May has come along rather quickly, and is the culmination of a year as chair of the USC Thornton Jazz program, numerous writing and playing projects, and the challenge of balancing travel/performing with teaching. This week I’m able to wind it all down and catch my breath before things heat up again.

The year at USC was a good one. The big band won first place at the Monterey Next Generation festival and was invited to play at this September’s Monterey Jazz Festival. The band has never sounded better. Several of the members are out and about working in L.A. There are several very good arrangers in the band as well. I think we have honed a curriculum that preps students for being articulate in the language of jazz while garnering the skills to work in other areas of music (composing, arranging, producing, playing other styles of music). I have been using several of the students in my big band, and they all have done a wonderful job.

A few of our former and current students formed a band called Moonchild and put some music up on Youtube.( Their music is heartfelt, well thought out, and sounds great. Stevie Wonder asked them to open for them last December at the Nokia center here in L.A. They are already being approached to do some writing for other well-known artists. I would like to think that the training these students go at USC along with the collaboration they formed as a result of meeting at school was the seed that caused this nice music to emerge and for the members to advance their careers.

Just finished writing a piece for members of the Vienna Philharmonic that have assembled in a big band configuration to do two concerts in Germany end of June.

The Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern outside of Hamburg is Germany’s 3rd largest classical music festival ( . I’ve written a three movement piece for three soloists: Daniel Hope, violinist from the U.K., Mattias Schorn, principal clarinetist of the Vienna Philharmonicand artistic director of the festival, and myself.

The challenge, as is always the case, was to find the meeting place between jazz and groove music and an orchestral sensibility, where both genres are acknowledged in a respectful way. We will see how it all develops.

The Yellowjackets did two week long engagements in April, one in Berne, Switzerland at Maryan’s Jazz Room and the other at Birdland in NYC. The band is sounding very well, and we have a new repertoire worked up and ready to go. The new Jackets cd “A Rise in the Road” is due out mid June. Felix Pastorius is playing beautifully and we have moved on to the next chapter of Yellowjackets evolution.

Sporadic dates throughout the summer await us.

Still trying to eat right, exercise, and think right. These are issues well outside of most medical doctor’s vocabularies. I had to get the information for myself and develop a regimen that works for me. Medical studies are lacking in the influence of diet and exercise on preventing disease. Worth considering! I could not do the travel I do if I were not in good shape.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Keep striving for tone!

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