My track with U2

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

Livestream on Saturday, June 13, 2020

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

Unanimous Sources

My new album, Unanimous Sources, is out today in all of the streaming places, and the label’s bandcamp.

Stream it on Deezer, Apple Music, Spotify, or I am sure you know how the search function works on your streaming service.

Or buy it directly.

Music theory teaches us how to hear. Can it help us hear each other? — Institute for Creativity

Music theory teaches us how to hear. Can it help us hear each other? — Institute for Creativity

Music theorist, trombonist, (and my former road roomate) Chris Stover writes about how applying ideas from the practice of music theory can help us understand each other.

Remember that music theory is itself a creative practice, that it does not seek “truth” so much as rich modes of sense-making, and that it is first of all communicative.

I never really thought about how studying Haydn and sonata form would help me do a better job of having empathy (or at least understanding) for my fellow humans, but the idea that all meaning derives from context really hit me.

Jazz Fest in Place

WWOZ is playing sets from past Jazz Fests during the times that Jazz Fest would have been happening. Tune in at 90.7 FM in the New Orleans area or www.wwoz.org. Full listings are here: https://www.wwoz.org/640011-jazz-festing-place-cubes

You can hear me at 12:30 pm on Friday, April 24 on the 2018 Luther Kent & Trick Bag set, and at 4:30 pm on Thursday, April 30 on the Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Orchestra set from 2015. There is a two week archive as well

It is almost like having gigs…ok, not really, but it is better than nothing.

Ellis Marsalis (1934-2020)

I just learned of the passing of Ellis Marsalis, Jr., the great pianist and teacher. There will be many greater eulogies and histories across the internet, so I just want to tell one story. I got my MM from the University if New Orleans when Ellis taught there. He conducted the Concert Jazz Orchestra and was on my graduate committee. The jazz orchestra took a trip to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil right as I was graduating, and I was the de facto road manager for the band as part of my assistantship. There are many great stories from that trip, but my favorite has to do with a music school that was up the hill in the favela. The father of an exchange student at UNO ran the school and Ellis and the band visited one afternoon. When Ellis asked the folks in the neighborhood if they were coming to our concert on Friday night, people laughed. We did not know that a ticket to our concert downtown in the theater was more than one month’s salary for most of the people in this neighborhood. When Ellis heard this he immediately said, “oh, well then we will come play a concert here Saturday afternoon.” We did, and the joy of Brazilian children dancing to Thad Jones’s “Groove Merchant” is forever burned into my memory. That is the great man I remember. RIP Mr. Marsalis.

Thoughts on the mortality of a friend

On December 12, a friend died. She was younger than me, and had only known about her cancer for 11 months. Those 11 months contained some fear and some optimism. At one point she asked fearfully, “what if I die? What will my life have meant?” I didn’t know how to answer. I mentioned her many students and friends and all of the other people whose days and lives she brightened, but I don’t think that was what she wanted to hear.

After her death, a friend from her teenage years shared something that was written 20+ years ago. in 1997, my now deceased friend wrote, “One more thing: When I die, I would like to be remembered as an open person, open to the world. With big and understanding eyes that have seen and see lots of things. More than full of knowledge, wise (in the greek sense, I mean, I don’t want to tell books by memory, but know how to live and help others to do the same).” (This was translated from Spanish)

That is a lovely and accurate description of my friend. She was open and understanding and wise. She successfully lived the life she imagined for herself when she was a teenager. May we all live so successfully. Rest in peace my friend.

A year?

It is hard to believe it has been over a year since I posted anything here. I need to change that. I am in Chicago right now for the Instigation Festival. My band Unanimous Sources played last night at Constellation, and today the Instigation Orchestra played a new composition by Katinka Kleijn.

Jeff Albert, Katinka Kleijn, and Steve Marquette

On Judging Creative Activity or Sometimes My Kids Teach Me Stuff

The ranking of creative activity often strikes me as awkward at best, and counter-productive at worst. Competitive cooking shows are a great example. One chef leaves in tears, as I am thinking, “that looks great, pass that plate over here.” “This band is better than that band” always seems like a futile exercise.

Last night we attended the big end of the season high school marching band competition. My daughter is in one of the bands that competed. This competition has a prelims and finals format. They played two great shows. I think the best two shows they have played all season. When the rankings were announced after finals, they did not place as high as many hoped, or expected. There are some natural emotional reactions that can flow out in times like that. But, it made me remember something that my step-son said to me a few years ago.

My step-son, Blake, spent three summers performing on the DCI Tour with the Madison Scouts. (DCI is the highest level of marching band field show in the world. They would be pros, except you have to pay to do it…maybe another post.) At the end of one of Blake’s seasons, as I picked him up at the airport the day after finals, I commented that I thought they should have placed much higher. His response taught me something. He said that they had played one of their best shows of the season, and the audience loved it, and that was what they were there to do; be as good as they could be, and make something that moved people. They did that, and it was a success in his mind.

I feel like that is what my daughter’s band did last night. They performed as well as they could, and people liked it. That’s all that really matters.

…and that third place cheesecake can still make someone VERY happy.