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, May 31, 2005

all of me

Found a couple more jazz blogs, both written by DJs of sorts:

Jazz & Conversation
Jazz Portraits

Summer is about here, and gigs are picking up. I'm "on call" for a wedding for Saturday. The group's sax player is out of the country and if he's not back by Friday night, I guess I'll get the good word. It's a private event---in town!---and the only gig in my book for the weekend, except for the regulars: Thursday at Panache (w/ Dave Hoffman & Jamie Jenkins, and I just heard Dr.Bob may be showing up) and Friday at the Pere with the Fulton Street Gang.

My eyes are watering and my head is swimming from staring at the computer screen all day. Been working nonstop today to finish some web content for a client, with the exception of heading over to the store to teach lessons. 2 students didn't show today, and I'm pretty sure one of them thought it was Monday. The other is hit or miss...he's here one week, not the next. He missed last week too---I'm not sure of his interest level. He doesn't practice, or converse, and he likes Good Charlotte instead of Benny Goodman.

Which brings me to a question I posed to Kevin yesterday during our drive to his folks' house: if anything can be sold if marketed properly, why can't jazz be successful? If the media would take an artist--not a Diana Krall or a Jane Monheit (Kev's examples)--let's take someone really talented, not watered down musically and perhaps even ugly (my example) and tell the public that it's the next big thing. Kids have got to download it on their iPods and they've got to check out the next live show. Couldn't jazz make it? Why not? Why do bands with little musical talent and lots of tattoos and makeup rake in millions while artists who play insightful, complex music are struggling to make a living?

There's got to be a way to make this work. We listen to the media. We rely on the media to tell us what's hip and what's not. Just glance at the magazine rack next time you're at the checkout counter and you'll see it's true: People, Star, Nat'l Enquirer, various fashion mags. I want to do a project, a research project. I want to convince the media to sway the general public to listen to Joshua Redman and Nicholas Payton. I want record sales (jazz) to surge past the 2% they currently make. I want I want I want. Guess I'm just like everyone else, after all.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Look, we're almost halfway thru the workweek already!

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Friday, May 27, 2005

altered state

It's been over a week since I posted to the blog, partly because I've been swamped with work and partly because I haven't had much to say. Until now, that is.

Wednesday we (Kevin, myself, and drummer friend Greg) took a trip to St. Louis to see the Yellowjackets at the Jazz Bistro. I'm not sure I'll be able to adequately convey the magic that happened on stage that night, but I'll try.

Actually, it wasn't really magic. It was quite simple, really: enter four talented musicians who can play their @$$es off individually but who play equally as well when performing in and ensemble. These guys listen to each other. They respond. They leave space and fill it, too. They play original music that, on the surface, sometimes sounds simple but is really quite difficult to play. Some of it doesn't sound simple, though, and surely isn't easy to play. But they pull it off. And they sound better every time I hear them.

They are all super nice guys, too. They'll hang out after shows and talk to everyone. We chatted with Bob Mintzer (sax) for a while, and it was just like talking to your best friend. No attitude. No pulling rank. No superiority complex. Just a regular guy. And they're all like that. Sorry for these really short sentences. I'm. Just. Trying. To. Make. A. Point.

So if you get a chance, I urge you to make an effort to catch the Yellowjackets live. I promise you will not be disappointed. They'll be back at the Bistro next April, and I'll be there to cheer them on once again. In the meantime, check out these 'Jackets-related websites:

Yellowjackets official website
bios, performance schedule, cds & transcriptions for sale, more!

Yellowjackets fan-made site
dedicated fans provide another great 'Jackets resource

Bob Mintzer's site
read notes from Bob about the 'Jackets, the Bob Mintzer Big Band, and music in general. he's also got a discussion forum...and he replies to just about every post. ask him something!

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Does anyone else think the dude on the Burger King commercials is creepy? It's not just his giant plastic face (which at first glance appears to be smiling openly--take another look, however, and notice the hypnotic state of his eyes) that make my skin crawl but a combination of his frozen features and the raspy voice . And I'm not the only one who thinks this way...I just found some other folks who fear the King:

King Chat
Homoerotic analysis of the King (this honestly never crossed my mind...but well, ok...)

So anyway, I guess we need crazy days to balance out the days where nothing at all happens. Today was certainly one of those. I'm in the middle of a lesson (with one of my 4 students) when the manager/lesson coordinator sticks his head in and asks if I mind taking a new student in the 5.30 slot...tonight. I say sure, since I have a half hour to kill until my 6.00 student shows anyway. So that's one new student. A while later he comes in to let me know that 3 others have just signed up (today??!). I guess my Tuesday afternoons/evenings are booked now...no tagging along to Panache with Kevin unless the last student decides not to show. Attendance as a whole has been less than stellar, although lately everyone has shown up on time.

Other news: the Gilmore Girls season finale aired tonight, which I faithfully watched. Loreli propoed to Luke in the last few seconds of the show. His response was a shocked & baffled "What?" Such a cliffhanger! Of course they should be together, but that may change the dynamic of the show, so I'm sure the writers will throw some sort of wrench in the process. Guess I have to wait until September to find out!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

darn that dream

Truly, this afternoon I composed a rather insightful post about musicians & clubowners and whose responsibility it is to publicize gigs, but Blogger went nuts, froze up, and ate my post. I'm not feeling like recreating it in its entirety right now so here's my words of advice on the subject (the abridged version):

Clubowners should promote gigs that take place in their venues. Don't complain about a lack of an audience if you do nothing to promote your business and the entertainment you've chosen to sponsor.

Musicians--you should also promote your gigs. Don't leave it up to the club to do all the work. Want people to come out and hear you? Make flyers and post them around town, start an email list, get a website or a blog and list your gigs, etc. If you advertise it, they will come!

Speaking of which, come out to Panache tomorrow night and catch yours truly with Dave Hoffman and Jamie Jenkins!

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

april in paris

Most of my life I've been a closet percussionist. And I'm just about ready to come out.

I think it started when I was real little. I had this Snoopy lunchbox--one of the metal ones--that I liked to beat on. Eventually I acquired a pair of drum sticks and was overjoyed at the rat-a-tat-tat noises--as arhythmic as I'm sure they were--that emerged when I pounded on the box's flat surface. My sister had a set of 4 variously-sized blocks, so I'd set these up all around me, place the lunch box in the middle, and pretend I had a drum set. This provided hours of entertainment for me and hours of headaches for my parents.

I'm sure this is why when it came time to join band and I wanted to play the drums, my folks said, "But the flute is such a nice [quiet] instrument. And all your friends are playing it...."

I didn't care about quiet, but in fifth grade you become aware of your social status, and your friends certainly rule (at least mine did), so I consented and got my grubby hands on a flute. Played it for years, moved to the sax, and the rest is history.

Until I married a drummer. Then I finally had a "real" drumset at my disposal. And I've been playing it...it's quite fun (see previous post outlining adentures in percussion exercises). Now we've added congas to the mix, and I'm excited to learn a few basic grooves so I can lug them with me to Panache and play a bit during the [drummerless] trio sessions. Jamie, the bass player, will love me for it and I'll feel as if I'm adding some substance to the performance when I'm not playing heads or soloing.

Lessons with my dear husband will begin shortly and I'll keep you posted on my progress. I promise I won't type if my hands are bruised and bleeding. Hmmm, maybe I don't know what I'm in for?

Conga Cassie