Showing posts from June, 2009


Today was my last church gig at St. Ann's. The budget was slashed, and most of the contracted musicians lost their gigs (myself included). Big question...will anybody notice we're gone?

Our pool was closed all day today due to the presence of "fecal matter"...a little dookie, if you will.

World of Plastic Coke Bottles

I had a corporate jazz gig last night at the World of Coke. If you haven't seen the new World of Coke, I'd say it's about the same as the old World of Coke, except in a different location. Last night's thing was an awards dinner.
It's a real drag to watch the people at the event filling the water glasses for 200 people with Dasani bottles. I mean, come on...shouldn't there be a Dasani fountain at the World of Coke? We were playing in the hub, where's there's a nice display about recycling plastic Coke bottles, and right below are ten waiters creating more empty plastic bottles. Even worse than that--in between my quartet and the recycling display was a bar station, and when I walked by there I noticed their garbage cans were full of trash, including glass and plastic bottles. No recycling going on there either.
The World of Coke needs to get their act together with the recycling. What occurred last night was an embarassment. Is it really too much …

Swim with the Fishes

Greetings. It's been a week. You probably thought I was dead.

This week was marked by Jack's transformation into a fish. About a week ago he figured out that he could go under water and not die, and since then he's been in the pool, swimming, more or less constantly. I think he's down there once or twice a day for hours at a time. It's a lot more fun to go now because of that, so I've been trying to be there as much as I can, so I haven't been putting in much time on the horn.
This week's Yacht Rock was a bit of a pressure cooker for me due to the fact that I had to play keyboard on a few tunes to cover Brandon being out. I am not a good pianist, so I really had to put in the time to try and approximate what he would normally play with ease. The biggie that I was concerned about was the rhodes part on "I Keep Forgettin'." I did pretty well. Actually, I wish I was more comfortable, because when I am playing keyboards and getting it r…

Thursday (night)

Thursday night was the premiere of Reagan Rock (a continuation of Yacht Rock into the early 80s). Highlights: the oppressive heat of the 10 High made everyone uncomfortable. Gina Niespodziani made some awesome 80s compilation videos that played in the background. Lots of NBC News clips, Dallas and Dynasty, Miami Vice, Knight Rider. some early 80s movies. Funny stuff. I remember it all very well. Peter and Nick brought a ziploc bag of "cocaine", which they cut and snorted on a big mirror they had.
The Reagan Rock set was pretty pressurized. We all seemed to be concentrating on getting it right, and when we came back with a set of Yacht Rock, everybody seemed to go kind of mushy (the heat also wilted us).
Speaking of the heat! For the past several weeks I've been thinking my laptop was dying due to the heat. It seemed like it would start fine, and by two-thirds of the way through the set, it would get weird. I can't say more than it would react differently to…

Thursday (day)

Here's a recap of Thursday (day), in case you weren't here for all of it...

I still worried about my alto mouthpiece not being quite right. All the little chirps and reed issues I've had made me concerned that there might be some sort of trouble lurking there. I couldn't stand it, so for my own mental health I drove to Suwanee Thursday morning to have Will Grizzle check out my mouthpiece. He measured it and flattened the table a little bit. Not really much of anything. However, now I'm confident that whatever problems I may encounter, they're not the fault of the mouthpiece. As soon as I finish typing this, I'm going to run over to Bryan Lopes' house and let him look over my alto, so then I can be sure my equipment is operating at its peak.

Jack and I returned and hit the pool. He made HUGE strides yesterday in swimming. At the beginning of our time there, he only wanted to kick across the shallow end with a kickboard. By the end of yesterday, h…

Michael Brecker Masterclass

Here's a cool mp3 of Michael Brecker giving a masterclass at Berklee in 1987. Lots of interesting stuff (click here for a link to mp3). It's over an hour, so give yourself time (or download it). I ended up staying up waaaaaay too late listening to it.
One thing that jumped out at me is the awareness that great players have about their own playing (and those who came before them). I really think that if you want to improve, you have to be able to objectively study your own playing and know what needs improvement. Not in a general "I suck" sort of way, but in a "everytime I'm in this situation, I play this, and I should fix it" kind of way. The closer you get to pinpointing your problems, the quicker you can get to the business of attacking them. It seems obvious, but I think too many players hide behind the false humility of "I suck!" and never go after what they don't like about their playing.

Saturday hurt me

Saturday hurt me. I was up until at least 2:30 AM Friday night, and then I woke up at 6 AM so I could get my butt down to the Georgia International Convention Center by 7:15 AM. We (basically my church gig at St. Ann's with Kevin Wyglad) played for what looked like a jillion people for the Eucharistic Congress for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. We finished just after 11 AM. I took Beth to Peachtree City, and then went home and ate lunch. Then I loaded the truck with my Yacht Rock stuff and headed to the zoo for the Brew at the Zoo.I played with Y.O.U. in their set. They were, of course, awesome. Then we reset and played a long Yacht Rock set. We did well, and the crowd responded in kind. I didn't have much sax playing in the Yacht Rock set--mostly EWI. I do wonder how much I contributed last night--I was pretty wiped out. Mark Cobb taught me about funk drumming--it's much funkier when you play backbeat on the snare and do the accents with the kick drum. I got home…


Friday was a big driving day.I got up as late as I could and headed out the door to a rehearsal for my Saturday gig. It was down at the International Convention Center (down by the airport). I was down there for a couple of hours in an enormous exhibit hall. When that was finished, I raced home and finished getting my book of music ready for my sax sub for a gig Saturday night. I had a few charts I needed to write out on the computer. When that was finished, I ran and dropped the book off. Late Friday night, I got dressed and ran down to Little 5 Points for the Prince Tribute at the Star Bar. I played on Head with Y.O.U., and a New Orleans/Meters version of A Love Bizarre with Edenrage and Chanda Leigh (I'd never met these people before we played! The guy texted me once we both got there and I found him by his decription. They'd asked through a friend if I would join them). Pretty cool stuff. I was glad that A Love Bizarre went with a different feel, so I could avoid …

Thursday night

I've had plenty to blog about, but very little time to do it. Here we go:
Thursday was generally uneventful. I taught a little, ate, and boogied down to Yacht Rock. Nothing new in terms of songs...we're gearing up for next Thursday's official premier of "Reagan Rock" (Yacht Rock as it slipped into the 80s). Y.O.U., who form the core of Yacht Rock, are releasing a new record July 25 at Smith's Olde Bar. I will be performing that night, and we've recruited trombonist Eric Alexander to help out. It should be a very cool night--the new Y.O.U. stuff sounds AWESOME!!!! Back to Yacht was pretty packed, which is always cool. I heard there was a line out on the sidewalk. Musically, I think we were pretty good. Mark Cobb is sooooooooo good, it makes everybody else sound better. Something new we'd never talked about: the "Baker Street Phenomenon." Gerry Rafferty released the song Baker Street in 1978, and the popularity of the tune …

A Lotta Notes

Yesterday was great.  I went to the pool with everybody (I even brought Reggie and tied him to the fence).  Then I came home and practiced flute for a couple of hours.  Then I went and taught for a couple of hours (in there was a half hour of bass clarinet practice).  Then I came home and played with Jack and put him to bed.  Then I practiced for a few more hours.  I gave up at 1:30 this morning.  My hands are sore, but it was worth it.  Awesome, awesome day!

Messing Up

Bryan Lopes fixed my tenor. It's funny that I took it to him thinking that there were only a couple of leaks, and he went through and found a bunch of bad pads. How was I able to get the thing to play at all? I guess all those things happen so gradually, you don't feel them going bad. Lopes does an awesome job, and the horn plays really well.
One of the most common comments I hear from students and fellow band members is "You never mess up!" The truth is, I mess up all the time! I think the reason most mistakes go by without any notice is because I play them with the same conviction that I play the correct stuff, and I correct my mistakes quickly! Remember how your band director said to make loud mistakes? The idea was not that you would screw up at high volume...he's talking about playing all your notes (right and wrong) with the same confidence, so that even the bad notes sound like you meant them.

A Wild Friday

Yacht Rock set sail from Andrews Upstairs last night.  We did well.  A good cruise.  A few highlights...I used my new reeds (the ones I'd frantically worked on yesterday) on both alto and tenor.  Both worked well.  Actually, I may have softened the tenor too much, because I choked off the high note in the riff for Who Can it Be Now.  Oops.  Got a little excited.  What can I say--I was going for it. I'd like to hear what I played on the solo for Little Jeannie.  Jim Horn played the original, but he basically just plays the melody.  Sometimes I do that, but last night I augmented it a little more, and it felt good.  Hopefully it stands up on the recording! In May, my EWI ran out of batteries in the middle of the gig.  This month, I made it almost to the end.  They're lasting almost exactly a month.  I've got to be sure to switch them out before the next gig, so my rig doesn't die in the middle of the Rosanna solo or something like that. It was packed.  Insanely packed. …

Reed Crisis!

I spent the bulk of yesterday dealing with a reed crisis.  By Wednesday night I'd lost faith in my alto set up, and I was worried that maybe mouthpiece had a flaw which made it incompatible with 90 percent of my reeds.  The one good reed would feel AWESOME, but the other nine reeds in the box would be really terrible.  So yesterday I went to work sanding, carving, and praying to the reed gods and we got it sorted out.  What a relief!  I don't want to drop a ton of money on another mouthpiece to replace it (especially if it was just a bad box of reeds).Yacht Rock last night was unaffected by the weather.  On the way to the gig, I had to stop at a gas station and move all my stuff out of the back of my truck and into the cab due to a furious downpour.  For sure I thought we'd be playing to an empty room last night.  I guess it cleared off, though, because we had a good night, crowd-wise.  My only complaint would be the guy that stood front and center and whistled super-loud …

Rickie Lee Jones (and some Gadd)

The usual Monday stuff...laundry, vacuuming.I got a CD in the mail that I haven't heard in a while--the self-titled album Rickie Lee Jones from around 1979.  You probably know it by the first track-Chuck E.'s in Love.  Interesting how much this stuff I hear in the female singer/songwriters of Decatur, not to mention someone like Norah Jones.  I love it, though.  Some of my favorite late 70s stuff, including some great horn stuff by Tom Scott, Ernie Watts, and Chuck Findley.  Anything where the saxes are playing in unison really gets me excited (Steely Dan does this alot, and I thank them for every note of it).  Love that sound.  Steve Gadd is also on this one (ahh that fill in the middle of Chuck E.'s!!!!!!!), and I'm in love with everything from the 70s that has him on it, so this one does me good.  (Here's a great Steve Gadd clip from YouTube from some clinic--he seems pissed about having to demonstrate something yet again, so he starts off like he wants to die, …