Monday, October 1, 2007

The Next Phase of My Musical Journey

Hi there -

Last I wrote was way back in May! Hard to believe the summer is over and we are into fall and winter with the holiday season just around the corner.

As you may have noticed on the new and “in progress” website, I have a new and exciting management and agency team. I had a good 5-year run with the folks at Stiletto Entertainment and William Morris Agency and appreciate all they have done.

On this next phase of my musical journey and career I welcome AMS Artists - Anna Sala (Management) and Treelawn Artists - Eric Hanson (Agency). Holding down the web site and MySpace duties, I welcome back Dean Hampton from Webjazz. This new team will be of great help to me in reaching the same goals for great music making and getting it to more and more people like yourselves.

Before going into the studio at the end of June, we made a quick stop in San Diego at the lovely new club "Anthology." Worked with some of my favorite west coast players: Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington and Joe LaBarbera. It’s always a pleasure to work with them. When in the LA area I also try to take the opportunity to see and work with my colleague, Chris Caswell, which we did. Writing with him is a wonderful and inspiring experience.

A few New York State gigs like Norwood - way up there and a beautiful area. Paul Meyers, Ed Howard and Todd Strait were a great trio to play with.

Then we started rehearsals for the new recording here at home in NYC with Rod Fleeman and Todd. We went into the studio on June 29. Steve Nelson (vibes), Gil Goldstein(piano & accordion, David Finck (bass) joined Rod, Todd and myself. What a band! It is a Brazilian project. It includes a varied selection of well-known and lesser-known tunes of Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Edu Lobo, Rosa Passos, among others. Also there are a few new English lyrics by Chris Caswell, Susannah McCorckle, Paul Williams and Gene Lees.

After recording, I had welcome visitors from Hawaii. It was my sister and niece’s 1st visit ever to NYC! While they were here, we played Huntington, NY It was a beautiful outdoor venue there with a great new piano given by Billy Joel. Played with Paul Bollenback, Ed Howard and drummer Mark Ferber. It was under the stars and lovely!

Then we headed to Worcester Mass at the Ecotarium. The folks at WICN have supported and played our music ever since our very 1st CD, "I Didn't Know About You." It's always a pleasure to be back there. I played with another great trio consisting of Paul Bollenback, Todd and bassist John Lockwood.

The next stop was Buffalo, NY for an outdoor gig on a very hot day. They were wonderful people to play for. The trio on this was Paul Meyers, Vicente Archer and Todd. They did a great job.

Next came Scullers in Boston and then the Litchfield, CT Jazz Festival with Steve Nelson, Doug Weiss, Rod and Todd. I loved playing with this group and in these great venues.

Heading West we did another outdoor concert in Madison WI, then to Chicago at the Green Mill. Bassist Larry Kohut joined Rod, Todd and myself. Wonderful group in a favorite club.

We went to Berkeley, CA at the Fantasy Studios to mix the Brazilian project. Working with Bill McGlaughlin (Producer), Nick Phillips (Producer) and Josiah Gluck (Engineer) is a treat. What an interesting process! One always learns a lot from these sessions.

Then a whole different thing for me: a big band performance with the US Air Force Big Band, The Airmen of Note. This was a great experience with an amazing band and lovely people.

This gig was recorded before live audience with MC for a later radio broadcast. Watch my web site schedule for more information about the broadcast - probably on NPR. I also tried out some new big band arrangements which is always fun.

Back to LA at Catalina's, we had another good week with Todd, Larry Koonse and Tom Warrington. Chris Caswell sat in and played accordion. He knocked everybody out!

Next was at Seattle's Jazz Alley, a jazz home away from home for us. My Mom usually joins me for the week while there and my Uncle Dave lives there so it is literally a family affair! Steve Nelson, Rod, Todd and Jeff Johnson formed a wonderful band. The Jazz Alley staff have also become our family! I Did a live on air performance with KPLU- FM. It’s also great to work with these people.

We headed back to the midwest for a quick minute in Kansas City at the Starlight Theater. It was for a fund raiser for the Midwest Ear Institute’s HEARAid Gala titled, “The Cool Sounds of Jazz.” Got to see favorite friends Paul Smith and family, Dean, Gerald Spaits, among others.

After that back west to Yakima, WA at the Season's for two special concerts: one with the Yakima Symphony with Bill McGlaughlin conducting, and then our quintet the next night. This is a great series that I admire so much. Pat Strosahl at the Seasons really knows how to make musicians feel at home and therefore, gets great results! If you're ever in that area, check this special series out.

I stopped off in Portland after that to play at the newly renovated Jimmy Mac's, a lovely club I played with the Mel Brown Group and what fun that was. The next night I got to play with Nancy King at the Old Church, along with Steve Christofferson, Todd, and Ed Bennett.

Finally back home to play a week at the great club, Dizzy's at Lincoln Center. Pianist and accordionist Joe Chindamo from Melbourne Australia joined Peter Washington, Todd, Nancy and I for a wonderful week.

Most recently, we played in Dahlonega, GA. I really admire Andy for bringing more jazz to that area with beautiful rolling hills right outside of Atlanta. Keep up the good work Andy!

OK, thank you for checking in! We are finally seeing signs of the colorful fall season here in NYC. I have been enjoying the parks here when I can I have seen some great migrating birds here and there - always inspiring to me.

Here's hoping and striving for Peace for all.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Recommendations from the Road

Some live music I've heard and loved lately:

Al Foster @ the Vanguard;
Violinist, Maria Bachmann at Merkin Hall;
Gene Bertoncini @ Le Madeline;
'Joyce' and Dori Caymmi at Birdland;
Paula West at the Jazz Standard;
and Steve Nelson at Smoke.

Books I've read:

Kurt Vonnegut's latest short memoirs,
Lies my Teacher Taught Me,
The Bone People.

Nature Places I've visited:

Jamaica Bay in Queens,
The parks of NYC!!


Check this website out to RECYCLE YOUR CELL PHONE! Its' FREE!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The International Language of Jazz

Hi there -

Last time I wrote Rod Fleeman and I were headed for Europe. Our first performances were at the Blue Note in Milan, Italy. I had been there before and enjoyed this trip even more. I find Italian audiences to be extremely warm and enthusiastic. Throughout Europe, I tried to greet each audience with a SHORT greeting in THEIR language. They seemed to appreciate that, even when I fumbled. Since languages have always interested me, this is not a chore; it's a fun challenge.

In Milan (and London and Turkey) we played with the London players: Alec Dankworth on bass and Tristan Maillot on drums. We had played with them 'way back when' while at Pizza on the Park in London, so it was great to see them again.

After Milan, we played Ronnie Scotts in London. It was my first time there. Aside from our sets, it was fun listening to the house band there and the big band. There was a lot of music happening on those nights! We met some wonderful 'local' players and hung out with them along with some great singers as well. It's amazing how this music can bring folks together all over the world. Speaking of which, we then went for a 1-nighter in Vienna at Birdland. What a great place! Rod and I met the wonderful young bassist that same day, who played with us that night. He was also the leader in the house band after our sets, so we got to hear them.

We were out early the very next day and on to Poland. It was my very first time there. Our first stop was in Warsaw. We met our promoter, Yavuz (wonderful man), who really treated us with such gracious hospitality. Played two nights in Warsaw and met some wonderful local folks along the way. One new friend even gave me a spa treatment on a very rare day off - how lovely! We played with two local players there. They were great guys. We also did a workshop at the Chopin Academy of the Arts. What a thrill to be in this historic place! Then, we even had tea with the American Ambassador of Poland. He also came to our performance which was a lovely experience. The next day we all took the train to Poznan, just outside Krakow. Very sweet town and if I say the people were great too often, that's because it's the truth!

Taking the train back to Warsaw the very next day, a cab from the train station to the airport, a plane through Istanbul to Ankara (capital of Turkey), THAT was a LONG DAY! At least we had the 'night off,' getting in around 11:00 pm! In Ankara we played a beautiful theatre. I was told the Turkish Ambassador was there. Something I find interesting is how it seems that government officials in other countries really enjoy jazz and make an effort to get to the concerts. What an unusual thing that is! In Brazil and Japan this is certainly true as well.

The next day we were off to the amazing city of Istanbul. What a place - unlike anywhere I've seen! We stayed on the Bosphorous and could see Asia from the hotel room. (What I didn't know was that Istanbul is part of both Europe and Asia.) The beautiful club we played is really THE place to be there. They packed the place and so many people knew our music. That was really true everywhere. It’s a real a thrill to go so far away and get requests for songs we've recorded over the last 15 years. The three gentlemen who own it are great entrepreneurs with real style and a great love for jazz. We met a wonderful young pianist (Uraz) who sat in with us. He was Yavuz's son. They also took us to a bizarre in Istanbul. That was quite an experience to bargain with the shop owners. We saw several beautiful mosques. I truly can't wait to return to all these places. They were all so very kind to us.

Back in the US, our gig in Jacksonville, FL was great in spite of the gale force winds that blew everything and everyone all over the place! What a great festival though! After Jacksonville we headed south to Miami to the Arturo Sandoval Jazz Club. It’s a very cool place in a very old, grand hotel. Great crowd there too. We loved playing with the Omaha Symphony again at the Holland Center. This was a celebration for Cancer Survivors. Bill McGlaughlin conducted and my 'KC band' played beautifully.

Then, we went to Minneapolis’ Dakota Bar & Grill, a favorite place. We had a great band there with Steve Wilson, Laura Caviani, Larry Kohut and Phil Hey. And it's always good to see family and friends there.

Then to another favorite spot: Birdland in NYC. We had another amazing band there: Steve Nelson, Rod Fleeman, Todd Strait and Doug Weiss. It was a wonderful week in that great club.

We played a very sweet festival in Edmond's WA, where they are focused on music in the schools (yeh!) and also a fund raiser for kids who are burn victims. The kids and community orchestra bands played concerts all week long. It was a very good vibe for all and great to be a part of.

We record at the end of June. We’ve been working hard on that. Hope it will be released at the beginning of '08.

Hope to see you out and about soon and THANK YOU for listening.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Gigs Across America


Last time I wrote it was late October 2006. A very belated Happy New Year to you.

In November we played Washington D.C.'s historic club, Blues Alley. It's got that old true jazz club feel and was great fun with Rod, Todd and bassist Ed Howard who is from DC. He was Shirley Horn's last bassist and is a beautiful player. The Sharon Lyn Center for the Arts in Brookfield, Wisconsin (suburb of Milwaukee) was sold out and a beautiful theater. Bruce, Bob, Todd and Rod played beautiful as ever too.

Salt Lake City, Utah we had another sold out concert. This WONDERFUL series is headed by Gordon Hanks who really knows how to run it and how to treat musicians (and the audience). We had one more 2006 concert (in warmer climes!) in amazing Palm Springs. CA at the Annenburg Theater. It’s a lovely place to be, especially for a few days.

Just before Christmas we suffered a real blow when our drummer, Todd Strait broke his collar bone. It has been a real challenge for him and us. He is a trooper and still dealing with it not being totally healed. How did he do it? I'll let you ask him but it was very scary bad luck and we're lucky and glad he's alive.

So, needless to say Todd needed to take some time off. We were very lucky to get the wonderful KC based drummer, Tommy Ruskin, on very short notice for our New Year’s Eve performance at the KC Repertory Theatre (and the National Public Radio live broadcast for “Toast of the Nation”). He also played with us at our Inaugural Performance for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Danny Embrey and Paul Smith joined us for the the New Year’s Eve gig. It was great to play with both of them again. It was an honor to be part of both of these gigs!

While in KC a dear friend and I visited a beautiful bird refuge called Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Many eagles hang out there because there are a lot of geese around. It’s beautiful to watch the formations and hear that incredible racket they make as a group - pretty intense!

Between each of the KC area gigs, we rushed in the new year with a lovely time in Sanibel, Florida. We were lucky in finding the great drummer for this concert. Marty Morrell is based near there. (Remember Marty from the Bill Evans Trio days.) It is a real pleasure to work with him as well as Rod, Bruce and Bob. While there I visited another refuge (the "Ding Darling") by myself. I came across a very large crocodile, fortunately with some warning by other tourists. We found out later that ‘she’ is a regular there. We steered clear and were pretty astounded. What a lovely place! I'm always on the look out for these natural places, especially if I have time while on the road (and when I can make time). It's very important to me to GET OUTSIDE!

Back in New York Bill and I attended some fun holiday gatherings for some favorite musicians and other folks in the biz ... the annual Nola Recording Studio party (with host Jim Czak) in the Steinway building. Saw tons of musicians there including Blossom Dearie, George Shearing, Grady Tate, Jackie Williams, guitarists Howard Alden and Joe Giglio, pianists Mike Renzi, Larry Ham and Lawrence Hobgood. We heard several very cool duo and trio piano tunes (lots of pianos in there of course). What a treat!

Also attended the 10-year celebration for the independent label “ArtistLed” of David Finckel and Wu Hann (talented cellist and pianist dynamic duo). No small feat and they were forerunners of the idea of artists running and owning their records/label. They have been very successful.

During IAJE in NYC we went to hear Nancy King at The Jazz Standard, also Terrell Stafford. We got to hear Jon Hendricks and his group at Birdland and I sat in with them (a very quick 'Cloudburst' - Lord help me!). They all sounded great. Very sadly, it was also announced during this time that we lost Alice Coltrane and Michael Brecker. Big losses for us all.

Our next gig was in the LA area (Fullerton) at Steamers with Nancy King and her wonderful pianist Steve Christofferson, Todd (his first gig back and sounded amazing) and our dear friend and great bassist, Tom Warrington. Many of my family members were there (Mom, two sisters and Bill).

Then, we all attended the Grammy's. I had been asked to be a presenter during the pre-telecast portion (this is from about 1:30 until 4:30 when the telecast part starts). I presented 15 Grammy’s in all. Among them some amazing artists like, Ruby Dee (for Best Spoken Word), Chic Corea, Tony Bennett, several to Michael Brecker presented posthumously, Dave Douglas, and Peter Frampton (!). Among my fellow presenters were Lynn Redgrave and Charlie Pride.

I was truly happy for Nancy Wilson who also won this year. For me to be nominated in the same category is a great honor, especially with two of my inspirations: Nancy King and Nancy Wilson. The after party was great fun. We found the room with "Kool and the Gang" playing their hearts out and danced ours out. Love that band!

Back to reality: the weather and trying to fly in it. Trying to make it to Omaha to do our POPS concerts with the Omaha Symphony was a challenge. It took 36 hours to make it from NYC to Omaha. So, we missed our first rehearsal completely (stuck in Detroit) and Rod, coming in from Europe, missed both rehearsals and of course, lost his luggage. The show must go on and everyone rose to the occasion. It was a real thrill for me to sing and play with my band (in this case, Rod, Paul, Bob and Todd) and a symphony orchestral with Bill (McGlaughlin) conducting. I hope to record that way some day. Bill's arrangements fit our approach very well as he had heard our band countless times.

I saw so many old friends, even my first grade teacher! It was wonderful to be a part of all that and also to see my Dad and Ardi in the audience.

After Sunday's performance we went to hear Luigi and his band at Mr. Toad's in the Old Market - my old stomping grounds. It was great to hear them and we loved it.

Looks like it's onto Europe in about three weeks and we are looking forward to it.

Peace and Love to all and thank you for listening ...