Wednesday, July 29, 2015 / Austin / Underground lair studio
Found a pic of the Ronan Guilfoyle trip to Ireland back in 2014. Michael Buckley, me, Ronan and Bob Gulotti. A lot of fun. Also a pic of my drum set that I sent to a student who was asking about it.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 / Southwest flight 2274
2 hours late tonight which means another 20 hour day - weather delay - somewhere in the world. Certainly not in any of the cities I’ve been in today. Most SW flights on time except for Austin. Fucked up fucking fuckheads - mother fuckers. Enough said. 11 hours door to door one way to get home. This make 14 flights in a row that have been late. No more apologies from the pilots - just a big “we are working so hard, blah, blah, blah.” They no longer promise to “try and make up some time” either because we all know they are lying and don’t want to use any more fuel than necessary. At least the SW wine is only $5 instead of $7 like United, JetBlue and American.
Monday, October 20, 2014 / 35,000 feet headed for Boston / Week 7
So here I am in week 7. Not one flight has been on time so far. This one is only about 30” late which makes for a 10.5 hour commute. On Southwest today and the asshole ahead of me with a bulkhead seat with LOTS of fucking legroom just put his seat back almost demolishing my laptop. Oh, okay, my knees into the seat back just encouraged him to put the seat back up - yay! Now he’s moved to the middle seat and put it back but that’s fine. Dude, it’s not going to help your back - just make you sore tomorrow. Which is fine by me.
It’s been a rough semester. Lots of teaching, lots of weird student questions and attitudes. I did have a gig at the Elephant Room and I tried to get my sextet music out there. Other than some trombone weirdness and very small window of time for rehearsal (2 hours in the 2 weeks before the gig - trombone player had to bag because of health reasons then bag on the gig) it turned out pretty well. Really great band. I actually paid to do the gig but it was worth it - I was able to put some money in the tip bucket and exhort the crowd enough so that the other guys, who played their asses off, made $72 each. I really hope they had fun because it was hard music and a long gig and they were wonderful. I put a whole lot of work into the gig tweaking the charts (not to mention writing them in the first place), printing the parts, this and that. But it was really nice to hear my tunes and arrangements with really nice players like these guys. They were, by the way, Justin Vasquez (alto), Russell Haight (tenor), Paul Deemers (trombone), Daniel Durham (bass), Kyle Thompson (drums).
Other than that, trying to practice, getting the studio together, trying not to lose it.
DFW - 5:30pm // Monday, March 31 / 2014
Having some epiphanies while sitting in DFW waiting for my (delayed) connecting flight to Boston. What really hit home today while going through security in Austin was that I’m entirely too at home in airports. I know the best places to get free wifi (if I want to walk that far), I know that DFW has a Starbucks every 100 yards or so and that in the afternoon most won’t have decaf and won’t offer to make an Americano half-decaf because it would be a lot of extra effort on their part - I don’t blame them. I also realized that I’m teaching 7 days a week about 10 hours a day - when I’m not actually teaching a lesson I’m checking my email for messages full of hardship, suffering and woe from my students or I’m grading online assignments or thinking about extra materials and videos for those same online students - video’s that I assume they take as their due and go largely unheeded. Time was I would spend many hours a week considering my music and what direction I wanted to explore, writing new music and not merely resurrecting tunes I wrote 10 or 15 or 5 or 3 years ago - trying to keep things moving, trying to keep from becoming a “yeah, that guy used to have promise but now...” kind of musician. Not that I had anything incredibly new or groundbreaking to offer but I thought I was moving to a more personal sound that I at least could identify. I had lots of plans of moving toward a lifestyle in Austin where I would ride a bike to the gig, play creative music, get paid something then go home and sleep until 10am, get up, practice, write....
Instead, I’m lucky if I get 6 hours of sleep, I’m constantly on the computer or teaching or grading, answering questions I shouldn’t be asked (“what’s the best position for this scale, what “grip” should I use, I can’t play a fucking major scale but I demand to know about the Coltrane matrix”...A little anecdote. Jess and I finally finished the garage studio enough so that I can move my stuff in from the other house. All my musical stuff has been spread out for the last 7 years and now it’s finally in one room so I’m going crazy playing all the various guitars on gigs. I usually bring 3 guitars and try each one at various times. I dragged out the Buscarino the other day and the strings felt really stiff so I tried the Adam Rogers set - an .11 D’addario set with a .13 on the high E, .16 on the B, and .20 unwound G string. Played it on some gigs and really getting into it but was thinking “man, these pickups sound weird.” I have a early 80’s Ibanez super-70 and been wanting to try it so i yanked the neck pickup off the Buscarino - while looking at that (the Armstrong) I realized it was wired backwards so that the two pickups were out of phase and it was backward on the soundboard - the bass side which is voiced for lower output was on the treble. I rewired it and turned it around and it sounds great. I had been so busy I just threw the pickup back in wrong a couple of years ago - or someone who worked on it wired it wrong. Anyway, been playing gigs with it wired this way and getting really frustrated and now things should be good - if I was at home to try it out rather than sitting in DFW for a few hours.
Five more weeks of this then summer break. But 5 busy weeks. This week: Boston Mon-Wed /teach Austin 10am-8pm Thurs/Denton for private lessons and clinic at UNT so leaving house 6am back about 8pm then Elias Haslanger gig at Elephant room 9:30p-1:30am.
Tuesday, July 16-2013
Finally finished the Bruce Saunders/Eric Halvorson recording! Randy Roos did a great job mixing and mastering, I got CDMaker here in Austin to manufacture the CD, going to get it up on itunes within a couple of weeks. Also, I'm recording a new CD of my arrangements of Christmas Tunes next Monday/Tuesday with a great group from Austin. Here's a demo sample i recorded at Tony Scherr's place many years ago. We were all in the same room just checking the horn parts. I guess next week it's just one room again but in Austin instead of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
It's all nylon string guitar and I'm trying to get used to playing the Kohno again. The neck is just HUGE but it sounds amazing. Some big news is that we sold the house in Brooklyn and I have really mixed feelings about that. I would have liked to hold onto it but my co-owner really needs to sell and I can't afford to buy her out at today's Park Slope prices. I'll miss that place so much! I love the neighborhood, I have so many friends there…it's very hard to sell. But it was featured in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago and I guess properties are very hard to find in Brooklyn.
I've been listening to some of the trio music I recorded with Masa Kamaguchi and Mike Magilligan at Detour in NYC (now closed) from 2003-2004. It's just a two-track recording but we played "The Jazz Spot" on Sundays for quite a few years and I was really taking some chances because I trusted those guys so much. Waiting to see if Randy Roos can do anything with those tracks because I'd love to put out something.
Wednesday, April 25 - 2013
Back on the plane headed for New York (well, Newark and then eventually Brooklyn). Day has not gone well so far. Took super shuttle to airport and arrived about 2 hours early because of the way super shuttle schedules things. Breezed through security, had a drink in the bar, headed for the gate for my 2:30 flight. Other flight arrived, passengers off, plane clean, time to board. "Well, folks, it seems like there is a ground delay in Newark - 3 hour delay." Fuck. Waited in line to make sure I had a reservation for tomorrow in case this one cancelled. 1 ½ hours in line for that. Now it's 3:45 and the last thing the gate person said was "probably boarding in an hour and 10 minutes." Okay. Go to hear Sylvie Ryder, Daniel Durham and Rich Harney in airport bar. Checking United app flight status every 10 minutes. Still delayed until 5:30. Check at 4:15 and "flight departed." Mother fuckers! They took off and I missed it - no announcement that I could hear. Bastard mother fuckers. Okay, next flight at 5:30 so I'll wait another hour. Still got exit row although according to the gatekeeper I missed a first upgrade by one person. "Ahh, that's such a shame." Fuck you - I've been here 5 hours now and if your fucking PA worked I'd be halfway to Newark. So just fuck off. What I said was "yes, that is certainly a shame for me."
Finally board, half full (everyone else is on the earlier delayed flight). Close doors, taxi - "well, folks….." Mother fuck this fucked up fucking mode of travel. "We've been informed by the tower there's a ground delay in Newark. Should be able to take off in 30" or so." Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. By the way, fuck. A "weather-related ground delay." But, Mr. Asswipe pilot, according to my Swackett, the weather is perfect in Newark. More on what actually caused this "ground delay" later.
Now in the air and the movie is Cirque du Soleil. It does not translate well to the small screen. This does not bode well for the fall.
Got in 3 hours later than I should have and made it to brooklyn at 12:30am instead of 9:30pm. Everything closed so no food but the apartment was in good shape. Stayed up too late & got to sleep at 4am - almost a 24 hour day.
Headed home now - Tuesday, April 30. Figured out that the delay was because of the sequester and last Thursday, the day after my ill-fated flight, Congress made air traffic control personnel exempt from the budget cuts. Which, while good for Congress since they fly so much and also good for me, is so hypocritical that it boggles the mind. Something that actually affects the individual members of Congress gets fixed but anything that doesn't directly affect them, even though it impacts the constituents who elected them - that's just fine. All good. Fuck those motherfuckers, too.
But I did have a really great time in New York. Cleaned my apartment, heard the Adam Kolker/Scott Wendholt quartet with Victor Lewis and Ugonna Okegwo at Cornelia St. (killing), hung out with Bruce Hall, played a gig at Grassroots Tavern with some of my favorite musicians: Adam Kolker, Owen Howard and Joe Fitzgerald. The wonderful drummer Eric Halvorson sat in along with Nathan Hook and Chris Berger. Weather was great and I got to run in Prospect Park. Got some sleep but as usual not enough.
Took me 50" from Penn Station to my (really distant) gate at EWR. Train from Penn to Terminal C EWR was 35". Then i had TSA pre-check and breezed through security with my shoes on. Felt like I was in Europe. Should be home by 7pm via super shuttle or hopefully Jessica. Got a book to read, double smoked kielbasa from Jubilat (5th ave. brooklyn) in my suitcase along with some Stumptown coffee and I just ate a Bahn Mi (pork) from Henry's in Brooklyn. Could be worse.
Tuesday, February 12 / 2013 Austin, TX
Been home about a week now. The flight back was pretty horrendous. I had a really close connection in Munich that I had to run to make and then we sat on the tarmac for 3 hours. I got to Newark about 40" before my next flight to Austin and was delayed at Customs and then my bag took forever to show up - missed the connection so had to wait a couple of hours for a flight to Houston, wait a couple of hours there for a flight to Austin. The trip back (door to door) took 27 hours. But for the bulk of it I was in first class and it was nice to have a flat bed. I only slept about 2 hours in the two days though. Sure wish I could sleep on airplanes. Since I've been back I've been doing make-up lessons and teaching, practicing and playing a few gigs. My 335 felt great for a few days after playing the tele but as time passes I'm starting to feel stale again. Crap
Monday, February 4, 4:30am Barcelona Airport
On my way home. Got to the airport way too early because I was worried about missing the flight. Tried to go to bed at 11:30 but couldn't sleep. Dozed off about 2am and woke 3:15. Cab came to Masa's 3:30, airport by 4am, through security and drinking coffee by 4:30. Gate not posted yet. Munich first then Newark then Austin.
Had a great time playing with Masa. I was definitely fading by the last couple of concerts though. Sometimes it was easy to play the tele and sometimes very difficult. 335s are a lot more forgiving. We drove to Valencia and played at Cafe Mercedes and made pretty much nothing. They only gave us 2 drinks - either beer or soda. Charged €10 and they gave us 40% of the door. Got about 12 people 10 of whom left after the first set. There was one couple who stayed for the whole 2nd set. Wanted their monies worth I guess.
I'm going to see if Lufthansa has posted the gate yet. More later.
Tuesday, January 29 / 2013
Made it back on Ryanair with no problems. A real trip though: totally packed flight, Masa had the guitar neck under his jacket, no reserved seating, anything (including water) cost extra. Got back that afternoon and played a gig with David Xirgu at Sunset and that was really great. They treated us very, very well, a big crowd, a good amp, the room had a good sound. Here's our meal
Played at 23 Robedors last night with Masa and David and it was a lot of fun. On the train over started having some gastric distress and barely made it to the restroom there but after that everything was okay. There was no guitar amp and the bass amp didn't work but luckily a guy named Jésus lived close by and had an amp (Peavy) that he brought over - sounded fine. I got my pedals to work and was able to use the PDS 8000. We played all originals including Mike Cain's "Emanations." Back to c/Clot 18 but midnight, electric out, water heater leaking to had no water.
Next day no toilet or shower, headed to airport about 5, got to Lisboa about 9 and Carla, Eduardo's wife, met me at airport. Back to Cascais for sleep, up at 6, to Evora by 8, masterclass until 5, back to Cascais by 8pm, dinner. Seabass for me, liver for carla, octopus for Eduardo. Back to house, disassemble guitar, pack, asleep by midnight. 6am wakeup tomorrow. Read for a bit. Tired.
Thursday, January 24
On the bus from Gijon to Bilbao about noon on Thursday, January 24. Had a nice concert last night with Masa and Eduardo - the crowd was very friendly and I did a solo guitar encore. Lots of Monk but a couple of originals, some standards, one or two Wayne tunes. Sold a few CDs. My 1Spot was able to adapt the 240 current for my effects pedals but added a ton of noise so I went out this morning and bought some batteries. It's been pretty easy travel so far with no delays. I left for the airport about 8:30am on Monday, my flight to Newark was full but uneventful. I had a 4 hour layover in EWR and used a coupon to sit in the United Club and use the wifi (and drink wine and eat crackers and cheese). I was careful not to drink too much wine for once. I got an exit row to myself for the EWR to Barcelona flight, we had heavy tailwinds, the movies weren't too bad. I forgot to take a Melatonin but it doesn't work for me anyway so I didn't sleep more than 20". Saw 3 movies. Got to Barcelona about 8am their time, my checked bag was there, had some really good coffee, found the Renfe train no problem, got a T10 pass and made it to Masa's Clot apartment about 9:30am. Hung out with Masa and Patricia until about noon and then tried to sleep. Woke up about 2pm and that was it for sleep for the day. Had a bite then went out for a walk. Back about 4 hung out with Patricia for a while then tried to figure out what to bring for Gijon and Bilbao. Kind of a problem because masa and I are flying back to Barcelona tomorrow on RyanAir and the carry-on policy is very strict. I'm going to have to take the Tele apart and stick the neck down the back of my pants under my jacket in order to bring it on board. But I fit everything in my carry on.
About 7 had a bite then went for another walk. It started to rain so back about 8. Masa and I were supposed to head to the airport via train at 5am the next morning so my plan was to go to sleep about 9:30. Didn't happen. I dropped off about 10:30 and woke at 1:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. Read until 4:30, took a shower, we went to the airport at 5. Arrived Gijon about 9am, took the bus into town, got to the hotel about 10:30, checked in and by then 11:30. Emails, etc., went for Pinchos and wine, back to hotel about 1:30pm, tried to nap but could only do a couple of hours. Put my guitar back together, new strings, practiced until 5 went for soundcheck. Crappy amp, bad sound but ran some tunes with Masa and Eduardo. Finished about 6:30, more pinches and wine, concert at 8, finished and packed up by 10, out for dinner. Chicken and egg place where we had the pinches. I ordered Jamon y Chorizo eggs and potatoes. Way more meat than I could ever eat, lots of grease, good eggs and bread. Could only eat about half but since I hadn't slept or ate a lot in the last 36 hours it helped. Back to the hotel about 11:30, read until 12:30 and went to sleep. Woke up at 3:00 and worried about staying awake for the rest of the night but I dropped off about 4 and slept until almost 9. That felt great. 7-8 hours for the first time in quite a few days. Shower, shave, out for bottled water/batteries (9v batteries about €5 each - ouch), coffee in the hotel, pack, go to bus station. 3 more hours or so on the bus then Bilbao. Gig tonight about 10:30-12.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Working on music for the Spain tour with Masa. Resurrecting some old tunes, bringing some new ones, planning on doing Mike Cain's "Emanations" at some point but not sure where that point will be - not sure if there will be any rehearsals. Playing the tele every day since it's the guitar I have to bring. At this point not sure if it matters what guitar I play - I just need to listen harder and think about time more.
Not getting a whole lot of Austin gigs but that's okay. Doing SX this year and since I played last week with Dave Sierra's band I just asked them all to do it. All really fine players and it will be great. Trying to write more electric things and totally getting into a kneebody/christian scott vibe as far as a band. Austin is changing. Still hard to get people to play and a lot of players are not available for gigs. Lots of great players but this person can't rehearse, this person won't rehearse even with pay, this person is out of town all the time, this person doesn't like odd meters, this person can't read, this person will sub out the gig at the last minute if a better paying gig comes along… It gets too complicated. We all know jazz is not popular but I'm not going to drag my banjo out just to make the crowd (or owner) happy. I put so much time and effort into the music every time I have a gig, whether the gig pays a lot or nothing at all. That goes for gigs that aren't under my name as well. But I don't mind little or no pay for a fun gig. For instance, driving to Corpus Christi for one set with Dave Scott. The gig paid $100 and it cost me $50 in gas and the total time was about 12 hours - driving there and back and the hour set. Or playing with Dave Sierra the other night. We had a rehearsal, I learned the tunes Dave had in his set list (which we didn't ultimately play), I put one of Dave's tunes into Finale, the gig was 9:30-1:30, paid $53 and I paid the bartender $23. But it was great to play with those fine players and especially Ephrahim - hadn't played with him in a very long time.
Just bitching. My life is incredible. Got a wonderful wife, great students, I get to play guitar every day, a great dog, warm water in the shower, great food in Austin, a place in New York, etc. Couldn't get much better.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Finally got the CD finished - a lot of work (and money) but it turned out well. I don't think I can ever listen to it again, though. Working on another recording I did with Eric Halvorson, Ben Stivers and Adam Kolker a couple of years ago. I had mixed it myself and the mix really sucked. We were all in the same small room (Eric's Sweatshop studio) and I shouldn't have tried to mix. I'm going to give it to Randy Roos since he did such an amazing job with "Drift." Then I have the organ trio thing with Gary Versace and Mark Ferber to mix. Better start selling some guitars to pay for all this.
Taking a semester off from Berklee (Boston) and I'm really ready for that. 2012 was rough with teaching at ACC, UT, Berklee and Berklee online. I'll still be doing the other three but without 20 hours a week of travel it's a lot more relaxed. Going to Spain on Jan. 21 to play with Masa Kamaguchi, Eduardo Lopes (some gigs), and David Xirgu (other gigs). Looking forward to that.
Checking out "Line Games" by Randy Vincent and it's a really nice book. Had a good time in Vermont with Jess and my mom but it's so nice to be home for a few weeks. Back to playing my 335 - it's tough to get used to other guitars!
Sunday, November 18, 2012
On US Airways flight 1788 Boston to Charlotte then Charlotte to Austin. In first because this was the only flight I could get - waited too long to make a reservation. Long day, long week, long semester. Been teaching 17 hours at Berklee, 5 sections of Berklee online, 3 students at Austin Community College, 5 at UT/Austin. With the about 20 hours of travel time and gigs every week time is tight. Just found out US Air doesn't offer a meal. Bastards! Keep the wine coming, air waitress. More peanuts. Going to have to run in Charlotte to make my connection and I'll need the strength.
I'm blown away by all the great music out there now. Been checking out Rez Abbasi, Donny McCaslin, Ari Hoenig, Mike Moreno, Adam Kolker, etc. Just so many great recordings. Speaking of which, I was supposed to go to New York to mix my quintet thing at Systems 2 but that was the week of hurricane Sandy and my flight got cancelled. So I gave the WAV files to Randy Roos to mix and he's doing a great job. Really fine. The quintet thing should be out in a month or so depending on how much time I have to do the layout and design. It's sounding really good. Then I'm going to give Randy my organ trio thing to mix and hopefully that will work out as well. I finally got started on the organ trio editing (which is minimal) - the hard part is picking takes. I can't believe we got so much music in such a short time. Even though there were only 1 or 2 takes of each tune there is at least 90 minutes of music. Hard to pick tunes. But Gary and Mark sounded great on everything and I'm looking forward to getting this one mixed as well.
RE: Guitars: been up in the air. Playing the 1982 335 most but played the 1983 the other day and it's pretty killing. Took the Collings i35LC to the factory to get new pickups: Throbak Seth Lovers. I played the same model guitar with the Throbaks and they really blew the Lollars out of the water. Pricey tho - $450 a pair. But I think it'll work. Also took the Buscarino to my guy to replace the frets with Collings electric frets. More cash. But hopefully better. Took 2 amps to the new Austin Vintage Guitars space and they repaired them both in 3 days at a great price. Jesse is gone but the new guy seems really good as well.
Got a bunch of gigs for the next couple of weeks. Elephant Room tomorrow with Dave Sierra, Firehouse Friday with Sam Pankey, my gig at Elephant the following week with Andre Hayward, Russell Haight, Daniel Durham and Wayne Salzman, a couple of recordings. Did a recording with Richard Mikel, Russell and Dave and that was fun. Brian Broderick was engineering and he did a great job. Going to try and get out Saturday to hear Brian with Fareed at Blue Dahlia.
Saw a dead guy when I was out running a couple of weeks ago. Near Bartholomew park in Austin. Did not take a picture. We found a place to take care of the dog for christmas. Back to using ProSteel 12's with an unwound .020 G. Digging Randy Vincent's newest book about hexatonics. Trying to relearn music Dave Sierra and Sam Pankey want to play. Trying to figure out 3 one-hour sets for my gig at the elephant. Trying to stay awake at this point. Lots of flying time left. Keep 'em common' air waitress.
Sorry I couldn't make the Red Young benefit at Elephant room. Flying that night to Boston. Flight coming back to Austin cancelled because of nor'easter and I had to spend another wasted night in Boston @ $100 per in lousy bed and breakfast with mold in the communal shower, angry Euro-trash keeping me up and window that wouldn't close. Wheeee! Travel is so glamorous.
This is a stream of consciousness thing, bear with me. Been a tough semester at berklee. I love my students but teaching 11 hours straight with the majority of students who can't play anything makes for a long day. They are using me to help them practice. I give them material and they don't learn it and then they want me to comp for them while they practice and it's really tough. There are some really talented students but the majority are making me feel like I'm digging a ditch. In some ways I'd rather be digging a ditch. Which I may be soon. There are a couple of really talented students and I try to push them but the drain on my energy by the students who are not motivated really impacts my teaching. Good thing I'm taking a semester off. Not from UT, unfortunately, but that's a whole 'nother story. In an effort to be positive I'll say - nice office!
In final DEscent for the first flight. Later.
Friday, September 14
New old mic. UT bomb threat today so no teaching. Wow...that's...too..bad. YAY!!! What do you think of my 1950'2 RCA 74b? Sounds really great.
Thursday, September 13
First week back to Berklee and I'm exhausted. Fly to Boston Monday arrive about midnight, sleep a few hours. Teach 11 hours straight on Tuesday sleep a few hours. Teach until 4:30 on Wednesday, leave for airport arrive home 1:30am. Up at 7, take care of emails and various school stuff (for all 4 schools), teach 1:30-5:30, gig 9:30-11:30. Friday teach 12-5, gig 7:30-10:30. Saturday just a 2 hour rehearsal, Sunday grade online assignments, do online office hours, gig 6-9. Monday start all over again. But here's a picture of my new travel guitar thing: the tele neck is in the mailing tube and the body is in the roller bag along with my clothes.
Friday, July 13
Nice gig at Whip In last night with the Steve Bidwell trio. Been practicing Countdown for some reason, trying to run, not feeling all that great. Really enjoying not traveling. Having jam sessions at the house about once a week, working a little bit on my quintet recording.
Thursday, June 21
Back in Austin. On Friday the 15th I did some auditions at Berklee then flew to Vermont and visited my mom. Sunday afternoon I took the bus back to New York. I had a great time playing with Scott Neuman, Chris Backus and Jim Whitney on Monday and Monday night went to the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn and heard the Josh Schneider easy bake orchestra with some friends playing: Eric Halvorson, Dave Smith, John O'Gallagher. Saw Doug Yates, JC Sanford and Stan Killian. Tuesday I cleaned up the apartment, practiced a bit and headed to JFK via the A train and got back to Austin about midnight.
Thursday, June 14
Good day yesterday. Practiced a lot, drank some good coffee, did some work. Went to the first set at Jazz Standard and heard Kurt Rosenwinkel standards trio with special guest Pete Bernstein and that was really inspiring. Those guys just bring it every time and they are very different players in some ways and very similar in others. Really, really high level. Talked to Pete a little bit then took the R train back home.
Today going to run, practice a little, have some lunch and then take the Lucky Star up to Berklee for tomorrows auditions. Then the 6pm flight to Vermont.
Wednesday, June 13
Been a nice few days. Left for the airport about 5:30am, plane was on time and got to JFK about noon on Sunday and got to the brooklyn house about 2 (freaking A train takes forever). Drank some coffee and headed for my rehearsal with Gary V. and Mark F. Went to Nasheet Waits' place in Westbeth. Passed Hudson Bar and Books and thought about the many times I played there back in the 90's. Had a good rehearsal, Mark and Gary are amazing musicians. Mark was headed back to Brooklyn before his gig so he was nice enough to give me a ride. Graded some online assignments and got to sleep about midnight. Up at 6 and tried to go over the music but couldn't do much. Mark picked me up about 10:30am and we got to Tedesco's place about 11:45. Tom had the organ and leslie already set up and Mark was using the house drums (which are killing by the way). All I had to do was set up my amp and pedals and we were recording by 12:30 or so. A little earphone tweaking, a little listening and by 1pm we were into it. I had a hard time getting comfortable but I was a lot more comfortable than my last recording since I was in the same room with the amp. By 3 we had about 5 tunes done, ate some lunch and by 5 we had recorded 10 tunes and were packing it in. Paid everyone, waited while the files copied, etc., and left at 6pm. Went to have a beer at some place in Paramus while we waited for traffic to thin a bit. Home by 8 and totally worn out.
On Tuesday I did some grocery shopping, ran in Prospect Park, graded more online assignments, etc. then went to the 55 bar to hear Stan Killian. Ben Monder was playing and it was great to see and hear him again and also saw David Lee, a friend from Boston. The band sounded great and Stan was playing his ass off. Home by about 10:30 and watched a movie.
Today I'm just practicing, doing a little exercise, drinking coffee. Want to go hear some music tonight and I think Pete Bernstein is going to be sitting in with the Rosenwinkelstandardstrioat the Jazz Standard. That would be amazing.
New York / Vermont Gallery pics
February to June Gallery pics
June 9 / 2012
Great gig with Eli last night at the elephant room. The band was very simpatico, everyone (except me) played their asses off, the crowd was nice. Didn't go out for Turf 'n Surf because the biker rally was in town and that's the only negative thing. Geting ready for new york and my early morning tomorrow. 5 hours of sleep last night and an 8 mile run this morning but feeling pretty good. Will miss Jess and the animal family but really up for the recording on monday.
June 2, 2012
Been in Austin for about 3 weeks now. Leave a week from tomorrow to go to new york. Doing an organ trio recording with Gary Versace and Mark Ferber and have been working on the music for that which is kind of fun. I get to NY about noon on Sunday, rehearsal with Mark and Gary at the Nasheet Waits Westbest space, record noon to 6 on Monday at Tedesco. Going to bring my 335 I guess. I feel most comfortable with that but the Collings is pretty nice.
Played last night with Stan Killian, Kyle Thompson and Mike Porter at the San Antonio Summer Jazz Festival and it was sure worth the drive. I love Stan's music and he sounded amazing and it's always great to play and hang with Kyle - he is such a great player and really easy to play with. I hadn't played with Mike in a couple of years but he was killing. A really great vibe on the bandstand as well.
I also had a sextet rehearsal this week with Elias Haslanger, Kyle, Aaron Allen, Russell Haight and Randy Zimmerman and that was great. Jessica made pizzas and I had a lot of beer so we did as much hanging as playing but it was nice for me to hear a little of the music played by these amazing musicians. I was inspired so I arranged another one of my tunes for sextet. At this point I have enough music for 2 recordings. Want to try and do something in New York in the late summer or fall.
Still working on the quintet recording fixes but slowly since I've had all these other projects. I'm about halfway through and then need to find someone to mix/master.
One more freaking week
One week more of the commute. Leaving for the austin airport about 4:30pm on Monday, get to Berklee about 12:30am on Tuesday, do guitar dept. final exams 10-11, ensemble dept. ratings auditions 11-1, guitar dept. finals 2-5. Wake 4am for a 7am Wednesday Jetblue departure for which I have to check in because I'm bringing my guitar back from Berklee. In Austin (hopefully) by noon on Wednesday and then have almost a month of no travel. About time. I'm tired enough at this point to feel like I've been severely beaten. But I did have a lot of fun playing last Thursday and Friday with the 3 Jazz collective at Elephant Room on Thursday and Sao Paulo's on Friday. Great playing with the different tenor players, Elias Haslanger and Russell Haight, and really good playing with William Menefield, a wonderful pianist. I'm really lucky to be able to play with all these great musicians. And oh yeah, Omi Jones sat in Thursday night at the ER and she was incredible. Great poet with such a great sense of time! Here's a youtube clip of omi, joao, brannen, pete and me from last summer. (I'm in the corner out of the picture) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaLl-UFsOv0
Something that makes travel a bit more tolerable. I like bamboo/cotton blend socks and I make sure I pack enough so that I can change them at least twice a day. Also, a small hand towel is really great in case you get stranded overnight in some shithole of an airport (yes, I'm talking about Houston) and you need to wash your face to try and stay awake all night until the 7:30am flight or at least until Starbucks opens at 5am. Something to read is also good and I've been bringing Kindle books on my iphone but it's getting to be a drag trying to read on that tiny screen. Might be time for an ipad. A sandwich is good. Once I ate a chicken sandwich from Wendy's at Logan because I was starving and that was a big mistake. Very big mistake. For outgoing flights I make sandwiches at home and bring a couple and I get something from Trader Joe's in Boston for the outgoing flight(s).
Speaking of which, I'm on American for the return trip these days (on AA now, about an hour from DFW where I'll have about an hour and a half layover and then on to Austin) and so far so good. This is the second week for AA and both flights have arrived early, don't get any of the fucked up United attitude (mother fuckers), haven't been stranded in Houston, the Dallas airport actually has bars that stay open past 10pm. I'm way back in row 25 but whatever, even up in first class flying is still a drag.
3 more weeks of this then I'm off for a bit. Not doing Berklee guitar sessions in August for the first time in probably 15 years. Not doing Austin Community College. All I have going on is Berklee online. Got some recording projects coming up in New York. Gary Versace (organ) and Mark Ferber (drums) in June and hopefully a sextet in August or maybe September. I really want to get this music recorded so I can move on and write some new things. Enjoying the writing on Dave Binney's "Barefooted Town" a whole lot, Ari Hoenig is amazing, still enjoying Rez Abazzi's writing and playing… lots of great stuff out there. Oh, yeah, Mike Baggeta is great, too. Love the space there. Getting my setup together at home for writing with 2 27" monitors, got Pro Tools 10, Waves 9… no excuse. So why can't I bring myself to work on my quintet recording of last month? I think it's because I sound so bad. But this weekend, I promise, I'm cracking the Pro Tools open (as well as a six-pack) and I'll buckle down. Yeah. For sure.
Still trying to practice classical when I have the time but it's slow going. The Kohno is amazing, though, and makes practice a lot more satisfying. Trying to thin the herd and I think I sold the Collings Soco. Can't decide what guitar to play and that's frustrating. Brought AS-200 to a couple of gigs but even though it's very cool didn't work out. Brought Buscarino last week to a gig and played it for half a tune before I switched to the Collings i35. Maybe I'll just give up on electric altogether and play acoustic.
Ah, we are beginning our initial descent into DFW. (After so many flights I know the sound immediately). Gonna be way early which means I don't have to run like an idiot to my next flight and might even have time for a beer somewhere. It's pretty sad when it's a surprise that airlines do what they are supposed to do. Unfortunately, next week the return trip is the cursed United/Continental bastards and I really don't want to spend the night in Houston again. Speaking of which, I complained about that and never heard word one of apology or got any sort of voucher. Bastards, Assholes.
Think positive. Whee, only 4 more hours and I'll be home. A 10 hour commute but not stressful. Plus I got to see the latest Downey/Holmes movie although one thing about American is that they still have the screens in the middle of the aisle and I could only see about half of it from my window seat. But….it was free. And my socks are fresh, I had a nice Trader Joes salmon wrap (not all that nice but at least not Wendys), the flight is almost 40" early, the middle row is empty, it's not raining, I only heard one screaming kid who shut up about 20" into the flight, I still have a job despite my lack of qualifications or talent, tonight I get to sleep with my wife in an actual bed instead of on the floor… life is pretty good.
"Folks, we are beginning our initial DEscent……."
Wednesday, March 29, 2012
Had some nice gigs for SXSW. Somebody more happening than me wanted my Friday night slot so I was asked to move to Saturday which was a drag although my good friends Jon Blondell and Black/Red/Black were playing on Saturday so that was great. Kyle Thompson wasn't able to play on Saturday but Dave Sierra did a great job. The band sounded great and I had fun. Before that gig I played with Kevin Witt at a place called Pete's Bar on east 6th street and that was a real trip. SXSW, spring break and St. Patrick's Day all at the same time. Lots of drunk people (not me for once) but a nice vibe although we had to play pretty loud. Had 2 weeks off from Berklee for a little regeneration although the regeneration didn't quite make it as far as I would have hoped - we all get older. But I got a really nice classical guitar and got to practice some of that music almost every day, I worked on mixing my last recording (man, do I sound like shit!), I ran as much as possible, went to the dentist, washed my car, walked the dog and even went to the dog park with the amazing Jessica, tried to sleep in, got my Ibanez refretted, got Waves 9.
Now I'm on the return trip to Austin from my week back at Boston and it's not the greatest. The Jetblue fright from Logan to Jfk was an hour late but it was the same (cursed) plane going to austin so I didn't have to sleep in the airport. We re-boarded in record time and after a while "well, folks, there seems to be an maintenance problem." Another 45 minutes and we're in the air. Then….the AC is broken and the pilot can't turn off the heat. It's about 100° in here now and we have another hour and a half at least. Plus… they charged me for my wine. Dudes!
But looking forward to being back in Austin, being with Jessica, playing with the dog, practicing, mixing, etc. Next week going back to Boston then New York where I'll hopefully play with the great Eric Halvorson and just hang out.
Ah, the freaking AC has kicked in. Well done, JetBlue!!! Truthfully, after being cluster-fucked by United before the break more than once at least Jetblue gives me some peanuts and doesn't leave me stranded in Houston (yet). Anyway, Colbert is on TV (another JetBlue perk) and I'm going to watch it. Oh, heat's back on. Flight attendant "sorry, everyone, know it's hot." I just noticed the baseboard (I'm in the window seat) is attached with duct tape. At least the passengers don't have to restrain the pilot.
February 21, 2012 Boston
On the Lucky Star headed back to Boston. Had a great but exhausting time in New York. Got in Wednesday night late via the Lucky Star and hung out with Dave Pietro (too late and too much wine). Great to see Dave and catch up a little though.
Played a really nice jam session on Thursday with Jeremy Stratton, Adam Kolker and Mark Miralta. Really fun and yet another reminder of how great those guys play.
On saturday I rehearsed for about an hour and a half for my recording on Sunday. Adam Kolker, Gary Versace, Mark Ferber and John Hebert. We rehearsed at Nasheet Waits' studio in Westbeth and it was a nice place to do that. Down in the bowels of this huge building on Bethune and Washington streets. It had been years since I'd been there - I used to go play with Tony Moreno (drummer) in the early 90's - maybe mid-90's. I also used to play at a place on Hudson St. few blocks away with Steve Doyle and Eric Halvorson - we did that quite a lot and while the gig itself wasn't killing it was fun playing with those guys. Can't remember the name....oh yeah, "Beekman Bar and Books." and "Hudson Bar and Books." Cigar bars on the cusp. Crappy gigs but a place to play. Also played there a lot with Chuck Braman, Gary Versace a Chuck alumni as well.
Sunday Adam and I drove from Brooklyn out to Skyline studio in clinton, NJ. Good to see Paul Wickliffe again. I was totally blown away by how amazingly the band played. These guys are just freaking outstanding. We did 8 pretty difficult tunes in about 51/2 hours with quite a few breaks. Everyone (excluding me) was just incredibly musical and I often found myself not paying attention to what I was supposed to be doing because I was so into listening and absorbing what these fantastic musicians were playing. They bring so much to the table that it's hard to believe at times.
After the recording Adam and I drove to Manhattan to play a gig with Jeremy and Mark Miralta at the Grassroots Tavern on St. Marks and it was so great to be able to play with Jeremy twice in a week. Really fun and nice to be back at the Grassroots. Unfortunately, Bob, a mainstay bartender at Grassroots passed away a week ago. Bob was always really nice to me.
Monday I recuperated for a bit then met Steve Cardenas, Jamie Fox and Bruce Hall at Waterfront Ale House in Brooklyn. So great to see all those guys and hang out for a bit. Bus 63 was easy getting back - right up Atlantic, right on 5th avenue all the way to 20th st. Easy.
Now it's back to Boston, teach tomorrow, fly back to Austin tomorrow night. I'm ready to be home for sure but playing with my friends was a wonderful reminder of how great they play and what nice people they are.
February 4, 2012
Lots of stuff. Been thinking about lots of stuff. Sitting in 1A in first class to Austin from Boston but I had to work hard to get here. The flight from Boston sat on tarmac for an hour, took off and as we were getting ready to land at Newark a bit late we suddenly started back up and I knew I was screwed. We circled for another 20 minutes and finally landed with 10 minutes before my Austin flight was scheduled to take off. I pushed my way through everyone to get to the desk, said "where's Austin" and got "A97" (she was on the phone). I said "is it far" she said "really far" I said "can you please call and hold the plane and she said "not now, I'm on the phone." I said "fuck it anyway" and took off running. It was about a mile but I made it in 9 minutes running full out with my two bags (took a wrong turn at one mysterious sign). Travel is so glamorous.
But that's all tonight. I've been reconsidering my life. Not the important stuff like my wife and "career" choice or anything like that. Just my choice to teach when I could have stuck it out somehow and just try to play. I like teaching it's just that I seem to do so much of it. I had such a great couple of weeks off after Christmas, was able to write, practice, really get some great ideas about how I wanted to sound and how I wanted my music to sound. I also listened to a lot of music I had recorded over the last few years and could tell that the hours I waste commuting is making an impact - in a negative way.
And why is it anytime I get up to pee when flying we run into turbulence?
Getting ready for a recording in New York with Adam Kolker, John Hébert, Mark Ferber and Gary Versace. A bit nervous about it because I'm not sure how strong my tunes are this time. I've been spending a lot of hours weighing possibilities, trying to write new music, rearrange old tunes, considering programs, etc. Writing is hard! I use an ipod shuffle when I run and I've been really impressed with Rez Abbazi's writing and the Tiny Bell Trio (Dave Douglas) and some other stuff - why can't I write like that? So I'll try to write like that and what emerges is another tune that sounds like I'm trying to write like that and doesn't sound like me. I do get to waste a lot of time doing it, though. Time that is in short supply these days.
January 29, 2012
Weather has been great in Austin and it's been nice running. Flight was 2 hours late on my first one to Boston which made the door-to-door "direct flight" commute 8 hours long. that was fun. I came back on Thursday morning and the one screaming baby on the plane was in my row. UNT has suspended the faculty search because of budget cuts. I'm working hard on getting the music together for my recording in February but haven't been able to practice as much as over the break because of work getting in the way. Pesky jobs. Good to have one (or two or three) though. Had a lot of fun last night at the Carousel Lounge in Austin listening to Bill Bailey and friends. A real Texas hang complete with Shiner. I was drinking Sierra Nevada and maybe that's why nobody was talking to me.
Dog is doing good. She went in to get spayed and even though Jess told them she already had a scar and might already have been spayed they started anyway. Lo and behold, she had already been spayed. But she's doing good and she is part of the family now.
January 21, 2012
A very fun gig last night with Joao, Pete Rodriguez and Scott Laningham (at Sao Paulo's). Played the Collings i35LC and it sounded very nice. Still feels a bit awkward but very light and sounds great. I figured out that one reason it feels different is that the strap button is on the upper bout and not on the heel so it just hangs differently than a 335.
Wrote a tune yesterday that seems pretty nice. Trying to get ready for a recording in New York in about a month. Worried about the quality of my writing and want to have strong tunes. I've got at least one that I think is good but trying to come up with at least 8 strong tunes. I have probably 30 tunes that I haven't recorded yet but for some reason I just don't feel good about them. I felt good about the writing on my previous 2 recordings but can't remember whether I felt good going into the recording.
January 16, 2012
Heard Bill Frisell and Carrie Rodriguez at the Continental Club last Friday and they were killing! Bill was incredible as always but it was a real treat to be hear Carrie. She was amazing. I've been practicing a lot, Berkleemusic started last week so doing a lot of online stuff, playing the new Collings i35LC which is very cool, transcribed the Alan Holdsworth "Countdown" solo, running a bit. Had some really great gigs while in my traveling hiatus and I'm not looking forward to going back one week from today.
Been listening to some great music: Ari Hoenig, Chris Potter, Holdsworth, Adam Rogers, lots of old stuff - usually try to check out at least one new recording every other day (when running). Thinking about a new recording in New York but just can't make up my mind. Have about a month to figure something out.
January 8, 2012
Been back in Austin for a few weeks now and starting to decompress. Had a great gig with Elias Haslanger, Daniel Durham, Ben Irom and Kyle Thompson playing my music at the Elephant Room. Low turnout which was like being back in New York. The guys played really great though and the sound was good. I spent many hours arranging and writing because I haven't done anything with piano in a while. Ben really nailed it though. I'm doing SXSW this year but am only scheduled for a quartet so I guess I can't use piano there. The dog is starting to get used to us but she got out through the cat door the other day and scared the shit out of me.
Ephraim Owens just called me for a gig tonight with him, Brannen Temple and Chris Thomas. Man! That's going to be fun. It's at Central Market so it's outside but that's going to be great. Haven't played with Chris in months - I guess he just got back to Austin.
Wow, what a great gig! Those guys are such great musicians, the crowd was great, it was a beautiful night, we got food, my wife was there.
DECEMBER 14, 2011
On the plane again. First class. Some kind of Romantic language guy next to me. I just hope I'm not flying enough when I'm his age to be in first class. I got bumped but for once seems like things are okay. Sax player bagged on my session tomorrow for the 3rd and last time. I will never call him again. Obviously I'm not happening enough unless the gig pays but I think he also bagged on a paying gig. But I'm playing with Aaron and Wayne and that should be good. Called a couple of other horn players but they are not into playing for no money. It's Austin.
Last day of teaching today. All final guitar exams at Berklee. Most of the students were unprepared but I"m happy to say the one student of mine we tested was the best all day. Not anything to do with me but mostly with him but it's nice to hear. Thanks, Alec, you did really well. No more travel except a 10 hour back and forth to Denton next week. Compared to the 20 hour Berklee a piece of cake. Feeling my oats in a really big way. Trying to figure something out but it's tough.