Monday, May 31, 2004

Bon Voyage, Mom and Dad

(I need to get Zack to translate that title into Chinese for me, or at least tell me where I can get the fonts and use the Babelfish. It'll be especially fun since the first phrase is in French...)

My parents left this morning on a three-week vacation. Being the world travellers that they are, they've visited a lot of exotic places, but this one tops 'em all: China. They left Houston at 7:30 this morning for San Francisco, where they'll catch another plane to Tokyo. Since they've never been to Japan either, they decided to let their "layover" last for three days. But the bulk of their time will be in China; during the process, they'll hit Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong and take a cruise down the Yangtze River.

Some of you may be thinking, "wow, must be nice." Trust me, I'm thinking that too; the only way I'll ever be able to do three weeks in China is if jazz really, really catches on over there and I get to do a massive Asian tour (Zack would be jealous; I'd have to bring him along as a roadie).

Oh, I guess there is one more way I could afford a trip like that: I could marry a doctor or a lawyer. That'd work. :-)

Blow out the candles: Happy birthday Jonathan! Hope your move back to Texas is proceeding on schedule.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

The Class of '04

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to see three of the senior members of Team Demon/Dingus graduate at the same time (almost literally, as Dingus, Fizban and Halfling were numbers 6, 8 and 9 in their class, respectively). I spent most of the day with Halfling, his extended family and Angie, doing lunch/presents beforehand, riding out there en masse in this huge van that his parents rented (I was more than happy to avoid the massive SMU traffic) and having dinner afterwards at this great seafood place in the West End called Newport's, which is housed in a renovated turn-of-last-century brewery and includes a 55-foot deep artesian well in the middle. When we got back, we played a bit on Halfling's new PS2, just because it was there. Afterwards, I met up with Coop, Demon Matt and Fizban for (what else?) more bowling. The lost mojo from the other day came back with a vengeance, as I rolled a 170 in the last game. The celebration will continue this afternoon, as Dingus's party starts in just a few minutes.

Since so many important people in my life achieved the same milestone this week, I just wanted to take the opportunity to salute them for a moment:

Halfling: My li'l bro. It's been such an amazing year for us, both personally and musically. We really did cram all four years' worth of stuff into this one year, with extraordinary results: everything we set out to accomplish (making region jazz, excelling in Combo PM, getting him accepted into the UNT College of Music and the jazz studies program, getting him the lead alto spot for the last concert, pulling off our duel on Foosball) actually happened, and in a big way. In the process of all that, we forged a bond like no other. There are plenty of challenges ahead for him as he goes off into the pressure-cooker that is UNT, but at the same time, we have a lot of fun stuff to look forward many great times to be had, so much great music to be made.

Dingus: Let's face it, the world needs more dingii (yes, that's the plural). A dingus is defined as someone who does goofy things that make people laugh, and this Dingus more than fits the bill. It's also refreshing to see someone who says whatever he feels without worrying about what anyone thinks (I'm sure he'll rein that in as he gets older, to avoid being pummeled...but then, who's actually big enough to pummel him?). He's made a ton o' progress on the horn in my combos the past three semesters (in one of those groups, he was more responsible and farther along musically than many of the regular college students), and I look forward to him being at the college full-time.

Fizban: This guy has musical talent coming out of every pore in his body, and he's been well-rewarded for it thus far. Now it's on to TCU, where he'll have new challenges and a wonderful mentor in Micah. He has several possible career paths he could take, but he'll make an impact no matter what. Lately, he's gotten more attention for his singing, but I hope he rediscovers his love for the bass trombone in college, because, as a bari player who's had his hair parted by the best--and worst--of them, I know the importance of having a strong player in that chair, and strong he is. He's also reminded me, by example, of how cool it can be to step back from the computer and read a book sometimes.

Those are the Big Three, but yes, I have way more shout-outs:

Woody: An associate member of TD/D, she accomplished a lot while learning to play jazz on her secondary instrument. She also crashed through the almost-all-guys barrier that sometimes exists in the jazz world, being the first female participant in my famous jam sessions (memorable quote from Demon Matt at her first one: "Oh my gosh, it's a girl!") and bowling with us on occasion...Frobird: Just this semester, in reacquainting himself with the bari, he may have discovered his true voice on the saxophone. Now he's headed north with us to the land of the Express Cougars, setting up an epic battle with Sassy for the bari chair. This one will be fun...Gold Dingus: Talk about a fun guy (fungi?)--he's a natural-born comedian/prankster and one of those sickening people who plays really well without a lot of practice. He's off marching Blue Devils this summer--got to leave school a week early, even. He needs to come back and re-attempt his failed 2BC before he heads off to Tech, though...Ryan: One of the original Renegades, he really developed a love for jazz over the years. Sure, he had a fondness for odd noises on the horn and other moments of goofiness (he may have been the first saxophone dingus), but he's another one around whom there's never a dull moment...Trevor: The best classical player I've ever taught, bar none. It's too bad that a panel of five random band directors never saw fit to award him a trip to State, because he certainly deserved it. He was also one of the original Renegades, as well as the valedictorian of his class; evidently his speech at graduation got him a standing ovation. He's going into biomedical engineering and may end up earning more than everyone else on this page combined...Zach S.: Talk about progress--he made quantum leaps, especially during his first year with me, after having no lessons in middle school...another one who's always fun to be around...Jeticia: One of the quiet ones, but she always had a smile. Seems like she was in the local paper every other week, winning awards and contests in the pharmacy area; I know she'll go far.

So there you have it--my salute to the Class of '04. A few of you I'll be lucky to ever see again, while several of you I'll see in a few minutes...yet all of you have touched my life in some way, just as I hope I've done for you. Even if music isn't destined to be your life, I hope it remains a special part of your life. I wish you all the best on this happy occasion.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Thanks to the new stuff that Blogger added to its interface, I now can tell you that this is my three-hundredth post on The Musings of Kev. It's not a milestone on the level of, say, Nolan Ryan's 300th victory (which almost got to see in person, except they pulled him with a no-decision and he ended up getting the milestone win on the road), but it's still fairly amazing to think about.

After the horrible bowling day that was Wednesday, I jumped at the chance to redeem myself last night when Coop and Demon Matt invited me. Halfling and Angie joined us on the adjacent lane so we could cram as many games as possible into the last hour of business ("as many games as possible" ended up being "two," but that's still more than we would have gotten in if we'd been crammed onto one lane).

And redeem myself I did. I was back in my usual range, for the most part, even though we were all afflicted with the dreaded "Curse of Nines" again. Coop won both of the games, but I was back in the realm of respectability. OK, I didn't really think that I had just somehow lost my ability to bowl the day before, but it is somewhat unsettling to suddenly not be able to do something that you normally can do fairly well, for absolutely no reason. I was happy to see that Wednesday was a fluke.

Tomorrow is the Halfling/Fizban/Dingus graduation; I'll have my tribute to the Class of '04 up here sometime over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Busy Withdrawal?

So here we are, two days into my official summer, and I'm...bored? What's up with that?

I think I must be going through "busy withdrawal," if there's such a thing. My schedule during the year is so packed that there ends up being something going on almost every night of the week. I think I just get used to that, so I have no idea what to do with myself when nothing's happening. Tonight, the juxtaposition of none of my friends being available and a really bad Rangers game on TV contributed to the boredom. Some of my friends have described me as a perpetual-motion machine, so I get all out-of-sync when I'm actually at rest. It sure seems like I would be able to enjoy doing nothing every once in a while, but evidently not today. Sounds like something I could stand to learn...

This afternoon, I had the worst round of bowling that I'd had since we started going to Bowl-A-Rama: two games under 100, and the last one only a 120. While the first game was marred by a pair of shoes that stuck to the floor, the rest of it was just sort of "losing my mojo"--it was like I'd forgotten how to bowl or something. I'm sure a lot of it was a mental game, but it was downright weird. At least I somewhat redeemed myself in the last game; if I'd gone sub-100 for all three, I'm not sure I could've shown my face in there (OK, not really, but you get the idea).

Oh, and if you're keeping up with the Kev-Won't-Be-Poor-This-Summer Derby, I've hit 40 people signed up, I do believe, with lots more still to return their info. I have several taking double lessons (or twice a week), and one new person wants to go three times a week! (Is that overkill? Maybe, but I'll take it.) I always have said that this would be the summer where I wouldn't end up in the hole, and so far so good.

Candles, etc.: Happy birthday to Chris H., a cool guitarist whom I haven't gotten to jam with in ages. Also a happy belated anniversary (yesterday) to Kristen and Justin, my sister and brother-in-law and the First Family of Despair. May you have many, many, many, many more...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Need a New Horn? Grow One!

This is great: there was a concert in Germany over the weekend by something called the "Viennese Vegetable Orchestra." Go here to read the article. I never would have thought of using a cucumber to make a saxophone, but whatever works; sadly, it's probably more durable than some of those beginner horns out there.

Best quote: "At the end of the performance, the instruments were turned into vegetable soup."

(Thanks to Dave Barry's Blog for the tip.)

Summertime, and the livin' is easy: As I said in the last post, I'm officially in summer mode now. The first thing I did after getting home was to emancipate myself from the shackles of long pants, which have no business being worn in Texas at this time of year. With the exception of things like church, gigs, and the Halfling/Fizban/Dingus graduation coming up on Saturday, I won't be putting on a pair of them again until mid-August.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

One More Day Till Summer

I don't care what the calendar says--in the world of academia, summer starts when the spring semester ends, and for me, it ends tomorrow. There are actually two remaining days for the schools after that, but they're exam-only days, so it would be pointless to teach then. Even though I can't shed the yoke of waking up at 6 a.m. until Wednesday (thanks to an 8:15 a.m. allergy doctor appointment on Tuesday) the rest of the week has no commitments before noon.

It's been pretty weird since college let out just over a week ago, as I've found myself going out at night and generally staying up late, and then still having to get up early for public-school stuff. In other words, my days are in spring mode and my nights are in summer mode...which doesn't add up to very much sleep. I've been dragging through the teaching days lately, but so has everyone else, and with the exception of a few jazz auditions here and there, it's been pretty chill anyway.

I should point out that the senior members of Team Demon/Dingus cleaned up at the Lakeview banquet the other night: Halfling won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and got a boosters' scholarship; Dingus won some big scholarship from the Marines (no, he doesn't have to join, but there was supposed to be a live Marine there to present it to him) and also got a boosters' scholarship; and Fizban got the John Philip Sousa Award for basically being the Most Awesomest Musician This Year and in the History of the Entire Program or something like that.

So yeah, I'm almost done. It's been a great semester--I'll talk more about that when I actually have those entire days off later in the week--and I'm actually looking forward to summer for once...hanging with friends, most definitely, and improvement on the work front. Even though not everyone is scheduled yet, it looks like I'll have a much fuller schedule than before, which means I won't be poor. That's always been the objective in years past, but it never seemed to be met. This year, it will happen...

The lovable poet? While browsing another site tonight, I came upon this link for finding out what your name means. It says that my first name, Kevin, means "gentle and lovable" (awww....), and my middle name, Lee, means "glade, poet, or plum," which I'm sure would amuse Fizban (Fizban the Plum? Plumlee??). Want to find out what your names mean? Go here, and report back to me in the comments.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Still the National Pastime? You Bet!

I went to the Rangers game with Halfling last night; it was my first time to go to The Ballpark in Arlington Ameriquest Field (man, that'll take some getting used to) this season, and his first time in about a year, maybe longer. We're both huge fans of the game, and we got a kick out of realizing how many of the same big events in the team's history we've both attended, even if we didn't know each other at the time. He and I had both alluded to this in our respective "Fun Facts" posts, but we had never actually taken inventory before: Nolan Ryan's 5000th strikeout game? Check. First-ever exhibition game at The Ballpark? Check. All-Star Game in '95? Check. Tonight, it was cool to be there at the same time together and on purpose.

We were running a little late, thanks to traffic and a pregame burrito, and the Rangers were already down 2-0 when we got to our seats. In previous seasons, that probably would have been enough to seal their fate, but this year's team is different. A-Rod may have disparaged his former teammates when he referred to them as "24 kids," but in the words of The Who, the kids are alright. (UPDATE: That particular song evidently was played on the P.A. as the Rangers took the field for the Friday night game against A-Rod and the Yankees; the kids proceeded to win, 9-7.) By the time we'd been sitting down for five minutes, they scored five runs, and an insurance run was added the next inning. Two of those Ranger at-bats were homers, so we got to see the fireworks go off. The rest of the game was mostly a pitcher's duel, but it didn't matter; the weather was perfect (the cool breeze blowing in was something we'll miss in August) and the whole night was very relaxing, which hasn't happened much lately. The obligatory postgame trip to Krispy Kreme capped off the evening.

Some say that baseball is boring--way too many breaks between the action and stuff like that. The game has evidently been losing fans to faster-paced sports like basketball and even NASCAR lately, and some have questioned whether it can even still be called the "national pastime." I, however, think that the naysayers are full of it. Baseball, among all of the major sports, still most accurately reflects the best of America. How so? Let me list a few reasons:

--Virtually every able-bodied person can play the game very similarly to the way it's played professionally, with a minimum of equipment. You don't need pads or skates or sticks or cleats; all you really have to have is a ball, a bat and a glove. You can play a good approximation of baseball without fielding a full team, and you don't need a regulation field or its amenities to do so: a bag of concrete can be home plate, Mr. Johnson's Buick next door can be first base, and the old oak tree down the street can be the foul pole/outfield fence.

--Professional baseball games can be very affordable, and they happen at home about 80 times a season, so the game is very conducive to the parent/kid bonding that makes sports great. My dad took me to baseball games starting when I was in kindergarten (first one was at Wrigley Field--yay), and both of Halfling's parents are avid fans, even "taking" him to games while he was in the womb. This bonding can carry over to playing catch or taking batting practice at home, and it tends to continue through the generations: kids whose dads (and/or moms) took them to baseball games will likely take their own kids there. A few years ago, they used to show a video in Arlington that showed all these fathers and sons at ballgames, and the first time I saw it, I almost lost it; I can't wait to have a son (or athletically-minded daughter) to take to a game with me.

--The dynamics of baseball reflect the two things that make America great: Individual achievement and solid teamwork. Sure, there are individual feats in other sports ("Hail Mary" passes, acrobatic catches, slam dunks, slap shots, etc.), but not everyone is scheduled for an individual turn the way batters and/or pitchers are in baseball. You could even compare baseball to jazz in a way; the individual matchups are like the soloists (with a strikeout or a home run being akin to a killer solo), while a perfectly-executed double play by the infield is like a finely-tuned rhythm section humming along beneath a really hard tune.

One night last month, while I was online, J-Guar reminded me that it was opening night of baseball season; he was watching his hometown Twins on the Internet. I had been so busy recently that I had forgotten it was that day, so I quickly turned the TV in the other room to the Rangers game and alerted Halfling to do the same. Whereas he would end up falling asleep to the TV game (which was on the West Coast and thus a late-nighter over here), I, not having a TV in my room, kicked it really old-school and drifted off to the radio broadcast (using the "sleep" button on my alarm clock for the very first time). I'm glad baseball season is back, and I'm even happier to finally have made it out there this year; there's way more of that to come.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Shame That Tune

I got the idea to do a survey-type post from J-Guar's site, but the topic was inspired by a conversation that Halfling and I had the other night regarding our respective CD collections.

Here's the question: Name the most embarrassing CD that's still in your collection. Reply using the comments, of course (if you're not a Blogger subscriber, please identify yourself in there somewhere to avoid mulitiple "Anonymous" postings).

As for me, I sold most of my really awful stuff a few summers ago when I was really poor, but here are a few possibilties:

Boyz II Men--Cooleyhighharmony
Das Beste aud den Charts: 40 aktuelle Super-Hits (it's a Euro-sampler that I got after my Switzerland trip a few years ago that has Geri Halliwell [Ginger Spice] and Roxette on it, among others...however, it also contains the rap version of Pennsylvania 6-5000, which is priceless, and the reason why I've kept it)

Your turn...

Welcome back, blogger: Dingus has returned to the blogosphere; check out his new site here.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Somebody Call the Fashion Police, Quick...

Yesterday, it seemed like the world was teeming with scarily-dressed people. If there had been one more example, I could've made a Top Five list, but these four fashion "statements" were bad enough:

4) Prom dress with bowling shoes (multiple occurrences)

3) Big lady in little dress--'nuff said.

2) A dude bowling in a skirt

1) A guy with a big mohawk, wearing tights (who, incidentally, had a really hot-looking girl with him--not fair)

My two big events of the day set me in the paths of these oddities. First, I went to Grapevine for Main Street Days, where, among other things, they had a small jazz festival where LMOJO performed. I couldn't pass up the last opportunity for a while to see Halfling, Fizban and Dingus playing in the same big band, and it was a nice day outside as well. The band did a decent job, even if the rhythm section and the horns were a bit out of sync. The gig was semi-outdoors in a backless, sideless tent, so the bands on other stages (including one with someone playing "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" on the harmonica) bled through at inopportune times...but hey, it was near the end of the year, only three tunes--a very calm gig, all in all.

Afterwards, at Halfling's invitation, I hopped a ride on the band bus (first time I'd ridden a school bus in quite some time) and we all went to Grapevine Mills to eat inexpensive food in air-conditioned comfort (two things not offered by the festival); we ran across Mr. Mohawk and Big Lady/Little Dress while we were there. We got back in time to hear the "Official Texas Jazz Band," which sounded like a cheesy name but ended up being a bunch of UNT professors and what-not. It was definitely sweet to hear Jim Riggs solo and play lead alto again, and Halfling enjoyed hearing his future prof play live for (I think) the first time.

Once the awards were over and the band left for home, I went back too and eventually met up with Fizban and Demon Matt for some birthday bowling for the latter. This time, I managed not to hit Demon Matt in the family jewels with the air hockey puck, and there was still a bit of the Greeley mojo left over. The bowling was somewhat mediocre, especially at first; I actually got better when the blacklights came on, whereas Fizban fell victim to the Reverse Vampire Syndrome again.

But the biggest distraction of the evening had to be the group of promgoers next to us. There actually were several groups of these people (and I'm sorry, but the prom-dress-and-bowling-shoes look just does not do it for me), but the ones on the next lane were quite annoying. They took multiple pictures of themselves on the lane (blocking ours in the process); the girls had this thing about bowling between each others' legs (not as bad as it sounds, but it made for some really odd poses), and they giggled like third-graders when anyone got a strike. (Actually, these people did not look in any way like seniors; I there such a thing as a Sophomore Prom?)

At any rate, the prommies and the choice of "Worst of the 80's" for music videos made for some bad shots...but it was still fun. Still have no idea why the guy two lanes over was in a skirt, though; I don't see that look catching on.

Today was chill; I got the grades done for college, so that semester is officially over. Six teaching days left to go.

QUOTE OF THE (YESTER)DAY: "This just totally proves that God has a sense of humor."--Fizban, referring to both the promgoers and the Toni Basil music video playing on the screen.

QUOTE OF THE (TO)DAY: "I finally know the true meaning of an eight-hour day."--Coop, after his first full day of work at Hawaiian Falls.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Winding Down

It's really starting to feel like the end of the school year now. College classes are over, and with the exception of grading the written improv finals over the weekend (at my favorite grading place, naturally), that part of my teaching is all done. I have one full week and a single day left in the public schools, and I'm about to sit down and see how summer is looking; I've gotten back a lot of emails and forms but haven't actually started scheduling anyone yet.

The pesky allergy problem has nearly gone away, except for this annoying lingering cough, which manifests itself at some of the worst possible times--like during Dingus's scholarship audition today. Geez...I was nearly in tears trying to hold it in until between the etudes. The last time that happened was even more inopportune--last fall, during the Founders Day Concert when Jose Feghali was playing. Hopefully this nagging thing will go away soon.

But other than that, it's been a fairly quiet week since Foosball night on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I gave the final exams in improv. Several people took even more time than they should have for the written part, but I was a bit generous in that respect. During that time, I read three sections of the newspaper, two TMEA magazines and half the Dallas Observer. Needless to say, I was toast when I got home.

Thursday night was more fun, as I had burritos with Combo Too (plus Halfling and Jazzy G) and then jammed on stuff with Combo PM. We were drummer-less, so it was a lot of bossas and medium swing. Today was chill, jammed with Halfling for a bit and then saw Troy tonight (highly recommended, and doesn't feel at all like it's three hours long). Tomorrow? A few things, but first: sleep. sweet sleep.

A third of a third of a million miles: On the way to the movie, Kevmobile 1.2 hit 111,111 on the odometer, a third of the feat that I accomplished in the original Kevmobile two years ago. Granted, all these miles aren't mine--I got it with 78K already on it--but it's still cool to look down at the odometer and see one repeated number a bunch of times.

Blow out the candles: Since it's after midnight, I can say Happy Birthday Demon Matt! May you have a great year ahead...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Foosball Match Is Over, and We Both Won

Tonight was the night: Kev "vs." Halfling in Foosball, not the table game, but the awesome Lyle Mays chart called Overture to the Royal Mongolian Suma Foosball Festival. (It's from Lab '75 by the One O'Clock Lab Band, which should be a part of your collection if it's not already.) I've already chronicled the events leading up to tonight, but here's a recap: Everybody who's graduating from LMOJO this semester got to pick a feature tune, no matter what it was (the director later wondered if this was such a good idea). Halfling picked Foosball and asked me to do the tenor duel with him, and we got both the music and a borrowed tenor for him on the night of Lab Band Madness.

Of course, this ended up being probably the hardest thing on the concert. I knew that Halfling and I could play the head (which is somewhat note-y and all in unison), and Fizban and Dingus would learn it, but who knew beyond that. I got to go in twice and rehearse with the band; it was shaky in spots, but it was startlingly close to tempo and actually held together once we dissected a few things on Friday afternoon. This afternoon was just a run-through, but if "all's well that ends together," then all was well in this case. I joked with the percussionist that we absolutely had to have the gong for the very last note, and he promised to have it on stage.

The secret weapon in this whole thing was the improvised two-tenor cadenza, which Halfling and I had been formulating for the past month. One might wonder how much time would have to be spent on something that was supposed to be spontaneous...but we had to at least have a cool template, and we did. We did a brief call-and-response that came out of the lead-in chords, then launched into this funky little riff that one of us would play while the other soloed. The whole thing morphed into this ascending diminished-seventh thing that ended on a really high was cool. We just wanted to make sure that our randomness had a solid foundation, so we practiced it at every opportunity. But leading up to the concert, with Mother's Day and awards ceremonies and all that, our final polishing was relegated to a thirty-minute session a few hours before the concert. That seemed to be all we needed, as we felt good about it when I left.

The concert itself was almost as Dingus-sized as the college concert on Saturday, what with all the features and so forth. Dingus did "I'll Be Around" in a duel with his trombone teacher, an unassuming, quiet guy whom I've worked with for years but never heard improvise. He played nice, fluid lines as if they were a walk in the park, and Dingus held his own up there. Fizban did the Jobim classic Wave and showed a nice high register that I hadn't heard since our Renegade Improv sessions last year.

Finally it was time for me and Halfling. The band really pulled it off pretty well, sounding much stronger than in rehearsal. The 3/4 bars which are interspersed in there became 4/4 bars more often than not, but we just watched the director for a downbeat and went with it. Halfling played some great lines, and I pulled out a few new tricks too (we noticed the other night that we always bust out some of our best stuff whenever we share the stage). The cadenza came off pretty much like we wanted it to; it was Dingus-sized, but it was fun, and we even got the audience to clap on two and four during the riff part, at least until they got tired. It was blazingly hot under the stage lights, and I was spent when it was over. I'm sure the band was too; fortunately, we were near the end of the show. We all made a quick trip to Taco Cabana afterwards, but that was it...quick. It's hard to have jazz concerts on weeknights if you can't stay up and celebrate when it's done, because there's a whole lot of leftover adrenaline floating around; I know that's why I'm still awake at the moment.

So another big project is in the books. There are a lot more Kev-and-Halfling musical collaborations ahead, but this was a memorable one, and the little cadenza riff will take on a life of its own as part of my first funk tune, to be written in the near future. I can't wait to see the videotape; Halfling's already watched it and says it's great.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If that had been any longer, I could've finished my master's degree."--Dingus, regarding the cadenza.

Monday, May 10, 2004

A New Look

The Musings of Kev has a new look; they came up with some new templates to go along with the relaunch of Blogger, so I decided to try one. Since I often have trouble getting right to sleep on Sunday nights anyway, I stayed up way too late working on this, but the result is what you see in front of you...I hope you like it.

Oh, and Blogger has comments now, so I'm enabling that and discontinuing Haloscan; the "halo" lost a bit of its luster once I found out that comments over four months old would disappear from your site unless you gave them money. How 'bout a few people try the new system out for me?

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Mother of All Jazz Concerts?

Last night was the spring jazz concert at the college, and I believe it clocked in as the longest on record at two-and-a-half hours. Thankfully, most of the audience stuck with us for the whole thing and seemed to really enjoy it.

It was a really long day for me, despite its chill beginning, as I ended up teaching two lessons before I got to the college and then ran the Supersax soli part with Collin before soundchecks (figuring that if the lead part and the bari part were totally in sync, the whole thing would sound right whether it was or not). I was involved with three of the four soundchecks, but there was no rest for the weary even during Jaztet's time, as I had to help with the setup for my two combos out in front of the big band. The only true break I had was the half-hour before the concert, when I got to chill with Halfling for a bit and do a general meet-and-greet out in the atrium.

I was happy with how my two combos did. Just like in the last post, Combo Too had its occasional ADD moments in soundcheck, but the performance came off fine. Combo PM was fun; I was on stage for most of it, since I was a harmony horn on Infra-Rae and quite involved in Supersax and the secret surprise closer.

OK, obviously I can discuss the closer now. A few weeks ago in rehearsal, Gordon kicked off The Chicken with this sort of reggae-ish bass line...and we liked it so much that it stuck. We gave it the nickname of "Grilled Chicken Rasta" and decided to don our shades (at least those who remembered them) during the performance. The audience dug it, and Kris was heckling me from the crowd in good-natured fashion for playing something not on the program.

But yeah, I was happy...Supersax had a few glitches, but it held together and ended at the same time (always a positive thing). Halfling played really well and was even happy with his own performance (if you're not a musician, you might think this was a normal occurrence...but Pat Metheny said it best--nearly every musician who is worth anything is a card-carrying member of the "I Suck" Club most of the time). Dingus also played well, and Kris agreed with that observation...which certainly bodes well for him for the fall.

I chilled backstage/outside during most of the Jaztet set, and then big band finally hit at around 10:00. I was fairly happy with my solos; Misty was a little different than my usual stuff, but in a good way, unlike Boulder. I did throw in the Four quote to continue the running joke, especially because Barry the piano player also referenced it earlier in his solo on Fun Time. The soprano feature on Nadalin was fine; at least the horn worked, unlike Tuesday when it totally went south on me for no apparent reason. My solo on Buffalo Roam could have been better, but we'd only really done the tune a few weeks, and I guess I didn't have a chance to "bond" with it...something to work on for later.

Afterwards, we had the traditional Chili's hang with four or five tables pushed together; even Kris and Yvette came this time. Kris and I agreed that all the combos ran too long and that three tunes would be our absolute limit in the future.

So that just about puts the wraps on combo for the semester. Combo PM may play for the heckuvit on Thursday, especially if we can solidify the coffeehouse gig, but otherwise, all that's left is the burritos (yay).

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day, Mom...though I doubt she's actually reading this (*crosses fingers*?).

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Jazz and Pottery 101

Today was the Combo Too performance in the Atrium. We pretty much always play there during our usual class time sometime near the end of the semester. In fact, it always seems to coincide with the annual pottery sale out there, so we have at least a potential natural audience of walk-throughs.

This one did get off to a weird start, though, as the little alcove underneath the theatre stairs that I always reserve (after much trial and error, we've found it to be the best place out there, acoustically speaking) had been taken over by the South Asian Student Association. I'm not sure what their particular celebration was, but it evidently involved burning incense and people getting tattooed (so maybe it was a good thing I didn't know?). Fortunately, they didn't question my rights to the spot (their poster said they were supposed to stop at 3:00 anyway), so they gathered up their stuff and, as Dingus would say later, "emigrated" across the way to another open area.

The performance went great...which drove me crazy in a way. Now you might be asking, "wait a minute, Kev, don't you want them to do well?" Of course I do...but what gets me is how a group, or at least parts of it, can go through an entire semester of rehearsals as if they all had rampant ADD, and then they get to performance time and play great. It's enough to make the instructor want to tear his hair out, save for the fact that this particular instructor values having hair. I certainly don't ever want them to have a bad performance, but when they always go well, it sort of teaches them that they can get away with bad rehearsals all semester. This whole thing, of course, was no surprise to me, since it's happened that way many times before.

The other thing that didn't surprise me was that the college president walked by during the gig. I had told the guys on Tuesday that, while this wasn't a formal gig, I was going to outlaw shorts and flip-flops just in case the president walked by. (Keep in mind that our college has four separate campuses, and the president's office is at another one besides ours.) A semester or two ago, he was in a meeting upstairs that was evidently getting really tense...until they heard the jazz wafting through the atrium. Music does indeed have the power to heal. This time, I was standing by the side of them during Little Sunflower when I felt a tap on my shoulder; sure enough, it was the president, asking what the name of that tune was because it had always been a favorite of his but the name was escaping him at the moment.

We had a decent crowd out there, loudly being led in cheers by Mooney, the drummer from Combo PM. A few people took free tickets to Saturday's big concert, so hopefully they'll show up. The rest of the day was normal, with burrito night, Combo PM and then me and Halfling jamming on Foosball for a while, which just got done a bit ago. I'll be going in tomorrow to rehearse with the band.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "More information is better than less information."--Real-estate seminar guy on the radio this morning. More is better? Really? Ya think so?

COLLECTIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY: An exchange as I passed by the kids from the college's nursery, carrying my bari as I walked back from the gig...

PRESCHOOL TEACHER: OK, what's that instrument he's carrying?
KIDS (each and every one of them): Trumpet!!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

"Happy Cinco de Mayo" en su lengua materna

(This post was written in English and translated into Spanish using the AltaVista Babelfish. For big fun, copy the text below and, using the Babelfish again, re-translate it into English and see how messed up it comes out...)

Realmente no tenía demasiado a escribir alrededor, pero realicé que era hoy Cinco de Mayo, así que pensé que sería divertido escribir una entrada toda en español. Ha sido varios años desde que estudié español, aunque, así que utilicé el Babelfish de nuevo. Si no, no hay mucho a escribir alrededor ahora, como estoy rodilla-profundo en la preparación para el concierto del jazz CCCC y los muchos que ayudan de estudiantes con su música de la audición. Mañana, "Combo Too" se realiza en el atrio de la universidad. Conjeturo que estaré detrás, hablando inglés otra vez, cuando tengo algo más interesante decir.

SOPLO FUERA DE LAS VELAS: Feliz cumpleaños a Angie, una muchacha realmente fresca que ha hecho Halfling muy feliz este año. Es fácil recordar su cumpleaños puesto que es un día de fiesta mexicano importante, aunque ella no es mexicana en el lo menos.

QUOTE OF THE DAY (yes, in English): "Mr. Davis is waiting..."--Me, to the people in improv class, when I was ready for the next one to play their transcription of Miles Davis's So What solo along with the CD.

Monday, May 03, 2004

From "Aaarrrgh" to "Aaaah" in 15 Short Minutes

It looked like this evening was going to be a comedy of errors, and not in my favor, either.

I had tickets to a high school jazz band concert at the Eisemann Center tonight. I don't actually teach at this school, but I'm friends and Sinfonia bro's with the jazz director, and I do teach two of their tenor players outside of school. I was scheduled to stop teaching at the store thirty minutes early as it was, which grew into forty-five when the penultimate person on the schedule didn't make it. I had a quick dinner at Chick-Fil-A (noticing, on my way out, the oddity that this one actually accepted credit cards) and got on the highway for the quick five-minute drive to the concert.

As I approached the venue, I saw cars parked all along the streets. Then it hit me: they must charge for parking here! And I, of course, had just dropped my last Lincoln at dinner. Sure enough, I drove up to the garage and it was four bucks. Crap! I drove around to try to find any more free spaces, but all the neighboring garages were elaborately barricaded off; I have to hand it to someone--it was a real work of art.

OK then, Plan B: Find an ATM, any ATM, never mind the bank charges, I'm almost late. I pulled into the local credit union's drive-up ATM, only to find out that they only take their own cards! Gaah...OK, screw it, I'm going to my own bank even though it's about a mile away. That just means I'll probably miss the "re-creation" of "So What" that was to precede the top band's performance. If only I'd known about the parking fee...and used my credit card at Chick-Fil-A...this was a classic case of 20/20 hindsight.

So I get my money, drive back to the garage, cough up my four bucks and park. I glance at the temperature gauge on the car, which has risen sharply since I've been waiting for the guy to give me change. Great...I must have driven the car out of coolant or something. I make a memo to myself to buy some on the way home; sure, Jiffy Lube is supposed to top that stuff off for free, but my car could blow up five times over before I'd get there during business hours.

Anyway, despite this mounting fiasco, everything that's gone on thus far ended up being trumped by a fact of life I'd neglected to consider: Jazz concerts are notorious for being behind schedule. I get inside, find the parents who'd bought me the ticket, and discover that the combo portion hasn't even started yet...I'm right where I need to be, schedule-wise.

The concert went fine; I promised to go out and clinic the band next year since I missed them the past two, and I laid the groundwork for recruiting some new improv students. Oh, and one of the tunes was directed by a student's dad (he won the privilege at an auction); since it was a Latin tune, he came out in Carmen Miranda getup (yes, with the fruit-filled hat), waving a maraca in one hand and a banana (which he proceeded to eat--and drop--part of) in the other. His son was appropriately mortified, of course.

So yeah, this was another night that served as a test of the patience I don't often have, and the faith that I should have at all times...just another reinforcement of the idea that things usually do work out--the pathway there just might be really, really weird sometimes.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Three and One

Yeah, this is the title of one of my favorite Thad Jones charts (a bari feature, natch), but what it refers to now is the length of teaching days left in this year in the schools: three weeks and one day. (There are two days more than that, actually, but they're exam-only days and don't count toward my teaching total.)

So now I'm in the homestretch. There are a lot of concerts and auditions and things like that between now and then, some of which I'm involved in personally, others I'm helping people prepare for. After that, there'll be some major chill time.

I often dread the summers in one aspect--the sharp drop in income--but I think I have the marketing engine going smoothly enough that this won't happen this year (it's about time I got that right). As for the rest of it...if spring break was any indication, this could be the best summer I've ever had.

Tonight, I'll get a "normal" amount of sleep and ready myself for the tasks at hand. Here we go...