Friday, December 19, 2008

Brazil, Europe, NYC and a few other wonderful places . . .

Hello -

Last I wrote it was just before our trip to Brazil in September. We started out at the new Mistura Fina in Rio. One of our hosts and friends (Christian) met us and took us to a wonderful Chorascaria restaurant where we ate way too much delicious food! Mistura Fina is now situated right on Ipanema, a very beautifully distracting view! I was honored that the lovely Joyce and her husband came by for a set. I'm a huge fan of their music.

We went onto Ouro Preto, far up in the hills north of Rio. Traveling on a very deluxe bus, we got to see a lot of the country which is so welcoming after being on so many airplanes. This was the maiden voyage of this new festival in Ouro Preto in what was once a grand old casino. They had a great and enthusiastic crowd. We got to hear several other Brazilian acts which is always a pleasure.

Onto Sao Paulo to Bourbon Street and another wonderful crowd. Our hosts at Bourbon Street always takes very good care of us. Freddie Cole and his band were in the audience too, and he sat in with us - a true legend!

Back to the US with a quick stop in Kansas City at the Blue Room. It was great to see a packed house with so many friends. The Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, and her husband Gary were in the audience. It’s always a great honor to see her at my gigs.

Next was another quick trip overseas to a festival in Holland - The Hoorn Jazz Festival at a beautiful (and COLD) place! Our hosts took very good care of us and it's so gratifying to see jazz flourishing in places all over the world. This festival had about 6 or more acts and the crowd could not get enough.

I had a little time off between travels abroad and heard some good music while at home in NYC (see below)

Back to Europe again. First was the Blue Note in Milan; then to Ferrara, a sweet performance space that was once an old fort. What an amazing crowd we had there.

Next was in Bratislava, Slovakia for the Jazz Days Festival, another example of jazz thriving. It is a huge festival, packed with very hungry jazz fans and they were wonderful to us. Then, to Vienna to one of the oldest jazz clubs there. It was my second time there and it's always a pleasure.

We took the overnight train which was an interesting and mostly good experience. We regretted not being able to SEE the Alps since it was at night. Then to Zurich - what a beautiful city that is! The small and upscale club there is a huge success. It’s like playing in someone's lovely living room packed with listeners. Last stop was Istanbul at JC's Jazz Club. Istanbul is an extremely bustling city and also full of jazz fans. The club is situated right on the Bosphorous, looking across to the Asian side of Istanbul. We saw many friends we had met on the trip before. It was nice to be back.

Back in NYC for election day. We had some friends over to celebrate. Then to Schenectady, NY at a very cool venue, "A Place for Jazz." with a great crowd. I also did a masterclass earlier that day with some singers which was great fun.

Then we headed West to Salt Lake City where we joined one of our favorite jazz promoters, Hank O'Neal. The series he has is very ambitious and it seems all of the concerts are sold out. He really knows how to present concerts and host the musicians. We love him for it!

Back to NYC at the Iridium for a week. I had never played this club before and really enjoyed it. They made us feel very much at home. Then we played another very cool series at St. Cecelia's (the Saint of music in Grand Rapids, MI. It had been almost 7 years since I had been there. It’s all run by women and they were fabulous to us.

For Thanksgiving, we went to Poland! (where else?) to a great festival in Kalisz. Our friends/hosts, Pawel and Yavuz, were great to us as was the crowd. And it was another example of hundreds of hungry jazz fans. Poland rocks!

One last performance of 2008 - hard to believe! Scullers was packed and we were thrilled to announce the Grammy Nomination for "Imagina". I plan on attending the Grammy's in LA in February. That’s always an amazing experience.

I heard some great music along the way over these past few months: I attended the “Jazz for Obama” at the 92nd St Y with my good friend Ann Hampton Callaway. Among them we heard Kurt Elling, Jeff Watts, Brad Meldau, Dianne Reeves, Christian McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hank Jones.

Some of my listening along the way included: My friend and colleague, Chris Caswell, had a premier of a violin concerto at Carnegie Hall; Virginia Mahew's group at Dizzy's/Lincoln Center; the other acts in Ouro Preto; the Carlisle to hear my friend Ed Howard with Steve Tyrell; Dizzy's to hear Bucky Pizzarelli with Ken Peplowski; some wonderful chamber/classical music at a house concert on the upper west side.

And I’m reading a good book - Wendell Berry's "Jayber Crow.”

Thanks for checking in! Happy New Year and I look forward to seeing you 'out there' in the crowd very soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Minnesota to Missouri, Europe to California & Seattle & More

Hello -
Welcome back to our site. I haven't written since April, so here goes!
The Dakota Bar and Grill in Minneapolis is always like going home to me. My Mom and sister live there, as well as many friends and I spent several good, formative years in the Twin Cities. Steve Nelson, Rod and Larry Kohut joined us along with drummer Phil Hey.

Next was Springfield, Missouri at the University there, a beautiful renovated theater, old friends and great musicians - Kim Park and Gerald Spaits joined us. Travel was challenging as I recall - barely making that gig due to flight troubles, but the audience was great.

Then to Jazz at the Bistro in St Louis, another great jazz supper club with lots of history - a big pleasure to be there.

In May we played the Hague Jazz Festival-- a huge and musically inclusive event! We had a great set with Rod, Todd and bassist John Goldsby. More flight trouble with lost luggage! So, we bought clothes, borrowed cymbals and microphones, copied music, then after a set to a tremendously enthusiastic crowd, we got back to the hotel. Lo and behold, there was our luggage! Such is life on the road :)

Off to the West Coast in June. First stop was in LA/Hollywood at Catalina's with Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington and Todd. Catalina's is a favorite - another great jazz supper club with an amazing history.

Then to another favorite: Jazz Alley in Seattle, which feels more like a concert setting than a club while still keeping it's very intimate and classy setting. We love it there!

Next was back to California in beautiful Santa Cruz to Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Amazing crowd! We were definitely seeing signs of the fires they were having there then. We wanted to stay but needed to move onto the new Yoshi's in San Francisco - what a beautiful club, and great crowd. We were able to stay in San Francisco for a few days for R&R before our performance at the Filoli Festival. It is an amazing outdoor concert in the beautiful Bay Area I was joined by Rod, Todd and bassist John Witala. If you're in that area and have a chance to attend one of these, it's a great afternoon.

In June we were off to Europe. The first stop was for the Estoril Jazz Fest in Portugal, a lovely outdoor setting ... with Rod, Ed Howard and drummer Anthony Penciotti. Next was Madrid to a funky little club there for a few nights. We met some lovely people there. Off to Poland in Gadansk for the “Ladies Jazz Festival.” We shared the stage with Toshiko Akioshi and several other women in jazz.

Our final stop in Europe was in San Javier, Spain for their festival - another cool, outdoor event with a wonderful crowd.

I had some much needed time off at home in NYC, then to Litchfield, Connecticut for their Jazz Camp. I really enjoyed teaching there. I was so proud of 'my' students at their concert! And also had a few fun musical moments of our own with other faculty members: Virginia Mahew, Dave Stryker, Steve Johns, Andy Jafee, Don Braden.

Returning to "Happy Valley" in North Hampton, MA we played at the Iron Horse in August - a very cool, funky music room and what a crowd we had there! Rod, Todd, Ed and I had a ball. Then onto Marblehead, MA to help end their summer jazz series which takes place in an old church with a packed, enthusiastic house. What a sweet town that is!

While I was in the area, I got to attend a concert at the Marlborough Music Festival: a wonderful classical music event with many luminaries. The music was very inspiring! Next tour is Brazil, which needless to say, we are looking forward to.
Please check in often and thank you for your support of the music!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tokyo to Tel Aviv, NYC, Boston, Chicago and more . . .

Hi Friends!

Last time I wrote we were on our way to Tokyo. The Japanese are wonderful hosts. It was a pleasure to play the Blue Note there. I met with many press people and journalists who were very passionate and knowledgeable about this music. We look forward to going back. Kind fun to have a cocktail at the Blue Note named after me - the "Buttercup!")

Back to the US and a performance with the Charlotte County Jazz Society in Punta Gorda Florida. It was a great theater and crowd.

Next, we were off to Tel Aviv!! Along with me were Nancy King, her wonderful pianist Steve Christofferson. Her great bassist Ed Bennett, and my great drummer Todd Strait. This was a thrill to be there at the Tel Aviv Opera House. We rehearsed there the night before our gig and the opera "Turandot" was being performed. We got to see some of it and the singers in their full dress back stage. What a sight and sound!

The Tel Aviv crowd was great. They are very knowledgeable and love this music. We look forward to going back.

Our first gig back in the US was in New York City at Dizzy's/Lincoln Center to help celebrate the amazing Marian McPartland's 90th birthday. She is an original and knocked us all out that night. I sang two of her original tunes with her: "Twilight World" and "There'll be Other Times." Lots of luminaries with her that night. Among them: Wynton Marsalis, Regina Carter, Bill Charlap, Kenny Barron, Norah Jones, Jeremy Pelt. Even Kareem Abdul Jabar was in the house! It was a really special evening of music and tribute to Ms. Marian.

Then to Kansas City for me, performing with Bobby Watson and the 18th & Vine Big Band along with Mary Stallings - a lovely singer. It's always a thrill for me to sing with a killin' big band - and especially this one at the GEM Thearer in KC! Bobby sounded great as usual.

Back to New York at Birdland for the "official" release of our new CD, "Imagina, Songs of Brasil". Birdland is not only one of my favorite places to perform in NYC, but I love just going there to hear great music when I can. It’s a very great group of people. The group was Steve Nelson, Rod Fleeman, Todd Strait and Ed Howard and we had a ball. Several friends sat in too during the week: Bruce Barth, Eldar, Ann Hampton Callaway, Randy Weinstein, George Mesterhazy, Sacha Boutros. Fun!

Another fun big band date was in Indiana with the Ball State Big Band. These students sound fabulous! And led by their director Mark Buselli, who's also an excellent trumpet player, we had good concerts (despite the airline craziness, which was...challenging!)

From there it was on to the historic Green Mill Jazz Club in Chicago. It always feels like "coming home" to me. With the great crowds and staff there, led by the incomparable Dave Jemilo, it can't go wrong!

Another favorite club followed: Scullers in Boston; then, a new one for us in Philadelphia: Chris' Jazz Cafe. When we rolled into Philly, we happened to get caught in the fever of the Barrack Obama rally that day, just before their primary. It was exciting!

The political 'scene' right now is a lot of things to me and many I know: hopeful, frustrating, interesting, sometimes quite disappointing, and again - I think with Mr. Obama, at the same time - very hopeful. No matter what 'side of the fence' you're on, HOPE is the key word and we need it!

I hope to see you out there in the Jazz Scene soon.
Thank you for listening!


Monday, March 3, 2008

A Wonderful Start

Hello and a very belated Happy New Year!

I left off in November of last year. After the Thanksgiving holiday -which I spent happily with family in Minneapolis-- we headed to Fresno-- a wonderful start of their new series with a masterclass for the students at the University there. A very great group of people and we had a ball. Many thanks to John and Tama, Tom and the whole crew (Jim Totoian & crew too) and the very enthusiastic Fresno audience!

Then onto Memphis, where we enjoyed doing a masterclass again for the general public and met several great/local musicians. Memphis has such an amazing jazz musical legacy-- some of our favorite players come from there: the late, great and sorely missed James Williams for one, as well as Mulgrew Miller, Harold Mabern just to name a few. The hall there in Germantown was beautiful; we had a great concert, many thanks to our sweet friend Mike Kelly.

Some of my 'big news' is that I bought a house! In western Massachusetts along the Connecticut River-- it's another great adventure in my life, and though I still love living and being based in NYC, having a lovely retreat to go to when I get time off is a real dream come true for me.

In January, we went to Honolulu to perform at the Academy of the Arts, had a wonderful, packed house-- all involved at the Academy made us feel right at home (again!) instantly. Also many thanks to the folks at Hawaii Public Radio and to my family there.

Back to the main land and headed for Fayetteville Arkansas and Columbia Missouri. The flu season caught up with me there I'm afraid--- I got quite sick with it, and so did a few band members-- but we pulled it together and did our best. Our friends Robert and Susan Ginsberg were gems and a pleasure to work with in Fayetteville-- and Jon Posses' "We Always Swing" series is top notch. Many thanks to all of them and the great crowds.

In February we visited (where else would you go in February?) VERMONT!! I had never been and loved it-- what a beautiful place Burlington is--right on Lake Champlain--looking across the lake to the Adirondacks, lovely! –Especially with quite a bit of snow.

And thanks go to the folks at the University: Natalie and Jane-- and the wonderful crowd for Valentine's Day.

Off to Tokyo as soon as I finish this; then to Florida, then to Tel Aviv... will catch my breath and write again.

Thank you for checking in–