Giving a final exam for my Jazz Theory Class, I realized, while playing “Autumn Leaves” with my student, that it’s really difficult to play and pay attention to someone else playing at the same time. Don’t have time to talk about this right now, but I’ll come back to it. Meanwhile, I’ll ask your advice. How do you play with focus and creativity while still paying attention to the other band members and what they’re playing?
Had a performance with the Oakland Jazz Quartet at the Rochester Hills Public Library. The room was packed at 150 people, which was a surprise to me. As much publicity as we try to do as performers, it was awesome to see so many people interested in the Library’s music series. Seems like Sunday afternoon might be a good time for performances, granted there are no football or baseball games of importance.
The music was fun, and I think it was good pr for the University Jazz Department. Hats off to Mark Stone for the great advertising and fan base he’s built. Can’t wait to do another one like it!
This week I’ve had the pleasure of playing with the Alex Graham Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. This is a unique gig. The DD is a true jazz listening room and fantastic restaurant that hires bands to play from Wednesday though Saturday night. Very few establishments in the world still do this for jazz groups, and I feel very lucky to be able to perform here.
Not to mention that the band is killing. Alex is a talented and smart cat and it’s always been a pleasure playing with him. The pianist in the group is Detroit arranger-extraordinaire Scott Gwinnell. Scott is not only a great arranger, but a wonderful pianist. I always get the feeling that Scott’s comping approach is informed by his compositional mind. The drummers have been different every night, so far, but last night and tonight Nate Winn is joining the group. Nate is one of my favorite drummers to play with, and I think we lock up pretty well. The other drummers, Sean Dobbins and Rob Avsharian, gave the music their own personal touches too. Everyone has been killing so far.
So far, the houses have been packed every night. It’s a very heartening feeling to know that there are jazz fans still willing to spend a little money to hear the music. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been so happy to move to Detroit. In the two years since I’ve been here, I’ve met a lot of great jazz fans who have proven that jazz may not be lucrative, but it is an essential and appreciated art form. I commend Andrew Rothman for founding and sponsoring the Detroit Groove Society, which brings in national artists to perform salon concerts at his house. Yet another special venue dedicated to the preservation of jazz.
I’ve had a busy week of performances, which has made the blog idea easy, but has left little time to actually input the information. Today’s post is brought to you by the letter D for the Dirty Dog.
Marathon concert by the jazz combos and Jazz Singers at Oakland. Everyone played very well, and I give a lot of credit to Sean Dobbins for doing a great job with the groups. I played drums with one group, which was fun and cathartic. I’d definitely like to explore this more, but not for now.
Last night, one of the Oakland students, Quincy Stewart, and I performed for our friends and colleagues at the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance annual awards dinner. The MaTilDas, named after OU’s founding patron, Matilda Dodge, is designed to honor outstanding students, and also provide a venue to showcase what MTD can produce. It is attended by family, friends, co-workers, donors, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, alumni, students, performers, and administrators. A lovely affair, if I do say so myself.
Quincy, a dedicated, loyal, and creative person, will be a great teacher and community leader. Last night we played “There Will Never Be Another You” by Harry Warren, and it was well-received.