Right now in my life, I have several diverse interests that each take a lot of focus: web design, triathlon training, school, projects, family…and music. Sometimes it seems like the honking becomes way too infrequent in the mix. Then sometimes it takes over and I gladly indulge in the musical momentum. July has been a perfect blend of saxophone, exercise, web design and fun.
In mid-July I had the pleasure of teaching at Cornish College of the Arts in a week-long jazz workshop for young teenaged kids. Jovino Santos Neto asked me to be a part of this and I was honored to be teaching with him, Chuck Deardorf and Tim Carey. Each of us had a beginning level combo of 6-8 young jazzers. The students were very enthusiastic and eager to play music. For my group, I had them playing on some easier jam session standards like Sugar, St. Thomas, All Blues, Footprints, Straight No Chaser and Blue Bossa, with an emphasis on memorizing the melody and coming up with an arrangement.
I also taught master classes for the saxophonists, and during one of these sessions, I introduced them to Donna Lee. I wish I had a video of 14 young saxophonists simultaneously digging into Donna Lee for the first time — it was a beautiful atonal/bebop cacophony! In addition, I got to play some piano and bass with the groups which I have just enough chops to do. In our final concert on Friday, the kids in my group performed well on their tunes and it took me back to my first experiences with combo playing at jazz camps as a kid.
The following week I checked out part of the composition workshop at Cornish with John Hollenbeck. I wish I’d had more time to fully participate but I was hustling to catch up on my own web school work at Seattle Central. I enjoyed getting a hit of the depth and intensity of Hollenbeck, who is a serious composer. At the end of that week I was part of a small ensemble that performed compositions that the students had developed at the workshop. I got to spend more time hanging out and playing with Hollenbeck, Jovino, Chris Stover (who now teaches at the New School in NYC), Chuck Deardorf, Chris Symer and others. It was really a fun two weeks of music!
Then as if that wasn’t enough, I used that momentum to get out and do some playing that week. On Wednesday night I sat in at Tula’s with Dmitri Matheny and Anton Schwartz. I played a lot with Dmitri in San Francisco when he first moved there from Berklee almost 25 years ago. Since then, he has established a solid career as an impressively gigging road warrior. This was the first time he’d heard me since I moved to NYC in 1993 — he said I was a totally different player than I was 20 years ago, to which I replied “I’m a totally different human than I was 20 years ago!” This was also the first time I had a chance to play with Anton. We did a collective improvisation on Invitation and he unwittingly got a hit of the Analog Honking Device experience! It was a great time time playing and hanging with two excellent musicians who are nice guys, too.
On Friday after the Cornish workshop, I made the rounds with the last sliver of energy I had. First I stopped in for Jazz and Sushi at Hiroshi’s, devoured a Bento box and listened to Greg Williamson, Chuck Kistler and NY guitarist Marty Ferber. Then I went over to hear Katy Bourne at the Sorrento but unfortunately, she was wrestling with sound system problems.
My main destination for the night was to hear Jovino Santos Neto at Vito’s. Jovino is one of my favorite musicians anywhere: he exudes music and is very generous, energetic and warm as both a musician and a person. That was the same night that Paul McCartney sold out the baseball stadium here with 47,000 fans…but whatever. I was in a small club with ~100 people sitting a few feet away from world class musicians, enjoying some beautiful and amazing music. Do Brazilians have the equivalent of knighthood? I had spent a large part of the previous two weeks immersed in music with Jovino and then I got to sit in with his trio — always an educational experience! I called one of Jovino’s tunes (Forro Vino)…ummm, next time I promise to play ALL the notes that Jovino wrote, not just the ones I thought he wrote. Still, it was a satisfying night of music.
Whew! The month was kicked off on July 6th with a performance at the Ballard Locks with a 25-piece clarinet choir in which I was one of three bass clarinetists. Now I’m back to keeping up with my PHP class, taught by Dr. Rogene Eichler West, who is a drummer, motorcyclist, and scientist with waist-length dreads…my kind of teacher!
More about my triathlon endeavors later. For now check out my training through Mary Meyer Life Fitness