Friday, April 27, 2012

Viewer Mail:How to Audition For A Teaching Job

Viewer Mail!
This came in recently from a music teacher:

Hi George, great blog. I was just wondering if you had any advice on how to audition for a college teaching job? I have an audition coming up and I'm a little nervous about it. I have to work with the small jazz groups and big band, and also give a lecture. How should I approach it? Also, should I bring my own music for the ensembles to play? Or is that too egotistical? Any advice would be appreciated.

First of all, try not to be nervous! I realize that this is natural, but keep in mind that many search committees already have an idea of who they want before you even arrive to audition. Truthfully, and I speak from experience, you may have the best audition of your life, but the job might already be slated for the person with the inside track. The committee will never admit this, but it's an annoying truth about faculty searches. I've been on both sides. I think it's important to be fair and objective, but unfortunately, human nature doesn't always account for this. All of that being said, try not to think about how much you want that particular job, but just focus on your presentation and the act of teaching and lecturing. if the job is meant to be yours, it will be. It's best to realize that once you begin, it's out of your hands.

The search committee might already know who they want....
I was a finalist in about 10 searches before I landed my first full time teaching job. I think it's safe to say that the act of auditioning 10 times really made a difference in my comfort level with every successive audition. It's just like performing; the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be. Go into it with the idea that win or lose, it's a tremendous learning experience. See if they will video the audition, and ask for a copy. Win or lose, ask the committee for feedback. You might even disagree with their comments, but it's interesting to see what they say. (One of the times I auditioned, I asked for feedback. One of the comments was that my playing was great, but I just didn't connect with the students. I thought that was odd because one of the students I worked with contacted me after the audition and said he wanted to come to New York for a lesson! Like I said, whether you win or lose might have more to do with a predetermined agenda than anything that you do during the audition.)

I like to thinking of teaching as part preparation and part improvisation. By that, I mean you should bring materials and do some preparation. Have something in mind for the ensembles to play. You might even consider over-preparing. This will insure that there is no dead space during the audition. You don't want to give the impression that you lack information. The committee wants to believe that you have enough information for 4 years or more of a student's tenure, not just enough to pass an audition. So you want to give the impression of depth of knowledge.

However, I find that teaching and working with ensembles is a lot like being a doctor; you have to assess the true state of things, not something preconceived. So even if you bring nothing and just have the ensemble play something they know, you will most likely have something to talk about. Even a great student ensemble will hopefully be able to play better with some of your guidance. Maybe have them try the material a different way. You can talk about improvisational concepts. I find myself talking about the same issues, because they are issues that seem to occur so often with student groups; lack of energy/direction of solos, poor understanding of chord/scale relationships, lack of jazz vocabulary, time/rhythm problems, poor stage presence/lack of good presentation, intonation, poor technique/bad technical habits, etc... I'm always amazed when my audition involves none of my prepared materials, because I spend most of the time dealing with correcting problems.

I believe that one of the main factors in my landing of the Portland State University job was my lecture. The PSU search committee was looking for someone to teach jazz history. One, I had been teaching jazz history for two years at University of Manitoba. So I had some experience under my belt. Also, I used Powerpoint for the lecture; this seemed to make all the difference in the world, because it shows your ideas in a very organized way. (I got the idea from my students in Winnipeg, who seemed to be very adept with powerpoint.) You can embed audio files or links to youtube; everything is easily self-contained.

Don't be afraid to over-prepare for your lecture
I have seen great performers and teachers totally bomb on the lecture. I myself have bombed on the lecture portion a number of times! I think that's the one area which separates the men and women from the boys and girls. (One of my lectures was actually a very specific request; talk about, as well as demonstrate, jazz piano styles from 1940 to the present. In 40 minutes. I prepared for 3-4 months transcribing solos and preparing ideas and didn't win the job. It was hard to swallow that loss, but I learned a boatload of stuff, which I used for the lecture for my University of Manitoba job.) I think this is one area where, again, you should over prepare. Practice giving the lecture many times, alone, or in front of friends. Nothing makes perfect like practice.

I think it's cool to bring your own music for the ensembles. This might also distinguish you from someone who just brings stock arrangements. It really depends on the level of the students and whether they stand a chance of playing your music. Try to get a sense of the level of the ensemble from the faculty contact. Maybe even send material in advance, if allowed. Maybe bring a mixture of your tunes and then some standard material. You'll be surprised; oftentimes the ensemble which is considered the most advanced might not be able to play a blues! or they might be playing at a pro level. Be prepared for a contingency such as this.

Good luck! It took me almost 10 years to land a job. If it's meant to happen, it will. Don't be discouraged if you don't get it. These jobs are very competitive, especially now that most jazz musicians, who years ago wouldn't be caught dead teaching, are now throwing their hat in the ring due to the incredibly shrinking music industry. I've competed with seriously high profile candidates. I couldn't help but feel like I didn't stand a chance, but you have to put on your game face regardless. It's a lot like performing. Just go in there and believe that you are the best music teacher in the world. You'd be surprised at what that kind of positive thinking can do.

Tour Diary: Jazz Standard NYC-Success!

The Jazz Standard, which was not empty this past Tuesday!
Lonnie Plaxico
On April 24th, I brought a really nice band into the Jazz Standard. This was to be my third time performing as a bandleader at the standard over a nine year period(the last time was 2006). It's always been one of my favorite clubs in New York, but it is very competitive to get a booking. I was really happy to finally get a date. I took a risk, and booked a somewhat unique band and concept. The personnel was Clarence Penn on drums, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, Jaleel Shaw on alto and soprano saxophone, and Debbie Deane on vocals. I've really been dying to perform my music with lyrics, which Deane and I had performed in Japan and at a few gigs recently; however, I wondered whether such a departure from the expectation of purely instrumental jazz would attract or deter an audience. The Jazz Standard is not a huge club, but it's a decent size, and like any venue, the powers-that-be want to see people in the seats. I've seen it packed, and I've seen it almost empty. Empty sucks. I was afraid of empty. I paid for a radio spot on WBGO and a Facebook ad to help with promotion. And then I crossed my fingers.

Clarence Penn
Musically, I was thrilled. Lonnie Plaxico is probably the funkiest upright bass player in jazz; he started in Chicago playing with Motown bands, playing by ear(he said he didn't even know the letter names of the notes!). So he fit right in with the vibe of my tunes. Clarence Penn is also an amazing interpreter of "crossover" music, especially with a vocalist. Debbie Deane had performed the music a few times now, although mostly in our duo setting; she agreed that it's much more exciting with a band. Jaleel Shaw fit in perfectly, in my view; while some of these tunes could be considered more "pop" or "R&B", I want soloists to stick to their own language, and "play what they play". That's exactly what Jaleel did, and it was awesome. It makes the music go other places.

Jaleel Shaw
Both sets were crowded; even one of the managers said it was "really good for a Tuesday night." I was extremely relieved. It also made it more fun to play. I try not  to let things like that bother me, but sometimes it's a little depressing playing for an empty house. Admittedly, the whole publicity and "get folks to come out and hear you" and "develop a following" thing has been a weakness of mine, mostly because I would rather practice or write music, or even blog, than put in the work that that sort of thing involves. But I'm extremely encouraged by the success of this night at the Jazz Standard.

Debbie Deane; she is singing on a CD in progress....
I also got a lot of great feedback on the music. Again, it's a very different endeavor, to present an entire evening of original lyrics, as opposed to some modal improvisations. Deane and I are working on a recording, which I hope to finish soon. Hopefully a finished product will help with some more bookings. I still want to do instrumental stuff, but I think having lyrics could potentially appeal to a wider audience. Let's see what happens. On to Baltimore!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tour Diary: George Colligan Trio at the Cellar in Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver-OK, you're beautiful, knock it off already......
Cory Weeds at the Cellar
I hadn't been in Canada since last August, when I taught at the University of Manitoba Summer Jazz Camp for the last time and then drove to Portland. This weekend, I drove up to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a weekend stint at The Cellar. I've been to Vancouver a bunch of times; it's one of the most beautiful cities in the world(it's so beautiful, it's actually annoying. Alright, alright-mountains, trees, the ocean, architecture-we GET it.). The Cellar is, for me, one of the best jazz clubs in the world. I think it is so because the owner, Cory Weeds, is not only a businessman, but he's a musician as well, and he can see it from both sides. He's created a real treasure for Vancouver and it's musicians and jazz lovers.(Also, they have some of the best brussell sprouts I have ever had! Be sure to order them if you get there...).

 I had never driven into Canada to work; the border crossing was a little tense. There was some confusion with the Border Patrol as to whether my performances at the Cellar was a "ticketed event" or a "cover charge". Um, both? I had no idea. So after some tense moments and about an hour of waiting, I was given the go ahead to cross the border. After seeing the mountains in the distance, I forgot all about the border silliness.

Andre Lachance
Jesse Cahill
I've worked as a leader at the Cellar a number of times over the past few years. Usually, I have drummer Jesse Cahill and bassist Jodi Proznick. Unfortunately, Proznick had to cancel, so Cahill recommended a bassist named Andre Lachance. I was really happy with Lachance; he read my tunes flawlessly, played solid time, and play inventive, technically impressive solos. Cahill has a great swing feel, and great chops; he also interpreted the music perfectly. Although I was a little zonked from the 7 hour trip, I felt like we had a good vibe the first night of the gig.

I spent the next day before the gig relaxing, making a few trips to a juice bar, going for a run along the unbelievably picturesque shoreline, and working on some music in my room(I brought my MIDI keyboard and my computer). I also made a trip over to a restaurant which is owned by my friend Terry Deane. I knew Terry in New York City; he lived in Brooklyn for a number of years before heading back to Canada. He's a genius tenor saxophonist, and was also known as one of the best saxophone repairman in the business. Deane is also a master chef, and decided to quit repairing horns and open a pizzeria. After opening and selling a restaurant in Abbotsford, he opened another one in Vancouver called Pizzeria Barbarella(named after his recently deceased mother.).

Terry Deane making his incredible Pizza
I stopped in to Pizzeria Barbarella to say hello and to sample the goods. I was hesitant, since I've been on a very low-carb diet(I haven't had a piece of bread since March). I figured,"Hey, I'll get a slice and a salad, that will be fine." As I sat down at a table and looked around at what was on other people's plates, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a whole Margherita for myself. I must say that in my life, I've eaten my fair share of pizza; I worked at a pizza joint when I was young, I ate pizza in New York and Italy, and so forth. THIS was the best pizza I've had in my whole life. I'm actually glad I don't live in Vancouver because I would be addicted to this pizza. The crust is the perfect texture, the flavor is almost an emotional experience. I'm just saying you might break down in tears after eating this pizza!The place was packed, and Pizzeria Barbarella just received a liquor license, so I predict success for Deane and his fine establishment.

The second night at the Cellar was better musically and in terms of attendance;it was pretty much a full house. I was feeling more warmed up(I feel like I barely ever get to play piano anymore, so some of my sad licks are starting to come back to me....)and Cahill and Lachance were stretching out more. We had a young guitarist named Alexis Harrison sit in on a few tunes. Harrison had seen a clinic I gave in Nanaimo a few years ago and contacted me on Facebook. She asked me to send her a leadsheet for a tune of mine called "Rose Colored Glass." (She worked it up with her classmates and I thought it sounded pretty good! It's not an easy tune!) It was another good night at the Cellar and I hope to return next year.

I got up at 5 the next morning to beat the traffic back to Portland. It only took 5 and 1/2 hours back. And no border trouble this time. Next stops: New York, Baltimore, and Cleveland!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thomas Marriot-Crazy: The Music Of Willie Nelson

Thomas Marriott
New York is still by default the jazz capital of the world. However, there are great jazz musicians everywhere. Many of them are in the Pacific Northwest(like me, for example. Oh, that's messed up.....). A great trumpeter (I've been fortunate to play with him a few times since I moved out to Portland) living in Seattle is Thomas Marriott. He's not only great at playing the trumpet and improvising; he's a great bandleader and arranger. One of his recent recordings demonstrates all of these things well. It's "Crazy: The Music Of Willie Nelson"(Origin Records). You might be saying to yourself the same thing that I initially thought:"Jazz musicians playing Willie Nelson's music? Now I've heard everything!"

Full disclosure:I am not a Willie Nelson fan, and I'm not terribly familiar with his music. A few of the better known tunes on this CD("The Great Divide", "Crazy", "On The Road Again")I recognized. But whether you are a die-hard fan of Nelson, or you've never heard of him, you'll have a lot to listen to on Marriott's album. Remember that jazz musicians playing pop songs is not a new idea. Jazz musicians can take any material from A to Z and make it into something interesting. Marriott has done just that. 

Marriott's trumpet style is very clean and pristine; he's got a perfectly round, dark tone, and his tone is consistent in the low range through to the high range. Marriott has a lot of facility but never shows off.
Harmon mute for Trumpet: Miles Davis used this often
There's a lot of use of reverb and effects, like in the opening track, "Phases and Stages,Circles and Cycles." Sometimes, Marriott will use a harmon mute(Miles Davis is known for his harmon mute playing), like on "Everywhere I Go". But the heavy delay effect on "On The Road Again" gives Marriott's trumpet tone a very expansive sound. Marriott's tone is really dark and lovely when he plays flugelhorn on "The Great Divide".

Matt Jorgensen
Marriott picked some great players for his project: Mark Taylor on alto and soprano saxophones, Ryan Burns on keys, Geoff Harper on bass(I assume it is not the bass player from Baltimore also named Geoff Harper?) and Matt Jorgensen on drums. Much of the album goes into a fuson/rock territory, and Jorgensen keeps the intensity up; on "You Wouldn't Cross The Street To Say Goodbye", things get heated with a Bitches Brew-ish solo by Marriott. Jorgensen keeps it going while Taylor works it out over some cool synth and rhodes comping by Burns.

My favorite track is "Crazy"; it begins very simply(although Burns keeps his effect pedals for the Rhodes turned on , which maybe hints that there is some mischief in the works.) On the second time through, things really do go crazy; what started as a country 12/8 becomes a sort of Willie Nelson meets Ornette Coleman meets Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way". It's kind of a broad, literal joke, but I got a kick out of the cleverness of it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tom Wetmore:The Desired Effect

I've always had a thing for the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Ever since I found Herbie Hancock's "Headhunters" at the library, I've been a fan of this primitive yet enchanting keyboard. It's so different in many ways than an acoustic piano; the tone, the tines, the sustain, the built in-amplification. My first real gig as a pianist was actually on a Fender Rhodes. I had a Rhodes in my dorm room at Peabody for a while. I once carried my suitcase Rhodes from Reade Street to Chambers Street in Baltimore after my car wouldn't start. Yes, I know the joy and the pain(back pain) of the Fender Rhodes.

This is why I'm enjoying Tom Wetmore's new album. "The Desired Effect" is a Rhodes lover's CD. Wetmore has some great compositions and has assembled a formidable cast of characters to embellish these compositions. This cast includes not one but two alto saxophonists: Jaleel Shaw and Eric Neveloff. Furthermore, there are two guitarists: Brad Williams and Justin Sabaj. The rhythm section is electric bassist Michael League, and drummer Garrett Brown.

Jaleel Shaw
"Red Lights" begins with Ab minor. The opening groove has a mellow, funky lope using a tricky meter which could be divided into 9/8,6/8,9/8/,8/8, although drummer Brown seems to treat it more like 7/4, 2/8, 8/4, 2/8(basically 7.5 and 8.5). The later makes it sound more relaxed, like a slightly skewed back beat. The melody uses the presence of 4 melodic instruments to it's advantage, twisting around the beat with an intertwined counterpoint. The bridge goes to D minor, stays in 9/8, and develops the first melody, with even more interesting counterpoint. They return to Ab minor idea, then back to the D minor, but this time, there is an extension, which functions almost like a solo send-off. Jaleel Shaw is always killing, but here he is pulling out most of the stops. it's a very exciting solo, and Wetmore comps for Shaw well. I first listened to this CD in my car, but when I put in on again with my headphones, I swear that I hear Rhodes comping on the left channel, and then again on the right, as if there were two Rhodes. It's a cool effect. (I thought maybe it was guitar but I'm pretty sure after re-listening that it's two channels of Rhodes.)

Lost Tribe
"Wild Card" is a calm, contemporary waltz, with a much more easily digested melody than the previous tune. The Rhodes combined with guitar create a smooth wall of sound. Shaw is again featured. Wetmore also solos, in an extended, unaccompanied improvisation. Wetmore plays it cool, going for an introspective mood rather than pyrotechniques. "Good and Plenty", is another more mellow, grungy groove, which outs the guitarists Williams and Sabaj to good use. This one reminds me of a band from the 90's called Lost Tribe(which also featured two guitarists; David Gilmore and Adam Rogers, as well as alto saxophonist Dave Binney). Bassist League takes a great effect pedal driven bass solo. The piece builds with Willams and Sabaj soloing in tandem. It's cool how they compare and contrast each other's ideas.

"A Blessing" is a creepy tune, starting with a very mysterious bass line. Others enter in F minor with a major 7(minor with a major 7 always has a mysterious sound to it), but then surprise, back to minor chords with a flat 7; it's very striking. Wetmore finally gives himself another solo. I personally think that Wetmore could have featured himself more as a soloist, but on the other hand, it's kind of refreshing that the bandleader can let go of his ego and focus more on the overall vibe and let the compositions and group efforts speak for themselves.

"The Desired Effect" is a cousin of the opening tune, except the meter is 6/8,8/8,6/8,6/8. There's a nice guitar solo(I'm not sure which guitarist.) Wetmore tells a nice unaccompanied story to open the pensive "With Woven Wings". We hear more intensity from altoist Shaw, and another nice solo from Wetmore. Wetmore is a good example of someone who improvises phrases that are jazzy but not cliche. Some pianists(I'm probably included) tend to overplay the Rhodes; but Wetmore has the right touch to make it sing.

I'm looking forward to more from Mr. Wetmore. "The Desired Effect" is available on Itunes. Check out Wetmore's website at Also, keep in mind that Jaleel Shaw will be joining me at The Jazz Standard on April 24th in New York City. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

GEORGE COLLIGAN QUARTET plus special guest Jaleel Shaw

This what Portlanders think all East Coasters are like
I have 2 very important gigs coming up soon and I'm using my inside connections here at to promote it. It's April 24th at the Jazz Standard in New York, and April 25th at An Die Musik in Baltimore. Yes, I'm flying from Portland, Oregon to the legendary East Coast of the United States just to play for YOU, dear reader! (It's funny how people in Portland talk about the East Coast, like it is so exotic, it must only exist in movies or television; as if you are from anywhere on the East Coast, then you must be some kind of overly-aggressive ruffian, or a former cast member of Jersey Shore, or The Sopranos. "Hey, how you DOIN?".....Many of us, while we might have strange accents, are actually quite normal, and occasionally even polite and considerate.)

Debbie Deane
The first gig is April 24th at the Jazz Standard(116 East 27th Street, New York, NY,(212) 576-2232). Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30. The band will feature the great Lonnie Plaxico on bass, the great Clarence Penn on drums, the great Jaleel Shaw on saxophone, and vocalist Debbie Deane, who you should be somewhat familiar with if you have been following some of my earlier blogs about my December tour of Japan. We will be performing my original music:a handful of instrumentals, but more importantly, music which I wrote lyrics for, or music which I combined with poetry written by my sister, Dana Colligan. It's a bit of a departure for me, and I hope this will pique your interest enough to come check it out. I would hope that the other cats in the band would make you want to check it out!

Jaleel Shaw
April 25th will be in Baltimore at An Die Musik(409 North Charles Street  Baltimore, MD ,(410) 385-2638), which is right down the street from my alma mater, Peabody Conservatory of Music. This is a cool venue; its got a really great, well maintained Steinway piano, and it has a historic feel to it. This performance will be just duo with Debbie Deane. So if you didn't see us in Japan, which is more than likely, you'll get to see us in Baltimore! Sets are 8 and 9:30.

I'm working on a recording with many of these original songs. I'll be playing all of the instrumental tracks on the recording, while Deane will be covering the vocals. Most of these songs I wrote during my 2 year stint in Winnipeg, Manitoba. And no, there are no lyrics about -40 C or curling.

Hope you see you there!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ted Nash at Ivories

Ted Nash
I made it down to Ivories on Monday night to hear the great Ted Nash and his quartet at Ivories in Northwest Portland. Nash and I were adjunct colleagues at the Juilliard school years ago, although we only had spoken once after a faculty meeting. Nash is known as a virtuoso saxophonist, and has played with many of the greats. He plays all the saxophones equally well, and knows the jazz tradition from then until now. He has spent many years with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra. I was excited to hear his music live in Portland.

Ron Horton

Nash had a great team of collaborators to share the bandstand: Ron Horton is a very unique and tragically under-rated trumpeter, whom I have had the pleasure of working with on a number of occasions. Horton plays the instrument effortlessly from low range to high, and has a gorgeous, rich, centered tone. His ideas can seem traditional, but then he can surprise you in the next phrase. Drummer Ulysses Owens, whom I have also had the fortune to work with in the past, is highly in demand as a sideman. Owens currently plays with several groups led by bassist Christian McBride. He's the epitome of tasteful drumming. He played on the quiet side, which balanced with the chord-less quartet very well. (By chord-less, I mean no piano or guitar.....or vibes, I guess if you want to get technical...)
Ulysses Owens

Bassist Paul Sikivie was a real surprise to me, because he was actually one of my students at Julliard; he was in my piano class. He didn't impress me as a pianist(most of my students didn't, at least not in Piano for Non-Pianists, since it isn't their main instrument...), but he really wowed me as a bassist; he plays really in tune, and has a great swinging drive, and takes musical solos. Obviously, he has a lot of responsibility in this group with the absence of a "chordal" instrument. I was happy to see that he is having some career success.

Paul Sikivie
Nash and company were playing some music from a suite which Nash referred to as "Portrait in Seven Shades". The pieces were dedicated to various painters, like Dali, or Monet, for example. This was apparently a scaled-down version of these pieces, since the original commissioned work was for the JLCO, which is a full big band. I'll have to go back and check out the original work, because I could imagine a huge difference in the textures of each piece with a vastly different instrumentation. Regardless, Nash's solos stood out to me as scarily perfect; an improviser who makes no mistakes, and has impressive ideas and also the maturity to know when to quit. His alto playing was focused and smooth, always in tune, and never overbearing.

Nash, Horton, Sikivie, and Owens basically gave a clinic on their respective instruments. I was somewhat disappointed that there were not more people in the audience. I suppose it's hard anywhere to get people to come out on a Monday night. The show was more pricey than most of the shows at Ivories, but shows like these are worth it, especially to students, in that you are getting to hear the masters live. And if you really pay attention, it's almost as good as, or even better, than getting a lesson, and for a fraction of what a lesson costs! Plus, you are helping to keep the music and the venues alive. I hope that at some point, Nash and his men will be able to return to Portland and we'll be able to get more folks to come out and see what they missed the first time......

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tom Guarna Pacific Northwest Tour

Tom Guarna
I'm thrilled that New York based guitarist Tom Guarna is coming out to Portland this week. Guarna is a well-respected yet highly underrated musician; he's been really busy in New York lately, playing with E.J. Strickland, Lenny White, Richie Goods, Helen Sung, and his own bands. Guarna can play straight ahead, fusion, blues, rock, classical, you name it. He's a wiz with effects, but can play convincingly with a clean sound as well. We have a number of activities planned while he is out here.

First off, we have a gig at Egan's Ballard Jam House in Seattle, featuring Matt Jorgensen on drums and Phil Sparks on bass. I've never played at this venue, but I've heard great things. Egan's is located at:
1707 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107

On Wednesday, the Sets are at 7:00 & 9:00pm. You can buy advance tickets: $12/set or both sets for $20(Day of pricing: $15/set or both sets for $25).

Next, we return to Portland for a busy Friday: we have an open rehearsal at Portland State University with bassist Damian Erskine and drummer Reinhardt Melz. We are preparing for a gig at Jimmy Mak's that night, which will be a double bill with the Mike Prigodich and MPEG. The music is heavy fusion off of my Cd entitled "Pride And Joy".

The open rehearsal will be in Lincoln Hall 47 and open to students. Then Tom and I will be appearing on KMHD around 2:30 to promote the gig. I'm going to whisk Tom back to PSU for a masterclass in LH47 from 3:30 to 5. Then soundcheck at Jimmy Mak's and then hopefully dinner before the show.....

Here's what you need to know:

April 6 at Jimmy Mak's 
221 Northwest 10th Avenue
Mike Prigodich & MPEG
with the George Colligan Group
and special guest, Tom Guarna
$15 Cover

Melz/Prigodich/Erskine Group (MPEG) -- Mike Prigodich (keys), Damian Erskine (bass), Reinhardt Melz (drums), John Nastos (sax)

George Colligan Quartet -- George Colligan (keys), Tom Guarna (guitar), Damian Erksine (bass), Reinhardt Melz (drums)

 Our last gig will be at Ivories; this is billed as the Tom Guarna/Matt Jorgensen Trio featuring George Colligan on Organ. If you don't know Matt Jorgensen, you should; he's one of the best drummers in Seattle, and is really involved on the Pacific Northwest Jazz scene. He even started his own label, Origin Records, and has been very successful with that endeavor.  This gig will be 8-12 on Saturday. Cover charge is 12 bucks. Come down and hear the great guitarist Tom Guarna! Here's a video of Guarna on tour with the great Lenny White:


Monday, April 2, 2012

Hal Galper at Ivories Part 2

Hal Galper

I made the second set of Hal Galper's trio at Ivories on Sunday(I was on baby duty before that. Liam wanted to "go to a Chuggington Store", so jazz was not on his agenda for that day...). From the first note, I felt the New York vibe in the music (although the bassist and drummer were from Seattle...go figure.) The first tune was a 4/4 uptempo(very fast) version of "Alice In Wonderland". I couldn't help thinking that this fast yet floaty approach was similar to Brad Mehldau's approach to playing standards. Unfortunately, Galper is not as young and pretty as Mehldau, so he's not showered with constant accolades, but what else is new....

It was interesting to watch Galper; like many trained pianists, he didn't need to look at his hands often. Instead, he kept visual contact with the bassist and drummer. Galper has a strong touch, but can be sensitive when needed. He seemed to have endlessly inventive lines, and rhythmically, it was very "loose", yet the trio always seemed to come back around. Bassist Jeff Johnson, whom I've had the pleasure of playing with a number of times, followed Galper well, and was able to roll with the musical punches, always smiling. Drummer John Bishop's playing reminded me of New York drummer Jeff Hirschfield, or maybe even a more free Joe Chambers; the ride cymbal was very focused, insistent, but always tasteful, and the drums never overpowered the music. An interesting version of the ballad "I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" was somewhat challenging to follow, because as the trio played the set, the time seemed to get looser and looser by the minute(but in a good way). It was a nice contrast to some of the more aggressive numbers, like a free blowing tune called "Get Up And Go". The set culminated with another barn burner surprise; the great Mario Lanza would have been shocked to hear Galper's light speed version of "Be My Love."

Galper is a great example of why musicians who have "paid dues" are more interesting to listen to than the not-yet-seasoned; they KNOW a million hip tunes, they KNOW what to do on the bandstand, they KNOW how to pace a set, and they KNOW how to play changes and not be predictable, because they have years of experience doing it. They have WISDOM. They are comfortable on the bandstand. It's as easy for them to play great jazz as it is for us to drink a glass of water. I lamented that more folks weren't there to learn from this master, but what else is new.......

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hal Galper at Ivories Sunday April 1st.

Pianist Hal Galper
In case you weren't aware, the great pianist and educator Hal Galper is going to be at Ivories this Sunday(which is today, actually). Galper, although under-recognized in the modern jazz world, is a legend; many know him from his tenure with the Phil Woods Quintet. ( I saw him with Woods in the late 80's and was blown away...) Galper also had some classic records with the Brecker Brothers as the front line("Speak With A Single Voice" was my favorite; it features Wayne Dockery on bass, Bob Moses on drums, and some ferocious pentatonic work from Galper. That CD has been re-released on Itunes as "Children Of The Night" with some bonus tracks.)

Galper has written some very informative books. One which I enjoyed is called "Jazz Piano Voicings". It's a lot of written out voicings, but also some good philosophy. Here are some pearls of wisdom from Galper:

"....I have always considered the piano to be a superfluous instrument in a jazz group. It is just not needed. The other instruments are already fulfilling the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic roles. Because of it's ability to be so interruptive, the pianist's role in a group is then very sensitive, and must be used with restraint...."

Another book authored by Galper is "The Touring Musician". I found a lot of real world advice from Galper in this book. Some musicians have no idea what's involved with "booking your own band". Galper gives a great and brutally honest perspective about taking your music on the road.

The gig is from 4:30 to 7:30 PM. I urge you not to miss it! I leave you with a clip from youtube: