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 27, 2008

finally! a concert recap!

After a fairly extensive hiatus from seeing any type of formal performance (having to arrange for a babysitter when the show is out of town—as most shows are when you live in the middle of farm country—makes doing this sort of thing very often difficult), I was fortunate to attend a concert in Springfield on Sunday, which featured one of the most talented musical groups ever to grace the stage/studio: the Yellowjackets.

I love this band for so many reasons. First, the level of musicianship is phenomenal. Each player is an amazing talent in his own right and when you put the four of them together—look out! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group of musicians play together so well, picking up on every nuance, merging individual sounds to create an appealing, collective musical package—everything just fits. Feels good, too. There’s sensitivity, appreciation, respect, and enhancement of and for each other on both a musical and personal level, all the time. And they always seem to have fun. AND they’re all nice guys. I’ve had the opportunity to chat briefly with each musician and they are very friendly and down-to-earth.

We’ve seen the Jackets (fans often refer to the group by this affectionate shortening of the band name) probably half a dozen times now. Every time I fall in love with their music again. For those of you who don’t know, the lineup is Russell Ferrante (piano/synths), Bob Mintzer (sax), Jimmy Haslip (bass), and Marcus Baylor (drums). Being a sax player, of course hearing Mintzer is always a treat. He wasn’t able to play this show, however, due to his son’s graduation. While he was missed, I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the Jackets’ sub choice, Eric Marienthal.

Marienthal is also a West Coast musician, probably best known as saxophonist with Chick Corea’s Elektric Band in the 80s. But he’s put out a lot of his own material too (mostly smooth jazz) and has played with many notable groups. He’s an amazing musician and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone play with so much energy! Total control of his instrument, too. He may be known as a smooth jazz guy but his playing was far from the often vanilla-sounding diatonic lines many players pigeonholed in this genre exhibit. It was a thrill to hear him play.

The Jackets have a new CD (Lifecycle) out featuring guitarist Mike Stern. I’m somewhat familiar with Stern’s work but not overly. Should be interesting to hear what it sounds like with a guitarist in the mix again (the original Yellowjackets featured Robben Ford who founded the group).

Check out tour dates, recordings, and bio info on http://www.yellowjackets.com/. I see they’ll be in Naperville on June 7…I know we just saw them, but we’re thinking of checking this gig out, too. It’s so close to home, I’d hate to miss it!

Special thanks to Nat Radwine who had a huge part in putting this concert together—and who left two free tickets for us at the box office. :-)

And ok, I wasn't going to post this but I think I will anyway...it's a clip from the show. They're playing "Revaltion". The sound/picture isn't very good so sorry about that.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

our "prodigy"

That title is totally a joke. I worked in a music store for several years and met many parents who swore their offspring was some sort of prodigal child. Heard a lot of, "But she's so talented...why can't my 2 year old play tenor sax?"

So I doubt Miss M is a prodigy...but she's awfully cute now that she can play the rhythm to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on floor tom. Check it out!


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Friday, May 02, 2008

myspace, anyone?

So I'm probably one of the only musicians in the nation that does not yet have a Myspace page. Apparently that will change in the near future as I volunteered to create one for a band I play with (so it won't actually be my page, I guess...more like our page). We're making plans to take some recent pictures and come up with a few recorded songs to add to the site. I'll keep you updated on any progress!

UPDATE: jazzchocolat MySpace URL: http://www.myspace.com/jazzchololat

On a different musical note, my 2 year old is becoming an expert at singing and banging out rhythms to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She has just started singing pitches and is singing the right ones most of the time, and she can wail out the rhythm on the table with her bare hands or on the floor tom in our living room with her little drumsticks. It's pretty cute! Perhaps she will be a percussionist...oh help us!