Saturday, July 1, 2006

Groovin' Away

Greetings, it's been awhile!

Way back in February Rod Fleeman and I performed with the Jazz Surge Big Band in Florida, a very nice group of players and great crowds. Singing with a big band is fun for me and I enjoy the change. It's also great when the band leader is flexible and open to ideas, which he was!

Onto Pittsburgh, PA at the Manchester's Craftman's Guild with Rod, Todd and Bob - This was a very cool venue. We need more of those! We double billed with the Freddy Cole Trio for four nights. Really enjoyed them. Next, onto Erie, PA for the Jazz Society concert. They were very good to us. I hope their series continues to be successful. Next, we played in Kansas City at the Heartland Theater. It’s always good to be back there. Played along side some KC favorites for this fund raiser - great fun!

Kennedy Center was a treat. We enjoyed the beautiful hall and the wonderful crowd. Bruce Barth, Rod, Bob and the addition of drummer (and native Omahan - like me), Victor Lewis was one swingin' band. In April, we went to Sioux Falls, SD. I saw many familiar faces there: friends who had driven from several different areas, even my Mom! Also a good venue.

Onto Philadelphia, PA for shows at the Zanzibar Blue. I really enjoy Philly and that club. Bruce, bassist Doug Weiss, Todd and I had a great weekend. Then, a week at the Blue Note in NYC double billing again with Ron Carter. 'Footprints' was just released and this was a good send off. Along with Bruce, Todd and bassist Ed Howard and the wonderful sax man, Steve Wilson made up the band. We had an excellent week there. Next was another great city - Boston, and at another favorite venue - Scullers. Bassist Vicente Archer joined Bruce, Todd and I there. It’s always a pleasure to be in that club.

Then I journeyed across the country to the lovely area of Yakima, Washington where guitarist Dan Balmer and bassist Jeff Johnson joined Todd and me. It was a very fun band and special venue. That's a series definitely worth checking out. Back in NYC, we got to hear Nancy King and Fred Hersch at the Jazz Standard, It was a wonderful evening, both are amazing musicians.

Bruce and I were invited to Toronto to perform in a JazzFM 91 celebration - great group of people at that station. On some time off, Bill and I went to see birds in Cape May. Beautiful wildlife sanctuaries there and we saw some amazing dolphins too! We dined at The Merion Inn where our friends/pianist, George Mesterhazy and Vicki run a wonderful restaurant with jazz (George!) What a charming place!

Bruce invited me to join him on a benefit for “John Hall for Congress.” It was a fun event with good music and a good cause. Ed Howard and Montez Coleman joined us too. The very next day, onto LA to play Catalina's. I got to work a little with good friend (and lyricist on “Footprints”), Chris Caswell on some projects. I also appeared (as pianist/singer) on an episode of the popular soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Interesting experience! Pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Tom Warrington, guitarist Larry Koonse, Todd and I had all a great week at Catalina's. I'd never been to “The Hampton's” before and this venue was beautiful. Got a glimpse of the beach too. Unfortunately there's not usually enough time to sight see. We try to when we can and would like to go back there.

The Rochester International Jazz Festival was one of the most enjoyable festivals I've ever played. They really know how to put it on there. They had great crowds, beautiful venues, and varied artists. We (Bruce, Todd, Vicente and I) played two full shows and one was filmed for PBS. We will try to let people know if that is aired nationally.

Onto the Toledo, OH Festival where I had invited Nancy King to join us. Ann Arbor bassist Paul Keller joined us too. We were all looking forward to a great outdoor set but the weather had a different idea. We were caught in a huge storm and after four very wild attempts at playing, we all had to ‘high-tail it’ for shelter. Jon Hendricks was set to join us for a tune or two, but none of that got to happen - too bad! After it let up, Jon did do an abbreviated (but spirited, of course) set. Then the weather cleared up and Al Jareau played. Very fun to hear him groovin' away. We hope to go back and "finish it” sometime!

I got to hear the Vanguard Orchestra the other night. They very kindly played the Thad Jones tune, “Tiptoe” at my request. They sounded great! Just back from Coral Gables, FL. Speaking of weather, last year Katrina was just on her way through when we went there. It was quite an experience. But, we played the concert this time to an enthusiastic, sold out crowd in a beautifully renovated church that has an interesting, eclectic series, also very worth checking out.

I am now looking forward to a low-key summer with some travel for fun too. Also, I’ll be spending time at home in NYC working on different projects.

I want to thank those of you who write in to comment about our performances and how you are enjoying “Footprints.” I appreciate your words of encouragement and your support. Also MANY thanks to Jazz Radio for helping make “Footprints” #1 for 7 weeks!! This is fantastic! THANK YOU!!!

Hope to see you down the road somewhere and
Thank you for listening . . .