An On Going Blog
Welcome to my new site!!
NEW STUFF!! SEE BELOW.....
Tom Kubis has charts available for sale from my CD "Everything's Gonna Be Great"
Go here to purchase
Check this link out.... https://jazzbakery.org/photos/sets/72157686079973366
Practice Scales With a Metronome!!
Heading to Wisconsin Nov 11th for a concert and masterclasses at the KUSD Jazz Festival Check my events page for more info.
Yamaha YSS-62 Soprano Sax Selmer S80 HR Mouthpiece Vandoren Traditional Reeds
Selmer Mark VI Alto Sax Meyer Bros MP with Vandoren Traditional Reeds
Selmer Mark VI Tenor Sax Otto Link MP with Vandoren V16 Reeds
Selmer Mark VI Baritone Sax Berg Larsen NR MP with Vandoren Traditional Reeds
Buffet Clarinets Eflat, Bflat and Bass
Powell and Avanti C Flutes
Jupiter DeMedici Alto and Bass Flutes
Assorted Penny Whistles, Recorders, Ocarinas and Ethnic Flutes
There is a lot more than just playing your horn.
The following are some things to keep in mind in the music business:
SHOW UP ON TIME
ALWAYS BE HAPPY TO BE THERE
THAT FIRST IMPRESSION CAN MAKE OR BREAK
AS A PLAYER, MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE FOR ANYTHING
BE PROMPT IN RETURNING PHONE CALLS
KEEP THE ATTITUDE IN CHECK
WHAT YOU DO CAN HAVE AN AFFECT ON THE WHOLE SECTION AND THE WHOLE BAND
THE LEADER (contractor, musical director, band leader, producer, etc.) IS NOT INTERESTED IN WHO TICKED YOU OFF THAT DAY. ALL THEY WANT IS A GOOD PERFORMANCE.
COUNT THE RESTS
You see an 8 bar rest? You think you can hear an 8 bar phrase? When sight reading, count it!! Listen for the phrase making sure it doesn't have an odd phrase in the middle (i.e. 2 1/2 bars and 5 1/2 bars). It might be confusing and then you end up coming in wrong. Embarrassing???
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS GO BACK TO THE WOODSHED!
Ok so you got a gig! You're playing some show or in some band playing in a club for a week, 3 weeks, 2 months. You figure you have a chance to relax and make a little $$. During the day, you don't do anything. "Oh, I don't need to take my lessons or go play in that rehearsal band cuz I'm kinda busy now." or, "Boy I'm tired. I played til late last night and I don't even want to look at my horn." It's good to maybe take a day of rest but don't make this a habit.
ALWAYS KEEP PRACTICING! Warm up routines are of the utmost importance.
Scales, etudes, play along CD's, whatever you normally practice. Go play in that rehearsal band. Woodwind players, play through those reeds and find a good one.
IT IS A GIVEN FACT YOU CAN PLAY YOUR INSTRUMENT. TRY TO AVOID PRACTICING (noodling) ON THE GIG.
WHEN YOU DO PRACTICE, USE A TUNER AND A METRONOME IN PART OF YOUR SESSION.
GET YOURSELF OUT OF REHEARSAL MODE AND INTO PERFORMANCE MODE
I can recall playing through 12 -15 pieces of music a semester in college. Now it can be 12 - 15 pieces a day. I found out that I needed to get into a performance mode quickly. This meant sight reading skills, awareness, ensemble practice, phrasing, styles, etc. All of this has to be addressed right away. This sounds like much preparation but remember it's all about performing not rehearsing. Even during rehearsal try to make music each time.
DID I METNTION TO BE PATIENT?
FOR SIGHT READING , LEARN ALL SCALES AND ARPEGGIOS TO DEVELOP KEY CENTERS. COUNT THE RESTS. LISTEN TO CHORDS ON A PIANO. THE MORE THE BETTER. Learn what a 4, 8, 12 or 16 bar phrase feels like
GET TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS AND COLEAGUES AND PLAY. DUETS, TRIOS, ANY COMBINATION. A GOOD PRACTICE IS TO PLAY DUETS USING A METRONOME.
TRADE FOURS, CHORUSES
BE AWARE OF EVERYTHING AROUND YOU
Practice this when sight reading. This is something that is often overlooked when performers are too busy with their own thing and don't pay attention to what is going on in the rest of the ensemble. Try to pick out another instrument and see if the part you have matches theirs.
Use your ear to hear where you are in relationship to everything else. This seems easy, but always keep it in use. Not just with like instruments, but with all the instruments or vocals in the group. Try to create a sense of cooperation even if you have never met the person next to you. This probably means stepping up your performance level (I know I already talked about this). Seeing something for the first time and reacting accordingly!!
One of the greatest challenges I've had in teaching students jazz improvisation and interpretation is getting the melodic lines they play to feel good and sound authentic. Put another way, get them to "swing". Swinging is the central element to almost every great jazz musician's conception.
The first and most important thing a student must does to develop a good swing feel is to listen and copy the feeling that great jazz musicians get on recordings. Getting that feel on a wind instrument involves not only where the notes are placed in the beat, but also the way the notes are phrased and articulated in combination with the shape and timing of a particular line. I've heard many students play a Charlie Parker solo they've learned from the Omni book and sound nothing like Charlie Parker because of the way they phrased it. On the other hand, I've heard students who have sounded much more like Charlie Parker because of their conception of phrasing, even though they may have played some wrong notes.
TRY TO BE EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE
Sometimes people don't really know what they want musically. If there seems to be communication gap, get the job done diplomatically .
Reputation is what people think of you. Character is what you think of you. Try to keep what you think of you and people think of you in line. Don't be surprised if what you perceive as right is different to other people. This sounds obvious but many people overlook it
Throughout the year it is a pleasure for me to travel to schools, colleges or universities and conduct clinics. One of the things I talk about is how to quickly go from rehearsal to performance mode. An easily overlooked concept, one of the ways to get from one to the other is to immediately find your mistakes and work through them. What did you do wrong? How can you quickly fix it? Hearing the difference. I have a set of guidelines I use in my own playing and teaching that get people from rehearsing to performing quickly.
My clinics can be divided into many categories: Woodwind Playing, Sight Reading Techniques, Jazz Studies, Ensemble Techniques and Concepts, Developing Practice Routines, and how everything ties together. My experience involves working with everything from a small group, chamber ensemble to an orchestra, concert band, woodwind ensemble and sax section. Please contact me for more info.
Remember, anytime you hear of a professional musician conducting a clinic, try to attend. You never know what things you might pick up. Sometimes it's great to hear ideas and thoughts from someone other than your teacher or band director.
"Doublers" take notice!
Try to rid yourselves of that title...DOUBLER. “Oh you pretty good for a doubler” (I hate that).
The goal is to become and to be recognized as a great saxophone player, flute player, clarinet player, oboe, piccolo, bassoon, or whatever it is you want to play. YOU CAN DO IT!
Here are some ideas to get on track:
Flute: Long tones (you’re going to hear a lot about these) from middle B on down
and then up as high as you can go. Take your time. Practice Scales Long Tones and Arpeggios using a Metronome.
Suggested practice books:
P.Taffanel and Ph.Gaubert ---- Grands Exercises Journaliers de Mecanisme pour Flute
Trevor Wye ---- Practice Books for the Flute
Marcel Moyse---- Of the Sonoroussness Art and Technique
Thomas Filas---- Leger Domain High Note Studies (Open your eyes to the high note world)
From Warner Brothers Publications, the Young Artist Series has some books by flutist Jim Walker. 4 volumes in all these give beneficial insight on Flute performance with a play-along CD.
Summit Records has a series of Orchestral Excerpts. The flute collection is performed and narrated by Jeanne Baxtresser of the New York Philharmonic. Another great way to learn repertoire.
And yes if you play the flute, practice the piccolo (if you can get a hold of one). Mostly scales and arpeggios. Pay attention to connecting notes and phrases. One hint is to practice softly.
Clarinet: Long Tones (tough it out) extremely important for developing control, pitch and phrasing. Hard work and worth every measure.
Scales and Arpeggios using a metronome.
Suggested practice books:
Carl Baermann 3rd division
Summit Records has a series of Orchestral Excerpts. The clarinet collection is performed and narrated by Larry Combs of the Chicago Symphony. This is a great way to learn repertoire.
Eddie Daniels has just released a solo transcription through Warner Brothers Publications. It is a wonderful study of his music.
Saxophone: Pretty much anything you can get your hands on. From classical etudes and duets all the way to solo jazz transcriptions (even your own) of all the greats. Remember to play your scales and arpeggios with a metronome as this is important for saxophone and jazz Improvisation. A good idea is to make them up rather than read them out of a book. This starts to develop ear training. If a student has to read them out of a book, memorize them. The metronome will help with your inner rhythm (try it with beats on 2 and 4). Your melodies should make musical sense. Students will then start to develop musical ideas and the proper way to execute them. Try doing it with a sense of swing as well.
In jazz, I'm sure you've noticed that when practicing an exercise, there is a tendency for the ideas you're working on to take on a life of their own. They branch off into directions that were not originally intended. Do not resist this tendency. Let it lead you wherever it goes. This exploratory work will take you into surprising areas of self discovery. At a later time you can always come back to the original idea you were working on. Practicing then becomes more of a creative than mechanical process.
Suggested practice books:
W.Ferling ---Famous Studies. These were originally written as oboe studies and work well for saxophone
My good friend and colleague, Eric Marienthal has a great book out entitled, Comprehensive Jazz Studies and Exercises.
Link to his site from mine to look for it. Try the finger busters on page 182.
When sight reading in an ensemble, remember your basic skills. Things like rushing rhythms, playing incomplete phrases, not listening to others in the band can ruin a 1st impression. You may lose that chair you've wanted or that audition. Keep all this stuff in your head while you're playing. Don't forget all the things you learned in those hours of study.
Improvisation: As far as jazz, WOW, it's a lifetime of study and enjoyment.
3 basics steps are PLAYING (alot) LISTENING (alot) and TRANSCRIBING (some). Play every chance you get. Find a one, two, ten or fifteen people and play with them. Play along with the TV, radio, anything you can find. Listen to every kind of music you can. Live and on CD or tape or vinyl, anything. Once you find a performance you like, absorb it. Play along with it. The play along CD's are great and so is just listening and playing along with everything else on CD. You then start to develop your own language, your own style and no it isn't copying or emulating.
There is no limit to this language.
Transcribing is great for technique and ear training. Try playing the solo along with the artist and cop that person's attitude. After the transcription is on paper, it's a good idea to take some of the phrases and write out different variations. The study of theory, harmony and chord/scale relationships for jazz improvisation is something that often isn't stressed in music courses.
In my clinics, I get more into the attitude of the musician. Also the roles every player has group playing.
Transposition is also important. Not just knowing your instrument but also how it relates to all others. There are many times in a working environment where I am given notes in concert key or asked to sight read something in another key and immediately transpose to whatever instrument I happen to have in my hand. For some reason, I started doing this in college using fake books written in C. I didn't know it at the time but it is something I now view as priceless.
I'm about to contradict what I said a couple of paragraphs ago: I just said the following..........."Keep all this stuff in your head while you're playing. Don't forget all the things you learned in those hours of study"........ Well....sometimes when you're on the bandstand and it's your time for a solo, the best thing to do is to get everything you've been learning, absorbing, or listening to and simply throw it out the window. Let your instincts take over. Look at that empty canvas and just start to create. You are then free and able to draw from your creative side while reaching to your teachings and study for musical language skills.
Learning tunes is essential for a musician to survive. I recently spoke with an orchestral clarinetist. This person wanted to start playing jazz in performance and inquired as to how to learn. I asked this person how they prepare for an audition. (Orchestral musicians study the art of auditioning as early as grade school) It is essential for a musician who is going into the field of classical music, to learn orchestral excerpts. Learn every piece that is important in the classical clarinet world. So you understand the form, different entrances from other instruments, etc. Playing them as much as you can is important but also listening to other musicians play them is equally as important. You get it inside your mind and soul so that eventually you can perform them at a moments notice.
It is equally essential for a jazz musician to know tunes. Form, structure. It helps improvisation, ear training, technique and eventually, teaching.
Learn tunes. As many possible but for now, how about 2 week? 1 a week? 1 a month? Find them in Real Books, fake books or wherever else you can find them. Trade em, collect em. Whatever way possible. Once you find them play them, improvise over them, find jazz artists who have recorded these tunes and listen how they do it. Bring the tune in and the recording if you can to a lesson and tell the teacher you'd like to learn this. There are many many ways to find the recording (Spotify,iTunes, Amazon emusic,etc...) Learning a tune by way of listening is fun to do. You get to hear what they had in mind and sort of get in their head. When I first gave this assignment to students, I came up with a list of tunes that I knew. This list is still getting longer because there are still tunes I know that I forget to put on the list.
If you’re gonna be a jazz player, you gotta know tunes. When someone asks you to fake “Satin Doll ” on a gig, it’s a good idea to know it. Even if they give you a lead sheet on it. Know what the first note is, where that first note is in the given key or scale, what beat it starts on. What's the form? 32 bars? 34 bars? 12 bars? 16 bars?
You never know they might like your rendition and then hire you over and over again for a lot of money/music making opportunities.
I remember conducting a clinic a couple of years back and while discussing this very topic, someone in the audience said, "The next step from what they tell me is to learn the tune in all 12 keys."
That's fine but wait just a second, let's get into performance just a little.
When it comes to learning tunes, we also have an edge on orchestral musicians, because with many of these tunes there are lyrics. Learning the lyrics to a tune is extremely beneficial when it comes to performance.
Here's an example:
Find a copy of the tune, "There'll Never Be Another You" Play the above melody as written. Go ahead and put in some inflection. But keep to the page.
Now play it with the lyrics in mind:
"There will be many other nights like this,
And I'll be standing here with someone new.
There will be other songs to sing, Another fall ...another spring. .. But there will never be another you.
There will be other lips that I may kiss,
But they won't thrill me, like yours used to do.
Yes, I may dream a million dreams, But how can they come true,
If there will never, ever be. .. Another you?"
These lyrics should outline the melody you are playing on your horn.
Sort of changes things around doesn't it? Playing the tune with these lyrics in mind gives you more freedom with the tune which leads to better understanding of the song and better communication with the listener. Try this with contemporary pop tunes. A pop ballad works nicely. Look at the sheet music and check out the lyrics. Combining lyrics with form, chord progression,rhythm and a whole lot of listening to other artists makes for a fine performance.
Another thing to practice is your performance. Does it swing? Are you playing in tune? Reed players, does the reed work? Brass players, chops ok? Does your air go through the phrase?
Playing with time is probably the most important thing. Try recording the melody Acappella and see if you are playing with good time
Ok now go ahead with the 12 keys. Quickly answer yourself these questions: On what note does it start if you were playing it in the key of E?
This exercise will also help in the contemporary pop music culture. FInd a tune that some popular artist sings and try to play it by having the lyrics in your head. Write it out. Take it up to a performance level and then try other keys.
*Chances are that lead sheet is in concert key which could very well lead to our next topic….transposition.
ANY THOUGHTS ON WHAT I JUST SAID??? Email me
Louie Bellson quotes:
I was a proud member of Louie's band on the West Coast and recorded 3 CD's with him. It was an honor. His drums solos were works of art. "Ok fellas, I'll play four bars solo not just time, I'll try to make it different than the last time"
We just finished rehearsing an up tempo tune for a CD and Louie mentions how the rhythm section should just play time when you sightread something and don't put too many things in it until the band is more comfortable with the tune. "I remember one night, I was at Birdland with Duke's small band splitin sets with Bird," I stopped him for a sec, "Louie, I sorry to interrupt but you just told me you split sets with Charlie Parker?" ( I was freakin' out) He says, "yeah it was me, Duke, Juan Tizol, trombone; Willie Smith, alto sax; Jimmy Hamilton, clarinet; andWendell Marshallon bass, June 1951 and Bird would play with this trio but he didn't like it. He would play one tune with them, then leave and come back and sit in with us. So on a break, we were at the bar and I asked him, 'Hey Bird, how come you don't want to play with your trio?' He told me, ' Lou, it's hard to find one with those guys. And if you can't find one, you sure as hell ain't gonna find 2, 3, and 4 after that.'"
We were playing a jazz festival in Oregon and I said, Lou this place has alot of italian food. I smell alot of garlic, you like garlic, Louie? " Louie says, "Do I like garlic? Sal, it's coming out of my ears!!"
I miss him.
We've just started a new show here in LA which will go to Broadway, "Minsky's" The woodwinds are Jeff Driskill, Jay Mason Bob Carr and myself and we have alot to play. All of the music was newly written so we were sightreading all of it instead of the usual case where they send you the music ahead of time to look at it because there isn't alot of time to rehearse. This case there was ample rehearsal time. Still the people who write, arrange and orchestrate the music have been living with it for a while and they have an idea in their head as to what it should sound like. That leaves us to be the mind readers with the job of trying to get the style down as quickly as possible, let alone the notes and rhythms. What performers need to do is to adapt as quickly as they can to different styles and settings. What does this mean??? DO YOUR HOMEWORK!! Listen and absorb as many styles as you can. This show happens to be based in the 1930's and the saxes and clarinets were played a certain way in jazz. Fast vibrato, more articulated rhythms. You think you want to be the next Cannonball, Coltrane, Pepper Adams, etc. Make sure you can also maybe earn a little bit of money while you are pursing that. There is NOTHING wrong with pursuing your dreams. There is also nothing wrong with getting and keeping a gig.
So the new Phat Band CD is in stores on 10/2 and it's a good one. 3 Grammy Nominations for this one. I'm very proud to be part of it.
I am also honored to be a part of the latest project by Natalie Cole. Her latest CD "Still Unforgettable" is a labor of love and another 3 time Grammy Nominee.
The arrangements are beautiful. You can check it out at Borders, Amazon or iTunes. Make sure you get the Deluxe Edition
Just finished 2 days of recording for the Emmy Awards. My instruments were Piccolo, Flute, Alto Flute, Clarinet, Soprano Sax, Alto Sax and Tenor Sax. Gene Cipriano played Flute, Alto Flute, Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax, Gary Bias played Tenor Sax, Flute, Alto Flute and Clarinet. Jennifer Hall played Flute, Alto Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax and Bassoon. I forgot to take pictures of the section but you can imagine what that looked like. We played every major TV show theme and a handful of medleys. I played so many different styles of music in 2 days, I couldn't even explain it. A whirlwind of things that just kept coming. Probably 150 cues. If you listen to some of the themes for TV shows, the styles range from Baroque to the theme from SNL (screaming tenor) or soft piccolo and flute to big band alto. The reason I say these things is to stress to everyone to play and practice everything. All styles. Sightread anything you can. If you keep at it, there will be a time where you will need to call upon these experiences. Trust me.
Hope everyone is doing well. I got a few things going right now. Along with the Dancing Show and some other music related activities, there's teaching at Cal State Long Beach and a handful of master classes around so cal.
Looks like the Big Phat Band is going back to Japan to perform for a week at the Blue Note in Tokyo, Japan November '08. Should be a great thing. If you're in the area, stop by.
Fall '07Check out the Jazz Studies Handbook at Cal State University Long Beach. Jeff Jarvis, Director of Jazz Studies has compiled an amazing curriculum that is in full swing which guides students through their “Jazz At The Beach” experience from start to finish. Furthermore, our newly updated jazz curriculum (9 new courses!) is set to go. I am proud to be apart of this experience.
I was at UCLA for an afternoon. The focus of my master class was "Beginning Studies in Jazz Saxophone for Classical Saxophone Players." My good friend Doug Masek asked if I could come down and work with his students so basically what I talked about was the difference between classical and jazz ...which there really isn't one. They both require proper air and timing of the fingers. The style, articulation, embouchure and music concepts are what separates the two but the way you play the sax is basically the same. Thanks to Selmer and Vandoren Reeds for sponsoring the clinic.
Hey there. It's hot outside and I'm indoors just thinking about what to write. We just finished our first ever Big Phat Band Camp on the campus of Cal State Northridge and it was a blast. Probably about 150+ campers of all ages made up of people who wanted to just get together and play. I hope to get hold of some pix of the camp or even video if any attendees have some they can send, please do. The days were full but my favorite part was just hanging out and talking with everyone. They day started with master classes for all instruments of a big band, then rehearsal for 7 performing groups followed by improve classes, jam sessions and an evening concert. The guys in the Phat Band had a blast working, hanging and playing for that week and hope to do it many summers to come.
The rest of the summer is basically just working here and there and practicing.
A while back I played on a remake of a soundtrack for the film "The Cincinnati Kid". The movie feature the acting of Steve Mc Queen and the music of Lalo Schifrin. Lalo decided to remake the soundtrack with sort of a easy listening and jazz vibe put together. When we recorded it in 2002, he group consisted of Chuck Berghofer, Frank Capp, Pete Christlieb, Mitch Holder, Mike Lang, Warren Luening, Andy Martin, Tim May, Tommy Morgan, Jim Self and me. I remember the day before the session, the contractor calling and asking if I had a bass flute and if I could bring it. I said, "sure". I didn't own a bass flute and maybe played one 3 times before. I borrowed one and practiced the living daylights out of it. Recently,I just heard it for the first time and forgot how terrifying it was even though it sounds easy.
You can check out part of it at Amazon. The tune is called "The Man"
Got a couple of solo concerts coming up at 2 school jazz festivals. Go to my events page for more info
While in college in the early 80's I first heard of Michael Brecker. I couldn't believe my ears. His fire and energy was contagious and intoxicating. Probably the first album I had was "Back to Back" Followed immediately by East River, Heavy Metal Bebop, Straphangin... Oh my god I couldn't' get enough of this guy. Playing with groups like Dreams and with Sly Stone in his early 20's. Here's a clip on You Tube.com where he's sitting in with the Letterman Band at a jazz festival in Jacksonville Florida. Remember it's just the blues.
I heard him play live a number of times here in Los Angeles, clubs, big venues, the Hollywood Bowl. Never met but I understand he was sweetheart.
I took the family on vacation to New York. While the wife and kids were out seeing the Rockettes and Radio City, I thought I would head out to jazz clubs and see what was up. To my disappointment and delight 3 clubs were sold out! I couldn't get in. Jazz was alive and well that Friday evening in the Apple.
Happy New Year!
After a week of vacation it's back to work. Have you been watching TV on Tuesday and Wednesday nights? All of a sudden the director of "Dancing With the Stars" decided to change camera angles this season and yours truly is in the shot behind the host Tom Bergeron. I'll be right back after I do my hair.
Sort of busy right now with a few different things going on. Commander in Chief just started up again. The music is alot of fun to play and the orchestra is great. I also was asked to play solo tenor and soprano saxophone withthe Riverside Philharmonic on Ravel's Bolero. The Phat Band has a concert at the Jazz Bakery on the 16th of Jan and we hope to pack the place. Along with some other recording projects things are rolling along.
But enough about me. What about you? Anyone out there have any thing to talk about or questions please email me. Does this stuff make sense? What about the more educational material? Does anyone have thoughts on what I say or what I can say better?
November and December 2005
I started playing for the TV show "Commander in Chief" with my good friend Larry Groupe. He composed music for "Man About Town" and "Life of the Married Man". We have a pretty good sized orchestra and the show seems to be a success. There are 2 woodwind chairs played by Phil Feather and myself. The instruments played vary from Clarinet to Alto and Bass Flute with Phil playing among other horns, Oboe/English Horn. More live music!!!
Gotta love these "pre Broadway" shows at the Ahmanson Theatre. These are musicals that have enough investment to go to Broadway so they have nice big orchestras to have a big impact and the current entry, "The Drowsy Chaperone" is there with hopes of getting a nice long Broadway run. Hopefully there's more of these.
A bunch of us went into Capitol Records Recording Studio to record a few songs for a motion picture coming out next year on the life of Robert F. Kennedy. It turns out we're backing Demi Moore who was going to sing a torch song originally made famous by Julie London. It was great to hear Ms. Moore talk about what she wanted to hear from the band (about 18 of us) with great passion for the music.
September and October 2005
Hong Kong with the Phat Band. What a gorgeous city. At night the streets are filled with people having a great time. We were able to go into the city and hang out at night. We played for the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland and someone in the band thought it was odd to fly 6500 miles just to sit in front of the castle at Disneyland (many of us used to do that alot in CA).
The Phat Band played at El Dorado High School in so cal and it was one of the rowdiest audiences we've ever had. The place was sold out and we had a good time. I'd sure like to hear a recording if anyone has one.
Got to be involved in many great musical endeavors, met alot of great people and traveled a bit. After traveling to Orlando to work with Walt Disney World Collegiate All Stars in was on to Brooklyn NY to start recording with a trio in hopes of creating a CD. We recorded a handful of tunes including an original of mine. I hope to get this all on CD along with more West Coast performances and have something available in a year or so. In the meantime, I want to tell you that it was an honor to work with New York musicians: Bruce Saunders on guitar, Tom Patricka on bass and my good friend Eric Halvorson on drums. Thanks guys. I had a blast. It was a great experience hangin out in Brooklyn and playin.
I just started teaching at my old Alma Mater,Cal State Long Beach. a few private students and I love it. The energy of the department feels great. I was very pleased to meet Jeff Jarvis, the new head of Jazz Studies. He is truly and great addition to CSULB and the students seem excited to play and teach music. More later.
I will be performing as a guest soloist with the Esperanza High School Orchestra (my daughter is in the cello section) on November 21st in Yorba Linda, CA. Any locals are more than welcomed to come down and check it out.
July and August 2005
I play in a band led by trumpeter Ray Anthony. We just recorded our yearly record and at age 80 something, Ray is still playing great. We did 2 days of recording and had a great time. I wish this band played more often.
Working with the All American College is always a summer highlight for me. Some of the most talented college and university students from around the country get together and play in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. They don't know what hit them until they're on their way home. I just finished 2 days of concert and clinics here in Anaheim CA and next week it's off to Orlando. I have alot of old friends out there so it'll be great to catch up
I love the energy of playing and working here in Los Angeles. I am very blessed and fortunate to work along side some of the world's greatest musicians whom I also have the pleasure of calling my friends. This is also true whenever I travel to perform. Sure it's alot of hard work keeping up my craft and maintaining this profession and yes, this is fun!!
I want everyone to know that.
There is a certain air of confidence in these musicians that fascinates me. I guess it comes from doing something over and over again and teaching your mind and body how to react to situations.
They say that the a studio musician's world is "90% boredom and 10% sheer terror." This is not just a cute line. It is quite accurate give or take a few percentage points. Those 90% times are when the music given the player is quite simple and offers no demanding challenges. We never get music ahead of time. It is most often written especially for the project. Often a producer makes endless musical changes with the composer and the entire orchestra might just sit waiting the better part of an hour. However while working on "Just Like Heaven" one 50 measure cue took about an hour and 1/2 to perfect and record only to come back the next day and continue to work on it for another 45 minutes. Turns out the director wasn't there to hear it and wanted to be there to give it the final ok. We were constantly performing the same cue over and over again. You never know which one they like so you have to offer up a great performance each time. The 10% sheer terror shows up when you least expect it.
The Phat Band performed at the Playboy Jazz Fest. What a blast! Crowd seemed to enjoy it and the reviews were good.
I've been playing in the house band for a new reality tv show called Dancing With the Stars. All of a sudden, the show is a big hit. We show up at about 2pm on Wednesdays for rehearsal with the dancers for an hour, dress rehearsal for cameras for another hour and then the show airs live to the east coast at 9pm ET. The reed section is Dan Higgins, Joel Peskin, Jennifer Hall and myself and the show is set to go until July 6th on ABC.
The plane reservations are made! I'll be working with the All American College Band Walt Disney World in Orlando as well Disneyland. I hear it's a good couple of bands. There is also a reunion planned for July 9th, 10th and 11th in Anaheim inviting anyone who played in the College Band throughout its 25 year existence.
If you're in Los Angeles the next couple of months, come check out this musical I'm playing called "Play Without Words." The title says it all. This is a jazz quintet performing for dancers with no spoken word. The music is the only thing you hear. The score, written by Terry Davies is really a blast to play and the band sounds great.
I'm leading a quartet at a club called Steamers in Fullerton Ca.
Just a bunch of guys blowing tunes. No cover!!
The trip to Chicago and Milwaukee was a blast. This band travels well and we had great audiences. I also conducted 3 clinics at local high schools and got to hear some great young players. Congratulations go to the students and directors for all the hard work they put in to better themselves in music.
Watch for the web cast archive of the New Trier Concert.
Thanks to all.
The BIg Phat Band is coming to Chicago and Milwaukee to play a few concerts:
Feb. 4 (Milwaukee, WI) concert for Brookfield Central High School
Feb. 5, 2005 New Trier Jazz Festival (Chicago, IL)
Feb. 6 Rolling Meadows High School (Chicago, IL)
Go to the New Trier site or Gordon's Site for more info!
The Big Phat Band played the closing night concert at the IAJE conference. Thanks to all who have written and all the kind words. Hope you enjoyed the concert.
- Happy New Year!! I'll be at the IAJE Convention from the 6th to the 9th. Disneyland's Magic Music Days has asked me to team up with my old school mate Alex Iles and conduct a series of seminars regarding the jazz workshops they do throughout the year. The program takes students and teachers through a recording session gives them insight into what is involved in performing in a recording environment. Look for us at their booth.
I will also be at the Big Phat Band booth as well as performing with the band and clarinetist Eddie Daniels.
November 1st, 2004 - I've been playing a musical in Los Angeles entitled Caroline, or Change. One of the characters is a clarinet player. His musical background is Classical and Klezmer. There are clarinet solos ranging from Klezmer music to Mozart, Rimsky Korsakov, Brahms and others. While I play these solos, the actor on stage (David Costabile) is "playing" the clarinet along with me. He and I got together several times to get our timing and breathing together. My chair involves clarinet, alto sax, flute and bass clarinet. Running till Dec. 26 so If you're in the area come see it.
I also played on the soundtrack for a motion picture entitled, "National Treasure" with a 75 piece orchestra . My chair was Clarinet, Bass Clarinet and Eb Contra Alto Clarinet. Most of the five days of recording were fairly routine. Later in the project, however a cue came up for solo clarinet I noticed some long phrases but nothing technically challenging.
Or was it?
During a 5 measure rest prior the solo, the orchestra diminuendos to just low strings and the clarinet is alone for 3 or 4 slow measures before the high strings accompany. Went fairly well the first time. Great!! Well...keep in mind that motion picture cues are usually played 5 to 8 times over for several reasons: timing with picture, making sure orchestration fits with the mood of the scene, etc. There are usually quite a number of people in the booth listening and giving their opinions (producer, director, composer, orchestrator, assistants, spouses) So this means having to perform the same thing over and over, at performance level each time.
A nice "easy" little solo has now turned into sheer terror because it doesn't look good to lose a take because of a poor performance. . Luckily in the end it was ok. If you see the movie, listen for it. A beautiful score written by Trevor Rabin.
May, 2004- Recently I attended a master class given by Dave Liebman. A master of the saxophone. I am always impressed with his views on improvisation, jazz and practice studies. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak on these subjects, I promise you will come away fully inspired and ready to play.
July, 2004- I was a clinician and guest soloist with The All American College Band at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. What a pleasure it was to play and hangout with this talented group. Thanks to all of you for a great experience!