I'm a freelance writer by day and a working jazz musician by night, and often I am able to combine my two lines of work. This blog is for posting gigs & various rants about music and life in general.

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Location: Central Illinois, United States
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

the way up

I seem to be making new friends in cyberspace all the time. Some are writing pals, some are music fans and musicians. It's all good. I love meeting new people, even if they're "virtual." Check out the links section on this page to see who I'm visiting these days.

So Sunday was the PMG (Pat Metheny Group) concert at the Chicago Theater. I hadn't been to this theater before, and it was amazing! Very old and very ornate. And huge. The sound was decent...it did seem to get a bit loud up in the balcony where we were sitting at times. But as always, this group was phenomenal. They pulled off the 68-minute composition just fine. In fact, Kevin overheard Lyle Mays saying how he had to concentrate 110% during that piece, else he might get off track.

Speaking of overhearing a band member talk to fans, that's what's so cool about jazz. These guys (and often gals) are accessible. They'll mingle with the audience after the show and no burly security dude will try to beat you up for simply asking a question. This was a big concert, and most of the band did pop out into the audience for a bit. This is a regular occurence at the Jazz Showcase (Chicago), too. And the Jazz Kitchen in Indy.

You see, to a select few these jazz icons are just that--icons--but to the rest of the world they're simply nobodies. That's because the media stinks and the radio stations only play canned pop music that has, for the most part, no talent and no integrity. I guess it's just as well that there's a select few that appreciate jazz--most folks wouldn't know what to make of it anyway. I'm not being snobbish. I'm tellin' it like it is. Sorry if I appear offensive. It's just my opinion and nothing more.

I've decided to talk about this because anything I write about this concert simply won't due it justice, so I advise y'all to try to see the PMG yourself. Tickets are admittedly pricey at times (we paid $67 each including the rip-off $12 Ticket Master charge) but it's a show worth seeing. Always.

Here's the lineup from the concert. Check out their bios.
>Pat Metheny >Lyle Mays >Steve Rodby >Cuong Vu >Antonio Sanchez >Grégoire Maret >Nando Lauria

And here's just a few random observations:

- To honor Metheny both Kevin and I wore striped shirts. (That's his style...check out just about any picture!)

- Antonio Sanchez looks like Luke from Gilmore Girls somewhat. Doesn't he?

- I think the girls like Cuong Vu. When he came out to talk to fans there were a bunch of girls all around him.

- The seats in the Chicago Theater were made back when people were shorter. I'm only 5'4 and I felt scrunched for the 3 hour duration.

- The PMG crew must be the fittest people in the world. There's always someone running out with a new guitar, and taking one that isn't in use anymore backstage. Although Metheny probably played 8 different guitars all night, there were never more than 2 on stage at a time.

- Nobody in the band ever just stands there with nothing to do. The non-rhythm section guys are all multi-instrumentalists and are always singing, shaking, blowing, or hitting something.

Want to see the PMG? Check out their tour dates!

That's enough for now. Gigs for the week are minimal:

Thursday @ Panache
w/ Kevin Hart & Donovan Hill, 7.30-10.00 pm

Friday @ the Hotel Pere Marquette
w/ The Fulton Street Gang, 5.00-7.30 pm

Saturday is gigless, which is fine b/c it's our anniversary! (5 years & going stong)

Have a great week, all!

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Saturday, February 19, 2005


After revisiting my last post I realized I spelled poor Pat's last name incorrectly every time I worte it. Should be Metheny with just 2 "e"s. I'm a bad, bad jazzer. Y'all won't tell him, will ya?

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blues for alice

Why Alice? I don't know, actually. It's just the first tune title that came to mind.

It's been another crazy week which is why I didn't get around to posting anything earlier...that means I missed a chance to plug Thursday and Friday night gigs. But both went very well, thanks (Panache and the Contemporary Arts Center, respectively).

Sunday we're heading up to Chicago to catch the Pat Metheney Group (PMG). They're on tour promoting a new CD, The Way Up. This project is a bit different...it's a 68-minute composition, for starters. The philosophy behind the recording is also unique. See for yourself here, as Metheney explains the motivation behind this collaborative (w/ keyboardist Lyle Mays) project. The show, I'm sure will be spectacular. Saw the PMG twice on their last tour and of course everything was simple awesome.

Enjoy the weekend, all. Until next time....

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Monday, February 14, 2005

on the sunny side of the street

That's right...the sun is finally peeking out from behind gray skies, and there are shadow on my street, which means there must also be a sunny side to it. My mundane Monday mood is improving already!

Had a nice, relaxing weekend with minimal obligations. The Swing Daddies gig on Saturday went well. We had a nice crowd at the Rhythm Kitchen. You can catch us again this Friday at the Contemporary Arts Center Five Spot Jazz night (5.30-7.30 pm).

I've been trying out tenor mouthpieces lately. I usually play alto, partly because I hate the two tenor mpcs I currently own. But I've got a tenor student now, and I'm tired of bringing my sop to lessons to play along with him (easier to play together if I don't have to transpose on alto).

So I talked to a fellow sax player in town the other day and he offered to let me borrow a few mouthpieces he's no longer using to try out. I thought he'd give me 2 or 3 to blow on, but when I met him at his gig the other night he presented me with a large box and told me to take my time, he's happy with his current setup and is in no hurry to get these back. Turns out he's quite the collector...I've now got about 17 mouthpieces sitting on my kitchen counter. I've started playing on them but haven't gotten around to trying out all of them yet. So now they're organized in 3 categories: one tupperware container labeled "good/decent," one labeled "not so great," and one labeled "not tried yet."

Most of the metals are Links of various facings, some of which are ok, some of which I didn't like much at all. My two favorites so far are a hard rubber Meyer (6) and a metal Sugal (don't remember the facing). I've always been partial to hard rubber...I don't like the edge I get playing on metal. But then again, I don't have huge lungs and I'm not a large person, so sometimes I can use all the help I can get to get a bigger sound & fill up the horn. Maybe metal's the way to go. But the Meyer has a nice full sound and offers little resistance. I think I like it best. Maybe I'll see if I can buy both and then I'll have a choice should I decide to play more tenor. I hate it when you buy a mouthpiece and think it's great, then after playing on it for a month or two you decide it really isn't as super as you originally thought. Then you're out $80+. Or more. Last time I looked at a WB catalog Sugals ran around $400!

Folks are starting to find my blog, and some comments have been posted. One fellow even posted to my blog, then followed a link to a friend's blog (see link section to the right!) and commented on his blog. I love how we with similar interests can stay connected simply through email, blogs, and the like. Doesn't matter where we live. Music really does create a bond with folks; it's a great way to make friends, "virtual" or whatnot.

Thanks for reading, all. And have a happy Valentine's Day!

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Friday, February 11, 2005

like someone in love

Post title is inspired by a tune that's currently playing on my radio dial. I suppose it's also appropriate b/c Valentine's Day is approaching. For tips on how to wow your sweetheart, check out Jason Mraz's blog.

So I haven't yet mastered the Hello download for posting pics--actually I had it installed on my computer but it started messing with my Messenger program so I uninstalled it--but I have managed to track down some code to post links. Check the left hand corner under the archives & you'll see some additions. More to come later...these are just a few URLs I posted to test this feature.

I worked really hard yesterday getting some promotional stuff in line for the writing biz. I'm getting set to do my first postcard mailing of the year--plan to stick with this at least quarterly this year. I did one last year and out of about 300 postcards sent (about 25-30 were returned due to outdated addresses...this is what happens when you compile a list yourself using the Yellow Pages) I only got one new client, but that paid for the printing/postage costs so....I'll give it another, more regular, go this time. I've also got several potential projects pending, one of which is a newsletter. This is ideal, b/c newsletters are regular publications, which means regular work = regular paycheck for me! I just need to land about 4 or 5 more regular newsletter clients. Also, a couple of brochures are in the "maybe" stage, and I'm meeting a graphic designer next week to see if we might be able to scrounge up some work together.

TGIF! Hope everyone enjoys the weekend and remember, if you're out and about in Peoria this weekend, check out the SwingDaddies at the Rhythm Kitchen tomorrow! 7.30-10.30 pm...join yours truly, Kevin (keyboards), Mike Nellas (guitar), and leader/drummer Dan Diefendorf for an evening of fun, fun, fun.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

winter waltz

That's the title of an original tune by good friend and trumpeter Dave Hoffman. Since it snowed yesterday, I think it's fitting for a post title.

Last Saturday we went to the David "Fathead" Newman concert. It was great to (1) have something cool to do in town and (2) to actually have some jazz happening around here!

"Fathead" (I don't feel badly about calling him by his nickname...he apparently likes it. I guess I can stop putting it in quotes, then, too) sounded great--I really like his approach to playing. He's not flashy (although he may have been more so in his younger years) but plays stuff that sounds good, and he's got an incredibly rich tone on alto, tenor, and even flute.

Fathead gave a clinic in the afternoon, too, in the typical Q & A format most clinicians adopt. I was pleased that nobody asked the usual questions, like, "What kind of reeds do you use?" "What's your mouthpiece?" Many useful questions were asked instead, like how does he approach playing alto and tenor differently, if at all, and what up-and-coming artists does he listen to today (fyi, he likes Mark Whitfield, Nicholas Payton, and even Dave Koz). At the end of the clinic he invited students up to jam on "All Blues." About 15 horn players got up (plus a rhythm section of ISU students) and performed the longest version of this tune ever.

Finally had time to take a listen to Sam Crain's new CD, "Bird's Eye View" in which I was honored to have been asked to make an appearance on a tune. The CD sounds really good...all tunes are Sam's originals and the musicianship is excellent. In fact, I just sent an email off to the alto guy who played on most of the recording. I like his playing a lot...I should try to get a lesson or two with him. Would do me good, I think. It's kinda cool to have been captured on a "real" recording...I'm ok with my work on the track I played on...there are things I could've done to sound more interesting but I didn't hit any big bad notes, so all's good. Listening to yourself really is a humbling experience.

Got a couple of gig notices for anyone who is interested:

Tonight @ Panache with Dave Hoffman & Jamie Jenkins, 7.30-10.00 pm

Saturday @ the Rhythm Kitchen with the Swing Daddies, 7.30-10.30 pm

I'm taking Friday night off from the Pere to help my good friend, musician buddy, and former college roommate Nikki celebrate her birthday. We shall eat, drink, and be merry.

Have a great weekend. I'll report gig stories should anything notable arise.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

jammin' at panache

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jammin' at panache

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Ok, so this isn't a jazz title (that I know of, anyway) but it is a Lionel Richie hit from the 80s.

Actually, the title has nothing to do with tunes. I'm trying to figure out how to work the Hello feature so that I can post pics to my blog. So far, it's not working. The caption shows up but not the picture. Please forgive any mistakes and annoyances here until I get a handle on this thing!

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

spring is here

Well, not just yet it isn't. But it's pretty warm out for a February in the Midwest, so today I'm pretending.

Ha. Just saw on Blogger's news page that someone's got a blog called Tequila Mockingbird. That's awesome. Not only is TKM one of my favorite books, but I think this would be a great name for a jazz group: The Tequila Mockingbird Quartet. TMQ. Hmmm...I've been tossing the idea around to rename my group (which is, for lack of a better title, Cassie Hart & Friends) for a while now. Maybe this would be a good choice? Let me know what y'all think.

Caught up with two Knox alums this week as I found their blogs. Both are pretty cool; one author shall remain nameless, as his name isn't posted on his site so I assume he wishes to remain anonymous, but he's got some good rhymes/stories available for your reading pleasure. Check out MC Post.

The other is (and her name appears so I'll use it freely here) Meghan R. in Chicago. Good, entertaining stuff about music, food, the Windy City, and other stuff. Check out the Existential Doctrine of Slar for more.

Both are former KJE members and remain dedicated to jazz, either by playing or listening.

I gotta get outside and take advantage of the weather. David "Fathead" Newman is giving a clinic at ISU this afternoon (pre-concert) so I think we'll take a stroll downtown for some eats and jazzspeak. Maybe I'll get inspired.

Enjoy the weekend!

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Thursday, February 03, 2005

just friends

I've decided to be oh-so-very original and start titling these posts after tunes. Unless I'm feeling overly creative and have a better idea, that is. Don't bother reading into them...I can assure you that they won't have any significant meaning.

Playing tonight at Panache with guitarist Steve Degenford and bassist Jamie Jenkins. Tomorrow at the Pere with the Fulton Street Gang. And this weekend...I have off! That's actually a good feeling, given the last couple weeks that were busier than hell and last week when I played 5 gigs in 7 days. Far be it from me to complain. It's just that everything seems to happen at once rather than being distributed evenly throughout days, weeks, months, etc. Which leads to stress, and makes me bite my nails more than I already do and what's a woman to do with nasty, chewed-up nails?

Ok, that was kind of disgusting. Sorry.

So about the weekend...there's a jazz concert in town: David "Fathead" Newman. Sponsored by the local jazz station. Tickets are only $12 and Kevin and I are going, since we both have the night off, and we've invited his parents to join us. When I picked up the tickets yesterday I asked how many seats have been sold so far, and the gal at the desk replied, "Oh, about 600." That's great news, because last year's concert (Jazz Master's Concert) was pretty dead, attendance-wise. Ron Carter was the featured artist and I guess Central Illinois isn't too hip to him. There were only about 100 people there at most.

So this concert should be fun. Saw Fathead a few years ago at the Iowa City Jazz Festival with a group of All-Stars...Buster Williams, Billy Hart, Curtis Fuller, Cedar Walton, and a few others I wasn't familiar with at the time. He sounds good.

Will try to come up with a review of sorts to post here after the concert. I should probably get something else to All About Jazz to. It's been a while since I wrote anything for the site...not that they need my content, but it's a nice outlet to do some writing & jazz stuff, together.

Gotta get going on my ezine. It was due out Tuesday and it's late b/c of the DGM article.


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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

delta bali blues

Kenny Garrett is so cool.

Got a bit o' "Songbook" nestled in the CD player and it's literally music to my ears. For the first time in 2 weeks I'm doing something leisurely...updating my blog of choice (I really also need to update my biz blog) while enjoying KG. Well, I did make time for guilty pleasures Gilmore Girls (it's Tuesday night, after all) and One Tree Hill. I'm a true GG fan but have become addicted to OTH as well, since it's on right afterwards. Silly, I know, as it's just another teen drama and I'm too old to get into that stuff, right? Shhh...don't tell anyone. Anyhow, the character development is pretty good--or at least interesting.

Played Sunday night at the Pub in Galesburg--good times. I took my horn out today to teach a couple of lessons and it reeked of smoke, though. Hope I didn't leave a bad impression on the kids!

Just finished an article for Dynamic Graphics mag and I'm heaving a huge sigh of relief. While the subject matter was quite interesting, I think I spent almost too much time on the manuscript. Normally I just do product reviews, but this time the editor offered me a feature article and of course I said yes. Even though journalism isn't really my thing--I'm focusing on marketing/promotional copy--I knew it would be a good experience. And it pays well. But since this was the first "major" assignment I've had of this nature for DGM, I wanted to do a bang-up job. Not sure I did this exactly, but I sure tried. There comes a point when you just have to say STOP---I can't read this again or revise anymore. You can always find a better word or change a comma or something. The process never really ends by itself, and no piece is perfect. The author will always find some fault with her work.

Kinda like a musician listening to his own solo.

I'm tired. My eyes hurt. I'm goin' to bed. See y'all back later in the week.