More details at www.instigationfestival.com
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Happy October! Even though we will not be doing jazz fest at the fairgrounds, it seems like there will still be a bit of music happening. It is nice to see some of the dependable music hangs (old and new) returning. Things like George Porter at the Maple Leaf on Mondays have long been a part of our listening and living rhythm in New Orleans, and the fairly recent addition of the great outdoor venue at The Broadside has reopend after a little time off. Carrollton Station is getting back into the music scene, which is nice.
One of those venues that has long been part of the scene at a variety of physical addresses is Zeitgeist. Their new location in Arabi is a great space, and for part of October they will be showing the new free jazz documentary called “Fire Music,” and each showing will be followed by a live musical performance. I will be playing with Dave Cappello on Tuesday, October 12.
Here are my October public performances:
Monday, October 11, 2021: David Bode Big Band at Carrollton Station (8140 Willow St, New Orleans, LA) at 9pm
Tuesday, October 12, 2021: Jeff Albert & Dave Cappello at Zeitgeist (6621 St. Claude Ave, Arabi, LA) at 8pm, following a screening of Fire Music: the Story of Free Jazz
Saturday, October 30, 2021: Luther Kent & Trick Bag at Monkey Hill (6100 Magazine St, New Orleans) at 9:00pm
I hope to see you at one of these. Stay safe.
Photo by Dennis McDonough at The Hungry Brain in Chicago
From September 16 – 19, 2021, I had the pleasure of participating in the Instigation Festival in Chicago. Steve Marquette organizes this long weekend of musical collaboration, and it is always fun and artistically rewarding but this year it felt particular restorative for me. It was the first time I had performed daily for four days in what seems like years, and they were all musically rewarding endeavors.
One of the highlights of the trip was a new piece that the festival commissioned from Mikel Patrick Avery called Nice to Meet You. It is Mikel’s musical exploration of the idea of restarting so many of the relationships that have been paused by the pandemic. We performed the piece at Constellation (which was not the original plan but sometimes things work out for the better) so there is a lovely archive of the excellently produced stream.
This video also contains the second set by Charles Rumback, James Singleton, Jim Baker, and Ed Wilkerson.
Happy April! I hope the vaccination angels have been to visit you, and if not yet, soon. It seems that things are starting to open up a bit, at least here in New Orleans. It will be great if we can all be patient enough to navigate this part of the pandemic successfully.
April 2 is Bandcamp day, so of course I have a couple of releases to bring to your attention. I am very happy that some new music that I made with Dan Oestreicher, Jesse Morrow, and Mikel Patrick Avery is officially released. You can get the music at https://breakfastfordinnerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/oma-h-a.
I also made a track for Stay in Shape, Vol. 3. It is a compilation of music to raise money to support repairs to the Sun ra House in Philadelphia. As Sun Ra said, “I am doing my part, I am making music.” You can get that and the other two volumes at https://bradfarberman.bandcamp.com.
I was interviewed by Emily Fransen for her podcast Welcome to My Nerd Brain. That episode will be out on Monday. You can get that at https://welcometomynerdbrain.com.
I also have a few public performances coming up:
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 from 7-9pm CDT: Unanimous Sources at The BroadSide (600 N. Broad Ave, New Orleans, LA) presented by Scatterjazz. This is an outdoor venue that requires proper pandemic protocols. Advance tickets are recommended and available from the venue’s website.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 from 7-9pm CDT: Mike Dillon, Chris Alford, and Jeff Albert at the SidePorch (425 S. White St, New Orleans) presented by Scatterjazz. This is an outdoor venue that requires proper pandemic protocols.
Friday, April 30, 2021: Luther Kent & Trick Bag at Monkey Hill (6100 Magazine St, New Orleans) at 9:30pm
Thanks for reading and listening. Stay safe and I hope to see you at a gig.
Let’s be honest, this is a weird time to make a record. The pandemic has everyone hunkered down and avoiding one another, and the live music scene has slowed nearly to a halt. But there are pockets of energy still to be found, and one of those pockets contains adventurous improvisers like the ones found on this album. People who are dedicated to the music, sure, but also dedicated to the bond between musicians.
“Any time I have an excuse to spend time with any of the people in this band, I will take it,” says trombonist Jeff Albert of the ensemble on the album OMA(H)A. “One of the things I look for in a band is people I want to spend time with. The music part’s important and it’s cool they play good music, but who do I want to hang out with? And these people are definitely the people I want to hang out with.”
That camaraderie flows throughout the music on OMA(H)A, named after the musicians: saxophonist Dan Oestreicher, bassist Jesse Morrow, drummer Mikel Patrick Avery and trombonist Jeff Albert.You’ll hear it in the interplay of the instruments, in the shared energy of improvisation, in the generousness with which the players treat one another in the soundscape. It’s a bond born of long years playing together for Albert, Oestreicher and Morrow, plus the energy of newcomer Avery.
Says Oestreicher: “I like to play specifically with Jeff and Jesse together because I feel that we have a decade-plus shared language developing from doing so many things in so many combinations together. [As for Mikel], every time we’ve hung since he moved to New Orleans has been really easy and fun, so it just seemed to make sense to try to throw that into the mix.”
The music on OMA(H)A is a combination of improvisational vehicles created by Albert and Oestreicher plus completely improvised pieces by the entire quartet. The tracks combine the two writers’ trademark senses of humor and draw on the group’s shared appreciation of the Chicago free jazz scene, from the heyday of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) to the present.
“Dan had mentioned an AACM vibe as we were talking about what to do with [the album],” says Albert. “Alvin Fielder was on my mind. Alvin was very influential for me and a super cool dude. He was very warm and inviting and open to all the young guys. Alvin had this thing where even when he was playing super noisy and out, the stuff was always swinging.”
Like most ensembles of hard-charging free improvisers, this one came together around a shared love of … often struggling baseball teams.
“Dan and I are both baseball fans,” says Albert. “I follow the Kansas City Royals and Dan is originally from Pittsburgh so he’s a Pirates fan. One of the things we do is commiserate over our teams stinking most of the time. We have those glorious moments in our history, each of us, that we can celebrate, but most of the time they’re not that great. Over the summer, the Royals signed free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, so I texted Dan to say that either the Royals are trying to be good or that Santana’s career is over. That text conversation continued into ‘I miss people and playing music and I would love to see you and hang out and make some music because that would be a lot of fun.’ So we started figuring out ways to do that.”
The album was recorded over two half-day sessions at House of 1000Hz in New Orleans. Goat, the engineer, created a space for the musicians where they could feel safe to improvise in the same room despite the pandemic, and everyone could feel the excitement of making music with other human beings again for the first time in a long time.
“The recording process was very relaxed,” says Oestreicher. “We did two days at Goat’s studio. Mostly single takes of the songs. It was just good to be in the room with everybody doing it. Playing with Jeff is just really easy. It seems like I play whatever kind of nonsensical bullshit I want to play and Jeff is going to find a way to fit in with that.”
The admiration goes the other way, too. Albert says: “[Dan] will poke at my musical conception in ways that I won’t do. I feel like he brings better things out of me than I get to on my own.”
With titles like “Red Scare,” “9th Ward Trotsky” and “Debs In The Dining Room,” it’s reasonable to ask whether political ideology and activism play a roll in the making of the album. Both Albert and Oestreicher are clear on this topic.
Albert: “I feel like we’ve reached a point where artists have a responsibility to address the world we live in. It drives me crazy that it looks like society is falling apart and as a musician I’m not sure what to do about that other than make music. I feel like all of the music that I make at this point, on some level, is about how do we respect each other’s humanity and try to be just and equitable with each other.”
Oestreicher: “Jazz and politics have always been, in my opinion, inextricably intertwined. The development of jazz was a political statement from the very beginning. And anyone who says that jazz is not political or that their jazz is not political is wrong, and their saying that is a political choice, even if they don’t see it. Choosing not to engage in that way is a political choice. Art is inherently political. Doing something not because it is value-generating in a capitalist sense but because you think it does something for yourself or others outside that system is inherently political and all artists do it.”
Take the New Orleans feeling, add in improvisers steeped in the free improv scene, toss a baseball into the mix and stir in some good old-fashioned lefty thinking. It’s OMA(H)A, and it’s the good kind of vibey.
Here are a couple of new videos of my solo trombone and computer project that I call Phantom Trombones. “Probable Pathology” is my contribution to Stay in Shape, Vol. 1. “General Specifics” is an outtake from that same “session.” I think both videos have guest appearances from Ollie the dog.
I have a friend who assembles a number of great year end lists. Things like top live performances, hip hop albums, jazz albums, albums of composed music, etc…it is quite impressive. I have trouble remembering what performances I saw in a given year, much less what my favorite 10 of them were. So my resolution for 2021 is to use this space to keep track of every live performance or new recording that I hear.
Given how much I have written here in the past few years, it is unlikely that many (any?) of these things will get full reviews, and I am pretty sure I will not assemble them into top 10 lists at this time next year, but I will hopefully at least have a record of the new sounds and live performances I encountered. Wish me luck.
Jon Garelick of the Boston Globe included “Unanimous Sources” in his Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2020″ list. He heard it on WWOZ. Read the article here: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/12/24/arts/jon-garelicks-top-10-jazz-albums-2020/
In 2017, I got a call from Jonathan Freilich to record some horn parts he wrote. It turned out to be a session with producer Hal Willner (RIP) and U2. Unfortunately, Sir Elton’s part was not recorded at the same session…
The record is finally out.
Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group
Bang A Gong (Get It On) · U2 · Elton John
Bang A Gong (Get It On)
℗ An Island Records recording; ℗ 2020 Universal Music Operations Limited
Released on: 2020-09-04
Producer: Hal Willner
Studio Personnel, Mix Engineer, Recording Engineer: Marc Urselli
Associated Performer, Piano, Vocals: Elton John
Associated Performer, Vocals: Bono
Associated Performer, Guitar, Recording Arranger: The Edge
Associated Performer, Bass Guitar: Adam Clayton
Associated Performer, Drums: Larry Mullen, Jr.
Associated Performer, Trombone: Trombone Shorty
Associated Performer, Baritone Saxophone: Ray Moore III
Associated Performer, Tenor Saxophone: Brad Walker
Associated Performer, Trombone: Jeff Albert
Associated Performer, Trumpet: Ashlin Parker
Associated Performer, Trombone: Charles Halloran
Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Howie Weinberg
Composer Lyricist: Marc Bolan
Unanimous Sources will perform our first concert since the lockdown as a livestream from The Nest504. This will be livestream only with no in person audience and the stream will be available on The Nest’s twitch page and on Facebook. The crew at The Nest do a great job with sound and visuals, so it should be a good audio visual experience.
It does seem weird to be promoting a performance while our society is in the middle of dissolving/re-inventing itself (depending on how full you think the glass is). As musicians what we know how to do is make music, and part of the impetus for this band was a way to say something about the state of our society. Please join us if you can, and we will do our best to help you feel something and hopefully make you think. #blacklivesmatter