Friday, 31 December 2010

Hellbent is selected as Best of 2010!

I am so proud to announce my CD Hellbent was chosen as one of the Best Albums of 2010 by All About Jazz NY. Many thanks to Steven Bernstein, Marcus Rojas and Calvin Weston (who recorded it!) for their brilliant contributions to this live album. Also to Andre Henkin and Laurence Donahue-Greene at AAJNY for their tireless support of our music!

In a week or so I'll update you with news and prophesies. Until then...

Happy New Year! 

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Musketer Festival takes me to Copenhagen and beyond...!

Less than a week ago, while trying to organize next years schedule I sent an email to good friend and long time collaborator Kresten Osgood about playing in 2011. His reply came wrapped in an early christmas gift - an invitation to be the guest artist at his celebrated Musketer Festival and the next day I was on a plane bound for beautiful Kobenhaven! OK, a little background on this...I actually subbed for Chicago tenor legend Kidd Jordan who was subbing for another legend. Alas, I ended up being the 'old jazz' guy. Awesome! This is the 5th Edition and to document the massive and intense event was  another New Yorker - Editor of All About Jazz NY - Laurence Donohue-Greene. So now I had a ton of old Danish friends to see and play with and an English speaking buddy to talk about it all with. Everyone in Denmark and most of Scandinavia speak English but in most cases the announcements, lyrics and poetry were in Danish.

On Thursday, December 16 I arrived blurry eyed at Kastrup and was met by the kind and lovely Kaja who got me to the orientation meeting. Two other organizers, Martin and Morten, helped make this happen with Kresten. I'd estimate there were well over 100 musicians involved, representing the heart of the Danish (and international) scene. For three nights Kresten introduced artists that performed in groups, solo, duos, etc and tutti as well. An amazing array of music unfolded.

After a blast from his horn, Musketer founder and host, Kresten Osgood, kicks off the first night. There was an almost giddy feeling in the Huset where the event is appropriately housed. It's hard to describe the unfolding and capture 24hrs of creative music. So, I'll leave that to Laurence. But let me express how welcoming and warm the scene is here. Slightly lost on my way to the venue (jetlag and the snowfall), US born tenor player Ned Ferm found me drifting among the flakes and led me to the stage. Ned is an incredible musician and one of my favorite people. We played together a lot that night, varying from totally free improvised parts to more swinging jam tunes and everything in between. With Ned it's always about the search and surprise and sound. I was back in Copenhagen among friends, old and new! As it was the first night, I let my guard down and drank a lot of Havana Club and I've forgotten a lot of what happened that night. Man, that is some good rum!  Can't get it in America of course as it's Cuban.

My long time partner in Blake Tartare Soren Kjaergaard was around the first night as well and played some beautiful improvisations. Here he is before a version of Blue n' Boogie that featured three generations of tenor saxophonists. That's drummer Anders Provis (he played ghost percussion on Hammond Rens) smiling behind him.

The second night began with a take on Roland Kirk's "Rip, Rig and Panic!", with Kresten's long standing jazz group featuring multi reedist Jesper Loevdal and Thomas Vang on bass. Jesper owns my old Conn 10M which showed up on the very last piece of the festival in the hands of Kresten, who doesn't exactly play tenor but I was happy to see it again and among friends. Loevdal is an incredible tenor player in his own right and another old friend. I sometimes get the feeling he holds on to that old Conn for me because he knows I'd like to have it back again one day. Regardless, he's another reason why CPH rocks the free world. There was also a terrific band called Girls in Airports doing their take on Fela/Ethiopiques. I really enjoyed these guys and I appreciated hearing music that I was immersed in some years ago presented in a fresh light.

Here's a few the blur I recognize tenors Mette Henriette and Francesco Bigoni. Sorry about the quality...iPhone at night and indoors. This night was really incredible and I especially enjoyed hearing an all woman improv choir called Iki. So much music that night and I was not into the rum. But again, we'll let the real writer recap the details.
I'll discuss the more personal aspects of the evening. The first set lasted for over 4 hrs!!! That  night's music lasted until 5am. Oh, there was a brilliant alto saxophonist who is really unique named Jesper Zeuthen. I have to describe his sound and approach as 'cold' but that's not because it doesn't have soul. He is so personal in his vibrato and presentation and it is very Nordic. So in this case by cold I mean something completely different. I believe this is music resulting from the socialist based infrastructure that Denmark provides its citizens. I wish I could put aside the day to day struggle to survive and put in a few years to nurture only creative music. But that is not where I live and even in Canada I wouldn't be able to survive for long doing this. Regardless, just to be part of that environment inspired me to think about things in a different way. The Musketer Festival gives back a lot!

The snow continued to fall on Saturday and it was absolutely gorgeous. I've been in cph many times and in all seasons but this was really special. I got in a visit with Soren Friis who manages Stunt Records and their outlet Jazzcup Cafe. We exchanged some CD's and a very good cup of traditional Danish Spiced Wine. My last night of Musketeering was more relaxed and very enjoyable. There was another three tenor piece - this time with the incredibly strong Swedish legend Thomas Frank and Ned also got in on this. Thank god I wasn't alone up there! I led a fun segue between Stevie Wonder's " Living for the City" and my folk tune "Lonely Cowboy" and another Tartare, Jonas Westergaard made it up for that. More highlights: jumping in on Morten's funk jam, a poet featuring a double tenor exchange between me and Loevdal and the grand finale was a ball! Kresten deserves serious hugs and kisses for making this happen!


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Blake Tartare at Chez Hanny in San Francisco. Frank Hanny hosts a home series highlighting jazz artists from all over the country. We played the Earshot Jazz Festival and Vancouver's Cellar (will never forget that late night Scrabble match!) before arriving in CA. It was a terrific experience and a great reunion. As always pianist Soren Kjaergaard and bassist Jonas Westergaard made me proud. Ben Perowsky sat in for Kresten Osgood behind the drums and made everything sound beautiful. I was a very happy band leader. The band indulged in some great Sushi in Vancouver and we ate well the whole tour.

(photo right) Myself and Frank Hanny at his sunday salon series. Not only does Frank have great taste in music (ahem...) he also has  a terrific collection of pin-up art and vinyl. While talking to Torben Ulrich (who wrote liner notes for my Lucky Thompson tribute album) Frank played a fantastic CD by Jimmy Cleveland featuring Lucky at his best. I was in heaven listening to Torben recollect about Lucky while having my mind blown by Lucky's incredible tenor solo playing out of the stereo. We managed to hit The Mission that evening for a burrito but the best Mex was yet  to come...

The day after this afternoon concert we drove through the Napa Valley on route to Arcata. It was one of the most beautiful drives I've ever taken. We stopped in Ukiah at Los Jalos, a local Taqueria that was amazing. That night we played at the Redwood Jazz Alliance concert for another enthusiastic audience. I finally got some sleep that night. The jetlag from the China trip was brutal and I went 3 days without sleep before my body finally settled down. It was to my benefit that my girlfriend Meredith Walters met us in SF and helped me with the driving. 

Me, Meredith and Ben at Los Jalos

After Arcata the weather turned nasty and we had a very long drive ahead of us at night, in pouring rain, through the redwoods on a twisty turny road. Meredith totally came through and we arrived back in Ukiah safe and sound. But the Taqueria was closed! Just down the road was Be-Bops. Check out the sign (sorry the lights were off but you can still see how gorgeous this diner is). I mean, we're talking Arnold's from Happy Days here. But they were closing and it looked like we were going to hit a Denny's. Soren, however took the initiative to beg the cook to restart the grill and after much pleading, he did! This is what came next: the best milkshakes, burgers, onion rings and fries i've ever eaten. Ukiah may not be the most fashionable town in CA but they got some good eats.

What a spread! Massive pig out at Be Bops. The land of 10,000 calories per meal. A terrific finale to an incredible tour

Thursday, 28 October 2010

China Trip: Epilogue

On our way from Hong Kong to Gangzhou our host Peter Scherr takes over the train.
Teddy Kumpel takes a stance in Shenzen. This town is only about 30 years old and this arts zone in an old industrial park is really lovely. Plus there was a Starbucks within 5mins of our hotel. Perhaps that sounds pathetic but I do go to Italy a lot and as you know the coffee is pretty happening.
Back in Hong Kong, we're recording an album at Peter's house. He's built a fantastic studio there and we're working hard. Well not too hard that we don't enjoy he and his wife Cindy's hospitality. They live in a protected Animal Park strewn with domectic villages. Saw cows and dogs for the most part but today there was a monkey. Reminds me of a story from when I took a masterclass with Miles Davis alumni Dave Liebman. In an edgy and somewhat discouraging manner he told us that, "Even a monkey could learn to play the saxophone." Considering I bit my lip really bad at lunch,  I think this guy might be just the cat..errr candidate for the job.

China Trip 3

Our host Steven in Qing Dao. He is managing the coolest venue in China and has been an expat for more than 20 years. Hey, just like me except I can't speak Mandarin and I have developed this odd habit of adding 'W's' to my vowels. My brother has posted some video from our show which leads you to the venue Creative 100, the accompanying arts magazine Red Star 401 and the Tectonic Quartet!
Steven and his friend Wendy took us for a walk through the old Germantown. Qing Dao or Tsing Tao (a familiar name to all you beer drinkers) got handed over to the Japanese during the Treaty of Versailles. There was a student uprising and soon after the chinese reclaimed their city.

Along the beach were about a dozen couples getting their wedding photos taken. Check out the boat prop.
Tommy joins a wedding party. Pretty sly dude, so how was the banquet? What kind of beer did they serve. Oh...stupid question.
Now that's a piano! But what the hell is it doing in the domestic departure terminal at the airport? I feel for that pianist, or maybe ti was automated which makes one wonder, who sat in the red chairs?
Changsha has a hip venue called Freedom House which I posted about on FB a few days ago. Here's a shot of the view from nearby our hotel. It was a grim and damp morning. As you can see the buildings are looking pretty shabby and we saw some - only 10 years old - rusting from lack of upkeep. There sure appears to be a lot of veneer along with this economic boom. Like Ikea furniture, it looks good to start but after a while the lack of quality shows through. But I guess even Rockefeller Center would look drab if they didn't spit and polish it.
So while I wandered Changsha in search of coffee I found this sign nestled in the corner of a vast department store. What is jazz to the Chinese and will they embrace it and develop the patience to enjoy it's rewards? I'd say 'YES!' But we are paving the way over here folks. All I can tell you is that the people are friendly and kind, the services functional and the experience was one I'll never forget.
Thank you to everyone for making this tour happen and for supporting us along the way!!!

China Trip 2

A park in Hangzhou. Lots of folks wandering the gardens which were beautiful and a nice break from the urban density we had been exposed to for the previous days.

Then we went to Suzhou and had  a terrific stay which included  a much needed day off. Some of you may know of my debut CD 'Kingdom of Champa' and this kitchen shack reminded me of that trip. Enterprising folk making it happen where ever and when ever they can.

The Bookworm Cafe in Suzhou. Alexis our host manages a terrific space here. Intimate and friendly as it's name implies. After our set we jammed with a local band. Pretty much some of the funniest jazz I've ever heard in my life. It was recorded for posterity and may come to surface someday. Teddy and I ate some killing 'hotpot' and we had a terrific experience here.

An image from the Humble Ambassador Garden in Suzhou. Reminds me of Mac screensaver. Damn you Apple!!!
And another....

...just like Vegas!

China Trip

Here's Tommaso Cappellato and Peter Scherr (w/bass and phone) arriving in Guangzhou. Men were completely fascinated with the dble bass in this flight case. One guy just walked up and picked it up to see how heavy it was. We played a really cafe venue there. But the restaurant was my favorite. Teddy Kumpel got shots of the menu with some of the weirdest formed and unappetizing food I've ever seen. I stuck with the safe stuff, rice, pork and greens. This night I discovered that our audiences would probably sit on their hands. They don't clap for solos but really like it when the drummer plays fast licks. I think if i played with no taste and indifference to my fellow musicians I could have gotten over. It carried on like this until we got to Suzhou where everything changed for the better.
My first cab ride. They weren't as reckless as I expected. And I certainly have been through scarier trips in NYC. It's impossible to buckle up in the back seats. And what's up with the cage? David Wong met us in Guangzhou and was our translator and road manager for the tour. He did a superb job and thanks to Peter brining loads of gear we always had a good sound.
I thought this electrical situation in Shanghai made for a good subject. Tommaso and I found a terrific restaurant there but when i ordered the chicken knots I should have realized I was getting just the joints of the bird. Took me a long time to work through that dish but it was pretty darn good. I found the Shanghai Jazz Festival a disappointment. And the JZ club chain (we played one in Huangzhou, more about that later) didn't seem to nurture the music or support the visiting musicians. Man, am I complaining? Freaking's always something.

One of my favorite signs in Shanghai. It was here I realized that Starbucks was going to be my home away from home.
No doubt my best photo of the tour. These are blades for a giant windmill.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The new band, recent gigs in NYC and teaching at Siena Jazz

It's always a surprise when you think things are going a certain way and then it turns out different from what you expected. I felt like this after my last hit at 55bar. I've been leading a fare amount this year but I haven't felt that I've been presenting my music at its best.  So it was refreshing to play to a packed house with my new band. The audience was riveted throughout the set and gave us a standing ovation afterwards. I love this band! They're tight but not uptight. Loose but not sloppy. We'll be recording our next gig at Cornelia St. Cafe so i hope for a similar crowd that night to cheer us on. 

MB, Landon Knoblock, Greg Ritchie and Michael Bates

I had so many rewarding shows this past week. Last weekend Steven Bernstein had me join his Millennial Territory Orchestra in Nyack. And the next evening Ben Perowsky invited me to play with his Moodswing Orchestra plus rapper TK Wonder at the Tribeca 92St Y. We followed that up opening for Raphael Sadiq at Central Park Summerstage. TK has the youthful optimism and old school charm that I miss in so much hip hop today. She has amazing rhymes and her time is incredible. Ben commented on how her phrasing reminded him of Sonny Rollins.

July 17th  TK Wonder rocks the house at Central Park Summerstage w/ Ben Perowsky's MSO (that's producer Danny Blume on the right. We played in the Lounge Lizards together)

I was sent a link of the Lounge Lizards that are up on youtube. With Bryan Carrott, Oren Bloewdow, Jane Scarpantoni, Steven Bernstein, Calvin Weston, Billy Martin, Miki Navazio and of course John Lurie leading. I think John was proud to get some serious music across while still having a lot of fun.

Next week I start teaching at Siena Jazz where i hope to pass on some of the amazing information I learned during my tenure in the Lizards. I can see the look of bewilderment already when i try to explain to them what 'fake jazz' is!

But first - this thursday - I'm at the Brooklyn Public Library to play some pure swing with guitarist Matt Munisteri. There's a dance instructor included for this so feel free to come down and shake your thang.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Michael Blake Quartet hits 52nd Street (swing street)

Here it is in its heyday. And I'm proud to say I'll be playing there on Tuesday with a sensational rhythm section. I moved to NYC almost 25 years ago and at that time there were a few of the old jazz clubs left. I got  to play at The Village Gate (upstairs and downstairs) and some of the clubs formed in the 70's like Mikells,  Fat Tuesdays and Sweet Basil. Man, there was a great place across from Columbia U - I can't remember the name - with hard bench seating and tight legroom. It was kind of like flying in coach.   Now that I'm teaching kids in their teens and 20's I feel fortunate that i got to spend time in these joints listening to legends. It is a reminder that NYC real estate turns over and over and not much stays around for long. Still, sitting in at the Gate (The New School sparked that sunday jam) and The Jazz Cultural Center gave me a perspective on the scene and what it took to survive here. Most of my generation really miss Bradley's and I remember some fun nights there myself but it did get expensive and I lived uptown. It was a long trip home on the local so I had to choose my nights out with some care. One of the best venues and a reminder of how diverse the booking policies used to be was the Bottom Line. I heard Sonny Rollins there a number of times and played there in 1987 with none other than Doug and the Slugs. Not many probably know who I'm talking about unless you're from Vancouver and remember a  hit they had in 70's. I still got a buzz playing these venues and thought it was the just a matter of time before I got to play in The Village Vanguard.  Well I still haven't ever gotten to play there, but I am going to play on swing street next week. The photo above captures it at it's prime. Man I bet that was an amazing experience, to stroll on one street and hear the greats play. Wait a minute, Bleecker St looked like that last week at the Undead Festival! So, NYC still kicks ass and we'll be doing the same next week at Miles Cafe. It's a new venue and you have to go to the 3rd floor, so it's not at street level. I hear they have a gorgeous steinway (something all you piano players might want  to check out) and a good vibe.
Catch us this Tuesday, June 29 at Miles Cafe  8-11pm
212 E. 52nd St. #3Fl.
New York NY 10022
E/V train to 53rd St./Lexington, 6 train to 51st St.
Call for reservations (212) 371-7657
Michael Blake - saxophones
Landon Knoblock - piano
Michael Bates - bass
Daniel Freedman - drums

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Michael Blake Quartet 'Live at Barbes'

Check this out. Barbes recorded the gig and i didn't even know it. Now everyone can hear our debut gig online! Not the best audio quality but still, pretty cool. Thanks to Marlon Bishop and WNYC for streaming this and writing such kind words about my music

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Peter Scherr, Son of August

Bassist and composer Peter Scherr has just released a CD I played tenor on called Son of August. It also features his brother Tony and Brad Shepik on guitars and Michael Sarin on drums. Pete is a terrific composer and an empathetic and focused bassist. His rock tinged album is contemporary instrumental music at its best. Check it out at CD Baby!

Monday, 24 May 2010

My Birthday

Ever since i was a kid I had a strange relationship with my birthday. Most of the time they went off well but - i think it was my 8th - when there was that defining one where i laughed so hard i barfed all over the table. My brother took the fall but in fact it was our neighbor who laughed with his mouth wide open and with such exuberance that it got me over excited. Paul was singing the theme to a radio ad made big at the time for it's resonance, 'Dick Irwin, what a great great guy!', written about a used car dealer with 'great chevy/olds buys'. Well I didn't hurl at any other bdays but they weren't as much fun as they were supposed to be. My 40th was a highlight - can't believe it was 6 years ago! - when all of my friends came to prospect pk for a picnic. I think we assembled a terrific cross section of friends and family. I had a bday in jamaica where they wrote 'Happy Birthday Elizabeth!' on the cake. She ordered the cake so they must have been really stoned while putting it together. My mom got me a tape recorded one year when i was about 11 and i loved the 'Sound of Music' so i played that a lot. When we saw it in the theater i was mesmerized. I'm not the slightest bit daunted by this or it's resonance in the gay community. It speaks to people. Primarily sappy white people. But there is a new version and I'm part of it, so check this out: Next week we'll be at Joe's Pub to perform Peter Kieswalter's new arrangements of this classic. Rogers and Hammerstein's estate have permitted him to modernize it and it's soulful and strong and refreshing. Come on down June 1 (7:30 and 9:30) to hear the Brooklyn Rundfunk Orchetrata.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Trio Sante at the Bar Next Door

Scott Neumann has organized this reunion of a trio that was formed almost 20 years(!) ago for a 2 week run in Neuchatel, Switzerland. It's really fun to play with these great musicians again. Hear the sound of Scott exclaiming the wonder of Mt Eiger "5000 feet of vertical rock!", feel the french host crush my hand with his iron grip (after a week I got him back) and relish in Ben Allison's realization that he can eat salmon! And oo la la, the ice cream we ate that day by the lake. Such good memories. 

Friday, May 14th Sets at 7pm and 9pm
Trio Sante at Bar Next Door NYC
with Ben Allison- Bass
Scott Neumann- Drums

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Primavera en Siena

After a satisfying tour with Hellbent I arrived in Siena to a chilly town. Only a month before it was sunny and warm. The crappy weather didn't last long though and when the sun came out the light was fantastic. Here's a view of both cathedrals, the tower and the piazza. InJam was fantastic and the faculty, administration and students made for a great hang. Teaching this term was more of a challenge for me. I remember overcoming obstacles when i got seriously into the music and if it wasn't for some ass kicking I'd not have broken free of my bad habits. So, I did some booty thumping of my own. No doubt with the demise of record companies, the challenges of competing in a saturated market and economic uncertainty there's a different challenge ahead for them. But they also have new resources like social networking and digital distribution that opens up new channels. Next week I'm recording with two young lions of the new jazz scene - pianist Giovanni Guidi and trombonist Gianluca Patrella. Also on board are bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver. I'm looking forward to the date and touring with them in 2011.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Howdy Calgary! On to Edmonton

Pretty cool the A&W in this airport has wifi. I just got in a skype with my brother and his family who have arrived safely in london after a long delay caused by the before mentioned volcano. Hooray!
Hellbent made it to Seattle in one piece. Tonight we're at I really love this band and I'm proud of the new release we're pushing out here. See you here or tomorrow in vancouver for the big show at

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Land of the Lost

The comedian George Carlin (perhaps the originator of observational humor) once responded to enviromentalists with a grouchy and cynical but painfully accurate statement that we humans are simply visiting earth and should count ourselves lucky to get to crash on mother earth's sofa. I'm paraphrasing, "the planet can shake us off like a dog shakes off fleas". George, it's a shame in te end you turned into such a dark fellow but you were one smart dude.

My brother and his family came to stay in my place while I was away in early April. After a few days visit together on April 14 they got prepped to come home to London when news of a volcanic ash cloud interrupted their plans. While their 6 yr old daughter was already homesick and her parents eager to be home and back to work, they had to resolve they would have an extended holiday. As it turns out the weather has been beautiful and despite the homesickness we've had a great week. Especially nice for me to get these extra days with my niece.

I feel for my family, friends and colleages whose tours and travel plans led to lost income, cancelled concerts and caused an insurmountable amount of stress. It could have been me! You gotta acknowledge that our planet can kick serious butt. And this is the 'little' volcano.
Hey mighty earth can you chill out now for a bit?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Michael Blake's Hellbent is now available on CD

I'm proud to announce the release of my latest CD Hellbent. The recording captures some of New York City's finest contemporary jazz artists at their very best. Joining me are Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Marcus Rojas (tuba) and G. Calvin Weston (drums). Hear the entire 2007 Vancouver concert and buy the first release on Michael's new 'Label of Love'. Available from Michael's website and soon to be released on CD Baby, iTunes and other digital distributors.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Home is sweet

I'm back in NYC. I'll be setting up a slide show with pictures from Menorca and Italy. I had a wonderful time with old and new friends in Siena. I wanted to post  this picture of myself with the great Marshall Allen who performed at the Calagonone festival in Sardinia last summer. I was there with Ben Allison's Band. Guitarist Steve Cardenas took this photo. We grooved on this rap for days:

"Hit that jive jack.
Put it in your pocket 'til i get back.
Going to outer space as fast as I can.
Ain't got time to shake your hand."

We both enjoyed the music, raps, choreography and the magical experience of the Arkestra. Marshall's calm and strength is so present,  his devotion to music, his timeless surrender and brilliant musicianship was amazing. When the world seems scary (like when hooded worshippers silently march on passover), terrorists plots unravel and all seems too dark to bare, I find solace in these bright moments. Hey, if Marshall can do it...why can't I? So thanks to all for a great week in Europe. Many thanks to Tommasso Cappellato, Ludmilla Faccenda, Jacopo Guidi, SienaJazz, the students and faculty. I love to teach and hear music through the ears of my students when they realize something profound and beautiful and feel the force of nature. Home is where the heart is.

...with Marshall Allen in Sardegna

Saturday, 3 April 2010


I flew into CDG in Paris fully intending to make my transfer in 1 smooth step but as usual the airport through me off balance. I met a friendly jazz singer Deborah Davis - on her way to Bierut - and drank too much wine with dinner but I made it to Barcelona without any problem and then arrived in Menorca completely under slept and groggy. Ah...what a nap i would take here. But first I drank the local gin w tapas and got a taste of the island. Tommy and Co arrived soon after i awoke and we ate more tapas and i came back to my room ready to get some serious sleep, wake early and take advantage of the facilities the hotel offered. And i did. I swam, took a sauna, and steamed myself into a stupor of sorts. By the time we were at sound check I felt I had been on holiday for a week.

We ate at a local restaurant on the upscale side and tried to get back before the processional for Good Friday began. I had seen the rehearsal and it was quite something. At the front are a large line of worshippers, hooded and robed, looking very much like a certain clan in the US. Especially because of the pointy hoods and crosses. Man they looked scary with only the eye sockets cut out of those creepy hoods. The Jesus came next, carried high on the shoulders of the 'pallbearers' (?) and a band played something we recognized from Sketches of Spain. Right then when the entire street was silent and somber as you can imagine the promoter suggested we walk along and then cut through the procession. I immediately refused to do this out of respect to the processional, their silent onlookers and because I was feeling the mood and I wanted to experience it from the same viewpoint as the locals. But I had to go, and that was that, so I scurried along with the mourners and tried not to appear as embarrassed as I felt. Awkward...

We played a nice concert (on Tommaso's Birthday!) for a receptive and friendly crowd of about 200. The band was sounding great in that old room. I'll let you know when the best bits are up on youtube.

All my musician friends should know Veuling Airlines is anti-musician. They restrict carry on for musical instruments to - get this - flute, clarinet, trumpet, violin and viola. It was hairy for a minute because this purser was going to refuse to let me bring my horn on board. Even though it was under the restricted measurements and smaller than most everyone's luggage. The captain finally revealed she was looking for excuses to keep me from bringing my horn because i wasn't polite. Come on, I'm Canadian! I can't not be polite. Thanks to Tommy for keeping his cool as I was getting rather put off with this woman and I felt she was seriously over stepping her authority. I was assertive but I don't think it made any sense so I was dismissive and just took my seat and stored my horn. Was that rude of me? Well they got the last word. As we began our decent, Kenny G blasted out from the speakers.

Hey I'm in Padua now and I must see the Giotto frescoes and tell my son about them. He's an active artist and loves a book about Giotto. And I want to see them for myself! I love visiting Tommy and his girlfriend Emi and we always have a great time. Today was no exception and Emi cooked some serious Pasta Fagioli for dinner. Tomorrow I've been invited to join them with his family for Easter lunch. Mangiamo!

Starting on Wednesday I'm teaching in Siena. It'll be nice to work with the students and hang with my boys Ben Allison and Ben Perowsky who are also on the faculty for InJam in April and May.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Talib Kweli Show got me thinking...

My brooklyn brother threw down big time to a mostly 'geezer' crowd last night at little field. I'm sure he was happy and he was proud to be participating w gil scott heron but i'm sure he's used to a more raucous party response. I thought he was a great host, awesome rapper and his message is positive and speaks to so many of us who are inspired and relieved by Obama's Presidency and angered by the foxpublicans attempts to stop progress. It was also entertaining as hell. The DJ's MC is Preservation and Talib referred to him as Pres which got me thinking about Lester Young. Pres was playing 45's and they were all kick ass tunes. My friend and I also enjoyed Little Field. A great new venue only 10mins walk from my house. They have friendly bartenders that poor generous cocktails. They could use a few couches and a new security cat. When we were leaving he was berating a member of the Black Writers Conference who was an official photographer of the event. I thought the sound was good but Talib was on the sound-mans case for keeping the music too low. And i would agree it wasn't loud enough - even for this old jazzman.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Going to see Gil Scott Heron with Talib Kwali and Gary Bartz at a new venue in brooklyn called
I haven't officially announced the blog so do me the favor of signing up so it looks like i have a few 'followers'.
hee ha!

I have been somewhat destitute financially this month. Man, the entire music community i know has been destitute! It certainly was a crappy winter for work. This is in my opinion (hey this is my blog i can rant as much as i want right?) because of the GOP's effort to banish art and science from the globe if it doesn't line up with their 'ideology' of what America is about. That and 8 years of a maniac unilateral warmonger partisan president who is responsible for screwing up,well, pretty much the world.

So... I'm really looking forward to going to Siena next week. Before that I'm off to Minorca to play with Tommaso Cappellato, Paduan drummer and all around beautiful cat. He'll be part of my group that I'm instructing at Siena Jazz. This will be a great experience and a good opportunity for me to brush up on my italian. I'm pretty bad but to my credit, I'm a lot better than most of the English speaking musicians over there.

I really did run out of bread but I took advantage of the slow period to produce a new CD of my band Hellbent. Recorded live from a concert in Vancouver from a few years ago, it is my first independent release since Blake Tartare in 2004. I have 2 former Lizards on board - Steven Bernstein and Calvin Weston - and tubist Marcus Rojas. My next releases on my brand new label of love - hey that's not a bad name right? - are a reissue of Elevated and the Soundtrack to Vodka Rocks. Director John Rubino made this madcap political action film on his own and I hope he gets it out soon!

Well, it's a start...

I am way slow on this blogging thing. I intend to share my thoughts, anecdotes, post photos and discuss personal and political issues. My Dad had a blog 10 years ago - he was in his late 60's - but then again he was always on top of the net and really into the way folks can connect on the web. As of today I've been trying to figure out the basics in blogger.

Of course will always be available for content and other matters related to my career. I will use this blog to expand on that and have fun.