Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It's all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.
-Chuck Pahlaniuk Diary:A Novel

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"This country needs and values the talents of every American."


And here I thought an intelligent, well-spoken president was only a pipe-dream.

Fine job Mr. President, fine job indeed!

Friday, February 20, 2009

24 hrs. in the Emerald City

My trip to Seattle was short and sweet. This is the third year of a Cancer benefit these folks in Seattle started with Steve in his wife's honor. It's a nice event. Afterward me and the boys knocked a few back and crashed. Up and at 'em in the morning and here I am, back in L.A. I really love Seattle every time I go and look forward to going back in July when we'll be there for almost a week.

Tomorrow its off to Palm Springs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy for me. Not only did I have a few jazz gigs around town but I also played two long weekend stands at Catalina Jazz Club with Mistah Tyrell. The crowds at Catalina were really great and it was good to get back in the swing of things with the band. The next couple of weeks look to keep music train chugging along; I'm in the middle of rehearsals/sessions for a couple of different recording projects. One is with fantastic composer/arranger/trombonist Curt Berg's quintet. Curt's a great writer and there are some really good cats in his band, I'm looking forward to the record. The other is a bit of a departure for me, an electric fusion R&B-type band called Alloy (think The Yellowjackets meet Harry Connick Jr.) The music is challenging but a lot of fun and its all electric bass. On top of that my favorite local drummer of late, Gerry Gibbs, is having a big CD Release show next week for his sextet The Thrasher Band and I'm on that gig as well. Talk about challenging, might be some of the most difficult music I've attempted, I'm really going to have to buckle down and prepare before the show next Wednesday. I'm looking forward to it though.

And to top it off I leave for Seattle on Thurs. for show with Tyrell. We fly home on Fri. only to drive to Palm Springs on Sat. for another show. Then I have to wake up early Sun. and drive back to L.A. for a rehearsal.

Remember when work was so slow for me a month ago? Feast or famine baby, feast or famine ...

NMR, Forgot One ...

I picked up this live Cedar Walton disc because it was recommended to me for its recording of Walton's classic tune "Bolivia." The disc is fantastic, a lot of energy particularly from saxist Bob Berg who is in prime form. Unsung bassist Sam Jones sounds great and always plays the perfect note. Good document of 70s straight-ahead jazz.

New Music Review

Alrighty folks, time for me to delve in to all of the new music I've purchased since our last New Music Review. Let's jump right in!

The 80s resurgence in Indie rock is still in full swing. I read a review of this record at Pitchfork that was positively gushing. It intrigued me enough to check out POBPAH's Myspace and in turn pick up the record. There are some really good songs on here. But make no mistake, they sound exactly like The Smiths. That's not a bad thing, but its hardly revolutionary.

Bernstein is one of my top 3 favorite jazz guitar players, he's creative, melodic, and really swings. But this tribute to Monk is a little disappointing not because of his playing, which is great, but because of the rhythm section who sound at times like they are going through the motions. Still worth checking out though.

If you didn't know Amazon has a daily MP3 deal where entire albums are on sale cheap, usually $1.99! Good stuff too, not bottom-of-the-bin stinkers. I've seen stuff like No Doubt's Greatest Hits, even Lily Allen's new record. (Today is Morrissey's new record for only $3.99!) And don't forget, Amazon is DRM-free. Anyway, while I check the daily deals, well, daily, there is hardly anything I'm interested save for this superb record by Erikah Badu. While I've always dug her voice, I've never picked up any of her albums and I'm sorry for that now. This record grooves right off the bat (the Funkadelic-laced first track "Penitentiary Philosophy") and doesn't let up. A great find.

I've been making an effort to listen to a broader range of "jazz" music the past couple of years, not just the acoustic swing-driven stuff I've immersed myself in for years. When I read a glowing review of Jeff Beck's new record in Downbeat I had to pick it up. It features a new bassist on the scene who is hot in every way, the lovely and talented Tal Wilkenfeld. Girl is bad. So is this live record.

The Bad Plus is one of the greatest groups in jazz at the moment, I really look up to them. I've always found their original compositions much stronger than the covers they do of rock songs ("Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Heat of Glass") so I was a bit curious when I saw their latest release is nothing but covers and features a vocalist. Its fun and I like listening to it, but its not nearly as moving as their other records.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine a friend sent me:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Good News!

From Greenleaf:

Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday - President's Day.

More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.

While the stimulus package was moving around the legislature all of the arts funding was in danger of getting cut. Lucky for all of us, that didn't happen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"As Slow As Possible"

American avant-garde composer John Cage is perhaps most famous for his notorious work 4'33". Written for any instrument, the score instructs the performer not to play and instead sit in silence for three movements and the duration of the piece. The idea being that whatever ambient noise occurs in the audience or performance space actually makes up the music. While a conceptual masterpiece and probably Cage's most important work, it is not his most ambitious.

Cage's piece Organ2/ASLSP (the second part of the title meaning "As Slow As Possible") lasts a staggering 639 years. You heard me correctly, 639 years! And astonishingly the piece is currently being performed in Halberstat, Germany. Supposedly, thousands of folks show up for the note changes that occur every month or so. From the Greenleaf Music Blog:

When checking out the score consider this: the smallest unit is one month. Each determined tone change takes place on the 5th day of the relevant month. ***Recommendation: quarter-note staccato: length 2 months, quarter-note without staccato: length 4 months.***

Is that fascinating or what? Kudos to anyone with the artistic commitment to put on this performance. I would love to see one of the note changes some day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The China Question

A few weeks ago I was offered a gig in China with a friend of mine who sings and plays piano. The gig is in a Four Seasons near Hong Kong, the pay is decent with the perk being that all meals, internet, dry cleaning, etc. are covered. It would be six nights a week, three hours a night playing at the hotel bar. The gig itself would be pretty sweet. But there's a catch, it is for four months from May through August.

I agonized over the decision. It would be really great for us to bank all of that money (times are lean for everyone these days and musicians are no exception, why not make some dough in another country?) and the music would be a lot of fun. Of course the major drawback would have been missing my family but Carrie and Milo could go to Indiana for nice long visit and we could Skype, I would also be missing some Tyrell gigs but getting them covered shouldn't be a problem. I didn't know what to do. I kept thinking "I will have serious regrets whichever decision I make." I'm very lucky to be able to play music full-time but decisions like this are what make the career difficult. I decided that I was approaching it with the wrong mindset and instead told myself "whichever decision I make will be the right one." I decided to take the gig.

Then things changed. The gig was moved up and no longer started in May but started in mid-March. This would mean that Carrie and Milo could not go back to Indy as she would be working the entire time and I would be missing even more work with Tyrell. It was a sign. I told my friend I could not do the gig. She really wanted me to do it and tried to work around my schedule asking the agency putting the whole thing together if I could do part of the gig, only two of the months, but it didn't work out.

This decision made last week quite a roller-coaster but it all worked out for the best in the end. There will be another opportunity like this in the future that will work better for us. Until then, I'll just keep doing the L.A. hustle.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How Cool Is This?

My friend/artist/fellow comic book aficionado/music enthusiast Jim MacQuarrie works for audio manufacturer M-Audio. He messaged me on Facebook today to let me know that he drew the art for their latest comic-book style production guide. Can you tell who he used as a model for this particular illustration?

(btw, he told me that's the girl from Once playing keys)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What a Trooper

Work was deathly slow during December and January, but as soon as February hit my book was slammed. Rehearsal last night, recording session this morning, private party tonight, the next four nights at a jazz club in town with Mistah Tyrell, a gig Sunday morning, another recording session Monday ... etc.

So let me tell you, this is a bad time to have an injured finger.

Whilst making salsa for a Superbowl party at a friends' house I sliced my finger open on one of my newly-sharpened kitchen knives. What you see is said injury that I fixed up with Super Glue for this morning's session. I may be injured, but I shall groove through the pain!

Monday, February 2, 2009


A bunch of YouTube videos went viral a while back of guitar legends whose solo performances were overdubbed with amateurish noise and riffing, but all of the noise fits with what their hands are doing. The audiences are overdubbed as well. Its hard to explain but funny as hell. Here is the Eddie Van Halen Shreds classic YouTube video:

Well there is a new one out of KISS that is achingly funny. Watch and laugh, hope you bust a gut as I did.