Happy 2015!

Well, happy 2015!  Thanks for coming to the blog page. I renew my resolve to let you all in on things that are happening in my world, musically and sometimes otherwise.

This year will mark my 25th year of playing with the wonderous composer/pianist Joel Forrester. To mark this milestone, I have recorded a CDs worth of original material with Joel that I think you’ll like. Check back to see when and how it will be released. I am considering only releasing it online or maybe a limited edition on vinyl. What do you think? We recorded at Avatar with grammy winner Jim Anderson at the console and Alan Tucker doing the mastering. They did such an great job with “Baritione Monk” – why mess with a winning combination?

Every Wednesday since May, I’ve had the great pleasure of playing in the house band at Minton’s Playhouse with JC Hopkins Biggish Band. It has been beyond fun – the band is always “bringing it” there. We aren’t playing background music, and the original Minton’s has been turned into a 4 star restaurant. Wear a jacket, but expect the music to be full tilt jazz. Julian Pressley is an unsung hero on the alto sax. you will not be disappointed. I’m thrilled to play next to him every week.

There is other exciting news looming, but I need a little time to iron out the details and not let the cat out of the bag too soon.

Other than that, I’m ready for a new year. Jumping out in January to San Diego for the JEN Convention to play with the Thelonious Monk Peer to Peer All-Stars. I suspect they’ll blow me away because the kids are knocking it out of the part these days. JB Dyas at the helm there, so i know it’s gonna be killin’!

Well, here’s to a fantastic 2015 for all of us. May the road ahead bring us happy surprises and peace of mind (and how about peace on earth?).  Y’all come back now, y’hear?

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Well, I thought I wanted to blog!

Well, I thought I wanted to blog! I wasn’t even resisting it – just completely forgot about it. It’s been so long since the last post, maybe I’ll just start by saying that my belief in the idea that you never know what’s going to happen next has been fully renewed.

The North Coast Brewery made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. They brought my quartet (Steve Hudson, MaryAnn McSweeney, Peter Grant et moi) to the west coast, sponsored a tour from Vancouver to Santa Cruz, recorded us in NYC with Jim Anderson at the board at Avatar Studio, produced “Baritone Monk” and it has been on the charts for about 3 months. It made #1 on the CMJ Charts and #9 on Jazz Week Chart. 100% of the proceeds (that’s ALL of it!) goes to the Monk Institute to further jazz education. Talk about a company with an altruistic sensibility. They also make Brother Thelonious Ale, which kicks in a portion of the proceeds. To say I didn’t see that one coming is an understatement. We are really grateful for this opportunity.

The thing is, in this unusual, unstable choice of being a musician, there is always the possibility that something outrageously great can happen to you. You can wake up one day and things can change drastically in the day. This makes me nervous sometimes, but when the phone rings and I’ve got the opportunity to play with amazing musicians, travel the world, play my horn, experience life in this way – I feel like the wealthiest human alive. It’s worth any trade-off I’ve had to make. I want you to know more about this, so come back and I’ll try to remember to tell some stories about my life choices. It gets pretty funny sometimes.

And you are…?

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Mary Joyce Project

It all started in Juneau.  Mary Joyce began her 3 month journey from Juneau to Fairbanks by dogsled in December 1935.  Fast forward to May of 2011, and the quintet premiered our new body of work dedicated to Mary at the Juneau Jazz and Classics Festival.

The festival was celebrating its 25th anniversary.  We’d arranged the premier 2 years earlier, and Steve Hudson and I were working on the music over that time.  To say it was a great week is an understatement.  The schedule was full, but the connections were beautiful.  We did clinics, taught, did a concert in the State Office Building for 200 kids, held a jam session at Mary’s bar “The Lucky Lady”, went sight seeing in a plane and in a fishing boat.  We saw killer whales, humpback whales, sea lions, eagles, a porcupine and more!  Really a remarkable week.

The last night (Friday) we premiered the piece to a sold out theater and a wonderful reception.  I’ll be writing more about the trip and including pictures, but we are SO grateful to Linda Rosenthal and Kathy Ruddy and the whole gang of Juneau characters for having us to their amazing festival!

To be continued…

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Hello world!

Claire will be along with a new post shortly. In the meantime: hi!

….and you are?

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October 2, 2010

I love New York. Love it. Am watching (on Netflix) a great history of the city by Ric Burns. It has always been a remarkable, strange, colorful, scary, brilliant, controversial, crazy and cutting edge place. I love being here.

These last few fall days have been unseasonably warm, but autumn is in the air. Soon we’ll all be in scarves and jackets and the chill will be looming. We’ll take a drive to see the leaves change nearby and come back to our little boxes on the hillside. Autumn in New York makes me want to expand my life. Study something new. Practice. Exercise. Renewal is at hand. It’s my favorite season.

I hope your Autumn is full of exciting, fulfilling days and nights, and cozy, comfy, luscious sleep when you can get it!

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April 12, 2010

Spring has sprung here in NYC. Pink, purple, white and green blooming everywhere (well, sort of everywhere). I’m really excited to be involved in many great projects as well as looking forward to some of my favorite annuals. I love writing music with Steve Hudson, playing gigs, being outside without 10 lbs of clothes on. Check out the gigs on my itinerary page.

Just finishing my 5th year teaching at the Jazz at Lincoln Center Middle School Jazz Academy, and this will be my 10th year at Litchfield Jazz Camp. I’ll be there 4 glorious weeks this year. What a gift to share the joy of playing with people as passionate about the music as the faculty. Come on up and join us! All levels will be comfortable, will improve, and will be thoroughly inspired!! I always am.

Attention all executive producers (aka: people who love and support jazz)…I am going to record an exciting project premiering in May, 2011 in Juneau, Alaska. I’ll be playing at the Jazz and Classics Festival with a great band ~ Steve Hudson/pno and co-composer, MaryAnn McSweeney on bass, Jacob Melchior on drums and Napoleon Maddox- human beatbox extraordinaire. We are paying tribute to Mary Joyce, my father’s cousin who went from Juneau to Fairbanks by dogsled in 1936. If you’d like to play a very important role in this, drop me a line! You can executive produce a recording and come to Juneau with us. Whaddaya think? Sound like fun?…it will be.

I hope you are enjoying the new season as much as I am.

Bright moments,

ps: …and you are?…

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August 15, 2009



Well, here’s how I spent my summer vacation…

June’s highlight was a 2 week trip to Juneau, where I researched my father’s first cousin, Mary Joyce. A remarkable story, an amazing woman, and a pioneer. In 1936, she travelled by dogsled from Juneau to Fairbanks (1,000 miles). Solo. No non-Alaskan had done this trip. She had some Tlingkit guides along the way, so I was interested in hearing the music she might have been checking out with them. I found a wealth of information on her, Tlingkit music and ceremonies, newspaper and magazine articles, people who knew and loved her, and much more. My cousin Maryann Greiner accompanied me on the trip. She knew her well and has published Mary’s journal of the journey.

Steve Hudson and I are writing music and creating an event about Mary Joyce through “Outside Insight, Inc”. More on that as it develops.

I am grateful to have won the Downbeat Critic Poll “Rising Star” on baritone. Since 2003, I think I’ve won this a half dozen times. I think that makes me a “slow-riser”, but that’s OK with me. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. I appreciate the support.

July was my 9th year teaching at the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut. 4 weeks of jazz camp was a remarkable experience. Each week brought me a different combo to work with for 3 hours a day. We also teach master classes, theory, and private lessons. The faculty and students there are incredibly inspiring and pretty much hilariously funny. I have come back (once again) with renewed enthusiasm and am practicing new things. I learn alot when I teach!

August 17th, I’ll be recording 4 more tunes arranged by Lanny Meyers. Dave Brubeck tunes with strings and Suzanne Lorge on vocals. Lanny is absolutely in his own category. It’s beautiful music (we’ve recorded 3 tunes already) and I’m very excited to be involved in this project. More on that as it develops, but Dave Brubeck has helped us pick repetoire and his feedback has been amazing.

So I guess this summer has been crazy busy, but I love my life, so…no complaints! Some surprises coming up, too. Please come back soon.

And you are…??

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Feb. 17th, 2009

I hope you are all staying warm and happy this winter. Things on my end have been different, interesting and pretty much fun. I am currently involved in a few nice projects…

One: I am very excited to be involved in a project with strings that I’ll tell you more about as we progress. Lanny Meyers is a brilliant arranger and we are having a great time putting together something very unique and special.

Two: composing music about my family member “Mary Joyce”. She was a true free spirit who made a 1,000 mile trek from Juneau to Fairbanks, Alaska, solo, in 1936. Her story is beautiful in many ways and I hope to pay my respects by co-writing music (with Steve Hudson) and producing a multimedia event through “Outside Insight, Inc”. I think we’ll have something to show in the Spring and will keep you posted. I have a goal to get to Alaska this Summer and see the route Mary took – now the Alcan Highway. She is also well represented in the museums there. Fun research for me.

I have written a “Masterclass” article to be published in the May edition of Downbeat, called “Spontaneous Composition” inspired by the band “2 Sisters, Inc” that i have with Dave Sewelson and Dave Hofstra. 2 baris, one mind…and a bass. It’s a creative and accessible sound, oddly enough, so I was thrilled that Downbeat was interested in how we work with this instrumentation. It was a great experience to explain our creative process.

“The Honorable Hustlers” is another statement I’m making these days with human beat-boxer Napoleon Maddox. We have loved playing music together for about 5 years now. I’ve had the pleasure of travelling with his group “IsWhat?!” and we’ve taken to doing duo gigs. Some spontaneous composition and a ton of fun. What a great soul Napoleon is. We have invited some cool people to be Honorary Honorable Hustlers, too. I hope there will be more to report on that front!

Enough about me. And…you are??…


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AUG. 11, 2008

Greetings!  I’m baaaack…

I’ll just say that I MEAN to update this page more often, so keep coming back!

This summer has been an outstanding one for me.  June brought some fun gigs – Minton’s with Joel Forrester, playing a Democratic fundraiser, recording my “Rah! Rah! Rahsaan” project, and culminating with the Kingston Jazz Festival w/ Rah! Rah!  I’ve been hand making all the CD covers.  Each one is original and there are varying prices depending on the artwork.

July gave me another shot at hosting the “Musician’s Show” on WKCR.  We musicians get to play anything we want.  I focused on some of the other teachers from the Litchfield Camp, like Paul Bollenbeck, Jeff Hirshfield, Don Braden, Mike DiRubbo, Dave Stryker and some of my pals around town – Maryanne McSweeney, Kirpal Gordon, Joan Styles, Laura Dreyer, Jamie Baum and many more.  It’s good to be king.

The most wonderful thing happened this year.  My longest stretch ever of teaching at the Litchfield Jazz Camp (3 weeks) was an incredible and inspiring event.  I’ve realized that I don’t have to be someone that I’m not to be a teacher.  I find the students to be incredible.  I just have more “earth years” than most of them.  We had a wonderful creative experience together with lot of discovery happening everywhere.

THEN, after rehearsing my band and spending 2 1/2 days with the alums from the JLC Middle School Jazz Academy (Another “off the hook” fun and rewarding experience), I returned to Litchfield and played the Litchfield Jazz Festival on August 3rd w/ “Rah! Rah!”  Man, life is sweet sometimes.  Dave Hofstra, Eli Yamin, Peter Grant, Curtis Fowlkes and moi.  We really have fun paying tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk.  I’d love to see that band get out more.

So now I’m back in the saddle in NYC, determined to enjoy what’s left of the summer and to gear up some of the other projects I’m working on…and…oh yeah…to learn how to edit video.

Napoleon Maddox – human beat box extraordinaire – and I have recorded a duo CD we call “Out of Compliance”, under the name “The Honorable Hustlers”.  We’ll be in Middletown, CT (Oddfellows Playhouse) on September 27th, and doing a release party at NUBLU in NYC on September 28th.  Come join us if you can – it’s freestyle and funky and fun.

So that’s what I did with MY summer vacation.  How about you?

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FEB. ’08

A lot going on these days here, I’m happy to report. While the gig season is slow for me, I’m using the time to write music, practice, and figure out the ins and outs of being an “artistic director” of a not-for-profit organization. “Outside Insight, Inc.” is dedicated to the pursuance of “Transformation through art.” What is amazing to me is that I now have a vehicle to realize my own and other’s artistic vision.

Really, if someone had told me that it could be this much fun to be a grown-up, I might have done it years ago. The responsibilities are real and sometimes daunting, but so far, worth every minute of it.

So I hope your winter is warm and cozy. Please come back soon, as I will be updating the website with exciting news of gigs and projects.

Bright Moments,

P.S. And you are…?

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