Clark County Jazz Festival May 3-4, 2012

This upcoming Thursday and Friday, May 3-4, 2012, I’ll be adjudicating at the Clark County District Jazz Festival in Las Vegas, NV.  I’ve already gotten one inquiry about meeting up sometime for an embouchure consultation and will try to schedule some time both evenings if anyone wants to get together for a lesson.  If you’re interested and will be in the area, contact me and we’ll try to figure out a good time to meet up.

Getting (and Keeping) a Gig

Like many musicians, I’m not really all that interested in the business side of music.  I mostly want to create music and prefer to let other people handle the details of booking, managing the budgets, and stuff like that.  Unfortunately, real like doesn’t always let me work this way so I’m constantly trying to learn more about how the business works and improve the way I promote and manage my own music and the groups I work with.

Heather McDonald has written a series of articles dealing with the music business and one of them concerns how to get a gig, and also importantly, how to get asked back.  She lists several important things to keep in mind when you’re promoting your band. Continue reading Getting (and Keeping) a Gig

Appreciating Jazz Part 13 – Free Jazz

Although other jazz musicians had begun experimenting with improvising without preset conditions earlier, by the 1960s a growing community of artists began to perform and record using radically different stylistic rules  Freeing themselves up from preset chord progressions, instrumental roles and other musical elements used in previous jazz styles, musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor became associated with this avant garde style that became known as free jazz.  At the same time, organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Black Artists Group began to sponsor performances and help like-minded musicians form groups to perform this new music.

This podcast covers some of the most influential artists of free jazz.  You can download it in the link below and subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.

On Playing For Free

This weekend I’m out judging the Western North Carolina Region Music Performance Assessment Festival.  While I’m busy listening to high school and middle school jazz bands here’s a quick link to an interesting post written by Oxford based musician and writer Elisabeth Hobbs, called Do You Work For Free?

Hobbs’ inspiration was the suggestion that professional musicians should be willing to perform for free at the upcoming Olympic Games.  She writes:

The Evening Standard started the debate with a leader item suggesting we should be proud to showcase our talents on the world stage. Social media is alight with anger. Perhaps, as one colleague said, we could suggest that the plumbers who will keep the stadium systems operational might be pleased to showcase their own sanitation expertise to the world?

This is, of course, part of a larger problem about performing for free.  On the one hand, as musicians we realize that we need to promote our work to develop a following and this sometimes means performing for less than what we may deserve.  On the other hand, when we play for free we end up shooting ourselves in the foot as club owners and other venues begin to expect this is typical.

You can check out more of what Hobbs has to write about this topic on her blog post.

Attic Turbine Vent By Ana Lopez

My friend Ana Lopez teaches metalsmithing at the University of North Texas.  She is entering her art for the next Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference, which includes a video segment.  One of her pieces is called Attic Turbine.  Since SNAG requires audio to be included with the videos she included an excerpt from an electro-acoustic piece I wrote and recorded to go with it.

Check out more of the SNAG videos here and if you enjoy Ana’s work, please “like” it.

Book Review: Still Playing, My Journey Through Embouchure Surgery and Rehabilitation

Denver Dill has played trumpet with the West Point Band since 2004, a remarkable achievement for musicians under any circumstances.  What makes Dill’s experiences even more noteworthy is that he injured his lip in high school, completed both undergraduate and graduate degrees in trumpet, and successfully auditioned for his spot with the West Point Band – all with a damaged lip.  Eventually his injury began to affect his playing to the point where he could no longer work out his way through his difficulties.   He was diagnosed with a torn orbicularis oris and had surgery to correct it.  He has since made a successful comeback to playing and written a book about his experiences.

Still Playing, My Journey Through Embouchure Surgery and Rehabilitation is self published, but very well produced with color charts and photographs, well laid out, and solidly bound as a paperback.  It’s not a very long book, but since the pages aren’t numbered I can’t say exactly how long it is.  Dill writes about several topics in his book, including his history of how he injured his lip, his surgery, and recovery process.  While there is much in the text that is really superfluous to the topic of embouchure injury and rehabilitation, Dill writes so well that I found myself mostly enjoying reading passages about his personal life.  It’s the discussion about his surgery and recovery process that I was most interested in, of course, and Dill didn’t disappoint there.

One thing that I would like to give Dill credit for is something that I find lacking in a lot of other resources musicians put together concerning injuries and rehabilitation, his medical disclaimer.  Early on in his book Dill writes: Continue reading Book Review: Still Playing, My Journey Through Embouchure Surgery and Rehabilitation

Appreciating Jazz Part 12 – Hard Bop

In this week’s podcast I cover the development and musicians of the hard bop jazz style.  Focusing on musicians like Horace Silver, Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, and Wes Montgomery, this episode discusses how these, and other, musicians reacted to the mellow sounds of cool jazz and developed a more aggressive approach that emphasize darker tone colors and a hard driving groove.

You can listen to this podcast in the embedded player or download it in the link below.  You can also subscribe to my podcasts through iTunes.

Tyson Tunes Up for Middle School Jazz Ensemble

I just completed another big band composition for middle school level.  Since I wrote this one for my friend Tyson Hamrick’s group at Owen Middle School, I called it Tyson Tunes Up.  It’s a rhythm changes chart in the key of F with lots of riffs and a few quotes of other familiar tunes also using rhythm changes.  I wanted to write something that would be a good introduction to these very common jazz changes.  Here’s a MIDI realization of the chart.  See if you can name all of the quotes.

[audio:|titles=Tyson Tunes Up]

Like I did with my last middle school big band chart, Blackhawk Blues, I left the solo section in the MIDI file without a placeholder solo so that students could use it as a practice track.  If you want to download a copy to practice improvising over rhythm changes in F, here’s the file.

Asheville Jazz Orchestra at City of the Arts Jazz Festival and White Horse Black Mountain April 21-22, 2012

I’m going to be busy this weekend with the Asheville Jazz Orchestra.  Tomorrow, April 21, 2012, I’ll be one of the clinicians at the City of the Arts Jazz Festival, held at Reagan High School in Pfafftown, NC.  There are student bands performing throughout the day and the Asheville Jazz Orchestra will play at the featured concert at 6 PM.  Sunday, April 22, 2012, the AJO is back for our monthly show at the White Horse Black Mountain.  The show starts at 7 PM and we’ll play two sets.

Fingering For Brass Players

While trombone is my primary instrument and it’s been a while since I’ve seriously doubled on any other brass, I’ve been thinking lately about fingering issues after doing a “guess the embouchure type” post of trumpet player Giuliano Sommerhalder.  One of the things I noted about the video I used for that post was that Sommerhalder doesn’t place his finger tips on the valves, but instead places the second digit of his fingers over the valves.  Even though this isn’t what is traditionally taught for fingering technique Sommerhalder is obviously not slowed down by this.

Coincidentally, I’ve recently come across a couple of articles online about fingering that comment on these things.  A friend of mine from grad school at Ball State University, Dr. Adam Gaines, wrote a short article for Blessing Brass called There Are Only Three Valves.  In it, Adam notes: Continue reading Fingering For Brass Players