Hello my fellow humans,
This is a blog…short for weblog. It is my first and probably only entry for 2021. I will try to keep things brief so you can go outside asap and look at trees and cute dogs.
First, the Claudia Quintet just released a new recording, entitled Evidence-Based. You can read about it/listen to it/buy a digital version at the kindest website for musicians, bandcamp. Besides the awesome regular members of Claudia (Chris Speed, Matt Moran, Red Wierenga and Drew Gress), we are honored to share the audio stage with the one and only Eileen Myles. The music and Eileen’s words are based on censorship of certain important words summarized in this little piece of prescient news from 2017. One reason to write pieces based on these words is to go against the CDC internal recommendations/suggestions and to put them forth as much as possible into the universe. With that in mind, here are some of the titles on this recording: Evidence-based, Science-based, fetus, transgender, diversity and entitlement. Enjoy this unique, remotely recorded document of our times!
In August, I got on a plane for the first time in 2021 to go to Helsinki for the first installment of a residency organized and sponsored by the wonderful people at Jazz Finland. The first few days were spent out in the country at this nice little place. Apparently my room was haunted, but the ghost must have been following strigent social distancing policies because I never saw/heard her. (It is a her I was told.) But I did get to meet and play music and in the evening hang at the incredible lakeside sauna with a lot of great Finnish musicians who teach at the Sibelius Academy!
After a little visit to the neighbor’s house, previously owned by one Jean Sibelius, we made our way to Helsinki to play at the musician friendly club, Koko Jazz Club.
It was a wonderful 3-set night led by me, my dear old comrade Ethan Iverson and new friend, Mike Moreno (who I quickly learned is a wine expert!…note to self: befriend as many wine experts as possible; not only do they know where the good wine is but the good food too!)
Here is a post-concert pic of the fine ensemble that I was honored to lead featuring Verneri Pohjola on trumpet, Kari Ikonen on piano/keys, Ape Anttila on bass and maestro Mikko Hassinen on drums.Please note my friend and bandmate from JASS; Sebastian Bousseau came all the way from Nantes, France to photobomb us!
When not eating great food or meeting legendary Finnish musicians like Iro Haarla and Raoul Björkenheim (who makes a mean risotto FYI), I was playing with the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra. Last summer they remotely put this little ditty together which was fun but it sure was great to meet them and play with them in person!
Even though the Helsinki Festival was largely cancelled due to COVID issues, I got to see this incredible Brian Eno classic installation one fine Helsinki morning.
It was touching to meet many new friends and see some former students of mine like Joonas Leppänen who is creating his own musical universe and Ilkka Uksila, who played some nasty vibes with UMO. The best part about this trip is that it was just Part One! I’m doing it again next August! Hopefully with more music interactions, collaborations, performances and of course more visits to fine establishments like Wino, (thanks again Mike!)
Back in Canada, we are getting back to performing live! I’m very excited to be able to perform Epigraphs #2-4 this fall at Café Resonance! Epigraphs #1 premiered virtually at the Earshot Jazz Festival in the fall of 2020. Epigraphs #2 will be performed this Thursday, Sept. 30th. The core group is guitarist Roman Munoz and epigraph-chanting vocalists Sarah Rossy and Jeanne Laforest. And we will be adding some guests for #3 and #4.
In school news, the Schulich School of Music just hired some new, brilliant faculty Camille Thurman, Ira Coleman and Darrell Green!
Besides being very excited to teach in person again, I was recently touched to receive a Mcgill Teaching Award and get a promotion to Full Professor!I’m very happy to be on a few friends’ new recordings!
My old pal, Tom Nazziola recently released his incredibly diverse recording, Distant Places. Tom is so multi-talented I can’t even list all that he does, so go to his website and you will see! Among other great pieces, he wrote this nice duet for voice and drums for us dedicated to one of our favorite drummers, Bob Moses!
I just came back from NYC, where I was very happy to play for Anna Webber’s record release gig for Idiom, her newest releases for Trio and Large Ensemble. Wow! Check this out!2022 is shaping to be epic with new projects and gigs in Finland/Portugal/Ukraine/Japan/Vancouver, BC and last but not least, Knoxville, Tennessee (BIG EARS!)As a sneak preview to 2022, here is the remotely recorded, PROOF OF CONCEPT with my new band, GEORGE, composed of Anna Webber, Aurora Nealand, Chiquita Magic and me.