January 2016

Happy New Year! And what a year it was. Lots of music and interesting moments. Released an R and B Big Band cd Get Up! Recorded a new Yellowjackets cd (Cohearance due out 4/16), released a new etude book “Playing on the Changes” with Alfred Music, released a big band play along app on Fuzzy Music, signed on as the chief conductor of the WDR Big Band starting fall 2016. Grammy nomination for “Civil War” from the Get Up cd in the best original instrumental composition category.

I don’t think I could fit much more into a year! Add to that teaching at USC, touring with the Jackets, my big band, and as guest artist with several other bands. Very grateful for all the opportunities and a strong work ethic I get from my mom.

This is the first blog post in quite a while. Kinda lost interest. Lately it has felt better to indulge in musical and life activity rather than spending time posting about it. Working and playing hard these days.

I’m grateful for all the amazing people in my life. My wife Carla, son Paul, mother Cynthia (90 years young), brother Rich and his family, the guys in the Yellowjackets, Russ, Will, Dane, all the cats I’ve played with in my big band, The WDR guys, the amazing staff at USC Thornton School of Music, all the fans of music I get to intersect with on a daily basis. Thank you all!

Some ideas for subsequent projects have crossed my mind, but at this time I would simply like to practice my horn, learn some new tunes, go to classical concerts, do my teaching and playing, read a lot, do some hiking, cooking, and hanging with friends. After 40 years of one project to the next, 30 cd’s as a leader, 15 cd’s with the Yellowjackets, and all the rest it’s time for a breather.  At this point what I consider cutting back a bit is probably the equivelent of what every musician aspires to be doing. Anyway, always a work in progress in terms of figuring out how to best spend your short time here on earth. The fact is, you can shape your environment with a little bit of thought, determination, and soul searching.

With the country and the world so very divided, it is a real quandry as to what to do and how to think about it. I guess what I can do is spread the message of love and cooperation through music in my performing and teaching. Great music is such a terrific example of egoless colaboration, where the whole is far more important than the parts. There is little or no focus on who is right or wrong, only respect for one another. In this setting the musical conversation proceeds with the sole objective of making the ensemble harmonious and joyous. What a concept! It seems so obvious. In fact Russ and I are doing a performance/discussion for a gathering of CEO’s in San Francisco next month that focuses on how the collaborative spirit in musical performance would perhaps parallel the potential benefits of a harmonious workplace. I think the same would hold true in our government and between various governments of the world. I’d like to think so anyway. Anything is better than the abject disrespect our politicians display towards one another. But I digress.

Still exercising every day. Trying to eat well prepared nutritious foods.

Trying to see the good in everythong around me, although it is challenging sometimes. Trying to stay calm and when I freak out, tryi to understand where the fear is coming from and how to re focus on the positive. With daily practice this is attainable. Work in progress.   Keeping the faith!

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