Tour recap and shout outs

I just got back from a lovely two weeks in Europe. The main purpose pf the trip was for a tour in Italy with Marcello Benetti’s Shuffled Quartet, but I worked in a trip to Switzerland for the International Society for Improvised Music 2015 Conference.

Our regular woodwind collaborator, Rex Gregory, could not make the trip because he is busy being a new father, so we had Dan Kinzleman on clarinet, flute, and tenor sax. Dan is an American musician who has lived in Italy for the last ten years or so. He is a wonderful musician, a fun hang, and a great road comrade. We were happy to have him with us. It was also nice to have two people who spoke the language of Italian sound engineers at sound checks.

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We did most of the touring in Marcello’s Toyota Yaris Versa. Somehow we all fit, with the stuff.

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Setting up for soundcheck in Udine, for our performance at Udin&Jazz. The concert space was lovely and the sound was very good. The festival also had great hospitality.

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Sound check selfie.

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The last gig of the tour was in Rovigo for the summer jazz series presented by the conservatory there. We shared the concert with the quartet of Massimo Morganti, who teaches at the conservatory. This pic is Massimo’s band at sound check.

After the gig in Rovigo, Marcello and I drove overnight to Chateau-D’Oex, Switzerland for the ISIM Conference. The over night drive was crazy, but when you arrive to this view from your hotel room, it feels less stupid.

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This tiny alpine village seemed like an odd choice for the location of this year’s conference, but the setting was lovely, and the hosts were great. There were some good conversations about diversity, and community building. I presented on improvisational structures I use with my student laptop orchestra, and I really enjoyed Jeff Morris’s presentation on his project.

I also got the chance to hear a great house concert before I came back home. The band was led by Filippo Vignato, and they did his arrangements of Albert Manglesdorf’s music. The band included Piero Bittolo Bon, who has performed at Open Ears, and a great young bass player named Rosa Brunello.

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It was a great trip. We made some good music, and I met or reconnected with a bunch of great people. I am happy to be home, but a touch sad that I left before I could experience Mirano Baseball Day.

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Breakfast for Dinner Records

I have a new record label called Breakfast for Dinner Records. The music is available in most of the usual digital places and CDs are available from the label’s band camp page.

You can also buy the downloads on Amazon ( Staffa, Duets 2014 ), or iTunes ( Staffa, Duets 2014 ), or listen on Spotify ( Staffa, Duets 2014 ).

My thoughts on Cutting Louisiana higher education by $300 million

A note to the apparent morons who run the state in which I live: I WILL PAY MORE TAXES TO SUPPORT HIGHER EDUCATION!!!!!!!!!

The nature of Louisiana’s backwards legal system makes much of the state’s budget protected and very hard to adjust, except for higher education, which is easy for the legislature to cut. Our governor, who pays lip service to a religion that is supposed to be based on helping the poor and caring for our fellow humans, refuses to allow taxes to be raised for any productive reason. I think he (and his fellow lawmakers of similar political ideology) does this not out of a sense that it is really the right thing to do, but out of a loyalty to a political party that places money above all else, and even then, really just the money of people who already have a lot of it. The lawmakers of Louisiana, led by our governor, are cowards, who are afraid of the dogmatists of their own party, to the point that they will do nothing to help the people of our state in any way.

I actually voted for Jindal. I thought he was a smart man, and he made me believe that he would use that intelligence to run our state well. I did not realize at the time that his political aspirations would out weigh all other considerations to the point that he would be incapable of straying one millimeter from republican dogma, even if it is the best thing for our state.

I got both of my graduate degrees from state schools (the University of New Orleans for my M.M., and Louisiana State University for my Ph.D.). The system worked well for me. These degrees helped me learn many things, and led to me getting a great teaching job and staying in our state. I can now afford to pay more in taxes, and I would love to do that if that is what is needed to keep our higher education system alive.


This article offers a good perspective on the amount of the cuts that are being envisioned.

Cutting Louisiana higher education by $300 million, putting it into perspective |

Al Belletto

I just received news that Al Belletto, the great saxophonist from New Orleans, passed away on Friday. Al had been living in Dallas with family for the last few years, but when I first moved to New Orleans, Al was a fixture on the scene. He had a great influence on many young musicians, some of whom aren’t that young any more (myself included). His nickname was Coach, but as the joke goes, that doesn’t make sense, because he was first class all the way.

SLU AlBelletto

A beautiful sound…

In 1999 I was fortunate to fall in with some musicians who were doing things that I wanted to do, but wasn’t sure that I could. These were people who I had been hearing play for some time, and I was getting to play with them. I didn’t know if I belonged there.

After my first gig with the Naked Orchestra (which was only the band’s second gig), Tim Green walked up to me and said something nice about what I had played. I don’t remember his exact words, I just remember that the guy who made the most music in this group of (close to 20) great musicians went out of his way to say something encouraging to me. He made me think that maybe I could make some music that mattered. Those few words from him really did change my life.


Tim Green passed away this week. He was a beautiful person who made beautiful, deep, soulful sounds. To hear him play was to peer into his soul, and it was beautiful. Tim went out of his way to help create peace for those around him, I hope he has found the peace that sometimes eluded him in life. Rest well brother.


Chicago Jazz Festival 2013: A Preview | Chicago Music Blog

Pull quote of the day:

Chicago Jazz Festival 2013: A Preview | Chicago Music Blog:

“The way the twinned trombones of former Chicagoan Jeb Bishop and Jeff Albert of New Orleans navigate the grooves that Drake lays down with Joshua Abrams and Jeff Parker, you’d think they’d first learned their chops 50 years ago in a Kingston yard rather than in band classes in North Carolina and Louisiana.”

The Jazz Session » The Jazz Session #420: Jeff Albert

The Jazz Session, a jazz podcast produced by Jason Crane, is making a comeback. Back in February of 2012, I recorded an interview with Jason, and it never was released because he ended the show before the CD that we spent much of the interview discussing was released. Well that CD is out now, and the show is returning, and our interview is now available. Follow the link below to hear it.

The Jazz Session » The Jazz Session #420: Jeff Albert

**A couple of notes:

I have since finished the dissertation that we talked about in the interview. If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to read it, it is here:

The CD order changed a bit since I sent him music before the interview, and one of the tunes he plays in the show, is not actually on the CD. Mixes changed some too, so the bass sounds better on the CD than on the podcast.

August DownBeat was nice to me

The August 2013 issue of DownBeat Magazine was a good issue for my press clippings. For the third year, I was honored to be mentioned in the Rising Star Trombone category of the Critics Poll, and the Instigation Quartet CD got a 4 star review.

Let the CD sales, and festival bookings come rolling in…

Totm db review

Clip from Rising Star section of Critics Poll results:

2013 critics poll db