Goodbye Butch Morris. Seldom have people shared such profound and energetic love for making music.
A wonderful time at Shrine in Harlem last night. Gabriela Martina's group was tight, and the hang afterwards was filled with positivity. Check out www.gabrielamartina.com to keep updated on her band and when the new record comes out.
Jabbo Smith's recording of "Jazz Battle".
Recently I put on a record that I haven't heard for a while:
Sometime in 1999, when I was ten or eleven years old and had very recently started playing the saxophone, my mom bought me a record by Greg Osby entitled Banned in New York. I was hooked on that record for so long. The playing on that album was DIFFERENT and FUNKY and STRANGE and I was amazed at their technique and the accents and the dance it created. It was all of those things and it was, to me, honest and authentic jazz. I had a lot of great music by legendary saxophonists thrown at me from encouraging adults who saw my interest in the saxophone and jazz, but Greg's playing stuck with me. Jason Moran, Atsushi Osadi, and Rodney Green are on that album.
During my education in Boston I studied with a lot of great musicians, maybe even too many for me to handle. Both Greg Osby and Jason Moran were my teachers in Boston, and they both breathed an incredible amount of devotion, curiosity and life into music making for me, and continue to do so. I have never needed to look farther then them for a profound, historically savvy, forward thinking and adept body of work (although they would both discourage the idea of not looking past ones own interests).
05.06.12 | Different Thoughts
On April 26th, Jordan Hall was full of wonderful people, on and off stage, celebrating Walt Whitman's poetry and Fred Hersch's music. As I juggled my saxophone and clarinets throughout the piece "Leaves of Grass", Fred captured everyone's attention and imaginations with and without lyrics. It made me realize that what people need to fight for in American music is not the continuation of a certain genre of jazz or an audience for it, but strive to encourage our interest in the abstract. With and without lyrics, the lone listener in the audience doesn't necessarily connect with every overtly meaningful phrase. Our minds can't help but wander, we do it all day long. Our goal should be to let a listeners mind wander within (or without) the context of a performance. It is special that words can remind us of experiences, and it is also special that an abstract group of 4 notes, or a crescendo, or a silence can do the same.
What to do in May: My friend and teacher Jason Moran and his wife Alicia Hall Moran are at the Whitney this weekend presenting Bleed. GO SEE THIS. Click on the link and see who they're showing to the world.
Thoughts on microtonal performance on the saxophone:
12th tone-did it change?-12th tone-I think I hear the difference-6th tone-I heard that color change-12th tone-never mind-6th tone-it's becoming tonal!-1/4 tone-oh now it's a half step-1/4 tone-this is becoming chromatic-half-step-HUGE
03.20.12 | Kennedy Center
A Video of performance with "Couples Therapy" at the kennedy center is online here.
02.27.12 | Butch Morris
During the upcoming week, myself and a group of N.E.C. students will work with Mr. Butch Morris, and be educated in his "Conduction." Mr. Morris has, over the course of many years, developed a system of improvisatory conducting. The week will culminate in a performance at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston on Friday, March 2nd at 7:30.
01.16.12 | Panama Jazz Festival
For the next 7 days, myself and my compatriots from The New England Conservatory will be in Panama City for the Panama Jazz Festival giving clinics and performing through the week. Friday night will be a concert of the great trombonist Luis Bonilla who we will be playing with. Si estas en Panama, llame!
10.27.11 | Three great concerts in Three nights
This weekend will be filled with three very different, very inspired performances. Thursday, Oct. 27th I'll be playing at the Lily Pad in Inman Square with Bruno Raberg and Garuda, a group consisting of Violin, Saxophone, Upright bass, and 3 percussionists playing a mix of Traditional Indian Music and other improvisations.
Friday night will be a very special evening. I have been collaborating with installation artist Christina Watka, writing microtonal music inspired by her large-scale installations (one using 2000 leaves dipped in paint!). See the itinerary section for more info.
Saturday night is in yet another direction with a very special performance of The Cheeks. The Massasoit Elks Lodge is putting on a wild masquerade night, full of costumes, Motown and soul. Again, see the itinerary for more info. It should start around 10:00 and last until the wee hours of the morning.
08.31.11 | New Album by Yumi Sugimoto
An recent recording I did with Yumi Sugimoto will soon be released. Yumi is an incredible composer and the musicians on this session were incredible. Here is a short clip from her record "Neo Japanesque Gallery", featuring Jun Young Song on Drums, Alan Benzie on Piano, Yoshiki Yamada on Bass, and myself on tenor saxophone.
08.05.11 | 12345 and Shakespeare
This evening is a special performance with one of the projects I care most about: 12345. We will be playing a pre-play concert at The Boston Common. This is part of a N.E.C.-Commonwealth Shakespear Company concert series that begins with us tonight! It is all part of the free Shakespear in The Common performances that will be happening for the next few weeks. Stay after we play and watch All's Well That Ends Well.
6:30 PM at The Boston Common
06.13.11 | 667%
Some recent observations:
-David Binney writes an incredible amount of music.
-The Italian tenor saxophonists I know are hilarious and genuinely kind.
-I have trouble stomaching some of Ira Gitler's liner notes of classic albums.
-21st century recording technology is similar to HD and Bluray movies; sometimes we see and hear too much.
Earlier this week I came across an ad for a " jazz software program" on a particularly popular music website. In it, it claimed to increase your learning and ability by 667% on average. What does that mean? What scale are they using? How much is 100%? How much is 50%? The world of jazz marketing is indeed a very strange place. I see products like this wherever I look, and I can't help but liken them to all of the "6-minute 6-pack" promises and "2-minute a day workout" DVDs.
06.10.11 | The Cheeks
Dancing to music and making music while dancing is somewhat of a rarity. It's great to be playing in a group that holds those values highest. This Saturday night we will be playing a special show. Picture this:
A street just a block away from Central Square in Cambridge, a lively spot even on most nights and this is a Saturday. This street darkens slightly and it seems you've made a wrong turn. The thumping of a certain A. Santiago on his low frequency fortress guides you to a certain Elks Lodge. All is dark except a small pathway leading to a secretive back entrance lit by a single 60-watt and manned by a single character. Inside you find a large space preserved since its manifestation in '68. There is little to be made out behind the mass of smartly dressed dancing individuals except three things: The bar (serving the cheapest drinks I know of, an Elks head, and just below the animal's antlers 5 dapper young men and their raucous female counterpart.
Like a transport to the 60's Motown R&B world we miss, the group will be playing into the late hours this Saturday (June 11th), starting around 9:30 with a $5 cover (very 60's...) and the best drinks at the best prices made my some of our favorite people. It's all here, this Saturday at 9:30:
55 Bishop Richard Allen Dr · Cambridge, MA
04.22.11 | Carla Bley and Steve Swallow
Last night I had the privilege of performing a concert of Carla Bley's big band music with the NEC Jazz Orchestra and Carla herself playing piano and Steve Swallow playing bass. The affection that they show for one another and their music is infectious and I am very honored to have been able to play with them. Steve is a true Jazz artist in the truest sense of the term; he has a sound completely his own. He has made every aspect of his music making into a very personal endeavor. His solos are pure melody and the tone he plucks from the bass guitar is completely his own. Like Thelonious Monk, Carla’s compositions and soloistic playing are almost synonymous; when you hear one, you aren’t missing the other as they are completely intertwined. Seeing how happy Carla and Steve were with not only the end product but also the process in which it was realized was something I wont forget.
02.15.11 | Root 70 and what they mean to me
Root 70 and what they mean to me.
Seldom do people discover modern artists that they can take inspiration from on a scale as great as their decided upon idols of the past. Not to say that there is a lack of inspirational modern artists; there is, but to find ones that can so closely fit to an individual's subjective taste is rare. However, what makes the group Root 70 profound in their contribution to music has less to do with their specific aesthetic appeal and more to do with their specific theory, and practice of it; that is, the use of quarter tones in melody and polyphony.
My praise for these musicians is based not on their recognition of microtonality, but of their application of it. Microtonal music is nothing new to modern composition (e.g. Charles Ives back in the 1910's and 20's), and is certainly nothing new to our ears whether we know it or not (Ancient Greek music to American blues to 21st century techno). What is important to me about Root 70 is their unique attempts to deliver these sounds to us in a decided upon format using decided upon techniques (to me they succeed, and I welcome debate about this.) This means that unlike the blues guitarist or Irish whistle player, who constantly makes use of quarter tones with note bends, slides, wide vibrato etc., the members of Root 70 have pre-composed melodies. There is essentially four options to play these, with varying degrees of effectiveness: saxophone alone, trombone alone, sax/trombone unison, and various polyphonic variations. This last option is sometimes the best choice for the more vertical melodies. They are well aware that they can play anything convincingly, no matter how complex, if they simply put it in unison. This immediately reinforces the melody in the listeners ear, and disables him/her from questioning its purpose in the piece (written vs. improvised).
The melodies are delivered via a modern jazz/straight ahead jazz/whatever-"jazz"-means-to-you-now idiom. Again I welcome debate on their intentions for genre, if any, but it is clear that Hayden Chisholm is well studied in jazz history and the language of the instrument (think Art Pepper, Johnny Hodges, maybe Konitz). The same goes for Nils Wogram and the others on their respective instruments (Jack Teagarden…? I guess I'll have to try and ask him.) This is important because what separates their application of these techniques from the 20th century composers and folk musicians. Jazz and similar improvised music is inherently listener-involved music; you need to be listening more intently to a trombone solo than say, a techno break. This is not meant to accept or negate negative biases; it is to describe the activity of the majority of listeners. Charles Ives is also listener-involved, so much so that someone unacquainted with it would find it inaccessible. This is where Root 70 differs, the music is incredibly accessible. We are familiar with walking bass, we are familiar with swing, we are familiar with the instruments. "The masses" are able to enjoy the sounds of Wogram and Chisholm, as they craftily, even sneakily, familiarize us with this new application for microtonality.
If you forget everything written until now about Nils Wogram and Root 70, it won't matter; this is moving, energetic, fun music played by incredibly skilled instrumentalists and composers. Go listen to their new album Listen to Your Woman (NWOG 2010).
Root 70 is Hayden Chisholmon Alto Saxophone, Nils Wogram on Trombone, Matt Penman on Bass, andHREF="http://www.myspace.com/jochensucks" target="_blank"> Jochen Rueckert on Drums.
12.08.10 | Two upcoming performances
Tonight December 8th, the New England Conservatory Duo's Ensemble will be performing in Pierce Hall . I will be playing duets of Saxophone/Voice and Saxophone/Percussion.
Tomorrow night will be a special performance with Drummer Jun Young Song, Bassist Ehud Ettun and Saxophonist Michael Sachs. We will be playing at Twelve Chairs studio for their holiday opening featuring works by Christina Watka, Kate Castelli and more.
11.10.10 | Last minute advertising
A little late on my part, but tonight at 8 I am playing in what will be a very interesting and exciting concert at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Mostly improvised music will be played for and along with the movie La Rupture (Claude Chabrol). This is just part of a night called Chabrol Noir. More information can be found in the link just below.
10.26.10 | Some press
Here is a link to a great review of The New England Conservatory's Jazz Orchestra Ellington concert we played last Thursday.
Hereis a link to a nice review by The Rochester City Newspaper of Mina Cho's new record.
Updates to the Itinerary section include a few great concerts coming up at Jordan Hall. The Music of Gil Evans from the Jazz Orchestra and Ran Blake's 85th birthday concert are included.
10.25.10 | This Friday and then Halloween with Preyhoven
This Friday night I will be performing with some very very talented musicians at Kingston Station, a great place to eat and be serenaded in downtown boston. We start at 9:00 P.M. and wont be stopping until midnight.
If one should be in Manhattan on Halloween this week, what better a prologue to a night of costumes and candy then coming to seePreyhoven at Miles Cafe?! The ferrey leaves for Preyhoven Island at 7:30, and tickets aboard are only $10 dollars! Hooray! Miles Cafe has great food/drinks too.
10.02.10 | A few days with Dave Holland
Last Thursday night I played in an ensemble at New England Conservatory directed by Dave Holland (he has a great new website). A week of rehearsals for a concert of his music, directed by himself was a truly great thing. I don't think I will ever get tired of his music. I don't think I've ever not loved an album of his, and they all have great cover art.
09.17.10 | Trip Time Sleep Time
After rehearsal with the New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra (doing an Ellington concert, everyone should go), and 5.5 hours on a bus (4 of those hours spent listening to white noise, a new passion of mine), I arrived at Preyhoven headquarters at an undisclosed location of Manhattan.
Tonight we are playing a great concert on the lower east side and if anyone is around, there will be fun times to be had. 5C.
You can find 5C on the corner 5th Ave. and C Ave. (hmm...), or click on the above link for more directions. By subway, take the V or F trains to 1st and Houston for a quick walk to 5th and C.
See you there!
09.01.10 | Mix Time Done Time
First week of my graduate studies at New England Conservatory and the mixing is all done for the Preyhoven recordings. I have put a couple on the Music section of my site and they should also be on the Preyhoven myspace. We are playing in New York Sep. 17th and in Boston Sep. 25th (look in my Itinerary for more info). This means friends from BOTH cities can come here us.
08.18.10 | News on gigs and recordings being done
Preyhoven has finished recording our first of many (hopefully) albums. Final mixing is in the next couple weeks, but I wanted to put together a SHORT but sweet sampler of 4 of the songs to come, one featuring Christina Watka. You can check out the little sampler I put together here.
Also check out my Itinerary for new performances. I will be at Cafe 47 on Mass. Ave. and Marlborough Street for the next few Tuesday nights with Yuto Kanazawa on guitar and Yoshiki Yamada on bass. Plus, Preyhoven is playing in NYC in September, so I will keep updating with more of those performances.
Carl Sagan knows what I mean:
"We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost between two spiral arms in the outskirts of a galaxy which is a member of a sparse cluster of galaxies, tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people."
Right on Sagan.
08.06.10 | August 6th
NPR has a program once a month called "Live at The Village Vanguard" hosted by WGBO's Josh Jackson. I tuned in this week to hear great teacher/friend Greg Osby perform with his quintet. I also began listening through the archives of the show, which includes some favorites of mine like Fred Hersch, Paul Motian and a lot of others.
One performance that I loved was by tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry and the great quintet he put together which included Andrew D'Angelo on Alto Sax, Duance Eubanks on Trumpet, Ben Street on Bass and Paul Motian on Drums (he seems to be there a lot doesn't he?). It's a wonder to me why more people aren't talking about Bill McHenry. I found his playing incredibly refreshing and thoughtful. I don't think I heard one "lick" in his soloing.
It could be like Greg Osby said in his interview for his set on NPR when he mentioned jazz having a "top ten" attitude these days. That the same handful of people are circulated around all the major jazz festivals/clubs/magazines/reviews/etc. and that sometimes, only sometimes, when a club or event has some extra cash, they'll "throw a bone" to one of the "unusual suspects" as I'm calling them. It's a strange thing that we keep such a small wheel of jazz artists revolving through our news/thoughts, only picking up lesser-known (but equally profound) artists when the wheel happens to roll over and squash them.
This could just be me thinking in this way, but I'd venture to say that Osby and and a solid handful of others who are putting in the effort to expand the wheel would agree.
Anyway,here is a video I made. Maybe Blind Willie Johnson is the only one who has our answers.
You can hear Bill McHenry's Village Vanguard Set here
You can visit Greg Osby's record label here
08.04.10 | Electronic Cigarettes, "Girls In Airports", and The Paul Motian Trio
Instead of keeping all of my latest music findings to myself, I will try to be better about sharing them my fellow humans. And dogs.
After perusing through the Album Reviews section of a popular jazz news site (which always ends with me giving up on the reviewer and just going straight to the artists/bands website; it's always better to make your own reviews), I came across a group called Girls In Airports who caught my ear. I wont say too much more about them so as to not cause any premature biases against their sound. They are from Denmark, xenophobics have been warned. "Ferry For Sale" is particularly nice.
On a stranger note, while listening to obscure 80's jazz albums on a very popular not to be named music website (a shark is involved), an advertisement for these forced its way into my line of sight. I'm not sure if this is a joke or not. I'm not sure if people around the world are actually using these. In fact I don't think I'm sure of anything anymore after reading about this new invention. Is anything real?
Maybe Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell have the answer.
08.01.10 | August 1st News
First, a very happy birthday to friend and fellow musician Buddy Jones who I can still be heard with (here come the shameless shameless self-promotion...) every Friday night at The Terrace Bar downtown.
I have also been hard at work with Preyhoven in anticipation of our upcoming album recording. Included in my definition of "hard at work" besides actual rehearsing is time spent sufficiently annoying the other members to the brink of insanity with over-caffeinated spurts of headstands, running in chromatic circles and T-Rex demonstrations. These are things that I believe will benefit any recording artist. A book on these techniques and a book-signing/demonstration tours at airport hotel conference rooms are upcoming.
Currently listening to:
Songs We Know by Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch. Some of the most beautiful music I have heard in a very very long time. I have always loved both of these musicians in other albums; Bill Frisell's work with The Paul Motion Trio and Fred Hersch's "Trio + 2" music. Now they are together and I am happy. If only people tried to treat standards more like this in "jam" sessions.
Bill Frisell's site is here
Fred Hersch's site is here
07.29.10 | A Video. A poem or two.
A new video of Michael Kihn from Preyhoven is now in my video section.
A couple of poems by Matsuo Basho . Thought of these after a conversation on the benefits and consequences of changing the "musical weather" of a song.
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps' nest."
"Winter downpour -
even the monkey
needs a raincoat. "
07.28.10 | July 27
In an effort to collect my thoughts and to make them more available to those who will read them, I am going to start treating this news section as a blog of not only my news but words on music, places, things, stuff, other places, people, and more stuff and things. I guess like a blog. I'm getting good at HTML, now you can click on the underlined words to the linked sites/files/audio.
Preyhoven is at work in preparation for studio time happening here in Boston in the next couple of weeks. I am making candid videos of the ambiance of those rehearsals, often times much to the aggravation of Mr. Merriam and Mr. Kihn.
Mr. Chad Gray's senior recital went off superbly today. I'd like to think that he is the only person that can write truly good music for 2 alto saxophones and rhythm section. Michael Thomas was my counterpart and partner in alto saxophone crime. Click his name and check him out. Look no further for someone who truly knows his instrument.
9:30 P.M. Thursday will be the Mina Cho Latin Quintet at The Fireplace in Brookline. Firelatinjazzsaxplaceguitardrumhotflutesax will be heard. Also Mr. Merriam.
07.09.10 | Preyhoven in CT and NY
Keep a look out for Preyhoven playing in Connecticut and New York City this summer. Hooray!
06.17.10 | New Group!
Check out a new trio group composed of myself, Nick Merriam on Bass and Michael Kihn on Drums.
We will be playing a few times this summer so check back for an updated itinerary soon!
04.24.10 | New Music Up!
I just uploaded a handful of songs from the very recent live recording of my senior recital at Berklee College of Music. Recorded April 13th, they feature Jun Young Song on Drums, Nick Merriam on Bass and myself on Alto Saxophone. They are in the "Music" section of the site. Enjoy!
04.21.10 | Mina Cho's New CD!
Some Exciting News:
Earlier this year I recorded on an album by pianist Mina Cho entitled "Originality" which is now about to be released. Hooray! It is a mix of latin/classical original music and it is already receiving great reviews. Check out the dates on Mina's site to see when/where the group will be having CD release performances. Right now they will all be around Boston, but Korea is on the horizon too!
03.14.10 | New CD from Brice Winston
A very good friend and teacher of mine has just released a new CD! Brice Winston is a Tucson native like myself but for 16 years lived and played in New Orleans. You may have seen him with Terence Blanchards group, which Brice has been a member of for many years.
The CD is fantastic. It features Derrick Hodge, Aaron Parks and Kendrick Scott. Head to Brice's website and check him out!
03.07.10 | Råberg Session
Just got done with a great session recording a new work for Nonet by Bruno Råberg. The music was great, the band was great. It featured Phil Grenadier and Kyle Nasser, tremendous players. Hopefully the Nonet will make an appearance soon!
Check out Bruno's music: www.brunoraberg.com
02.18.10 | The Alchemist Lounge
Please come to The Alchemist Lounge this Sunday night at 10 P.M. to hear a great new quartet consisting of Jeff Galindo, Myself, Tim Norton and Roberto Giaquinto. The Alchemist Lounge is located on the corner of Center and Moraine Streets in Jamaica Plain.
01.11.10 | Arthur Vint
Check out my very very very good friend Arthur Vint's NEW website!
10.30.09 | New Recordings!
I put up FOUR new recordings that I did in the studio earlier this month!
They are with:
Jun Young Song-Drums
09.08.09 | New Tracks!
I've uploaded a couple live recordings of some really nice music I got to play with some great musicians and even better friends when I was back home in Tucson.
They are with Matt Mitchell on 7-String Guitar, Mike Moynihan on Tenor Saxophone, and Arthur Vint on Drums.
08.20.09 | Tucson Time
I'm back in the motherland (Tucson, AZ) for a couple weeks and will update my itinerary soon with some dates I'll be playing here. Most (I hope) with longtime friend and drummer extraordinaire Arthur Vint.
08.07.09 | Currently Listening To:
-My good friend and drummer pal Pat Kunka just released his CD entitled The Edge and it sounds out of control good. Many high energy tunes to be heard.
Check out patrickkunka.com and take a listen.
Bryan Sutton, Not Too Far From the Tree
Bill Frisell, The Willies
Stan Getz/Oscar Peterson
12.06.08 | New Songs
I put up a couple of my new tunes from a recent session, thanks for listening.
Please keep checking the itinerary section for my upcoming performances, including a new performance art group I'm with which combines music and free improvisation with other creative art forms such as dance, poetry, painting, and architecture. Our upcoming concert "Backyard Imagination" is coming up on Dec. 12th.
07.19.08 | Welcome!
Welcome to my brand new official site! I will be slowly but surely updating everything, especially the itinerary section, so please check back frequently for new stuff!