It has been a long time since I have had enough time to write one of these little blog ditties.
This blog will be mostly written with a retrograde form with a futuristic coda and seemless, smooth transitions (said someone who has been teaching composition A LOT!)
Starting today, you and the other humans on this planet are cordially invited to take part in the Songs You Like a Lot Survey! This recording will be the third part of a trilogy with Theo Bleckmann/Kate McGarry/Gary Versace (1&3)/Uri Caine (2) and the Frankfurt hr-BigBand.
On the first recording, Songs I Like a Lot, the focus was on some songs that I liked and wanted to arrange. On the second recording, Songs We Like a Lot, I let Theo and Kate come up with most of the titles (with a few from me, since I was part of the “we”). For the upcoming third album, YOU are going to decide what is on the recording through your votes on the survey. You can pick 10 titles from the nomination list that we have been compiling for a long time. Thanks for being the most important part of this recording project!
Speaking of “nomination list” (smoove transition John!), the latest John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble recording on New Amsterdam Records has been nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. It is an honor to be nominated by my peers and to be on any list with the great Jim McNeely!
So many people are involved in a recording like this, so many heartfelt thanks to:
Label – New Amsterdam Records
Recording engineer – James Farber
Assistant – Nate Odden
Mixing engineer – Brian Montgomery
Mastering engineer – Brent Lambert at Kitchen Mastering
Financial support: Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, & Arete Living Arts
Commissioners: University of Northern Colorado, Chicago Jazz Festival, FONT, Frankfurt Radio Big Band, University of the Arts Philadelphia
Inspirational words: Laurie Frink
Support and inspiration: Kate Schroeder
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble:
Ben Kono – soprano/alto/tenor sax, flute
Jeremy Viner – clarinet, tenor sax
Tony Malaby – tenor/soprano sax
Dan Willis – tenor sax, clarinet
Anna Webber – flute, tenor sax
Bohdan Hilash – clarinet, bass clarinet, bass sax, tubax
Chris Tordini – acoustic/electric bass
Matt Mitchell – piano, organ, keyboard
Patricia Brennan – vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel
John Hollenbeck – drums, composition
Theo Bleckmann – voice
JC Sanford – conductor
I’m sure Kate and I could come up with some snazzy outfits for the GRAMMY ceremony, but in a coincidental Murphy’s Law (as opposed to John Murph’s Law) situation, JHLE has a great gig on the east coast on the very same evening. For those of you lovers from Virginia, please come hear us at:
Moss Arts Center
VIRIGINIA TECH, Blacksburg, VA
on FEBRUARY 10th!
Speaking of snazzy outfits…Theo Bleckmann! That was not a transition but just a fact.
For the actual transition: Speaking of Jim McNeely, I am proud to be a part of this new book by Rick Lawn about Jim and some other great jazz composers!
(Sometimes it is nice to just have a small ending in the middle of a composition, breath and then go on to the next section with a renewed energy.)
I’ve been hanging pretty consistently in my new home city of Montreal this fall. One of the highlights here was an improvised performance with video/film icon, Pierre Hebert, for the L’Off Festival. The basic idea was that Erik Hove, Simon Millerd and I played improvised and composed music based on a simple cueing system. Pierre Hebert was free to use our sounds as an inspiration. Terri Hron took our sonic output and electronically processed it. You can watch the 2nd half of the performance here.
I had met and played once with Pierre Hebert about 15 years ago at the Guelph Festival. Pierre was there to do a gig with his frequent collaborator Bob Ostertag and Theo Bleckmann. When Bob had to cancelled at the last minute, I filled in on prepared piano with the amazing Barre Phillips, so it was great to finally perform with Pierre again! (Here you can watch another piece by Pierre Hebert based on a Malcolm Goldstein performance.)
Much of my time this fall in Montreal has been taken up with my new duties as the Jazz Area Chair at McGill. It was an exhausting but also exhilarating semester with great guests like Jen Shyu, Meredith Monk, Mino Cinelu, Mark McCormick, Ben Monder, Anna Webber, and Steve Kaldestad. Next semester we have Fabian Almazan, Linda Oh, Ambrose Akinmusire just to name a few! The semester was capped off with a really nice tour with the McClaudia combo in Toronto and Ottawa. In Toronto, we played at the COC and were honored to play for the wonderful Dean of our school, Brenda Ravenscroft.
Speaking of the Claudia Quintet (another slick transition), we are proud to celebrate a new addition to the Claudia family, Ossian Cypress Edward Wierenga!!
The Claudia playbook is almost done (I have been saying that for 2 years, but it is still true!), I am working on the next CQ recording…and a Fall Europe tour is being booked by our friends at Esteam!
I will leave you with a touching poem which I’ve been tweaking an arrangement of, Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye.