Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Neighborhood, Version 3.0

I've lived in my house in northeast Garland for a little more than ten years now, and in that time, I've seen a lot of change in the area. For the sake of simplicity, we could refer to the area at the time that I moved in as "Neighborhood 1.0," although it really was probably at version 1.5 before my arrival, with the extension of the Bush Turnpike from U.S. 75 to State Highway 78 about a year and a half before I bought the house; before that time, the area was miles away from any controlled-access highway and could only be reached via surface streets.

Version 2.0 began in October 2005 with the opening of Firewheel Town Center at the turnpike's temporary terminus (say that ten times fast!), and as I predicted in a blog post at the time, the presence of the New Urbanist center did indeed transform the area. No longer did we have to travel to Richardson or Plano to do the majority of our (non-grocery) shopping; the then-mayor of Garland marveled at how he could now purchase a men's suit within the borders of our city. And with that came two hotels, even more shopping, and restaurants of all kinds--a big relief from the days when my lunch choices were Subway #1, Subway #2 or Subway #3. (To this day, I'm still somewhat burned out on Subway, and while I still like it, I don't often go there unless it's someone else's idea.)

But the picture was always (literally) incomplete, as the turnpike came to (sometimes also literally) a screeching halt right in front of Firewheel. It's never been too much fun at rush hour, and it still meant that our neighborhood was landlocked to the south; a trip to I-30 meant going through the surface streets of Rowlett or the even more traffic light-ridden Centerville Road. But just like, after probably a decade of driving by a lonely sign that said "Future home of AMC Theatres," Firewheel finally came to fruition, we waited with eager anticipation for the opening of the Eastern Extension that would carry us to I-30 in mere minutes. We were promised an opening in the "last quarter of 2011," and the project was delivered on

So did I take a trip on the new road within the first hour or two of its opening? You bet I did! Some thoughts follow:

1) The new road is fast. Really, really fast. Having driven under, over and around it (sometimes in the same trip), it was amazing to watch the miles click by. (From the Lake Ray Hubbard bridge, its counterpart on Rowlett Road looked like a Hot Wheels track.) My teaching takes me from Rowlett to Sachse and back in the same day on several occasions during the week, and that trip's time just got reduced by three-fourths.

2) Some of the onramps were not open yet as of this afternoon; we had been warned as such, so that wasn't surprising. What was a surprise was that, while the entire southbound length of the project was open to I-30 today, the northbound part appeared only to be accessible north of Miller Road in Rowlett. So at the end of the journey, I had to wind back through Rowlett to take my trip home. I can assume that it will all be open at this hour, but you might want to check if you're planning to go that way from the south today.

3) While it's incredibly convenient, it does come at a price; the mainlane gantry costs $1.52 if you have a TollTag, and cash customers will pay an eye-popping $2.28. (I guess that will convince all the holdouts in the area to finally get a tag.)

4) We probably won't see the other benefit of this project until after Christmas, or maybe even at the beginning of next year, when rush-hour traffic resumes at full strength, but I'm betting that the new turnpike will have a positive effect on the nearby surface streets as well. Firewheel Parkway/Rowlett Road in particular should get a decent amount of relief, since quite a bit of the turnpike traffic will continue ahead on that road instead of being dumped off in front of Firewheel.

5) My only real gripe with this project--and the NTTA will hear from me about it soon--is the tolling of the on- and offramps at Crist Road. Because of the lack of a contiguous frontage road through the Bush/Highway 78 interchange, all traffic is routed onto the turnpike there, and the on- and offramps at Brand Road were (and still are) free. And while the ramps to 78 are themselves free, it is now impossible to rejoin the eastbound frontage road (or enter the turnpike from the westbound one) without paying. As a resident of the area directly affected by this--the only way I can exit to my house for free is either to loop around Firewheel Town Center or go too far west via the South 78 ramp and double back--I'm none too happy about this.

6) Some of the signage is a little questionable as well; the westbound Firewheel Parkway/Crist Road exit is also the exit to the even busier SH 78, but there's no sign saying that until right before the exit ramp. (I can see some people trying to make crazy maneuvers to avoid missing that exit; it seems like the SH 78 shield should have been atop the sign from its first appearance.) Also, one exit in Rowlett is to the Merritt/Liberty Grove Connector, a road which won't exist until mid-2013. Meanwhile, motorists trying to reach the current Liberty Grove Rd. from the south will find that they've already passed it if they take that exit.

7) But the best thing about this besides convenience and traffic relief is the potential for the future. As I drove past what now are empty fields in Rowlett and Sachse, I didn't think "emptiness"--I thought "sites of future growth." Just as the Bush extension to 78 brought us Firewheel and its surrounding amenities, so will this new extension bring development and its added tax base. There's already talk of a business park in the area north of Liberty Grove, and I've heard about plans for an "entertainment district" in Rowlett near the bridge over the lake. It'll be fun to see what pops up over the years.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Our neighborhood just got a lot more connected today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Beethoven

(This actually happened earlier this week, but I saved it for today in honor of his birthday.)

The kid said that he had learned how to play "Für Elise" on the piano...
ME: Do you know what "Für Elise" means?
KID: Nope.
ME: It means "for Elise"--he wrote it for a girl.
KID: Ooooh--Beethoven's in loooooooove!

Later on, I pointed out that Beethoven had gone deaf, but not right away, because he had to have known what music sounded like first in order to keep writing...
KID: That's right--he must've just sat down at the piano one day and found out he couldn't hear anything, and he yelled at his wife: "Shaaaarooooon!"
ME: Ha--that's not a very German name. Why would you think his wife would be named Sharon?
KID: 'Cause he's sharin' some looooove with her!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Math and Money

ME: So let's think of the time signature as a fraction for a moment; the bottom number of 4/4 time would then mean "one fourth." What's another way to say one fourth?
KID: A quarter.
ME: And what does a quarter make you think about in terms of music?
KID: Money.
ME: As in, you open up your case when you play, and people toss quarters in there?
KID: That's right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Terms, Part 2

KID: I'm not very good at bravado.
ME: You mean vibrato, right?
KID: Yeah, what did I call it?
ME: You said "bravado." That means to pretend to be brave even if you're not. Are you any good at that?
KID: (makes the "kinda sorta" sign with her hands)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Song Titles

Earlier today, a student was considering a group of solos that included Pachelbel's "Canon in D." In the past, she had looked at Mozart's "Rondo in D."

ME: So have you decided upon a solo yet?
KID: Yes--I want to do "Condo in D."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Two Interesting Takes on a Holiday Classic

On Facebook tonight, I noted that "Leroy Anderson's great-grandkids just got another 25 cents in their college fund"--meaning that a band at the school concert I attended played the classic holiday chestnut by Anderson, "Sleigh Ride." While the band played a very traditional version of the song, a little more scrolling down my Facebook news feed brought me to two unusual renditions.

The first one is pretty much from the "it's so bad, it's good" category:

But this one, in 7/8 time, is really cool:

While Leroy's grandkids might demand extra royalties for the bad version, the 7/8 one would likely make them smile, as it did me.

What's the most unusual version of a Christmas song you've ever heard?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Success

The most interesting overheard quote from Phase 2 of All-Region Band auditions tonight came from the nearby kid who said, "I don't get it--I made Region for the first time ever, and yet I'm ANGRY." (I'm assuming it was because he thought he could have done even better than he did; who could be angry about missing a day of school in January for the clinic/concert and getting a cool jacket patch?)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things, Especially When You're Not Sure You Understood What They Said

GIRL 1 (sings): Everything's better with berrrrrries!
GIRL 2: Stop! It's a mean world!

(In response to my posting about this on Facebook, one of my colleagues noted that she heard a kid today yell out "Hey, Cornbread!")

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

SUGAR LAND--I'm thankful for a lot of things today:

Good health, a lot more students than a year ago, my whole family in the same location for the holiday, great friends, a wonderful brotherhood in Sinfonia, and the gift of music--not only for the enjoyment of playing it and listening to it, but the ability to teach it for a living.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Ancient Counting Systems

The beginner method book I use was first published in MCMXXXIV, and I was pointing that out to a kid today.

ME: Since we're now in MMXI, can you even read a Roman numeral that long?
KID: No, I only know them through six, because of Star Wars.

Can I make a million off this? As a video ad for a famous popcorn brand played on my web browser this morning, I was struck by an idea for a new business: Orville Redbox--popcorn and a movie from a single vending machine.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Bad Blogger! Bad Blogger!

OK, it's been waaaaay too long since I've updated this thing; for a while, I was at least good for some "kids say the darnedest things" posts and my weekly "playing in the Kevmobile" updates, but even those have fallen by the wayside during what has turned out to be my busiest semester ever, bar none. (Facebook hasn't helped either, of course.)

So I'll go back and try and fill in the cracks of the past month or so, and I'll attempt to be better about updating in the near future. This time, for those who have stuck around, I can really say, "Thanks for your patience."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About The Obvious

Kids say the darnedest things about the obvious. I hear this one many times throughout the year...

KID: Are we playing today?
DIRECTOR: What else would we be doing? It's band!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Late Payments

Kids say the darnedest things about late payments. This was from kid #5 in a row who forgot his money; "I could give you a dollar...but that's my Yoo-Hoo money."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Metroplex's Mudville Moment

A few thoughts on the just-ended baseball season, before returning to my regularly scheduled Go Cowboys, Go Stars and Go Mean Green (and possibly Go Mavs, if the two sides get it together):

1) Despite the disaster that was the past two nights, this has been a great run by the Rangers. I've been a fan for many years and endured lots of seasons where the team was out of the race by early August (if not sooner), and it really says something that it's now not enough for the team to be one out away from a world championship. Could anyone imagine us saying this even a few years ago?

2) My hat is off to the Cardinals for a fine season. As I've said before, I lived in the St. Louis area three times as a little kid, and I would have likely been pulling for them this year had the opposition been any other team except my Rangers. And fans couldn't have asked for a better-matched series; with few exceptions, the games were very close and edge-of-your-seat exciting.

3) Still, as good as the season was, it was beyond painful to have it end this way (and let's face it, it was really over, for all intents and purposes, last night, even though I still held out hope). So close, so very close...

4) But I'll end on a positive: This team will be back, sooner rather than later. They are NOT the Buffalo Bills of baseball, and the third time WILL be the charm.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Hard Key Signatures

During a lesson, a Stevie Wonder classic could be heard wafting in from the band hall...
ME: I've never heard Sir Duke in this key before. Stevie Wonder wrote it in B concert, which would be all 7 sharps for you.
KID: That's not gonna happen. I don't even KNOW all 7 sharps!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Food

We got on a food tangent when I compared the étude with four flats to kids being forced to eat turnips, which she surprised me by saying she actually liked. She then came up with these two gems:

"In order to get us to eat our broccoli, my mom used to put mayonnaise on it."

"My sister and I sometimes fight over cauliflower."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Finance, Part 2

This one was paying me for a couple of lessons...
KID; Here's some lunch money. Go buy yourself a bagel. (Hands me $32.)
ME: That'd be one big bagel...

(This is the same kid who thought I was "rich" after handing me $16 in the spring.)

UPDATE: A friend on Facebook reminded me of this Simpsons episode in a similar vein:

Nelson: Hey, look how much Skinner makes--$25,000 a year!
(the kids sound impressed)
Bart: (typing into a calculator) Let's see, he's 40 years old, times twenty-five grand...whoa, he's a millionaire!
Children: Wow!
Principal Skinner: I wasn't a principal when I was one!
Milhouse: Plus, in the summer he paints houses.
Milhouse: He's a billionaire!
Children: Wow!
Principal Skinner: If I were a billionaire, why would I be living with my mother?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Musical Terms

One of the middle school all-district etudes has a fermata in it this year...
ME: Have we talked about the fermata yet?
KID: Is it that thing where you move your lips up and down?
ME: No, that would be vibrato, and that's not exactly how you do it, either.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Weird Accidentals

The middle school all-district music has an F double sharp in it this year, and I was teaching the concept to a seventh grader...

ME: Do you know what this symbol means? Have you ever seen one before?
KID: It looks like pants!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Jazz vs. Classical

This from a kid who loves jazz and loves going to classical all-region, but doesn't love going to jazz all-region: "Classical and structure go together like peanut butter and bread. Jazz and structure go together like peanut butter and mustard."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Theater Kids Say the Darnedest Things

The hallway between our music rehearsal hall and the theater lab at the college was being used as both a backstage area and possibly a dressing room tonight (there were various items of clothing on the floor as I passed through).

ME: Sorry, I have to pass through here to get to my rehearsal, so I hope nobody's gettin' nekkid in here...
ACTOR: We're in theater; that's what we do.

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Foreign Words

ME: This piece is marked "moderato." Do you know what that word means?
KID: Moderate?
ME: Right. And what does "moderate" mean?
KID: (shrugs)
ME: If a place has a moderate climate, what is the weather like?
KID: Humid?
ME: Not quite.
KID: Dusty?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Trivia

MY STUDENT (on way out of lesson): Look out, we're about to get blocked in by tympanis!
ME: It's not "tympanis." "Tympani" itself is plural; the singular is "tympanum."
TYMPANIST: Wow, I feel like such a bad tympani player for not knowing that.

(I also found through some quick research that another singular form is "tympano." And I informed the tympanist that both "broccoli" and "graffiti" are also plurals, but you knew this if you've been reading this blog for a while.)

The best word that could be used to describe today: ARRRRRRR.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Injuries

Today, I taught one who was out for a while with a broken arm, contusions, etc.:
ME: So are you pretty much all healed now?
KID: I still have a stitch in my side.
ME: Gotcha.
KID: I have a picture of it on my phone.
ME: I see...
KID: Wanna see it?
ME: Nah, I'm good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Siblings

Again, from a sixth grader: "I lost my phone last week, and then I found it in my baby sister's crib. She was probably texting all her friends from day care."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

If Ever a Commercial Was Deserving of An Encore...'s this one:

It aired during the Cowboys-Jets game tonight--only the second time it's ever been shown on TV, with the first being during the 2002 Super Bowl.

I have to admit, this got to me even more than the tribute I played for during church services this morning. Kudos to whomever came up with the original idea, and to whomever decided to rerun it tonight.

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

As always, here's the recap of car-tunes from the past seven days:
  • MONDAY: Playing today in the Kevmobile: Gary Burton/Chick Corea/Pat Metheny/Dave Holland/Roy Haynes, "Like Minds." The rare "supergroup" that sounds like a coherent band (likely because they've all played together on numerous occasions in smaller groups).

  • TUESDAY: Dafnis Prieto Sextet, "Taking the Soul For a Walk." Cuban-born drummer leads group through energetic set.

  • WEDNESDAY: Naruyoshi Kikuchi Dub Sextet, "Dub Orbits." Japanese tenorist leads a traditional group that's augmented by cool electronic effects.

  • THURSDAY: One O'Clock Lab Band, "Lab 2011." Straight from the mailbox, a great followup to last night's Syndicate gig. (A review of the CD will be posted at this site within a few days.)

  • FRIDAY: Tim Berne and Bill Frisell, "Theoretically." Re-released 1984 album puts a different spin on sax/guitar duo--skronkier than anything we'd ever do in Credulous, but nonetheless interesting.

  • SATURDAY: Esbjörn Svensson Trio, "Tuesday Wonderland." Great '06 release by the late Swedish pianist's genre-bending threesome.

  • SUNDAY: Flim & The BB's, "New Pants." Dick Oatts, Jimmy Johnson and company play early '90s fusion with integrity.
I've once again been digging into my vast CD collection in recent days, so even though I don't anticipate getting any new releases this week, there are still plenty of unblogged/untweeted titles from which I can choose.

Where Were You....

...ten years ago, when you heard the news? I've posted this in some form every year since I started blogging, and I pause to remember again:
I was on a break from teaching, like every Tuesday, and actually spent the time of the attacks in blissful ignorance at a nearby Starbucks. I had CD's on in my car instead of the radio, so I totally missed the news on both the way over and the way back. I did hear someone listening to a radio on the Starbucks patio and they were talking about "the second plane," but it didn't register with me at all. (It amazed me later that nobody walked inside and told us about it.)

When I got back to the school, the flute teacher stopped me in the hallway and asked me if all my students were being pulled out of school (evidently hers were). I said, "No, why?" and she told me what had happened. I spent the rest of the day like everyone else, in shocked, depressed amazement, catching the news when I could. There I was, not even two weeks into being a homeowner, and the world suddenly felt so different. It added to the pall cast over everything when I found out that the sister of a girl I graduated from high school with was on Flight 93, the one that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. (I know that there have been quite a few lists of names read aloud today, so let me share hers: Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas. May she rest in peace...)

The whole thing felt so surreal; how could anyone hate us that much? The concept of the suicide hijacking was unprecedented as well (before that, hijackers just usually wanted to go to Cuba, and that's why airline personnel were taught to cooperate with them rather than try to subdue them).

I know there are still terrorist plots being hatched, and people capable of carrying them out...but I hope nothing like this ever happens on U.S. soil again. Or anywhere, for that matter.

For those who may be new to reading this blog since then, I'll invite you to share your recollections in the comments to this post.

As I've said for several years now, I hope nobody tires of talking about this every once in a while, because if we stop talking, we might forget, and this is a day that need not be forgotten anytime soon.
I'm sure that the blogosphere will be full of great tributes today, and I'll add links to those later, after I get back from playing in church this morning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A New Day for Mean Green Football

Last fall, I was among those in the alumni marching band who bid farewell to the University of North Texas' Fouts Field after 58 seasons. Across I-35E, we could see the skeleton of what has since been christened Apogee Stadium rising in the distance, and we knew that things would never be the same for Mean Green football once this season began. And today, a not-quite-sellout crowd got to experience it in person.

The fact that the new stadium is across the freeway from the main campus certainly makes it a different game day experience from the outset. Parking on the stadium side is reserved for Mean Green Club members and season ticket holders, or one can park at Fouts Field (which is still there and sits forlornly in the distance, visible from many parts of the stadium) for ten dollars. Or you can do what I did, which is to park in another part of campus just east of Fouts for free; needless to say, the free lots were quite packed even by the time I got there, which was three hours before kickoff. It's quite a long walk from there, but everything is set up well for pedestrian flow, with a lane of the North Texas Blvd. bridge dedicated to walkers.

The tailgating experience is different as well, as several options are now available: The hill east of the stadium (which was built on the site of the university's former golf course) is open to those who wish to set up shop without the actual vehicles present, and a dirt lot across the street from the west side of the stadium is used for those who wish to drive in and park (though a pre-bought pass is required for that lot). Looking at the towering structure from across the street caused many of us to just stand there and bask in the different-ness of things for a while.

As for the stadium itself? I found it to be wonderful. Granted, my experience was atypical, as I managed to score an upgraded ticket to a club member whose wife was out of town. I had enjoyed being a guest in the Hospitality Deck at Fouts on many occasions in the past, and that was one of the things that several of us said we'd miss about the old setup, but the new club experience really provides the best of both worlds. (I'll write another Note after a game where I have a more Joe Average Fan experience, but this was really a great way to enjoy Opening Day.)

The club is entered through a special entrance and reached via elevator. The pregame buffet was tasty and plentiful, and the club room offered a spectacular view from all directions. During the game, club members can sit in their assigned seats (which are just below the press box level), stand on a center deck. or sit at tables or stand on one of two covered patio areas located in the area of each end zone.

During the game, one of the first things I noticed was that it was so much easier to hear everything in this stadium, as it's a lot more of an enclosed box than Fouts (indeed, the knock on Fouts has always been that the field and the seats are separated by a running track, which keeps even the front-row fans way too far away from the action). The PA announcer was heard more clearly, the Green Brigade marching band sounded great (and louder than before) both during the halftime show and in the stands, and the increased intimacy made this fan feel a lot more engaged with the game.

Although the Mean Green did score the first points in the stadium on a first-quarter touchdown, Houston would prevail in the end. Coach Dan McCarney has made some very positive changes in the team in his short time in Denton (one of the things that impressed a lot of people in our seating area was the fact that the team never quit, even when falling behind by over 30 points in the fourth quarter, thanks to nearly 500 passing yards from the Houston offense), but there is still work to be done. But that being said, the team has a spectacular new facility in which to play, a greatly enhanced game day experience for the fans, and they're finally free of the shackles of the white elephant across the freeway, which had to be a negative in terms of recruiting (what blue-chip player would want to come to Denton when his high school facility was undoubtedly nicer than Fouts?). I'm willing to bet that most of the fans came away from today's game with a similar sense of optimism, and their numbers should certainly grow throughout the season.

Several of us alums commented tonight that we couldn't believe that this was the same place where we had gone to school. UNT has undergone many positive changes in the past several years, and this beautiful new stadium is a great addition to not only the physical plant of the campus, but its fall weekend culture as well. I'll be back in two weeks for the next home game.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things When Translating Foreign Words

The kid was playing a piece marked dolce (Italian for "sweetly"), and we were reviewing the style before she started to play it...

ME: So, do you remember what "dolce" means?
KID: talked about it in sectionals.
ME: That's right. Do you remember what it means?
KID: Hmm...well, I know that it doesn't mean "Grandma."

(That's correct, of course, but I managed to tie it in ever so slightly with Grandma by pointing out that one of her grandmas might have called her "sweetie," which she confirmed was true.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things When Taken Out of Context

A kid walking into the band hall just now said, "Now I have nothing to bring! I usually rip the heads off." One can only wonder what in the world she was talking about...

(One of my Facebook friends suggested that perhaps she was talking about shrimp or crawfish; if so, that would be a most unusual--not to mention smelly--school lunch.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Futures

At the end of his lesson, a sixth-grade beginner said, "If I ever end up homeless, I'm gonna play my horn on the street corner for money."

I told him two things: 1) You should aspire to higher things than ever being homeless, and 2) If it really does happen, keep your case open so people will have a place to put the money.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

This week's listening included some of those funny little round things (actual CD's, as opposed to the usual iPod fare), courtesy of the Borders going-out-of-business sale:
  • MONDAY: OK, this is a first: Evidently, I managed to not tweet what I played that day; chalk it up to being the first Monday of the new school year. And now, six days later, I can't remember...

  • TUESDAY: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I'm With You." A new semi-mainstream rock album on a major label? Hey, it happens...especially with an album like this, where the tunes just jumped out of the speakers at me when I heard the samples on eMusic.

  • WEDNESDAY: Tomasz Stanko, "Wolnosc w Sierpniu." The title of the Polish trumpeter's album means "Freedom in August," so it seemed appropriate to play it on the last day of that month. (I also played a semi-obscure European jazz musician on purpose, as a tongue-in-cheek promise to a friend who pretended to lose faith in me because of my mainstream choice from the day before.)

  • THURSDAY: Brandt Brauer Frick, "You Make Me Real." German trio plays techno-type music w/ mostly acoustic instruments. (I can't wait for the first release from their large ensemble later in the fall!)

  • FRIDAY: They Might Be GiantsZ, "Join Us." Latest effort from Brooklyn duo, procured for $6 at Borders' closing sale.

  • SATURDAY: Manu Katché, "Third Round." Album #3 on ECM from French drummer features a young band and funky grooves. (Also obtained at the Borders sale, for around seven bucks.)

  • SUNDAY: Michel Camilo, "One More Once." Pianist revisits his classic tunes with all-star big band featuring Paquito D'Rivera, Jon Faddis, and more.
Those last three selections have, as I said above, been on actual CDs, and I may well dig into the shelves at Casa de Kev in the week ahead to catch up on things I haven't listened to in a while.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Other Instruments

As the sound of the beginner trumpet class wafted in from the other room yesterday afternoon, my beginner alto player described it as follows: "They sound like a swarm of bees." (There was some accuracy to this, as the kids who still need work on their air support were undershooting the target note by an octave and a fifth. But hey, they'll get it; we were all beginners at one time.)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Fintess Equipment

It takes a bit of pinky dexterity to play the saxophone's lowest notes, and some kids struggle with it at first. My running joke is that they should "go to L.A. Fitness and use the pinky machine." This week, one kid's response to that was, "Wait--is that real?"

(I assured him that it wasn't...but if there actually were such a thing as a pinky machine, could you imagine the size of the weights? And the machine itself would be so small that it would have to be nailed down, lest someone take it home in their pocket.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Vintage Horns

Glancing at my Selmer Mark VI alto (with the expected areas of missing lacquer), one student said, "Why is your saxophone so dirty?" (If only she knew how much that "dirty" saxophone was actually worth...)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

This past week was a mixture of old classics and new arrivals; let's talk about 'em:
  • MONDAY: The debut album from James Farm. It's been repeated a few times already,'s just that awesome.

  • TUESDAY: Kurt Rosenwinkel, "Heartcore." Guitarist experiments with different textures on what's become known as his "electronica album."

  • WEDNESDAY: Stefon Harris & Blackout, "Urbanus." Latest release from vibraphonist and his genre-bending collective.

  • THURSDAY: Ingrid Lukas, "We Need to Repeat." Estonian-born vocalist, who works regularly with Nik Bärtsch, does her own brand of jazz minimalism on Bärtsch's Ronin Rhythm label.

  • FRIDAY: Level 42, "Guaranteed." 1992 release from premier UK funk/rock band features guitar wizard Allan Holdsworth.

  • SATURDAY: Aaron Parks, "Invisible Cinema." James Farm - Joshua Redman + guitarist Mike Moreno = a great debut CD from the pianist.

  • SUNDAY: Brad Mehldau, "Highway Rider." Pianist's 2nd collaboration w/ producer Jon Brion features Joshua Redman.
Look for a few more new items in the week ahead; every month, when my eMusic credits refresh, it's like a mini-birthday for my ears.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Marathon Friday?

The first week of the fall semester has concluded, and two things are apparent at this point: 1) Business is looking up--way up--for this school year, and 2) I'm going to be insanely busy.

Sure, some will say, "But Kev, aren't you always insanely busy?" Yup. But with the high schools where I teach undergoing a radical schedule change--moving from a five-period day with trimesters to a seven-period day with semesters. There are advantages and disadvantages to this move (which is being used this year by two schools--the only two district high schools where I have a studio--that will be adopted district-wide next year if it's successful), but the long and short of it is that the top bands at the high schools and those at the middle schools now meet at the exact same time, for the same reason: Using the period that encompasses lunch means a longer rehearsal.

But with five schools' top bands meeting simultaneously, and five days in the school week, this means one school per day for me at that time. Needless to say, this creates logjams at that hour and requires some students to come in before or after school, though this is mitigated somewhat at the high schools by the addition of year-round jazz band class (which only used to meet during second and third trimester when the day had two fewer periods).

It's actually been much easier to schedule than I thought it would; I was expecting all kinds of chaos, to the point where I started compiling my schedule two weeks earlier than usual, only to be surprised at how effortless most of it was. Still, I've never quite seen this busy of a Friday before. How busy, you ask? This busy: I teach at the high school from 8:15 (the beginning of second period) until nearly 2:15 (halfway through seventh). When a few final slots are filled, this will happen nonstop; I don't even have a lunch break. (I did bring one today, but I was playing along with students so often that, by 1:00, I had consumed only my carrots).

But wait--there's more! When I'm done there, I go over to the middle school (after a 45-minute decompression break) to teach two more kids in last period and three more after school. That's 18 students, assuming all the slots get filled, and by far the Busiest Friday Ever. Sure, I have Marathon Wednesday every summer, but Marathon Friday is new territory for me.

Still, I came out of this week with a decent amount of energy, and I felt that I was "on" for the duration of the day, despite the large number of lessons in a row. (OK--I sank into the couch like a rock for a few hours when I got home, but that's beside the point.) And as I noted earlier in the week on Facebook, it still amazes me that I get to do what I love and get paid for it.

My prayer is that I come out of the last Friday of the semester as refreshed and excited as I am now.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Strike Out the Band? Only Partially, and It's Better Than the Alternatives

A friend on Facebook tipped me off to this story, which evidently was on the news today (I don't get to watch "the news" all that often, sometimes because I'm not home that early). One local school district's budget cuts have affected fine arts in a negative way, but not the way you might expect; for one thing nobody got fired. So how did they do it? They decided to let the high school bands perform only at home football games:
Starting tonight high school football teams in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD left the bands behind for away football games. The approved cuts are to the fine arts and athletics departments.

Benching the band is expected to save the district $50,000 in transportation costs, meaning hundreds of students at the district's five schools will perform to recorded music during the 17 away games.

"None of us are happy about having to do that," said the district's fine arts director Jim McDaniel. But "we literally save a teacher's salary, at least, by not going. We didn't cut anybody in the district. We kept everybody. We've been very committed to teachers. They're gonna go to some of the JV games as well and on Sept 23rd we're going to have a night that's just for our high school bands."
There are cuts being made in other areas as well--certain junior high "B" teams are being eliminated, sports camps are being shortened, and parents will have to buy letter jackets for their kids now, instead of the district picking up the tab.

As someone who was a Band Guy in high school, and works with school band programs now, my initial impression is that I'm not wild about the idea. Part of me says that's unfortunate, and that they should have cut the position of Deputy Associate Vice Superintendent for Curriculum Development in the Northwest Quadrant as a better way to save money.

And yet, another part of me is glad that no faculty positions were cut, realizing that not going to away games is just like marching at a second-tier football school such as my alma mater, UNT, where we went to maybe one away game a year. And while the bands won't be quite as performance-tested as usual by the time they get to their regional marching contest in October, it certainly could be worse. (Picking a random C/FB school, Newman Smith, it appears that the band only loses three out of ten games during the season; they only have four away games, but one is against another C/FB school, so it's played in the district stadium.)

I always hate to see any cuts done to fine arts...or any other area that affects students; as you may know from reading this blog, I'd prefer to see non-teaching areas trimmed down a bit first. So while this news disappoints me, I can't keep thinking about this one thing: No teacher lost a job here. So while I hope that a lot of districts don't make this move--football games might become as dull as some of the ones I attended at UNT during college--you have to give them credit for thinking at least slightly outside the box.

What say you? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

There were a lot of reruns this week, but it's all been stuff that's well worth repeating:
  • MONDAY: Playing today in the Kevmobile: Nobody's Business, "Forward Momentum." Great '07 release from quartet of then-UNT jazz students Teriver Cheung, Evan Weiss, Roberto Verastegui and Colin Hinton.

  • TUESDAY: Oktoposse, "Blues Lee--Volume III." Latest release from creative and occasionally wacky German octet.

  • WEDNESDAY: The debut album from Speak, a creative Seattle quintet w/ trumpeter Cuong Vu and four of his former students.

  • THURSDAY: Weather Report, "Heavy Weather." Rockin' to the classic album by Zawinul, Shorter, Jaco, Acuña and Badrena, featuring the original "Birdland."

  • FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Miles Okazaki, "Generations." Sophomore release (2009) from up-and-coming guitarist/composer.

  • SUNDAY: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, "Winterwood." 2009 release from Tulsa-based group, still available as a free download at their website.
There's likely to be some brand-new music here next week, so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

This week was a bit of a challenge, with the venerable iPod going into hibernation on Thursday...but I made my old iPhone into a backup iPod Touch and kept moving on.
  • MONDAY: Radiohead, "OK Computer." Now I know what the original versions of those Brad Mehldau covers sound like.

  • TUESDAY: Nils Petter Molvaer, "Khmer." My favorite among all the releases by electronica-loving Norwegian trumpeter.

  • WEDNESDAY: Mark Wingfield/Jane Chapman/Iain Ballamy: "Three Windows." Gtr/hpschd/sax trio infuses jazz w/ many things--world music, classical, electronica and prog rock, just to name a few.

  • THURSDAY: Pat Metheny Group, "We Live Here." It makes frequent appearances here, b/c it never fails to lift my spirit.

  • FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Marco Benevento, "Me Not Me." Pianist known for using circuit-bent toys mixes covers, originals.

  • SUNDAY: Stefon Harris/David Sanchez/Christian Scott, "Ninety Miles." US trio joins with two different Cuban rhythm sections in lively set of originals from the three leaders.
Here's hoping the old iPod just needs a break from the heat and "wakes up" in a few days...

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I'm Perfectly Happy to Wave Goodbye to This Misguided Tradition

I'd seen the messages on the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington video boards this year, and they both amused and pleased me. And now the Texas Rangers' only partially tongue-in-cheek campaign to get rid of the Wave at baseball games is generating national attention:
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has become the focal point for a movement this season.

It's a push to stop a trend that has long-since slowed at some ballparks across the nation, but still has ardent supporters in Arlington.

It's the drive to end the wave.

The Rangers' public-address announcer Chuck Morgan puts anti-wave warnings on the video screen in the outfield. Fan Stephanie Blumenthal wears an anti-wave T-shirt that she and a friend designed. There's even a website ( that would like to see fans give up on the stadium tradition of different fans in sections rising in unison during the game.

The race for the American League West may be the most important goal at Rangers Ballpark. Stopping the wave could be No. 2.
I for one am totally on board with the idea.

I've been a non-fan of the Wave since it first made its way into the Ballpark. Why? Well, for two main reasons:
  • People do it at the wrong time. As noted in the linked article,
    When the Rangers were up 20-6 over Minnesota seemed like an OK time. Same goes for during a rain delay. Maybe even between an inning every now and then. And kids should have a chance to do the wave at least once, right?

    But when the Rangers are in a close game and either attempting to rally or trying to snuff out one? That's an absolute no-no and that's what has rankled so many in the no-wave clan.
    And my own opinion is that, no matter what the score, it should never be done when the home team is at bat...but maybe that's just me?

  • Not only can it distract the players, but it detracts from the game itself.. It's as if the fans are more interested in themselves being the entertainment than the game itself. People pay money--sometimes good money--to see the game, not their fellow spectators (the only exception to this in all of entertainment may well be The Rocky Horror Picture Show). If you want to create your own entertainment, stay home and play the MLB video game.
Does the Wave even have a place in baseball? Depending on which source you believe, it was created at a college basketball game--or hockey, football, or even auto racing. (And a well-known piece of lore has it being created by Robb Weller, former college yell leader turned Entertainment Tonight co-host, which ought to disqualify it from pure sporting events right then and there.) According to a commenter at the linked article, the purpose of the Wave at University of Washington games (Weller's domain at the time), it was used to distract the opposing team during signal-calling and fire up the crowd during big defensive stands by the home team--neither of which is exactly applicable to the game of baseball. In fact, it came to baseball late, and a lot of us out there wouldn't mind if it just quietly slinked away.

Nobody--not even Morgan or founder Greg Holland--expects the Wave to die completely, but if the video board campaign prompts even a few people to think, "Oh yeah, this is pretty idiotic, isn't it?", then it will have succeeded.

And there's no way this will ever happen:
Morgan knows there is one sure-fire way to stop the wave at the park, but it will never happen.

"Any more waves, no more beer," he joked.
Yeah, that would be a bit much. But you know what? Back when the Rangers had a section of the park designated as the "non-alcohol family section" (do they still have this?), the Wave would die there every time. Food for thought...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Here's this week's list of hot tunes in a cool car on some very hot days:
  • MONDAY: Roger Rosenberg, "Baritonality." 2009 debut recording from the Bob Mintzer Big Band's regular bari player.

  • TUESDAY: Quebec Antique, "The Abbey Tapes." Great spring break discovery by Austin-based electro-acoustic duo (half of which is Michael Blake, the guy who did the controversial "What Pi Sounds Like" video, profiled here).

  • WEDNESDAY: Godley & Creme, "Ismism" (aka "Snack Attack"). '82 release from the avant-garde half of 10cc has held up quite well over the ensuing decades.

  • THURSDAY: Brad Mehldau, "Largo." Pianist teams with producer Jon Brion to create orchestral textures and a touch of electronica to his usual fare.

  • FRIDAY: Alastair Ottesen, "You Can No Longer Blame It on the Machines." The former lead tenor player of the UNT Two O'Clock Lab Band moved to Brooklyn and steered his talents toward exquisite, enjoyable pop music.

  • SATURDAY: Jamiroquai, "Dynamite." I'm slowly but surely catching up on the back-catalogue of one of my favorite groups from a decade ago.

  • SUNDAY: Ozma, "Strange Traffic." Latest release from clever French collective who could be described as the "Kneebody of France" on this recording.
There may be a few reruns next week, as my eMusic credits are about to run out, but I can promise at least a few new things in there as well. Come back every Sunday for this feature, and check in on other days as well to see what I might be talking about.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm Not Exactly "Jazzed" by This Decision

I read a fairly disappointing announcement in the paper today: The longtime Ft. Worth festival that was until now known as Jazz by the Boulevard" is changing its name and its scope beginning this year. In other words, no "jazz" in the title, and less jazz on the menu:
The title Jazz by the Boulevard is no more. Instead, the annual multi-genre music and art festival at the Will Rogers Memorial Center, in the Cultural District, is now the Fort Worth Music Festival. [...] Taking place Fri-Sat, Sept 30-Oct 1, the erstwhile Jazz by the Boulevard features headliners Kirk Whalum, Kermit Ruffins (the self-proclaimed New Orleans Ambassador of Good Times), Dawes, and Meat Puppets and North Texas artists Telegraph Canyon, Seryn, Calhoun, The Orbans, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Quaker City Night Hawks, Josh Weathers, Oil Boom, Tatiana Mayfield, Luke Wade & No Civilians, Derek Larson & The Leavers, and more. The festival will be rounded out by booths of visual art for sale, a record/CD store, live interviews with some of the performers, the Culinary Tent, offering cooking lessons, and food from several popular trucks, including Big Dawgs in Cowtown, Salsa Limon, and Yum-Yum Food Truck.
In recent years, this festival brought us performances by the likes of Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis, and it never seemed to have a shortage of attendees. Needless to say, I'm disappointed that something dedicated strictly to jazz is no longer so; I assume the side stages (which featured local acts and college jazz bands) will be likewise "diversified."

Thank goodness San Antonio's Jazz'SAlive Festival is still going strong this year...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Music Is the Universal Language...

...but it still has many dialects. Check out this amazing recording of a Pakistani orchestra performing Paul Desmond's classic "Take Five" a few months ago:

I love how there are quotes from Desmond's original solo in the string parts, as well as a tabla solo at the point in the song where Joe Morello's drum solo was in the original.

Watch, listen and enjoy! I'll try to post more things from these guys as they are released.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Being the week of jazz camp, a few new releases by my colleagues were added into the mix this week, along with the usual collection of new stuff and summer reruns:
  • MONDAY: Edward Petersen and The Test, "The Mission." Camp week begins with a new CD from New Orleans-based tenorman who's also my longtime camp colleague.

  • TUESDAY: Chucho Valdés, "Chucho's Steps." Recent release from Cuban piano master, aka "the only star in Irakere who didn't defect."

  • WEDNESDAY: David Binney, "The Luxury of Guessing." 1995 release from acclaimed NYC-based altoist/composer.

  • THURSDAY: Ben Allison, "Think Free." Tuneful 2009 release from prolific bassist/composer.

  • FRIDAY: The debut album from James Farm. It was just played in here a few weeks ago, but well worth the repeat.

  • SATURDAY: Stockton Helbing, "Battlestations & Escape Plans." Brand-new CD of originals from amazing drummer who's also one of my camp colleagues.

  • SUNDAY: Radiohead, "The King of Limbs." Latest release from band known for its influence on younger jazz musicians.
And now that camp is over, and out-of-town travels are done for a while, we should be back to a more "normal" week next week--but still some great music with only a few reruns!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Playing Last Week in the Kevmobile (and Other Conveyances)

This was an unusual week, since it included a plane trip, so the music came in fits and spurts.
  • MONDAY: Stéphane Huchard, "Bouchabouches." French drummer/composer leads his band through tunes inspired by tunnels. (Does this mean you could truly call it an "underground" album?)

  • TUESDAY: The Postal Service, "Give Up." The acclaimed and thus far one-off release from electronic-driven pop duo.

  • WEDNESDAY: Paquito D'Rivera, "A Taste of Paquito." Choice cuts from the amazing altoist's tenure with Columbia Records.

  • THURSDAY: Food, "Molecular Gastronomy." 2007 release from Norwegian/British duo of Iain Bellamy (saxophones) and Thomas Stronen (percussion, electronics).

  • FRIDAY (on the plane): The Flashbulb, "Love As A Dark Hallway" and Curtis Macdonald, Community Immunity."

  • SATURDAY: Nothing. I only rode in a car a couple of times, and the driver had the radio on NPR.

  • SUNDAY (on the plane): Boards of Canada, "The Campfire Headphase" and Dog Soup, "Fragments"; (in the Kevmobile): Pat Metheny Group, "We Live Here."
And in other Kevmobile news, she hit 70,000 miles on the way back from the airport today. Still purrs like a kitten, she does.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pop Goes the Bleat?

I don't talk much about pop culture, either here or in real life. But I'll make an exception for those who are very good at their craft, and this sounds like a great combination: Dr. Helen interviews James Lileks.

I've linked to Lileks many times over the years, and his blog, The Bleat is my first read of the day. I've also enjoyed his books over the years. I haven't had time to listen to all of this yet, but if it's anything like the videos he's done on his site and for his day-employer, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, I'm sure it'll be a good listen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some Members of Congress Are Finally Seeing the Light

Those in government who think they know what's good for everyone else have gotten away with a lot of silly things in recent years, and one of the silliest has been the effort to ban the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs, especially when a safe and cost-effective alternative has yet to be manufactured.

Leave it to a Texan, Joe Barton, to try to steer the nation onto a more sensible path. As Pajamas Media's Peter Roff reports in a column today,
On Wednesday, Texas Republican Joe Barton introduced legislation in the House to repeal the ban.

Barton’s bill, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, protects America’s access to the light bulbs of their choice rather than forcing them to purchase CFLs and LEDs by engineering distortions in the marketplace.

“Light bulb efficiency standards,” Barton’s office said, “could carry negative unintended consequences. For example, some mandates could only be met with bulbs that contain dangerous mercury. Rather than having the government limit light bulb options or appear to favor one type of bulb over others, the market should allow consumers to decide on the cost, type, and efficiency of the lighting that works best for them.”

There is considerable sentiment in support of Barton’s view, which is shared by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and most if not all of the House Republican leadership.

Simply put, the mandate won’t work — and may create more problems and be more costly than leaving things well enough alone.
And here's the money quote, from former Federal Trade Commission head Orson Swindle:
The creativity of the private sector has brought us a long way from the days of darkness, kerosene lanterns and candles. Thank you, Thomas Edison. Now the government, despite failure after failure over the decades of government efforts to run the economy, decides to mandate to all consumers that the remarkable incandescent light bulb is no longer to be used. The “government light bulb,” like the government energy programs (anti-petroleum) and the government healthcare system, will be far more costly. In addition, reports are still coming in on the rather dangerous fire hazard qualities of the government bulb. Obviously, those responsible for this new government initiative are not the brightest bulbs in the box.
It seems like a lot of government actions come from these dim bulbs, doesn't it? And there's little doubt that those behind the bulb initiative acted before they did a lot of their homework, didn't they?

I have CFL's in my house, and it appears that my reading light has gotten worse over the past few years (it's not the fault of my aging eyes--I swear!). They don't provide heat like incandescents (for those who live in colder climes than here or want to run a cheap popcorn popper or Easy-Bake Oven). They're more expensive than incandescents, and you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to dispose of one, especially if it breaks. And while I tried these things in an effort to be "green," I would, if given the choice, go back to incandescents in a heartbeat. I'm happy to see that Rep. Barton and others would like to give me that choice back.

(And if there's anyone reading this who actually likes CFL's better I'd love to hear from you in the comments.)

UPDATE: And the bill fails in the House. It's time to find out who voted against this and send 'em packing in the next election. Ridiculous...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Here we go with the weekly roundup of (mostly new) music:
  • MONDAY: Joshua Redman, "Freedom in the Groove." Seeing as how Monday was the Fourth of July, I pretty much had to play something with "freedom" in the title.

  • TUESDAY: Steve Coleman & Five Elements, "Rhythm People." Great set of funky, exploratory tunes from veteran altoist.

  • WEDNESDAY: Tomasz Stanko Quartet, "Suspended Night." Fine '04 release from revered Polish trumpeter and his young rhythm section (who have recorded by themselves, first as the Simple Acoustic Trio and now as the Marcin Wasilewski Trio).

  • THURSDAY: Reed's Bass Drum, "Which is Which." First full-length CD from trio of, well, reed (bari), bass and drums.

  • FRIDAY/SATURDAY: Jamiroquai, "Rock Dust Light Star." 2010 album from funky UK group shows a bit of rock edge on the first few tracks before returning to the group's classic sound. (Is this the first group played in the Kevmobile for a while that a lot of you have heard of?)

  • SUNDAY: Snarky Puppy, "Bring Us the Bright." Next-to-most recent effort by the Pups, and their first use of a string section.
Next week includes a plane trip, so there may well be a couple of "playing today in the plane" entries.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

A Beautiful Night for a Game

Tonight, I took me (and a friend) out to the Ballpark for the first time this season:

It was a beautiful night, and the temperature wasn't even all that hot, in the grand scheme of things. Not only that, but what looked to be a rough night for the Rangers ended up with Josh Hamilton hitting a walk-off homer to end the game--the first time he's done that, according to the video board. (And after the week he's had, he could use a little good news; it would be nice to think that he hit that homer for Shannon Stone.)

I can't wait till my next trip out there!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things in Foreign Languages

Sorry for the overwhelming number of these things this week, but I teach a lot of kids, and they've been on a roll lately. Yesterday, I was introducing the concept of a duet to an incoming sixth-grader...

ME: Do you know what a duet is?
KID: Nope.
ME: OK...have you heard the term "dual?"
KID: (shakes head)
ME: Hmm. Do you know what the word deux means?
KID: Nein.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About TV

This one is actually from last week, but I forgot about it until the kid reminded me last night: I was teaching the kid intervals, with song examples for each one. For the major sixth, my example is the first two notes of the famous "NBC" three-note jingle.

ME (after playing the three notes): You've heard that on TV, right?
KID: Yeah! That's...Fox.
ME: (laughs)
KID: No, wait, I meant NBC.
ME: That would be funny if Fox tried it. (sings) F-O-X!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Geography and Food

Today, one actually confessed to liking Brussels sprouts, which spawned the following exchange:

ME: Me too. And guess what--they're from the same country where the saxophone was invented! Do you know where Brussels is?
KID: Italy?
ME: Nope, starts with the same letter as Brussels.
KID: Oh...Belgium.
ME: Right, and the guy who invented the saxophone is from there.
KID: So he invented Brussels sprouts, too?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth!

As always, enjoy the fireworks, especially if burn bans have canceled them in your area. (I"m glad that's not the case here, though it's certainly been very dry recently.)

I usually offer a few random thoughts on this holiday; some of them may be reruns, but I think they've held up pretty well since a year ago:
  • On this day, I'm decked out in one of those Old Navy flag T-shirts, as I have been every year on this day since 1999, when I celebrated in Switzerland atop Rochers-de-Naye, the tallest mountain in the Montreux area. (I still get a kick out of thinking about all the schoolkids back in '99 who, when they found out I was spending my first Fourth out of the country that summer, asked me if "they have the Fourth of July in Switzerland." Their calendars, I'm happy to report, don't exactly skip from 3 to 5 or anything...)

  • While it might seem appropriate to have the Fourth fall on a Monday (like pretty much every other holiday), the day when local cities decide to do their fireworks displays still varies wildly from place to place. Many places (including Rowlett just down the street from me, as well as Addison's well-known "Kaboom Town") were last night, while a lot of other places, including Richardson and Plano, are waiting until tonight. Just wait till next year, when, thanks to a leap year, the Fourth will be on a Wednesday. Five-day weekend, anyone?

  • I usually post links to some inspiring essays on this day. This year, I've found some reflections on liberty by Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, a fine essay by blogger "Teresa in Ft. Worth" (including embedded videos of many of our great patriotic songs), and another great piece of writing by the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby on the philosophies behind the Declaration of Independence.

  • Two years ago, I noted that there are a lot of people out there today who love their country but are extremely frustrated with their government. As we celebrate 234 years as a nation, we must never forget the principles of freedom and limited government on which this nation was founded. There are plenty of people in power at the moment who would prefer to use that power to their own ends, rather than what is best for the nation as a whole, and it is up to us as citizens to speak out against such things and show the most grievous offenders the door via the ballot box at the next available occasion.
Despite her faults, America is still the greatest nation the world has ever known. May you celebrate this day in whatever way you see fit.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

A little bit less driving this week meant that I only have six albums to present instead of seven, but present them I shall:
  • MONDAY: Jacob Karlzon 3, "The Big Picture." Newest trio effort from Swedish pianist shows a strong e.s.t. influence. (His quintet effort from a few years ago made an appearance in the Kevmobile last week.)

  • TUESDAY: Mik Keusen's Blau, "Nelu." Swiss composer/keyboardist plays minimalist-tinged jazz with woodwinds, percussion, and a female vocalist who also serves as the group's bassist. (This is the group profiled in Tuesday's post.)

  • WEDNESDAY: Pat Metheny & Anna Maria Jopek, "Upojenie." Guitarist teams with Polish singer on a gorgeous set of tunes, including new versions of several Metheny originals with lyrics added.

  • THURSDAY/FRIDAY: Dave Douglas & Keystone, "Spark of Being: Expand." Douglas' recent movie soundtrack themes (to a silent Frankenstein flick) are recast in combo form. (When this went up on Twitter, Dave retweeted it to his followers!)

  • SATURDAY: The eponymous CD by Tigershrimp--Fried Dähn's trio of electric cello, electric bass and "electric mouth" (a.k.a. beatboxing). It's a very cool sound, but sadly out of print at this point.

  • SUNDAY: Benoit Delbecq Unit, "Phonetics." French pianist leads quintet (featuring Mark Turner) in varied originals.
As always, I encourage you to check out these groups on YouTube, iTunes, etc. And if you can't wait till Sunday to hear what's in the Kevmobile each week, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Swiss Jazz Minimalism: First There Was Nik, Now There's Mik

A few years back, I posted about a wonderful band I'd come across called Nik Bärtsch's Ronin. Bärtsch is a Swiss pianist and composer who refers to his creations as "ritual groove music"--a type of modern jazz that's heavily infused with minimalism. His past three releases have been on ECM Records, and anyone familiar with that label's output would likely agree that Bärtsch has found a good home there.

While looking through the new releases on eMusic the other night, I ran across something interesting: a group called Mik Keusen's Blau. The name was certainly similar to Bärtsch's group; the artists' first names differ by a single letter, one off in the alphabet; and while the album was released on an indie label, the cover looked very ECM-ish.

A little exploring revealed that the two groups have even more in common than was originally evident: Both Nik and Mik are Swiss pianists and composers; Keusen's music is also best described as minimalist jazz; both composers name their pieces with numbers (though Keusen doesn't call them "moduls" like Bärtsch does); the two groups share a member in the reedman who goes by the, well, minimalist name of Sha; and Ronin's percussionist Andi Pupato collaborated on the mixing and mastering of Blau's first album.

Here's a tune from Blau's second recording, Nalu, released earlier this year:

And here's something from Ronin's newest recording, Llyria:

I've also listened to clips from Sha's first recording as a leader (which includes Keusen on piano and keyboards), and, while there are certainly some similarities there as well, each of the three bands is slightly different. But all three are really good in my book, so it was nice to discover that there was a third member of this loosely-knit "society" who was unfamiliar to me until now.

IN THE COMMENTS: A reader points out that both Nik and Mik have been influenced by another Swiss jazz minimalist, Don Li, whose music is also quite enjoyable (and guess what--he names his tunes with numbers as well!).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mik linked to this post on his Facebook page. Welcome to any and all who might be visiting from there!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Once again, the weekly rundown of (mostly new) stuff that's graced my automotive airwaves this week:
  • MONDAY: Marco Benevento, "Between the Needles & Nightfall." Latest release from pianist known for stylistic versatility and his use of "circuit-bent toys."

  • TUESDAY: Meadow, "Blissful Ignorance." 2009 release from acclaimed Norwegian/British trio of piano, sax and drums.

  • WEDNESDAY: Jacob Karlzon, "Big 5." Quintet effort (of course) from the Swedish pianist whom I only discovered a few days ago.

  • THURSDAY: John Escreet, "The Age We Live In." New release from up-and-coming pianist/composer mixes electric/acoustic.

  • FRIDAY: Dave Holland Quintet, "Critical Mass." Newest album from the bassist/composer's wonderful fivesome (though he's had sextet and octet releases since then).

  • SATURDAY: Freddie Hubbard, "On the Real Side." Final studio album from trumpet giant, accompanied by the New Jazz Composers Octet.

  • SUNDAY: The Flashbulb, "Soundtrack to a Vacant Life." Another fine release from multi-instrumentalist Benn Jordan.
As always, come back next Sunday for more!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Next Esbjörn?

It had been a few months since I'd surfed the new releases section of eMusic; since they'd added a whole bunch of big labels, I figured that the sheer volume of new stuff would be overwhelming and it would take hours upon hours to get through even a single week. But it's summer, and I decided to jump in and see what was new.

As always, a lot of the stuff I discover on eMusic is music from foreign artists who don't get a lot of press over here--bands like Brandt Brauer Frick, Böhm-Halle-Sell and solo artists such as Rainer Tempel come to mind. I'll admit that, sometimes, I'll preview an artist with a Euro-sounding name more readily than, say, a Joe Smith, and a lot of times that pays off.

It was this curiosity that led me to preview a recording by someone named Jacob Karlzon. The album wss called Big 5, and it's a very engaging quintet effort full of compositions that jump right out of the speakers at you, so I snagged it almost immediately. A bit more exploring led me to the pianist's trio work; the title track from the Jacob Karlzon 3's newest recording, The Big Picture can be found here.

Remind you of anybody? Maybe it's the highly melodic, Metheny-ish vibe of the whole thing, or the doubling of the bass with the piano's left hand at certain times, but it sounded to me as if Esbjörn Svensson had more than a little influence on his younger fellow Swede. And look--Karlzon even has a shaved head!

I'm always amazed by the wonderful jazz that's being produced outside of the United States, and I'll do my little bit here (as well as on Twitter and Facebook) to publicize it as best I can. Thanks, eMusic, for making this stuff readily accessible over here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

He Hasn't Recorded in a While, But New Songs are Coming in Droves Groves

My onetime saxophone student Shaun Groves (whose second album was reviewed in the earliest days of this blog) has made a name for himself as a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His forthcoming release, "Third World Symphony," drops in late August and is available for preview on Soundcloud. Check out the whole thing; I really like it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kids Play the Darnedest Things

From a lesson earlier today...

ME: OK, I want to start out with some scales. Let's hear your G.
KID: (plays a G and holds it for about 10 beats)
ME: Umm, I did say we were playing scales, not just the G itself.

"One Time, Back at Band Camp..."

As I noted on Facebook, if a trombonist in any big band in which I play were to decide to use one of these things, I would demand that the sax section be moved...preferably to an entirely different big band.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Once again, a rundown of the weekly car-tunes:
  • MONDAY: Stoner Forss Borg, "The Lektor Tapes." Jazz quartet The Stoner and electronic duo Forss, all from Sweden, join forces (Forss-es?) for an enjoyable mix of styles.

  • TUESDAY: RTB Crew, "Meet the Beat." Debut release from the group featured in last week's "crazy tuba video."

  • WEDNESDAY: David Charrier/Sylvain Paslier, "Keona: the hang cousins' duet." Beautiful music from a most unusual instrument--the hang.

  • THURSDAY: The debut CD from James Farm. Great collective comprised of Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland.

  • FRIDAY: Forss, "Soulhack." Engaging set of jazz-tinged electronic music from Sweden's Eric Wahlforss. (This is also the "Forss" portion of Stoner Forss Borg from Monday's entry, and the whole CD can be streamed at the link.)

  • SATURDAY: Greg Osby, "Nine Levels." 2008 release from innovative altoist, accompanied by a sextet of young up-and-comers.

  • SUNDAY: Mats-Up, "5." Swiss trumpeter Matthias Spillmann leads quintet in his original compositions. (Website is in German but will translate pretty well in the Babelfish and similar engines.)
Despite my less-frequent summer driving, I'm still managing to keep up with the different-album-a-day standard. Come back next week for more!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I Can Defiintely Hang with This Sound

Courtesy of my buddy Cameron, here's a video of two guys playing on a type of instrument I'd never heard of before:

The instrument is called a Hang, and you can learn all about it here. Two key facts that really amuse me:
  • The one company that manufactures the instrument pretty much only makes them "when they feel like it" at the moment.

  • The plural of Hang is Hanghang.
It's a pretty relaxing sound--maybe not long roadtrip music, but definitely something to chill to when you get home at the end of the day.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Music History

Moat kids will answer the question below with "Bach and Beethoven," or maybe "Bach and Mozart"--but this kid was a bit off:

ME: OK, name me the first two classical composers you can think of.
KID: Mozart and Shakespeare.

(After much laughter ensued, I had him try again, and his second guess--Mozart and Wolfgang Amadeus--was only a little better. And at least he pronounced "Mozart" correctly; I've even heard some college students say MOE-zart.)

A Celebration of True Teamwork

To say that I'm happy about the Dallas Mavericks' victory in the NBA Finals last night would be an understatement. But I'm happy on so many levels...

It's not just that the team that I've been cheering for since Day 1 won the championship...though that's cool. And it's not just that Dirk will finally get his ring...though that's cool too. What it really comes down to is that this championship was won by a true team that developed over a period of time, rather than the best collection of superstars that (they thought) money could buy.

So congrats to Dirk and company. You've made our city proud!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

As always, my weekly collection of tunes--many from people you might not have heard of before, and are thus encouraged to check out...
  • MONDAY: Imogen Heap, "Ellipse." Most recent full album from English singer/instrumentalist.

  • TUESDAY: Justin Vasquez, "Triptych." Debut effort from altoist/UT-Austin grad/Kenny Garrett devotee. (I actually saw Justin trade choruses with Kenny while the former was in college and the latter was the guest artist at the Longhorn Jazz Festival--review here).

  • WEDNESDAY: Lars Danielsson, "Mélange Bleu." Norwegian bassist is joined by fellow countrymen Nils Petter Molvaer, Bugge Wesseltoft and others.

  • THURSDAY: Loren Stillman Quartet, "How Sweet It Is." Excellent 2003 release from emerging altoist.

  • FRIDAY: Joshua Redman, "Elastic." Yeah, it's a rerun, but it's one of my all-time favorites.

  • SATURDAY: Josh Moshier & Mike Lebrun, "Joy Not Jaded." Pianist and saxophonist showcase their own compositions.

  • SUNDAY: Nikolaj Hess, "Global Motion." Danish pianist/composer leads multi-national group including Americans Jeff Ballard and Ben Monder.
As I said a while back, I don't drive as much during the summer, but it's my goal to have at least five CDs posted every week...but so far, I've hit my goal of every day! Check in again next Sunday for more (and any other day you want for other stuff).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is Mah Birfday...

...where are caek?. (I love this lolcat picture, and it was even more amusing to me when it was first posted at the day before "mah birfday" in '07.

One thing about being on Facebook is the sheer amount of greetings you tend to receive. It's not quite noon, and I've already gotten wishes from nearly 100 people. Thanks to all who have sent things my way!

Monday, June 06, 2011

This Is Almost Tuba Good to Be True

Amazing video here, courtesy of a tuba-playing fraternity brother:

The group is called RTB Crew, and it consists of Roland Szentpali on the otherworldly tuba playing, along with Aron Romhanyi on the (very Chick Corea-ish) keyboard and DJ Revolution doing the beatboxing.

I was very happy to just discover that this group's album, Meet the Beat, is available on eMusic; I'll be getting it the second my credits refresh this month.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Once again, here's my weekly roundup o'tunes (I can say it that way because I'm part Irish):
  • MONDAY: John Hollenbeck and Jazz Bigband Graz, "Joys & Desires." Austrian big band joins New York-based composer/percussionist in a set of his originals. Noted vocalist Theo Bleckmann is also on board.

  • TUESDAY: Boards of Canada, "The Campfire Headphase." 2005 release from Scottish electronic duo (who also happen to be brothers) known for cool videos.

  • WEDNESDAY: The Carla Bley Band, "Carla Bley Live." 1981 live set from renowned keyboardist/composer and her band, who received a lot of airplay on my radio show in college.

  • THURSDAY: The Eric Daino Ensemble, "Live at Lab East." Brand-new EP from energetic, genre-bending Denton dodectet that includes a number of my Sinfonia brothers.

  • FRIDAY: Jon Hassell, "Maarifa Street." Trumpeter presents tunes based on Persian poetry, named after at Iraqi street that he discovered while reading the news.

  • SATURDAY: Christoph Merki Music.01, "Circles." Swiss saxophonist/composer mixes jazz with ambient music, featuring some of the best use of marimba that I've seen in a long time.

  • SUNDAY: Imogen Heap, "Ellipse." Most recent full album from English singer/instrumentalist whose work I've been exploring extensively for the past several days.
As I said earlier, my driving will lessen a bit during the summer, but I still have errands to run and trips to the college to make, so I'll hopefully be able to post at least five new CDs a week during the next few months.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

With the three-day weekend (and because I had something else to post about yesterday), I've delayed the end-of-week music roundup until today:
  • MONDAY: A continuation of last Sunday's CD, Roy Hargrove & Crisol's Habana (it's a long CD that didn't finish on Sunday, and I didn't do much driving either day).

  • TUESDAY:Astral Project, Voodoobop. My favorite release from longtime New Orleans collective of Tony Dagradi, Steve Masakowski, David Torkanowsky, James Singleton and Johnny Vidacovich.

  • WEDNESDAY: Avishai Cohen, As at the Blue Note. Great set of mostly originals from Israeli=born bassist and band. (Interestingly enough, there's also an Israeli-born jazz trumpeter of the same name; they're not related to each other, and, to my knowledge, they've never collaborated.)

  • THURSDAY: Ben Allison and Medicine Wheel, Riding the Nuclear Tiger. Great set of originals by the bassist/composer. (And here's a first: As some of you know, these notices get tweeted by me every day, and after this one went out, Allison started following me on Twitter that very same day.)

  • FRIDAY: Beats Antique, Blind Threshold. Latest full-length release from a band that's perhaps best described as "electronic Gypsy music." (The live performances evidently involve a belly dancer as well, though I obviously couldn't see her on my iPod.)

  • SATURDAY: Esbjörn Svensson Trio, Viaticum; Pat Metheny Group, We Live Here; They Might Be Giants, Factory Showroom; Joshua Redman, Elastic; Level 42, Running in the Family and Snarky Puppy, Tell Your Friends. (That day was a round-trip to Austin and back, which explains all the music.)

  • SUNDAY: Nils Petter Molvaer, Solid Ether. The second of two ECM releases by the Norwegian techno trumpet titan.
As I said last week, the school year comes to a close for me after a few more days of teaching this week, and my driving is considerably less during the summer. So while I might not have a new CD to report every day, what I do listen to will still be found here each week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Finance

It's not my usual policy, but sometimes I have kids who pay me once a week, in cash. Today's transaction provided much more levity than usual...

KID (handing me a payment): Here ya go.
ME: Woo hoo--lunch money!
KID (ponders that for a second): Lunch money. Man! Sixteen whole dollars. You must make a fortune. Sixteen dollars a day!

I'm pretty sure he seriously thought that was a lot of money. But I did successfully manage to explain to him that I made more than $16 a day (because I teach more people than just him), I told him the total number of people I'd be teaching today. He then proceeded to do the math (on his hand, with a pen), and, after computing the total, came out with this gem: "Oh, man--I'm gonna have a sweet side job when I get older!"

(He also noted that he would do this as far away from here as possible, so he wouldn't have to compete with me. Heh.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kids Say the Darnedest Things About Their Relatives

On the last regular Wednesday at the middle school, it was only fitting that a kid would say the darnedest thing. Today, a sixth grader was talking about last night's storms:

KID: I hate driving in weather like that.
ME: No offense, but I don't want to hear about you driving anywhere for about four more years.
KID: Hey--I drive better than my grandma; she runs into poles.

(I'm pretty sure that Grandma only ran into a pole once, but at that age, a kid won't let someone live something like that down.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

As always, our weekly musical rundown:
  • MONDAY: Fried Dähn, Cuento. Cellist uses electronics to explore different styles and textures, becoming a virtual one-man band in the process.

  • TUESDAY: Esperanza Spalding, Chamber Music Society. Newest release finds the recent Grammy sensation in good voice, playing great bass, and accompanied--as you might guess--by a string ensemble.

  • WEDNESDAY: Eric Vloeimans' Gatecrash, Heavensabove! 2010 release from fine Dutch trumpeter and his electric group.

  • THURSDAY: Pat Martino and Joyous Lake, Stone Blue. Not only a fine effort from the veteran guitarist and his electric group, but this album also introduced me to the awesomeness that is the tenor sax of Eric Alexander.

  • FRIDAY: Rudresh Mahanthappa, Codebook. Altoist (who just happens to be a former schoolmate of mine) leads quartet (featuring his longtime cohort Vijay Iyer) through a set of spirited originals.

  • SATURDAY: Rubblebucket Orchestra, Rose's Dream. Now known simply as Rubblebucket, this Boston band mixes Afro-beat with funk, Latin and a heavy jazz vibe.

  • SUNDAY: Roy Hargrove's Crisol, Habana. Dallas-bred trumpeter teams up with Cuba's finest (including the great Chucho Valdez) along with David Sanchez, Russell Malone, Gary Bartz and Frank Lacy.
As I start to move into summer mode, I'll be doing less driving, but hopefully, I'll still have at least five entries in this series every week. Stay tuned, and be sure and click the links if you haven't heard of these artists!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You Say "Tomato," I Say "Welcome Back!"

Ever since The Tomato closed the doors of its original Denton location in 2007, there had been much speculation--first on its MySpace page (which seems so ancient now) and then on Facebook--about when and where the reopening would finally take place. And for those of us die-hard fans, there seemed little doubt, no matter how much time had passed, that The Tomato would be reborn again--somehow, somewhere.

It was a bit entertaining for a while to see all the possible future locations--Loop 288, a few blocks off the Square, the proposed second incarnation of New Fry Street--but in the end, all those leads came up dry. And then a few months ago, the announcement was made on their Facebook page: "You say: TOMATO! We say: Sanger, TX....June-ish. Details and pics to follow..." Need I say that I "Liked" that status?

And of course, June-ish turned out to be May-ish; in fact, the grand re-opening took place last Friday--not, I would think, because it was Friday the 13th, but because it would be exactly four years to the day since the original Denton location had shut down to make way for a business development that never got off the ground (grumble, grumble). I couldn't make opening weekend, but I got there as fast as I could, when a friend driving from Oklahoma to DFW Airport today suggested the meet-up. (And had I been able to make it on Friday, it would have been nuts; a friend went on Saturday and said that they told him that they went through 11 batches of dough on the first day, while a typical Friday in Denton would have only required four!)

So it should go without saying that the Sanger Tomato experience will not be exactly the same as the Denton Tomato experience; Bolivar and 3rd will not become Hickory and Fry anytime soon. The location, apparently a former nightclub (which is one thing in common with the original Tomato if true), is a lot smaller, and the building isn't configured for the famous balcony from where so many of us watched the world go by in Denton. The only signage at the moment is a big banner in the front window (though there is a hanging sign from a previous tenant that is, happily, almost tomato-shaped.) There's plenty of nearby street parking that doesn't require feeding a meter. As one college friend pointed out, it would be rough to try and stumble home to your apartment from there (though it appears that lofts have gone in, or are about to do so, across the street). And while my first impression shows Sanger to be a nice, sleepy small town, it's a sleepy small town just the same.

But you know what? None of that really matters in the long run, because the heart of the Tomato experience was always some Really Freakin' Good Pan Pizza and Breadsticks. And I'm happy to say that, after spending my lunch hour(s) there today, that experience has been revived to perfection, as if the hiatus of the past four years was all an illusion.

I've always been a fan of the Tomato Special (nee Gutbuster, from the days when it was a corporate Flying Tomato store), which is pretty much "the works"--pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers. I had to confirm with the cashier to be 100% sure, but I even remembered what came in a Slice Special (one slice, breadsticks and drink), and that was my fare of choice today. Sure enough, from the first bite of a breadstick (which was a little bigger than before--no complaints here, mind you!), everything was exactly as I had remembered it.

A few things have been kept from the old location; I smiled when, at meal's end, we deposited our plates and forks in one of the exact same receptacles as before. And I'm pretty sure the wood used to make the counter where silverware and napkins is kept was also salvaged from Denton as well, and some of the wall hangings looked very familiar.

So while Sanger is not Denton, it's not all that far, and it wasn't even a bad drive for me from Garland (I made it in an hour). There's a chance that there will be a Denton location again in the future, but the owners and financial backers were ready to go, so they jumped on a good opportunity when they saw one. It's hard to believe that it's been four years, which means that a whole generation of UNT students has gone by (OK, not the music majors; they'll be there for a fifth year just like I was) without experiencing some Tomato-y goodness, and this has to change. Local alumni: Make the drive north; it's worth it. And current students, come see what all the fuss is about; I think you'll agree that it's some really good eatin'.

Me, I have a birthday in three weeks. I'll be back then, if not sooner.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kids Say The Darnedest Things at High School Auditions

Week in and week out, kids say the darnedest things. This one was surprised to find out he had to play his Db scale for auditions, and we were discussing how to deal with it:

ME: You'll probably want to think of this as your C# scale, rather than Db--all seven sharps instead of five flats.
KID: But will they know I'm playing C# instead of Db?

Some of my Facebook friends noted that there is a slight difference in pitch between C# and Db (the former is a bit higher), but my response was that they're not going quite so deeply into physics in high school auditions.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

The weekly recap of wonderful obscurities (and occasionally something that a reader has actually heard of) continues anew:
  • MONDAY: New Jazz Composers Octet, "The Turning Gate." NYC-based collective led by my college classmate David Weiss features compositions by himself, pianist Xavier Davis, saxophonist Myron Walden and bassist Dwayne Burno.

  • TUESDAY: Nik Bärtsch's Mobile, "Aer." Swiss jazz minimalist leads percussion-based group in "ritual groove music." (Evidently, this group uses a lot of multimedia elements in its live show, so I hope I get to see them sometime.)

  • WEDNESDAY: Matrix, "Proud Flesh: A Matrix Reunion." The '70s-'80's "little big band" of six horns and rhythm returns with its classic style intact. (Now, guys, let's work on getting the rest of your old recordings re-released on CD!)

  • THURSDAY: The Flashbulb, Kirlian Selections. I'm building up my collection of the works of Benn Jordan one by one (and, as one of my friends noted, "this is a good'n").

  • FRIDAY: The eponymous debut from AGOGIC, the latest project led by former Pat Metheny Group trumpeter Cuong Vu.

  • SATURDAY:Matthew Shipp, Equilibrium. 2002 effort from prolific pianist adds vibes and synths to his usual trio, featuring longtime collaborator William Parker on bass.

  • SUNDAY: Kurt Elling, The Messenger. My favorite recording from the modern vocal master, featuring both originals and new twists on standards, with major contributions from my camp colleague Ed Petersen.
As always, click the links to check out these artists, especially if you've never heard them before; I think they're deserving of your attention.