It has already been sweltering here in Oklahoma City, but today we got a reprieve with cooler weather and more rain. It has given me a lot of inside time to reflect on this past year of college, and assess my plans for the future. The main plan is continuing to teach, perform, practice, and compose. Oh yeah, and graduating with my BM in Music Performance in December. After that I am going to audition at a few schools and see where life leads me. I would have no issue staying in Oklahoma City for another year and continuing to shed standards, write new tunes, and gig. So in retrospect, although getting into graduate school is a priority, if I do not make it into University of North Texas, UT Austin, or other music programs, then I will not be too upset by being allowed to further hone my craft.
Playing this Friday, June 13th at Othello's Italian Restaurant in Norman from 9:00pm - midnight. It will be myself on guitar and Jemar Poteat on bass. Jemar is a solid musician all the way around. He is a top-notch drummer and bassist, who I have had the great fortune to work with over the past year or so.
Saturday, Melissa Brumfield and I will be performing at a good friend of her's wedding. We have new tunes to throw down and experiment with for the wedding. Our crop of tunes is still mostly standards, but have thrown in quite a few pop tunes to mix it up. It has been a wonderful and eye opening experience to work with Melissa. I have learned a lot about arranging for duo style playing and how to accompany someone and make it interesting. As always music is an ever evolving thing and this project is definitely something we will continue to see evolve.
I am hoping to write and record an album about a year from now; pending graduate auditions. I have a few tunes in the works and perhaps a couple lesser known standards to add on. It is hard to commit to recording an album when you constantly evolve. It is hard to say x, y, or z are you best moments when tomorrow brings a whole new set of challenges and surprises. I am trying to commit to it and push forth and record at least 5-7 tunes to showcase my playing.
As much as I am known for my solo guitar playing, I am really ready to put that on the back burner. It has no been at the forefront for several years, but lately I have played nothing but solo guitar gigs. I love solo guitar. It is part of the reason I really got into jazz - listening to great players like Ted Greene, Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Joe Beck, and countless others - but my perspective has shifted toward ensemble playing. The tunes I have been writing rely heavily on a quintet formation that is popular these days: guitar, piano, bass, drums, and saxophone. I have been listening to Kendrick Scott Oracle, Lage Lund, Will Vinson, Jaleel Shaw, and deriving a similar concept for the tunes I have been working on. I do look forward to putting together a group of players to record an album with and if not now perhaps while in graduate school. It is all settled to go down in the next three years, but I am hoping to record within a year given time constraints.
I will cut it here for now! I need to write updates about new albums I have been listening to and to review the fantastic Comins Guitars GCS-1ES! I will dedicate more time to writing over the summer and less when school starts up again.
The title of an incredible Pat Metheny composition, April Joy, seems to sum up my thoughts about this month perfectly. There is a lot of news to share about upcoming gigs!
The first of which happens tomorrow evening with Lee Rucker on trumpet, Aaron Tomasko on bass, and Justin Walke on drums. I cannot express enough gratitude to Lee for inviting me to play with these guys - they are truly the cream of the crop here in Oklahoma City.
Next week, Melissa Brumfield and I will be performing at Zannotti's Wine Bar in Stillwater from 7 to 9pm on Tuesday, April 29th. Please note the time has changed! We are starting an hour earlier than usual. Then on Friday, May 2nd, we trek up to Enid, Oklahoma to play at The Felt Bird for their First Friday/Jazz Stroll. We are very excited to be playing at both of these occasions! We are grateful to Zannotti's for always having time for us to play, and we also thank everyone at The Felt Bird for inviting us up there! Both of these shows are free, so come on out if you're around!
Also on Friday, May 2nd, I will be performing solo for the Scholarship and Donor Luncheon on campus at the University of Central Oklahoma. I am honored to be asked to play on campus again.
This past Tuesday, I was given the tremendous opportunity to perform with the Jazz Composer's Combo at the Jazz Lab. I have been fortunate enough to play with these guys all semester and I could not be more thankful. I have been pushed to lengths I did not know were possible. These guys stretched my concept of jazz and opened up my ears by writing and choosing truly challenging material. This has truly been a highlight of my time at the University of Central Oklahoma. Anyway, I was lucky enough to bring in an original tune entitled Crepuscular Rays for this concert. These concerts are recorded and I hope to be able to share this original with everyone in the coming months.
I just want to thank: Brian Gorrell, Jared Cathey, Eric Upchurch, Collin Ferrell, Stephen Schultz, and Michael Bremo for these past few months of great music. It has been an honor to play with you all.
It has been a great several months and I look forward to this summer so that I can sit down and woodshed for a few months. I plan on finishing a lot of started transcriptions and relax after a long semester. I am pleased to say that I will finally graduate in December!
I will do my best to keep everyone up to date on my new guitar and the happenings going on this summer. Any new gigs will be posted in the gig section - so stay tuned.
Seeing as we have already swept into March almost, I am, obviously, a bit late on updating my website. Here is a brief recapitulation of the past few months:
After a productive winter break, I auditioned into the Jazz Composer's Combo at UCO. It is a group of forward thinking modern jazz musicians, who either compose or transcribe modern jazz tunes. We had our first concert last night at the Jazz Lab playing selections by Mark Tuner, Stephen Schultz, Cedar Walton, and Jesse Van Ruller. It was a great set last night, everyone sounded great, and for once I get to be the one getting beat up in rehearsals. I have been on the upper edge of most of the ensembles I have been in thus far at UCO. I have been fortunate to be in some great ensembles, but this combo has truly driven me to practice harder. I am truly blessed to be playing with these guys. I wish we could rehearse everyday!
For some time now, I have been researching semi-hollow guitars in order to bridge the sound between arched-top and solid-body instruments. I have been through several Ibanez models and been very disappointed by both vintage and newer models. Sometime around January, I stumbled across Bill Comin's Guitar Craft Series, which are built in Korea then shipped to Philadelphia where Bill sets them up and sends them to dealers. Being a jazzer in Oklahoma City puts me at a significant disadvantage to trying new gear, but I decided to go ahead and order a Comins GCS-1ES. I should take delivery of it by mid-late April, but I am very excited about his instruments. I have scoured the internet for a negative review of these instruments and I could not find one. I am not looking to give up my love of arched top instruments, but I do need a little more practical guitar to haul around everyday.
I have played a few gigs since I posted at the beginning of this year: A set a Zannotti's, which is always a great place to play, although it is rather quiet on Tuesday nights. Two shows at the Jazz Lab, one with Jazz Ensemble III and the combo concert last night. The big band will also be playing this upcoming Monday night: March 3rd at 7pm. All four big bands will play that night, so come on out and enjoy the wide selection of tunes by all four bands. I started out solo this past Friday playing at Paramount OKC, on good ole Film Row down West Sheridan in OKC, and was then joined by Melissa on vocals. It was a great show. It can be hit or miss at these smaller venues, but I felt really well about how I played that night.
I have added a couple new students this semester, all of which I am happy about, but adding the fact that I am enrolled in seventeen hours at UCO - it makes for a very long week.
I will try and post more updates in the future. I'll do my best to document the Comin's GCS-1ES when it shows up at my place. There is not a ton of information about these guitars online just yet, so I will give my two cents when it arrives. In the meantime, check out Jesse Van Ruller's album Views, specifically the tune Sway, which I transcribed and the composers combo played last night. Also, a big thanks to Jesse Van Ruller for
It has been one long year, hasn't it? Although there were times where it seemed to fly right by, it seems like 2013 has had a bit of a drag to it over the past couple months. Christmas is still going around here and through this weekend just to make sure we meet up with all of the family. As much as I enjoy it, it serves as a constant reminder to take advantage of the time you have - and to take advantage of the time you get in the practice room.
Melissa Brumfield and I played a fun set at Othello's Italian Restaurant in Norman, OK on Saturday night. It was our first time down there and we had a blast. We didn't get through all of our new tunes, so we'll debut a few new ones on Friday, January 3rd at The Paramount in OKC. We're updating our setlist to feature modern compositions and be friendlier to the non-jazz crowd while still maintaining a few standards. Come on out on Friday!
2013 has seen the fall of several of jazz giants: Yusef Lateef, Jim Hall, Chico Hamilton, Marian McPartland (of NPR fame), George Duke, Donald Byrd, who are just a few of the many who passed on this year. Jim Hall is of particular significance, and influence, to my playing. I first heard Jim playing on Jim Hall: Live! And after listening to the entire album, I knew I wanted to do that for a living. What spoke to me wasn't his "chops", but it was his effortless ability to speak melodically through his instrument. He created melodies and counter melodies in his improvisations similar to classical etudes. He did not "noodle", nor did he play anything too flashy, he was thoughtful, careful, and above all he listened and played only what needed to be played in a given moment. He will be forever known as one of the greatest improvisers of all time.
Now I may be ringing in the New Year with a sinus infection, but I have had a lot of time to sit and listen. Lately I have become a big fan of Jesse van Ruller, a jazz guitarist out of the Netherlands who won the Thelonious Monk Competition several years back. He has such a fluid and lyrical style to his improvisations, meanwhile capturing dynamics and articulations most guitarists skip over. I've been heavily influenced by his playing style on his Live at Murphy's Law recording. There is so much life in his playing, it is not as rigid as a lot of jazz guitarists can be these days. His feel is so free within the music that it is truly inspiring. He is definitely someone everyone should check out!
I am thankful for another New Year and hope it is filled with even more joy and music than 2013!
Right now, I am hunkered down in my house due to the cold weather looking back on all the great playing experiences I have had this year, the people I have met and worked with, and the opportunities that have been offered to me, and one word springs to mind: Blessed. I feel truly blessed to have worked with Lee Rucker since this past summer, and to have met the great saxophonist Eric Alexander, while working in his combo at the Aebersold Jazz Workshop this summer. I'm thankful for those whom I met, and got a chance to create music with, at Aebersold: Hannah (bass), Brian (tenor), Cole (drums), Matt (tenor), Greg (trumpet), Melvin (alto), John (pianist). We shared an amazing experience working together that week, playing the great George Coleman's "Amsterdam after Dark". Sitting in countless masterclasses by Mike DiLiddo, Dave Stryker, Fred Hamilton and Corey Christiansen, who shared their wisdom and techniques, helped to broaden my horizon of what this music is really about.
I'm blessed to be a part of Jazz Ensemble III at UCO this semester, and to be among all the great guitarists at UCO, all of which continue to push each other musically. I am thankful for Taylor Carmona, who spent countless hours texting everyone to set up regular jam sessions all summer long. She's since moved to Kansas City and set up a jam session at UMKC, and it has been a challenge to set up sessions with people since, her influence has been missed. I'm grateful for Danny Vaughan, UCO's guitar instructor, who encouraged me to come sit in at Grand House with the "old cats". He gave me the push necessary to play outside of my comfort zone with the master musicians in OKC.
I feel blessed to be working - whether it is teaching students, playing gigs, or most recently, playing guitar for People's Church OKC campus. A great deal of thanks is in order to Jemar Poteat, for setting me up with such an inspiring group of people to create music for the ultimate purpose.
I really cannot thank Stephen Schultz and Drew Wilson enough for their work on my Junior Recital last month. It was a pleasure to work with them, the ease and finesse they play with took me to another level. It was a joy being able to get together weekly to rehearse, and follow the music where it took us. I look forward to being able to play with those guys again soon.
Looking back at all these experiences, and even those not mentioned here, it is hard not to feel blessed and inspired musically. I look forward to next year, to continue playing at UCO, People's Church, and anywhere else I am needed. I hope to simply follow the music wherever it takes me.
My recital was a success! I got to play tunes with great cats. I could not have asked for a better result from these guys. A big thanks to Stephen Schultz on upright bass and Drew Wilson on drums!
The entire recital was recorded and a few of the tracks are already up on my SoundCloud!
I feel decent about what I put up online already. Segment seems to be a big hit, it has a cool vibe and great melody; plus it is a rarely played Charlie Parker tune. The other tracks I am still deciding whether or not I want to put online. The reason being is that I am trying to get an aural portfolio put together and have to select the best cuts that represent my playing.
Overall though, the entire recital went well and I am pretty happy with how it all turned out. As far as a Junior Recital goes, it went well, but I am trying to push myself even further lately. I have really improved my right hand technique as of late, so now I really need to get back to transcription to get my ear around more jazz vocabulary. Heavy listening is coming up in the future, so hopefully I can get back to posting about recordings I am checking out.
I am tremendously tired as a result of the recital, but I finally have a day off, so hopefully I can crash out awhile - and practice.
Check out the tunes on SoundCloud! Thanks for reading!
October has come and will be gone by the end of this week and my has time flown. I am at a loss of what to say about it all, but I can be thankful for several reasons. First, I passed my recital preview, which means I get to give my recital on November 10th at 7pm in Radke Recital Hall on the main campus at the University of Central Oklahoma. Secondly, I am happy to be playing regularly at People's Church here in Oklahoma City. I did my second week this morning, and truly feel inspired to be working with everyone who volunteers and is on staff at the church. It is a truly diverse and excellent place to be a part of.
Melissa Brumfield and I will be making our Oklahoma City debut a week from Friday on November the 8th at The Paramount; 701 W Sheridan, OKC, OK. Our show starts at 8pm, so come on down for some wine, coffee, and our warm sound on a should-be-chilly-eve. Also, we will make our Norman debut on December 28th at Othello's Italian Restaurant from 9pm to midnight. The ante has been raised and we are working hard for more Oklahoma City metro-based gigs, so look out OKC! We are both excited to be playing a little closer to home than Stillwater. We love our crowd from Stillwater, but our goal in the beginning was to break the ice in a smaller town and work toward playing in our hometown. Do not fear though, we will still be at Zannotti's about once a month for our loving Stillwater family.
I am so thankful and inspired by everyone I am coming in contact with lately. It musically did not work out to where I will be playing at the Sushi Bar in Edmond, but I believe that to be the best for everyone involved. Initially, she came across as a jazz vocalist, but her focus seems more on the popular side of music, and my heart is just not into what she was asking of me. However, I saw how hard I could work balancing my rehearsal and practice of her music, the churches, and my own for my recital - and I now know I can up the ante on my own practice and make myself even better.
I've met with a great yoga instructor at 3rd Street Yoga in Edmond, OK named Nora McColgan. We have only met once so far, but I can already tell that I have a lot to learn from her about becoming more aware of my body. She has terrific energy and I believe she can really help me to improve my overall health and posture while playing.
Come out to my recital if you're in the Oklahoma City metro area on Nov. 10th at 7pm!
It seems like a lot happened last week for having only had classes three days that week. I was asked to play at a local church in Oklahoma City, by an incredible local drummer/bassist Jemar Poteat, and we had our first rehearsal on Tuesday this week. It went well, but it was a long night for four short songs. It took some time to get into the rhythm with everyone and really feel it all out. I have spent most of my life playing in jazz duos, so playing modern church music with a full band is definitely new to me. I haven't had much rock and roll experience in many many years. It was a lot of fun and hopefully will turn into a regular experience. I will be playing this weekend for four services and it promises to be a fun and fulfilling time.
Melissa Brumfield and myself will be at Zannotti's Wine Bar in Stillwater, OK once again on Tuesday, October 22nd from 8-10pm. We are going to add a few new tunes, not simply unfamiliar tunes, but covers of modern music to attempt to reach a newer (younger) audience. In addition, we have a few pending dates set in motion for our Oklahoma City debut. I have contacted several local businesses and restaurants about gigs with a positive response. We are working with them setting up dates and times as we speak. You could hear us live in our hometown as early as next weekend!
I'm also playing with another vocalist out of Edmond at the Sushi Bar. The gig basically fell into my lap via the internet, she posted an ad for a guitarist for upcoming gigs she had already booked. I took a chance and sent her a message, and we had a rehearsal last night. It was pretty productive. It will take a bit to learn all the songs since I am unfamiliar with most of what she does, but I can handle it. It's not very challenging music, but it will be a challenge seeing as I am the only rhythm section instrument. She advertised for a saxophone, and/or trumpet, as well, so we will see what comes of that at our next rehearsal. Our first gig should be October 26th at 9:30pm unless she decides to go another way.
Rehearsal late next Monday for my recital preview next Wednesday. I will hear advice, tips, and complaints from my recital committee at 7:15pm. This is the moment where you find out if you are approved to give your recital or not, and I feel confident in my group and my playing that it will go just fine.
A lot is going on these next few weeks, but I am honestly excited about it. It is good to be busy. It helps put what I want to do in focus and gives me the drive to achieve through practice what I want out of my playing.
Also very inspired by Dutch jazz guitar great, Jesse Van Ruller. He has an album Live at Murphy's Law, which is absolutely astounding. His touch, tone, style, and groove are absolutely remarkable. He's one baaaad dude.
Check out the gig's section next week as I will have added a bunch of dates, hopefully by Monday.
Thanks for reading!
I'm sitting here listening to my newly acquired collection of Smalls Live recordings from Smalls Jazz Club in NYC, NY. A few months ago they had a fundraiser to upgrade their live video feed, get a new piano, and create their musicians' revenue project - to fund the incredible players that make music and get recorded at Smalls. As part of my pledge package, I got a flash drive full of their entire Smalls Live catalog to date. I'm currently checking out the Lage Lund Four recording by the incredible Norwegian guitarist Lage Lund.
In addition to checking out new tunes, a lot has gone on throughout these past few months - so I'll give you a brief overview. I have been having some issues with tendonitis, so I have not been playing as much. I just recently got back to really practicing again this week. It's been great to be on the up and up with it, but dealing with the physicality of being a musician is certainly one of the hardest parts. Since my recital is on November 10th, the timing is not ideal, but I will take the current relief as a good sign.
I've got the set list picked out for my recital and have had a rehearsal already. I'm desperately trying to go against the grain of what is standard around here at UCO. Generally you are required to have another chordal instrument on your recital, but I have rehearsed with the trio and enjoy the sound. I'll find out on October 23rd, if my committee would rather have me add a keyboardist or not. I like the trio element since we can really work hard together to get a good balance and really deliver the tunes our way - plus being able to stretch out improvisationally. Two great local players, Stephen Schultz on bass (but he is also a guitarist/saxophonist/awesomeist) and Drew Wilson on the drums, will be accompanying me on my recital. I'm so thankful for being able to play with such a great group.
I am working toward updating this regularly, but I am becoming increasingly busy as the weeks go on. The next few weeks will truly be a test!
Week One Down!
Auditions are over and I found my way into Jazz Ensemble III. It will be my first big band experience and I am excited to hit our first rehearsal on Tuesday afternoon. I was not selected to be in a combo, but given that I have a recital to prepare for, I am sure the extra time will be beneficial.
My recital should be November 10th at 7pm barring any complications during the following weeks. I have to get a recital committee to sign off to grade my performance and after that I should be good to go. I have asked a bassist and drummer to play on my recital already and hopefully they will both work out. Everyone is trying to solidify their schedule this first week, so hopefully these guys can play the date. The goal is to ask the best players around, so I did!
The semi-hollow Ibanez 335 I purchased was sent back to the seller due to description issues. It was not properly described and pictures did not indicate that it was not the model he claimed. It was a mid-70's Ibanez 2454, but the body was drilled into and modified for a stop tailpiece, instead of the original floating tailpiece that wrapped around the edge. The pictures did not show the drill holes so I shipped it back to him. Once you drill posts for a new bridge into a guitar you cannot undo that damage. I'm glad it is off my chest and hopefully I can get my money back for it soon.
I have been selling a few items on eBay lately too. I got rid of my Pro Co Rat that was modded by Keeley Electronics. It was a cool pedal, but it just did not react well with my guitar. They seemed to fight each other rather than sound any good.
I am working on a Listen Up to focus on Peter Bernstein but I keep getting side tracked, and with school it is almost impossible to complete now. So for sanity's sake check out Bernstein's trio album of Thelonious Monk's music. It is well worth it as he does total justice to those tunes like no one ever has on guitar.