The Bloomingdale School Of Music is the place where I took private trumpet lessons, started loving chamber music and starting learning about music composition. It was one of the most important paths set before me.
I had my first moments of personal success at this small neighborhood community music school. Perhaps this is the place that has given me my first opportunities to succeed and fail in a safe place.
My kid has anxiety, and I had anxiety as a kid until I started doing music. 4th and 5th Grade I was in Mr. Osborn’s boys choir. I took a few ass kicking those years. In the 6th grade I did my best (with a great deal of success) to not be seen at all. I was robbed a few times that year. During my 7th grade year I was transferred into a class that did music, then I joined the marching band. That’s when things started to change.
Most people who we recognize as important, carve their own path. Me, well… I’m just lucky the path set before me was the right path for me. If not for one thing in my life, I would be a totally different person. What is that thing you ask? Fear…yes fear has shaped me and molded me into the man you see today.
I’m not going to advocate living your life full of fear and hesitation, however my case it worked for me. Fear and safe places to practice being a person. Where ever I played music felt like a safe place.
It’s funny how one comes into contact with new music. I was recently listening to the New York Times Popcast titled “The Return of New York Rap” , which offered a unique discussion about the lack of rap music coming out of NYC the past decade. As I am a native New Yorker and still feel a certain connection to the music coming from there. So to listen to
Jon Caramanica and his guest talk about the artist coming out of there and the specific impact the New York radio stations play in getting music out to the masses was very enlightening. Not to mention, the Caribbean and island talk reminded me of home. When I hear topics likes these about my hometown, I feel comforted.
The podcast was so interesting to me that I wanted to read up on some of the artist mentioned in the talk directly from the NYT website. Well, somehow I meandered toward the bottom of the page and saw a trumpeter. His name is Ibrahim Maalouf and I am glad I got the chance to discover his music as well.
Funny, the twist and turns we make towards discovery. From Young M.A.’s “OOOUUU” and Fat Joe and Remy Ma’s “All The Way Up” to Ibrahim Maalouf Live in Beirut.
It’s the middle of summer, my kid is watching cartoons while I look at my units of study for the up coming school year. Since I am a middle school band director, I tend to worry about how effectively I am helping students learn specific skills on their instruments and the other parts of music, like music theory and music history. Never mind connecting them to other subjects studies at out school and finding ways to stay in touch with anything current and relevant to middle school kids, while thinking about making global connections to all we do.
Just for fun (or because I’m a glutton for punishment) we will be tackling intro to music theory, the Romantic era of music history, beginning conducting and beginning composition.
And yes, this will be the work 6th, 7th and 8th graders will explore with me. Should be a fun school year, so why am I worried about it in July?
Now and again I tend to reminisce about my youth, and luckily what comes up most for me is the music I listened to. Lately I’ve been spending my time totally enamored with two specific groups, The New York Voices and the Pat Metheny Group. I listened to these pieces often and I fell in love with the artist as well. I can even make a direct connection between the woman I fell in love with (who is now my lovely wife of 13 years) and one of these groups.
The New York Voices are a vocal jazz quartet currently, however when I first learned about them they were a quintet. I listened to their self titled first album constantly, in fact it was the 3rd CD I remember ever buying in 1991. The song that has stuck to me like a great memory is titled Silence Of Time. Take the time to enjoy this piece.
The first time I heard Pat Metheny’s Minuano I remember it challenged all I knew about music. The lines between jazz and classical music were blurred for me since. Subsequently, I started to listen for common ground between genre’s and making connections across the different components within music. This piece moves and I remember it moving me as a teenager.
Lately I’ve been enamored with experimental covers of pop musicians. My latest object of affection is the intersection of modern big-band and Bjork. The result is Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra. An incredible collection of jazz interpretations of music written and performed by Bjork.
Take a listen, buy their albums…or go see them live.
Somehow I can’t seem to shake two seemingly and completely different ear-worms. For those who don’t know what an ear-worms is, the best I can say is it’s a song or a piece of music that has worked it’s self into you mind and deep into the very fabric of your being.
In any case here are my two…yes two ear-worms. First I had a conversation with a new friend and he mentioned that “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys changed his life and perspective on music. Well, after that conversation the worm was on the hook and working it’s way deep into my mind.
The second came as a result of the awesome documentary I watched on Viceland called “NOISEY London”. Now it’s on, and my mind is racing back and forth between Kano, JME, Giggs and the Beach Boys.
These things usually come to an end when I buy and listen to the object (or in this case the objects) in question. Anyways…this is my therapy, but somehow I hopes it’s contagious for others to enjoy like I am.
Recently I played a concert in concert recital hall. The space was very intimate and the concert was around mid-day. At first I thought this was an odd time for a chamber music concert featuring the Stravinsky Octet and a few other works for the era. Odd until I listened to the New York Times Popcast: Jazz’s Takeover of Hallowed Museum Spaces.
Part of the discussion dealt with the classification of what jazz music is and how artist explore new sounds, spaces, and the integration of many forms of arts. One of the artist in question was Jason Moran. A fantastic jazz pianist and now Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center.
Sometimes I forget why I like certain composers and then I am reminded of how important some were to me as a young musician. I ran across this on NPR and once again I am reminded of why I love Aaron Copland’s music.
I ran across an album with a face I recognized from long ago. It’s not like this artist is difficult to find, however I think this is his first project as the leader of this recording project. His name is Carlos Henriquez and he is the bass player. His latest project The Bronx Pyramid is a beautiful collection of latin and jazz compositions with incredible performances by well known artist like Rubén Blades.
I encourage folks to look up, listen and download/buy his album.