Chicago Reader Blogs: Post No Bills

Lucky 7s vibraphonist Jason Adasievicz gets some love from the Chicago Reader’s Peter Margasak.

Chicago Reader Blogs: Post No Bills:

“The nominal foreground star and key melodist is Adasiewicz, a constantly improving talent who’s never sounded so restrained. Over loose, spacious grooves, he clearly revels in the gorgeous vibrato of his instrument. “

That’s why Jeb calls Shevitz the “secret weapon.”

Ray Anderson in several settings

Ray Anderson, like Gary Valente, is a trombonist who has grown on me over the years. When I first heard recordings of Ray, my conservative JJ drenched mind heard him as crude and rough and gimmicky. As I have matured musically, I have come to hear him as vibrant and expressive and gimmicky. Gimmicky isn’t all bad. I would give certain left body parts to be able to execute some of Ray’s gimmicky stuff. Really “gimmick” isn’t right word. The crazy outlandish stuff he does with a trombone seems to be an honest part of his expression, as opposed to an attention grabbing gimmick. From a purely trombonistic angle, it is pretty amazing too.

In the last few weeks I have acquired three new (to me) albums that feature Ray Anderson in fairly varied settings.

The first is Bennie Wallace‘s celebration of Coleman Hawkins called Disorder at The Border. It utilizes a nine piece band on a program of Hawk tunes, or tunes associated with Hawk. This is a fun, swinging, spirited CD. The band has the right balance of smallness and largeness, with the power of a big band when needed and the agility of a smaller group. Ray Anderson is in classic Ray form on “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho.” Full disclosure: I didn’t buy this music, it was sent to me by a promotions firm.


I’ve scored a couple of good Gerry Hemingway albums on eMusic. The first was a quintet album, called Double Blues Crossing, that I stumbled upon while looking for stuff with Frank Gratkowski, or maybe Wolter Weirbos. They are both on it. Somehow that eventually led me to Devil’s Paradise by the Gerry Hemingway Quartet with Ray Anderson, Ellery Eskelin, and Mark Dresser. This album is a great balance of the looseness and freedom available to this type of quartet instrumentation, and the attention to composition and arrangement that can provide coherence and focus. The music was recorded in 1999, and Anderson sounds great on it. It is also interesting to hear Eskelin out of the context of his own groups. (There are a couple of Ellery Eskelin CDs that I bought with the intention of blogging them, but that doesn’t seem to have happened…)


The third album in this little Ray Anderson trilogy is The Line Up by BassDrumBone, which is Hemingway and Anderson with bassist Mark Helias. These guys have been playing together in this format for 30 years, and you can hear the communication and comfort. In this case the comfort of old friendships adds spark not complacency. Helias plays both electric and acoustic bass on this album. I like the electric. It can hold its place as an equal voice with the trombone. The upright swings harder. Having both just allows for the best of both worlds.

Promo budgets, blogs, and weird submissions

Either people are actually reading this blog, or someone thinks people are reading this blog. In the last week, I have gotten 7 or 8 unsolicited CDs in the mail, presumably sent to me with the intention that I will write about them. Some of them are very good, and things that I dig, and I will write about them. Others are good, but so far removed from the type of things I usually listen to or write about, that I really doubt that they will get any cyber-ink here.

It makes me wonder who decides where to send promo copies of CDs. As a maker of independent CDs, I have grappled with the costs of promoting releases. I really have trouble justifying sending out hundreds of CDs to writes/magazines/bloggers when 75% of them will not even get listened to, and much fewer than that will yield coverage. I definitely send stuff to people that I think will dig it, or people that ask for it, but the expense of sending a copy to every station on a list of dozens of jazz radio stations, or every blogger listed on AAJ just seems silly, especially since many of the more conservative stations and writers won’t dig the CD anyway.

I figure it costs about $5 to send a CD to a writer, including the actual cost of the materials, postage, and the time of whoever stuffs the envelope. If some of that money were spent having associates read the writer’s writing and parsing his/her taste, it seems that eventually some money would be saved. I think the key to success in the new music industry is to only spend necessary money. If I can make and promote a CD for a reasonable amount of money, I can expect to eventually sell enough of them to make it work. If I spend $7k on promotion, I’ve got to have a huge hit (in jazz terms) to make any money.

When I started writing this blog, it was because I wanted to share the things that I found that move me. That’s how fringe art gets known, through a network of people with similar tastes and trust in each others opinions. Getting CDs from promo people tilts that idea a bit, but I don’t mind people sending me copies of stuff that I’d like to hear (and may or ma not have bought on my own). So, I will try to be as diligent as possible in always letting you know where I got the music I am writing about. If I bought it somewhere, I will say that, and if I got a copy from a PR department, I will say that as well. I will try to at least mention anything that I get that I like. If it stinks, I will probably say nothing at all about it.

One other plus to all the free CDs is that I get to read some of the completely silly stuff that is written on the one sheets that accompany the CDs. The other day I got a copy of an Ella Fitzgerald CD that is to be released in July. It is being co-released by Concord and Starbucks. The following statement is on the one sheet:

Starbucks Coffee Company provides and uplifting experience that enriches people’s lives one moment, one human being, one extraordinary cup of coffee at a time.

I’m not sure what that has to do with Ella, but it did make me laugh out loud, and laughter is a good thing.

Music is Fun!

One of my favorite trombone case stickers was given to me by Matt Golombisky, the bassist in the Lucky 7s. It is a sticker from his Tomorrow Music Orchestra, and has the line “experimenting with the idea that music’s really fun.” I love that idea. Too often we (musicians and artists of all sorts) take ourselves WAY too seriously.

This week I am playing bass trombone with the Louisiana Philharmonic on Carmina Burana. The conductor is Carlos Miguel Prieto. He gets the idea that music is fun. At one point in rehearsal he said to the chorus, “you are reading. I want music.” Not in a grumpy old stuffy conductor way, but in a “hey, it’s not about the dots, it’s about the emotion” way. He regularly encouraged the chorus to flirt with the audience, and was relaxed and funny, even when the logistical difficulties of the piece stubbornly presented themselves. Carmina is not easy to play or conduct, but he never let things get tense, even though the tension tried to bust in, almost succeeding once.

I don’t get to sneak into the orchestral world too often, and sometimes when I do, it is inhabited by too many people who aren’t having nearly enough fun to make up for the crappy money they are getting. Rehearsing with Prieto today was a great reminder of why most of us starting playing music…because it is fun. Hopefully more of that vibe will infect the LPO as his tenure as MD continues. That would be very cool for the musicians and audiences alike.

Rob Wagner CD release with Hamid Drake and Nobu Ozaki


I just got an email announcing the release of this much anticipated (at least for me) CD. I haven’t heard the disc yet, but I heard this trio the night before they recorded this CD, and it was slammin’.

From Ben’s email:

is finally
online and at Louisiana Music Factory.

I am very pleased to announce there will be two “CD
Release PartIes”:


MON. JUNE 4 @ DRAGON’S DEN 10 PM (with special guest

New Orleans morns the loss of veteran clarinetist Alvin Batiste

I found the following press release in my inbox this morning. Alvin Batiste was deeply influential on so many musicians around here. I never really had any personal encounters with him, but many of the people that have helped shape me were shaped in part by Alvin Batiste.

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans morns the loss of veteran clarinetist Alvin Batiste who passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning, May 6, 2007. Batiste was scheduled to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival later today.
His most current CD; Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste is with Bradford Marsilas and other notable Jazz musicians. It also includes a reading by wife, Mrs. Edith Chatters Batiste.

Several well known musicians studied under Alvin Batiste while at Southern University. They include Randy Jackson (American Idol), his brother Herman, Brandford Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Henry Butler, Kent Jordan, Micheal Ward, Herlin Riley, Charlie Singleton (Cameo), Woodie Douglas (Spirit) and others.

His Columbia album billed him as a “Legendary Pioneer of Jazz.” Alvin Batiste is an avant-garde player who does not fit easily into any classification. Under-recorded throughout his career, Batiste was a childhood friend of Ed Blackwell and he spent time in Los Angeles in 1956 playing with Ornette Coleman. However, Batiste chose the life of an educator in Louisiana where he taught music at Southern University in Baton Rouge where her created the Batiste Jazz Institute and currently at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) where served as lead teacher in jazz instrumental music.

Batiste recorded with the AFO (“all for one”) quintet in New Orleans, performed with Cannonball Adderley, and toured with Ray Charles in 1958, but was an obscure legend until he made three albums with Clarinet Summit in the 1980s (a quartet also including John Carter, David Murray, and Jimmy Hamilton). Batiste recorded an album, Bayou Magic, in 1988 as a leader for India Navigation and made the 1993 Columbia album Late. Songs, Words and Messages, Connections appeared in 1999, followed by Marsalis Music Honors Alvin Batiste in 2007.

Batiste also performs on the Marlon Jordan featuring Stephanie Jordan 2005 CD which was a production of the Jordan-Chatters-Batiste family.

Arrangements will be announced onced complete.

Chaz Fest

While I am posting outer fest posters, I’ll put this up too. I am playing on this one with Magnetic Ear. We are scheduled to go on at 6:30 pm for a 50 minute set. The whole fest should be great music and food, so come on out if you are in town.