I spent the past weekend attending the JEN (Jazz Educators Conference) conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana. As I’m sitting here stranded in the Atlanta airport thinking about it- it was one of those trips that seems to be ten times longer than it was because of how busy you were. It was only about 48 hours that I was in town, but I feel like I’ve sufficiently experienced New Orleans and met some great musicians in the process.
I performed Saturday morning as part of the Student Composer’s Showcase. The rhythm section consisted of top players from the North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band. We played my piece Fire Blossom and the band did really well (we only rehearsed it as we were warming up 15 minutes beforehand). I think the lack of rehearsal helped make the performance very spontaneous. I am very pleased with how it came across, and humbled by the musicianship displayed by the NT players.
This tune Fire Blossom I wrote this summer while in New York city. I began composing it while I was eating Grimaldi’s pizza on a bench in Hillside Park, Brooklyn. It started with a lyric that I wrote while at the park. During my drive back to Buffalo, I started putting music to the phrasing of the words. This gave the melody a deeper logic rather than just writing a lyricless piece.
I am very grateful to JEN for hosting me for the Composer’s Showcase. It was a great experience to meet and receive feedback from people like Steve Weist, John Clayton, Ruben Alverez, Paris Rutherford and many other great musicians. The thing that stood out for me was that the word competition was not being used and that each piece, accepted or rejected received feedback from four noted musicians and educators. I can’t really say enough about Saturday morning, It felt great to share my music with people who I’ve never met.
I absolutely love the city of New Orleans, the whole place just breathes culture. Another small reason why I might love New Orleans might be that there is all types of music but primarily jazz playing everywhere around the city. The food there was absolutely incredible. The first night I was there I had Seafood Jambalaya and greens (thank God I had a lot of it-it make my night on Burbon St. stomachable). After the Composer’s Showcase, I had a Beignet and coffee at Cafe Du Monde. It was tremendously tasty, and the long line made you exceedingly anxious and starved by the time you were served. I made the mistake in not changing from the performance, and I was wearing black dress pants. The beignets are caked in powdered sugar, and there is no way of eating them without getting it all over yourself. Needless to say, I had to walk home with white streaks of sugar all over my pants-looking like a pastry chef. Later that Evening, I had a fried oyster po-boy at Mother’s. It was fantastic, but as I was eating it I was witnessing the Seahawks eliminate the Saints from the playoffs.
Anyway, as I finish writing this I am in the process of writing and arranging new music for a few gigs coming up and for my recital on 2/12/11. I am currently planning to perform Stevie Wonder’s-Girl Blue, Nick Drake’s-Place To Be, Daft Punk’s-Something about us, Wayne Shorter’s-Speak No Evil, Duke Pearson’s- Is That So, and a few new originals.
Recent Recommendations: Joe Lovano Us Five-Bird Songs, Wayne Shorter Quartet-Beyond the Sound Barrier, Roy Hargrove Big Band- Emergence, Woody Herman-Giant Steps, Stanley Turrentine-More Than a Mood, Stan Getz-Serenity.