Monday, July 21, 2003

Happy campers

OK, I'm back...the whirlwind week is over. Whew!

First order of business: Happy Birthday to my bro-in-law Justin. He's the CEO of a really cool company, Despair, Inc., and an all-around good guy.

So Jazz Camp was maybe the best ever. We topped out in triple digits, student-wise, and over the five nights we recorded stuff, the faculty band laid down enough tracks for what should be a very good live CD. I think all the students really learned a lot and had a great time; my theory class went much farther than it did last year (even if they blew a collective gasket when I discussed the Super Locrian mode on Friday), and the student bands sounded really good. (If you want, you can read my annual letter to jazz campers from my website, as well as the info page for ordering the CD.)

Best quote from the camp:
"Usually, the best way to not to transpose."--Ed Petersen

If you're not a musician, that quote won't mean anything to you, and even if you are, it may have you scratching your head for a minute. After several days, though, I realize that I totally agree with him.

Ed is in many ways the "star" of jazz camp, though he'd be uncomfortable hearing that. Let's just say that he's a very special musician and one of the most innovative tenor saxophonists around today...and for sure, the best one that most people have never heard of. I now have all of his CD's, as well as several of the ones he's done with Kurt Elling. You can hear samples of Ed's CD's and buy them online. It's a major privilege to sit next to him in the faculty big band; I think I learn as much from that as the campers do from us during the course of the week.

I also have a link to the page for the unique saxophone quartet "Thrascher," which includes Ed and three of my old schoolmates at UNT--Randy Hamm, Tim Ishii and Glenn Kostur. They have a CD out as well.

So after this full week, which ended at 10 p.m. Friday night with the final camp concert, I got to relax...NOT! For this year, the two biggest obligations of the summer happened at almost exactly the same time. And since they haven't gotten the legalities of that cloning thing figured out, I couldn't do both at once. So Saturday morning found me on a plane at 5:30 a.m., headed for Washington and the last 24 hours of the Sinfonia convention.

Fortunately, the plane trip was less "eventful" than the one to Vermont...meaning I didn't get stuck in a strange city for an extra day. The only downside of this trip was: no sleep, no food. It basically went like this: No milk in the house; Mickey D's not open at the airport before a 5:30 a.m. flight; layover in Atlanta was waaaaay too short--had only 40 minutes to get from terminal E to terminal A (thank goodness the trains were fast and were inside the security zone...Newark, are you listening?); no food on either flight, just a Coke (and 2 biscotti and a bag of pretzels, but they don't really count). When I got to D.C., there was actually someone from the convention to pick me up (that blew me away), but still, with traffic, we only got to the hotel with 10 minutes to spare before the national elections...just enough time to get my room key and put on my suit. At this point, I'm going on 28 1/2 hours awake, and 13 hours since my last meal.

But wait, this story has a happy ending. On the way in from the airport, I noticed something as we turned the last corner: there is a Chipotle across the street from the hotel!! So five minutes into the session, after we cast our ballots, they recess us for 15 minutes to count them, and you know where I'm heading. Yeah, it was weird to go into Chipotle in coat and tie...yeah, it was about 50 cents more expensive than Dallas, and they made a big deal about using this Pennsylvania free-range chicken, though it tasted about the same to me--still awesome, mind you--and of course there was no Dr Pepper. But still, it was great to walk up to my seat in the meeting room with that big honkin' burrito, trying not to spill rice and beans on my legislative packet.

And just as the camp was perhaps the best ever, so was the convention among the best of the six I've been to. It was unfortunate that I only was able to make a cameo appearance, but I caught a lot of the high points. I was happy that I've been to D.C. before, though, because my "sightseeing" was limited to the airport trips: on the way in, I went near the Washington Monument and the Capitol, and on the way back, my route "grazed" the Lincoln Memorial...that was it.

But all in all, a great time, and now back to "normal" for a few weeks before school starts.

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