also got to hear Jr. Mance, Dave Brubeck, and said “hi” to Steve Wilson and Bob Dorough. What good company to be in!

Onto the west coast for the “A 75th Birthday Tribute to Ray Charles” at the Hollywood Bowl. To play for 10,000 people is really something. I was honored to play a tune with Gary Burton and his band, then sang several tunes as a “Raylette” (along with Patti Austin, Monica Mancini and Latoya London - fun!). Billy Preston “played Ray” and sounded great . . . a wonderful big band of some of the best LA players too. It was an exciting experience.

Off to Santa Barbara, CA for the Club SoHo. Loved that crowd! Then to Fullerton for Steamer's - always a gas there. After that, the San Jose Jazz Festival where we got to play in a lovely intimate theater to a great crowd.

Then onto Coral Gables, FL. Wow - what an experience to be there during hurricane Katrina! We arrived there to drenching rain and high winds but the show was going to go on. We were ready. But it just got worse and, caused and our concert to be canceled. That was a huge disappointment but for the best. We did go to the venue where they (still) very kindly had dinner for us. As “Witch Katrina” intensified, several doors and windows were blown out so we had to move to a more secure area. The electricity went out and stayed out the whole weekend. We decided to rehearse for the new album by candle light and flashlights. It was scarey but fun and very productive!

Our hosts were wonderful. We do plan to go back there next year (watch my schedule page for updates). Looking at the damage the next day (which was really bad) can only give a HINT as to what New Orleans went through . . . unbelievable!

We did get out before it hit New Orleans and felt very lucky. Words are so inadequate for such a catastrophe. We all just have to DO something. My heart goes out to them and I hope to be involved in anything to help.

I got to spend some time with (almost) my whole family in September which does my heart good. Also, I did a performance in Ohio and another in Worcester, MA for one of our favorite radio stations and people who run it. WICN-FM - thank you!

Meanwhile, I was rehearsing with Bruce Barth for our new album which we just recorded last week! Hopefully it will be out in early Spring ‘06. Please keep your eyes and ears open. I'm looking forward to that!

Now onto the Northwest...
I truly hope the best for all of you.
Thank you for listening.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Great Friends, Great Music & Some Amazing Whales

Hello there -

It's been awhile, as many have reminded me! But hey - I'm glad someone's keeping track.

Last time I wrote it was back in November 2004. We were just back from two weeks in Japan. Next stop was Omaha at the Joslyn Art Museum for a Habitat for Humanity fund raiser. I have many memories of this theater, inside the museum as a kid. I heard several concerts there (Horowitz, for one!) and have played there several times since. My Father really does a great job helping to promote this and make it a great success. This was his last year on the Board of Habitat - I'm proud of him!

This time we asked Luigi Waits to sit in with us. He is an Omaha legend and a very swingin' vibes player and drummer. That was a kick. My band played as great as ever.

Then onto Kansas City. My friend Beena has done a wonderful job with her “new” club, Jardines Jazz Club. We had three packed nights there and loved seeing old friends.

Back to New York ... we (Danny, Todd and Jay Leonhart) played on the CBS Saturday Morning Show. Even though it was extremely EARLY - it was fun and the staff were all pros.

While at home, I got to hear some great music. I went to hear Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash at Sweet Rhythm doing a duo gig. I love both those players. And also Andy Bey at Symphony Space - what a wonderful artist! And I loved his band. Also heard my good friend Ann Hampton Callaway at Birdland on Christmas Eve. I always love her. I had family (my Mom and 12 year old niece) over for the holidays and we had many parties. Also got to go to hear the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fischer Hall - lovely. This is the main reason to be in NYC - so many things to hear, see and do if you choose. I should stick around more often!

In January I attended the IAJE conference for the first time in awhile, mostly just for the fun of it and I ended up having a ball. I 'hung hard' with my great friend Nancy King and also met some folks and signed CD's at the Concord booth. Saw a ton of friends there and heard some great music.

I also loved being home for awhile and while there did some fun 'New York' things. One was having a very good interview with the stride pianist, Judy Carmichael, on her radio show, “Jazz Inspired.” I truly like her interview approach and her piano playing is wonderful too. I heard Maria Schneider's big band at Birdland - very inspiring. Also heard the wonderful Wesla Whitfield at Le Jazz Au Bar

Then onto Hawaii. Needless to say it's always a pleasure to go to there. The Academy of Arts is a lovely and intimate venue and I love the audience there. There is truly an “Aloha spirit.” Jim Howard, Bruce Hamada and Todd Strait all played beautifully.
Seeing my sister and niece there is the true attraction! We also did some hiking and saw some amazing whales... what a place.

February brought several Concord Jazz Festival gigs which are always fun. I do like singing with other singers when I can and this is a very entertaining show. In between those shows in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Atlanta (some beautiful theaters!) my group also played at Barnes at Wolftrap, a lovely venue with a great audience and staff. Next, Eugene, OR at the Shedd Theater (loved that place); then’ onto Thousand Oaks, CA for KCLU-FM radio live broadcast at the Performing Arts Center, another great experience.

Onto Steven's Point, WI to play with the Community Orchestra there. This was a thrill for me. Bill McGlaughlin has written some great orchestra arrangements as has Frank Mantooth. It was very cool to have my band up there with an orchestra and the orchestra played beautifully.

Then onto Porto, Portugal. The performance was in a theater within a casino there. Unlike casinos in the US, they are more “art oriented” in order to attract the public to come in and gamble (not the other way around).

Staying right on the sea which was beautiful, we were royally treated. (Except by the airlines...who lost our luggage twice, not to be seen again until Portland, OR!! - several days later...)

Meanwhile we played in San Diego - so beautiful there; the Alladin Theater in Portland - a very cool place. Next, two more Concord Festival dates: Seattle, WA and Cerritos, CA. Both gorgeous theaters. Home for a week and a half, then onto some family visits for me in the Midwest.

At the end of March we double billed with the Ron Carter trio at the Blue Note for a week. It was a great pleasure hearing them every night, with Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone. My band did great too.-I felt it was a very good combination of styles and approaches between our two groups - and great crowds.

Meanwhile I've been planning the next recording project and am very excited about it. We plan to go into the studio again in September.

Many thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the audience sometime soon.