Month: March 2005

The Restless Spirit Awakes This Friday!

The Restless Spirit Awakes This Friday!

I’m very excited that our (meaning Jacob Sacks and yours truly) music series “The Restess Spirit” will be starting tomorrow at the 5C Cafe at 7:00pm. Our friend and great improvising pianist, Angelica Sanchez will be our first guest of the series. I’m looking forward to seeing Angie since she has been on maternity leave for the past few months (I hope to see the baby tomorrow too!) It’s going to be a cool sound to hear piano, wurlitzer and voice.

The performance will be all free improvisation. I normally don’t do gigs that are totally free improvising but I love it and Angie is a gifted improviser (as well as Jacob). I have no doubt that the interaction will be adventurous and surprising.

For any readers out there who are unaware of what “free improvisation” is, let me try to give my general definition. “Free improvisation” is when there are no specific harmonies, forms or melodies written out, except that which the musicians create in the moment, with each other.

Now how does this differ from any other improvisation? Well, in some ways it doesn’t. For instance, all improvisation (in jazz or other styles of music) should have interaction with all the musicians ; everyone is listening to each other and trying to react to what is being played (ideally, this should be happenning all the time). With free improv, there isn’t any actual music written out, but you are thinking about form and melody and harmony. You’re thinking about it in the context of what you are creating at that moment. Does that make sense? There may be folks out there that disagree with me, but I think of it this way.

Free improvisation should be practised as much as practised improvising on a written musical form. I find it challenging to play free and that’s what makes it so exciting.

When I play with 4inObjects I know that the band and I are always playing in a free improvising way. We may play written out music but it’s how we play the music that makes it’s extremely free. There are never any arrangements written out, no solos designated, no cues, just a lot of listening and being in the moment. No one knows who will start the tune or who will take a solo or take a group solo, if we will follow the form of the tune when improvisation happens or who will end the tune. I feel like I get the best of both worlds in that band. I can play forms and I can still do free improvisation and I always feel surprise. It’s just too much fun. Also, we are such great friends, the hang is always cool.

There could be an endless disscussion on improvisation and playing free and all that. I can just tell you that I feel an affinity for anyone who plays in this way no matter what style of music they are into. If you are truly in the moment and are searching for something new, I’m right there with ya.

Great Gig

Great Gig

Last Thursday, 4inObjects performed at Cornelia Street Cafe and we had a blast. I can’t tell enough people how much I love playing with my friends who happen to be brilliant musicians.

We performed a new tune that I wrote and it sounded great (I was especially impressed since they were sight-reading some not-so-easy music). It was a really nice crowd and I met some new people who have now become new fans (thanks for coming to the show and sticking around!) To my friends and my Chris, I’m so happy that you could be at the show.

The next 4inObjects show that is scheduled will not happen until June 20th at the 55 Bar. Hopefully, we’ll be able to play sooner than that. For now, Dan Weiss goes on tour for at least three weeks in Europe and so we won’t be scheduling anything before that. I hope to have some free downloads of some original music from our live shows. Keep dropping by to find out more.

The Studio

The Studio

Today is the first day off I’ve had in two weeks. It’s a beautiful sunny day and I’m headin’ into town to hang out with my best friend Jacob and to walk around the village (Greenwich Village for all you non-New York folk).

Last weekend I was in the the studio recording with the band Sangha. I’ve mentioned before that Rob Garcia is the drummer/leader and composer of the band. It’s a large band (7 members): Ken Wessels on guitar (I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know that Kenny has played in one of Ornette Colman’s bands for over 13 years); Dave Ambrosio who is bass man in 4inObjects; Adam Kolker on saxophones (and a scary resemblance of an ex-boyfriend way back when); Michel Gentile on flute and a fellow Canuck and Daniel Kelly on piano (he is the newest member of the band). We spent two days in the studio recording music that Rob has written and it went pretty smoothly. I haven’t heard any of the tracks yet so I won’t have an assessment on the recording. What I can say is that the guys in the band are really great people. Everyone is so friendly and the vibe was just cool. Nothing can be more irritating than an “out” cast of characters. No one was kooky and we hung out after the session. It was especially fun for me to be in the studio with Mr. Embasio (my nick-name for Dave). We play together in lots of different musical situations and we’ve never been in the studio together (our 4inObjects recording was a live concert recording – which I hope will be out soon?!?!) Dave is one of the coolest guys I know. He’s one of my closest friends and an amazing musician. I find it such a pleasure to make music with him.

I did have a few issues with the session but for the sake of my karma, I will not publish them. Rest assured, the band and the leader were all cool and I had fun overall (it also doesn’t hurt that you get paid for it too).

Making music in the studio is really different than a performance. For some reason I get more tense when I hear someone say “recording ….. take one….” and I wonder if I remember the form of the tune or when do I come in etc… Anyways, I guess when you become more and more experienced in the studio, you can get use to things. I’ve only been in the studio less than a dozen times and I feel that the more I do it, the less out I feel. My personal philosophy about recording is that I like it live to tape. If you make a mistake, so what. If the mistake is really bad, don’t use the track. In improvised jazz music, editing is something I prefer not to do. But, sometimes you need to fix things. In the Sangha recording, I had to punch in some things because I completely missed the cue or I forgot the words and the rest of the band was fine. It’s a waste of time if the whole band got it and you didn’t and you have to start all over again, especially if the songs are over 10 minutes. Also, I was in an isolation booth and that made it possible to edit and punch in. My preference is to sing with the band in the same room. If we need to isolate, I want to be able to see everybody. It’s so disconcerting when you don’t have eye contact with everyone. When Jacob and I recorded our first CD “Soulmates” I was in the booth and after we recorded, we both thought that it would have been better to just be in the same room. We went live to tape with no edits so being in a booth was pointless. Well, you learn….

Jacob and I are starting to discuss our new recording project. I won’t give up anything yet. All I can say is that we’ve wanted to do this project since the first recording and now we are finally starting to make it happen. I can’t wait. And I’ll keep you posted once the ball is really rolling.

Beagle Birthday

Beagle Birthday

On Sunday, we are having a birthday party for my little beagle, Coltrane. Now anyone who is a dog owner or pet owner with no kids can totally get into the concept of a birthday party for your dog. Sometimes when I think about it seems silly. BUT, I love the fact that Coltrane has been around and in my life for 12 years. This dog has witnessed a lot in my life. If he could talk, he’d expose many secrets (I’m trying to make my life seem more mysterious and exciting than it is).

Coltrane’s birthday is another excuse to have a wonderful potluck party that I like to host at our place. This year we are doing Mexican food. My friend Jacob Garchik (trombonist extrordinaire) is making a great guacamole (normally I like to make the guac but I tried Jacob’s last summer and love the way he makes it – totally different from mine). I will be making homemade salsa with roasted tomatoes and maybe some roasted red peppers. Jacob Sacks (my best friend and kickass pianist), will be making his margharitas which will make us all nice and tipsy and warm inside. The main dish will be fajhitas filled with chicken, beans or shrimp.

Of course, I cannot forget my sweet little pooch. I am making white fish and sweet potato for Coltrane. Sounds extravagant? Well it is, and it’s all he can eat since he has a protein allergy. Normally, I would feed him canned food mixed with dry food but, tomorrow he gets it all fresh and made with lots of TLC. Only the best for my little pooch.

Here is a pic from last year’s festivities.

Solo at Elixir

Solo at Elixir

Yesterday morning, Jacob Sacks (my best bud), told me he was doing a solo keyboard gig at a little juice bar in Manhattan called Elixir. I was surprised that he didn’t advertise it or if he did, I missed it.

I didn’t know what to expect (and I think, neither did he). It was a short set of about 25 minutes and Jacob played four short free improvised pieces. Each piece displayed a different characteristic of Jacob’s playing. In the first piece, Jacob used a lot of space and played (at times for me) uncomfortably slow. It was very effective. The second piece he ended with a surprise chord which was refreshing and spontaneous. His fourth piece started out like one of the previous pieces which made me curious (Jacob never likes to play the same thing twice). Of course, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the music go in a different direction. I should have known better than to expect him to play anything the same way. This last piece was very rhythmical with dense harmonies that were stimulating to hear.

I was really glad that I stopped in to see this show even after a long day of rehearsing and teaching. I’m one of Jacob’s biggest fans (if not the biggest) and when I hear him perform he always keeps me coming back for more. Jacob is melodic, spontaneous, soulful and just damn good at playing the piano.

A Brief Scare

A Brief Scare

On Sunday, Chris (the love of my life), was feeling really bad. He had lots of stomach pain and he couldn’t move. At first we thought, ok.. just some bad heart burn or food poisoning. He’ll throw up and then he’ll be fine. Well, he did throw up but, he wasn’t fine. I told him that if it was still painful after 5 hours we should go to the hospital. 10 hours later, with the help of our roomie, Vinnie, I insisted that Chris go to the hospital. We got in pretty fast and they started checking him out. At first, I thought they would say, “bad indigestion, maybe a food obstruction..” I started to get scared when they ordered a CAT scan and an EKG. I was like, come on, are you joking? It’s just bad food poisoning or something.

Well, the final prognosis was “pericarditis,” an inflamation of the tissue that surrounds the heart. Apparently it is common when someone suffers a viral infection like the flu or something. The strange thing is, Chris hasn’t had the flu or anything. Anyways, he is fine and I’m relieved. The ordeal at the hospital was more than 8 hours and we didn’t get home till after 2:00am. I was fried and I’m still tired now.

Recently, over the past 2 and a half months, Chris has been getting into great physical shape. He’s lost more than 15lbs and he feels and looks amazing. I really believe that it helped him endure the pain and also helped with his fast recovery (he’s almost back to normal, just a bit tired). I’m so proud of him for making this lifestyle change. I reap the benefits of having a man with a hot bod (whoopee!) Chris’ exercise change has been inspirational and I’m off to the gym.

A final thing I have to say is, since I’m originally from Canada, I think it’s crazy that this country doesn’t have universal health care. Even though we had health insurance, I was freaking out about, who is paying for this and are we sure the insurance is covering this? Those are just stupid questions to be asking or worrying about. The last thing you should be thinking about when your loved ones is ill is who’s paying the bill? I get enraged when I hear politicians say, “I believe that everyone has a right to affordable health care..” What the hell is that statement?!? Affordable health care! EVERYONE has a RIGHT to health care. That shouldn’t be an option. Canadians pay a fair amount of taxes. Why? Because that means everyone gets health care. Yes, I work hard for what I earn but, when I pay taxes, I know that it’s going towards something I don’t need to worry about for the rest of my life.
Now that I’m in the U.S. I am always concerned about who’s paying for what and how much of it and I think it totally sucks! You could get sick just worrying about it.
Ok, enough said. Time to burn some calories.

The Korea Daily

The Korea Daily

On Friday March 11, 2005, there was a small article written about me in the New York City’s Korea Daily, in the Arts and Culture section. It was cool to finally have press in NYC (even if it’s in a language I can hardly speak or understand). When I was about 11 years old, I went to Korean school every Saturday for about 5 to 6 years. I can’t really speak the language and I can read Korean but I can’t understand what I’ve just read (that’s so weird!) When I was reading the article to my mom over the phone, I would start laughing when I would read these Korean characters that sounded out English words. It was really hilarious. The Korean language does not have certain English sounds so they go to the closest sounding thing. For instance, the word “jazz singer” is sounded out like, “jeh uh suh ing uh” (crazy!) It was cool to see my photo and read my name in Korean. The reporter talked about my upcoming gig which is happenning Thursday, March 24, 10pm at Cornelia Street Cafe. So hopefully I will see some fellow Korean folks or at least people who can read AND understand Korean out at the show.

I’m In Finally.

I’m In Finally.

I have been having trouble getting into my blog so I haven’t been posting as much. My apologies. But, I’m back and got a show coming up soon and working on some new things. I’ll keep you updated.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice, Practice, Practice

I feel that a submission is long over due. I have been practising this past week on some big band music my friend, Andrew Rathbun has written. I play with his big band this Sunday, March 3rd at Smith’s Bar in midtown.

I haven’t sung big band music in about 6 years. This is not your Tommy Dorsey/Frank Sinatra kind of music. If anyone of you knows who Kenny Wheeler is, you would understand this music. The voice is used as a horn part in a lot of the pieces. I sing some featured lyric parts but throughout the work I usually double with the other instruments like trumpet or saxes. The voice brings a different timbre to the overall sound. It’s really quite beautiful.

So basically, I’m busting my chops to learn these tunes (10 tunes in 10 days-yikes!!) The music is real nice and I am blown away by Andrew’s prolific writing abilities. I wish I had a fraction of that. Some of the works have words by one of Canada’s leading authors, Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, Cat’s Eye…..) I’m looking forward to it.

BUT! Until then….practice, practice!

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