New Year’s Resolution – 2021

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.

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

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.