NOV. ’07

Another autumn in New York. My favorite season with a big feeling of renewal. This year I have many things to be grateful for. 2 new projects to love and to sell: “Speak, Spake, Spoke” with Kirpal Gordon has been released on Leaping Dog Media in tandem with a 30-year retrospective of his poetry writings. Kirpal is a bird of rare plumage, indeed, and he lives inside the music like a true jazz musician. My band here is Eli Yamin, Dave Hofstra, Warren Smith – with very special guests James Zollar, Art Baron and Tim Price. We have a rollicking good time backing up Kirpal’s inspired work. I am grateful for Jordan Jones vision that made this CD a reality. We will have a CD release party at Sweet Rhythm on Dec. 19th, and it’s for sale here at my site.

“Two Sisters, Inc” is Dave Hofstra (bass), Dave Sewelson (bari sax) and myself on bari, cavorting about the low register and having tons of fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we want you to. Our CD “Scaribari” will be officially released Nov. 21st at Sweet Rhythm. It’s already for sale on my recordings page. They make great Christmas presents. I am grateful that ‘the other’ James Brown keeps the club running and lets me develop and celebrate work there.

Other news here…I am the Artistic Director of a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization called “OUTSIDE INSIGHT, INC”. Transformation through art. I will keep you posted and will be happy to suggest ways for you to participate in our mission. I am grateful here to have found a way to try and be more effective around this music that I love so much. It gets tiring just trying to get a gig. I want to get LOTS of people gigs! My goal in ’08 is to do as much good for as many people as I can, and to have fun in the process. And maybe world peace while we’re at it. Gotta go, I have a lot to do.

And you are…?

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Summer ’07

ACK! Is it possible that a year slipped by me w/out updating my “Digressions” page? I guess so. Well, I’m baaaack…

All the reports are good here. I’ve just returned from my 7th year of teaching at the Litchfield Jazz Camp. Besides the students being mostly alot of fun to be around, the faculty is a stellar gathering. Amazing how we bond – even when breakfast is at 8:15! I love our regular cast of characters assembled by Don Braden and Vita Muir. This year, veteran Mike DiRubbo’s baritonist wife Lauren Sevian was added to the faculty. We had some baritone madness that was lovely.

On my weekend off between teaching I went to a reunion (don’t ask) of people I’ve known my whole life but haven’t seen in ages! It was in the Catskills at John and Kim Cullen’s and it was OFF THE HOOK fun to see these old friends. Nothing like it.

Now I’m preparing to go to Portugal with Joe Fonda’s “Bottom’s Out” band. Low notes abound there, then a week in Lugano, Switzerland with another low-note extravaganza — “2 Sisters, Inc”. Dave Sewelson and Dave Hofstra and I cavorting about the low register. It really is a glorious summer for me. I will return in the fall and expect to be updating my digressions page then. No…really.

Please go see Michael Moore’s “Sicko”. I think he’s made another very important film. Let’s hope we can open our eyes and quit thinking that the rest of the world wishes they could be like us. We’ve got so many good reasons to take care of each other, and the liars that are capitolizing on our complacency are pedaling pretty fast. I hope we can wake up and rally!

Ciao for now,

PS: And you are…?

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Summer ’06

Thanks for coming to my website. I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve written anything here! Yikes! I will be better at updating this from now on…no, really.

Well, this summer is panning out beautifully for me. I’ve made it my goal to enjoy it, play as much as I can and get outdoors more than usual. New York City is great in the summer — alot of people go away, weekends are quiet and lovely and I can always park my car. It really is the little things in life, eh?

I’m VERY excited about this gig at the end of August at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center. I’ll be bringing in my band focusing on Rahsaan Roland Kirk – a favorite player of mine. I had the pleasure of seeing Rahsaan in Boston in June of ’77 at the Jazz Workshop for a week. I was (very) young and had discovered him the year before. I was so thrilled at the thought of seeing him that I went every night, and thank God I did. He passed away that year and it was my only time to see him perform live. We’ll be playing some of his tunes, some other tunes he recorded and aiming for the uplifting vibe he brought to the music and the world. Bright moments, indeed! Steve Turre is playing the earlier sets there that week, and he was in Rah’s band that I saw! Big thrill for me.

Speaking of good vibes, I had a fun excursion last night. My saxophonist/bassoonist friend Tim Price sits in sometimes with “Ratdog” – Bob Weir’s band (from the Grateful Dead). I heard the Dead back in the day and have always believed that the jam band fans listen to music the same way jazz people do. They bop around and go on the journey through the music, clapping for solos and yelling when it excites them. Well, Tim is friends with their sax player, Kenny Brooks. I was his “plus one” on the list as we say and had SO much fun hanging out! It’s all music and I love to see that crowd having fun and being cosmic. I bet Rahsaan would leave them speechless! Kenny sounded great – he was a student of George Garzone. I love that…

So off I go to Litchfield Jazz Camp to teach on July 23rd – Aug. 4th. I’ve been on staff there for 6 years now and I look forward to the environment. It’s great to get absorbed in music and not have other distractions. The kids are all there because they like or love jazz. Very endearing. The lovely and talented Don Braden is musical director – can’t go wrong there! I’ve had some great ensembles and lots of moving moments there.

If you’d like to produce a CD of either my “Bright Moments” band or “The Joy of Dex” (Dexter Gordon driven), let me know. It can be arranged. I’m looking to work them both as much as I can, and I’d love to record them in the next year. Think about it…Let me know…

And you are?…

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Ahh, nothing like December to take stock of what happened this past year and think about what i’d like to see happen in ’05…

For me, a highlight came on my 2 month road trip around the US w/ Kirpal Gordon. We did gigs in some great spots and put 10,000 miles on the car in 2 months. That’s alot of driving. We both saw and visited old friends, we made new friends, did gigs w/ local rhythm sections and managed to document some local jazz heros in different areas. What a trip – got a million stories…

Along the way, I received an email order for “Swing Low” to be sent to the Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas!! It will be in a listening station in the permanent library. Apparently, it was on a list compiled by the former president of CDs that were significant to him while in office. I sure didn’t see that one coming, and I couldn’t be happier about it. I consider it a great honor to be in a presidential library. Especially one that reflects when we had a democracy here in America. I will always be grateful for that one! Thank you, Mr. President!

Other than that, the year has been a smorgasbord of gigs, festivals, giving clinics and teaching. Particularly fun has been teaching a series at the Count Basie Theater in Red Band, NJ, the Litchfield Jazz Camp and doing the intensives at the Berkley Carroll School in Brooklyn w/ Adam Bernstein, Eli Yamin, Tim Horner, Ravi Best and Clark Gayton. We go in en mass and work with our respective sections. The day is always fun, productive and inspiring. I think we enjoy it as much as the kids!

I am on the board of “American Jazz Venues” — an organization started by Clem DeRosa, helping to grow America’s art form. We are developing a workshop at the theater for talented kids in the Red Bank area. In just a year, the progress has been remarkable. It’s fun to be in on the start of something like this, because the growth is in leaps and bounds. I had the pleasure of doing a gig w/ Joe Temperley in Massachussetts through the AJV. What a great player Joe is — and a prince of a fellow.

Wrapping up this year, I must say that I feel like a very fortunate person to be able to live in this music. The cross country journey was the beginning of a long term project, and hopefully the gigs will keep on coming. The people I meet knock me out, the challenges are endless, and I am as committed as ever to carrying on.

and you are?…

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JULY 2004

I am soooo excited. The Jazz Across America tour is going to happen. I’m not sure yet who will be the sponsor, but I believe it will happen. I’ve gathered the tools — a laptop, a video camera and I’m purchasing a hybrid car. One of the next ones in is mine (there’s a waiting list!).

The plan is to get out on the road, gig across the country, and track down as many of our elderstatesmen as I can, interview them, and check out local scenes, documenting them.

Color me an optomist, but I believe that jazz is thriving. It seems to me that everywhere I go, the local jazz scenes are making important statements in this time. We live freely, at least through the music. I’ll keep you posted — looks like Kirpal Gordon and I leave in September, and I hope to have my new CD (Heaven Help Us All) by then!

and you are?…

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MARCH 2004

Ahhhh, so much to talk about, so little time.

I’m going to skip the usual “make nice” convo and go right to what is happening for me these days. We (as a nation) are being fed so much double talk (to put it mildly), I doubt any of us know the truth about what’s happening in the world. Personally, I am upset and feel that I have little clout in these matters. I’ve always felt rather uninformed, but find it very frustrating to have a gut feeling that i’m being manipulated by the media.

The best way I can express myself is through music.

My small way of dealing with this has been to get rid of cable TV, so I’m not tempted to channel surf for hours, and to commit to living my life as freely as I can. Is it my imagination, or are people staying home more and more and living insular lives? I want to get out on the road and meet other folks who love this music like I do, document some of them w/ a dv camera, and play gigs like there’s no tomorrow. Maybe there’s no tomorrow! Yikes, I’d hate to have regrets when all is said and done.

I’m welcoming all ideas of places to play, musicians around the country to interview, festivals I might book or clinician possibilities. My upcoming road work will be my own form of rebellion against a machine that seems to be telling me to stay in and be afraid.

And you are…?

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\Calling all booking agents…” Well, as the new year gets started, I must say that I am as excited as ever about an idea I have for ’03. My plan is to spend the spring driving across the country, playing with local rhythm sections, finding some of the treasured players out there and interviewing them. My sense of adventure is calling me back to the road. With today’s technology, bringing a video camera and laptop should be enough to capture some of what life on the road is like in this day and age. I will write about it and video some of it too! This may even be a lifetime project, as I am always amazed by the human experience, and could see doing this several times a year. I feel it will be great fun at the very least, and will possibly capture some oral history that may otherwise go unnoticed. In the meantime, playing gigs, festivals, colleges and clubs will support the plan. For some reason, the media-induced level of fear in America is really on my nerves, so I figure the best thing I can do is operate in a fearless manner! Believing that humans are kind at heart makes me want to get out there and be in the world. April – June sounds like a good start, so if you know of anyone I might contact, gig or interview related, WRITE ME!! See you on the road, Claire and you are?… (e-mail me!)

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