Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jazztruth On Hiatus

Jazztruth On Vacation

Hey there, jazz fans! If you are reading this, you might be thinking, “Hey, why hasn’t George Colligan been posting on his jazztruth blog lately?” Well, I have many reasons ( excuses you may say…) for not posting in months. In fact, I’ve decided to take a little break from jazztruth. It might actually be a long break. I’m not sure at the moment, but I wanted to post at least once to let you know what I’m thinking. I’m not ending the blog, at least for the time being; I still have a lot of opinions and ideas and I’ve had a great time writing these posts and I’ve learned a lot. However, I believe that after 6 years, it’s time to think about where I want to go next and how to focus my energy in a direction that makes sense.

As I write this, in fact, I’m dealing with my 18 month old son, Jordan. He’s tearing up the house as we speak. When you have two rambunctious sons( my oldest is 6 and a half) , you know that this can take up a lot of your time and energy. I have to fight just to get a few minutes on a musical instrument, or to get some emails done. Blogging is kind of a luxury at this point.

Also, maintaining my teaching schedule at PSU this year, combined with some road gigs with Jack DeJohnette and Savion Glover( I’ve blogged about this project previously), was a lot to juggle. I'm trying to look at a bit of a less is more approach for the coming school year. I'm going to be more selective about projects and where I expend my energy.

I was very pleased and relieved to receive tenure at Portland State University. A tenured position at a University is essentially a lifetime position. This is a tremendous thing for somebody who came from decades of pure freelancing. One thing that drew me to academia was a more predictable financial situation; as many of you know, the life of “waiting for the phone to ring” can be stressful when you look at your calendar a few months ahead and see lots of empty spaces. My income from 1988 to 2009 was almost exclusively from gigs. At 46 years of age, it’s a true blessing to have this kind of stability in my life; it’s especially good for my family as well.

Although having tenure should be a reason to relax a bit, I still have many musical aspirations; I’m still writing music and practicing when I can; I’m still trying to book may own projects, although the possibilities in the Pacific Northwest are becoming slim. The Portland scene is a sliver of what it was 5 years ago, and I’m not sure how to improve the situation. I’m hoping to still do some touring in Europe and other places where there’s more interest in jazz. I have a tour planned for the U.K in the fall- it’s a collaboration with some great musicians, including a wonderful saxophonist named Jon Irabagon. I’m going to be looking for dates between summer 2017 and fall 2018( hopefully I will be on sabbatical, which is another perk of being a tenured professor).

I’ve been enjoying the summer; in addition to some fun gigs with the DeJohnette/Glover project, I spent about 10 days in New York City. I had some really uplifting musical experiences( Deerhead Inn and Mezzrow with Marianne Solivan, Rochester Jazz Festival with Lenny White, and my own gig at Smalls with Steve Wilson, Nicole Glover, Boris Kozlov and Donald Edwards. I even got to sit in with Buster Williams at Smoke on a set…..) that made me really miss the jazz life. I also got to hear some great music and see old friends. Although I’m planing a short trip to NYC in August for a recording project, I’m hoping to get back to NYC next summer and refill my tank of inspiration.

I’m excited about two upcoming events. First, I’ll be headed to Pt. Townsend next week for the Centrum Jazz Workshop. This is a long running jazz camp and the faculty is truly an all-star lineup. I’m quite honored to be invited to teach and perform at this week-long festival.
I’m hoping to learn as much as I can. Secondly, I have been commissioned to write a work for the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, to be performed during the Montavilla Jazz Festival in August. I’m basically done with the work, which I call “ Fathers And Sons.” It’s kind of a musical portrait of past and future Colligan men. I’m really looking forward to hearing the ensemble read and interpret this piece. Additionally, I’ll be performing a trio set at the same festival with Boris Kozlov on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. I hope Portland jazz fans will come out to hear this trio because it’s going to be high level New York style jazz music.

As I said, I’ve been enjoying my summer. I feel grateful in a world where so many are not as blessed as I am. So many in this world are suffering and there is a lot of fear and hatred in this world. The recent news has been really difficult to read. Our presidential campaign is a nightmare, it seems like there is some kind of mass killing every day, and there is a lot of uncertainty. I have fears about what kind of future exists for my children. I try to keep a balanced perspective; oftentimes I feel numb to the horrible things happening in the country and elsewhere.

Anyway, I’m not ending the blog, I’m just on a break. Thanks for reading and maybe in a few months, or sooner, I’ll be back with some interesting content. Enjoy the summer!