Sunday, February 27, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

I haven't been able to blog much recently (though a few posts have been started and will ultimately appear in their proper places), but here's my weekly music rundown:
  • MONDAY: "The Philadelphia Experiment" by a group of the same name. Uri Caine, Christian McBride and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson celebrate their hometown in funky fashion.

  • TUESDAY: Oktoposse, "Blues Lee -- Volume III." Occasionally wacky German octet puts out some seriously good music, and the five horns sound like a big band at times.

  • WEDNESDAY: The Monterey Quartet, "Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival." Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Gonzalo Rubalcaba + Eric Harland = win.

  • THURSDAY: Mike Mainieri, "Wanderlust." Early '80s effort from vibist/Steps Ahead leader hints at that band's US debut, with generous helpings of Michael Brecker along the way.

  • FRIDAY: LTC + Mark Turner, "Hikmet." American tenorist and Italian trio unite on a tuneful romp of mostly originals, plus interesting versions of "Skylark" and "Love Theme from Spartacus."

  • SATURDAY: Jaga Jazzist, "One-Armed Bandit." Norwegian band (featuring ECM trumpeter Mathias Eick) mixes jazz with electronics and all kinds of other stuff.

  • SUNDAY: Happy Apple, "Happy Apple Back On Top." Improv-laden Minnesota-based trio featuring The Bad Plus' David King on drums.
The rising price of gas may limit my leisure driving a bit, but I always have to get back and forth between schools, so there'll always be music in the Kevmobile. More next week, of course...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

All the World's a Stage...

...including some things you might not think would be used that way:

This was our "stage" at a school fundraiser last night, at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. And here's what it looked like from our vantage point:

The sound wasn't as bad as it might seem (although it was LOOOUUUUUD before the guests arrived). The natural amplification meant that we didn't have to play with much volume at all, and people on the uppermost level said that it really sounded good, and they couldn't believe we were all the way down on the lower-level stair landing.

(As I said on Facebook, I've always wanted to play at The Landing, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind!)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

Here's the weekly list of my iPod selections...
  • MONDAY: Nobody's Business, "Forward Momentum." Denton-based group featuring former One O'Clockers Evan Weiss and Roberto Verastegui, along with my drummer of choice for small-group stuff, Colin Hinton. The instrumentation is trumpet/Rhodes/guitar/drums, which makes it sort of the trumpet equivalent of Chris Potter's Underground.

  • TUESDAY: Rainer Tempel, "Tempelektrisch." German keyboardist and top-notch composer leads a band that's not as electric as the name implies.

  • WEDNESDAY: John Ellis and Double Wide, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." Funky tenor w/ organ, drums...and sousaphone!

  • THURSDAY: Tim Collins, "Fade." Vibraphonist writes memorable tunes and uses "guitar" effects on his vibes at times. The final tune, "Joyride," is one of the happiest songs I heard in all of 2009.

  • FRIDAY: Paquito D'Rivera: "A Taste of Paquito." One can't possibly fit his "greatest hits" into a single CD, but this is a pretty good sampling of his Columbia Records years.

    Also, Dog Soup, "Fragments." British quartet started as a Miles tribute band, went off in own direction (with great results).

  • SATURDAY: Radiohead, "The King of Limbs." All the cool jazz kids love them, and the coolest ones (Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau, etc.) cover their songs.

  • SUNDAY: Steve Coleman and Five Elements, "Def Trance Beat." Adventurous improvising over funky rhythms, and one of the best free downloads I've ever gotten.
This has been a busy week, but thankfully, there's been some great music to see me from place to place.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Classic Building Deserves a Classic Vehicle

I mentioned this car in my profile of the Drury Plaza Riverwalk a few years ago, but I never got a close-up before this year:

It's a 1930 Ford--built one year after the Alamo National Bank building (which now houses the Drury) opened, and it's from the collection of the Drury family that started the hotel chain.

I think that's all for TMEA stuff this year; back to regular blogging tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Yet Another TMEA Checklist

I guess I should do this before TMEA gets much farther in my rear-view mirror: Every year, I look back and see if I've done certain things that seem to take place every year during the convention. Since we lost a day to weather, let's see how this year stacks up by plugging this year's answers into the template that I've used for quite some time now: Did I manage to..
  • Spend quite a bit of time in the exhibit hall? Check. It's pretty much mandatory to do this; some newbies even refer to the exhibits as "the convention," as in, "Have you been to the convention yet today?" even when outside another convention event.

  • Eat way too many big meals on the Riverwalk? Hmm, maybe half of a Check; I paced myself pretty well this time, and the massive amount of walking seemed to offset the biggest ones.

  • See some people I hadn't seen in several years at the UNT reunion? Check. This is statistically bound to happen nearly every year, and this year was no exception.

  • Make jokes about how, when, I was in college, the free food at said reunion would serve as Friday night's dinner? Check. And some undergrads perked up when I said that, as if they were thinking, "Hey--great idea!" The tradition lives on...

  • Watch someone propose to his girlfriend during the serenade at the Sinfonia sing? Check; three of them this year, and one of them is a buddy of mine. Congrats, Justin and Adah!

  • Get to the convention center in time to see the high-school all-state jazz ensemble on Saturday morning, making it with just minutes to spare? N/A; this year's concert was at 2:00 in the afternoon, right before my college guys' concert, so there was plenty of time to get there after lunch.

  • Fight the crowds at the Rivercenter food court at lunchtime? Nope; never ate there, save for a Starbucks break on Saturday afternoon. It was Fuddruckers down the street FTW again this year.

  • Get a table there (the food court) by spying someone about to leave one and pouncing on it 2.5 seconds after they'd gotten up? Nope; see above.

  • See the Andean Fusion band playing some sort of a classic-rock cover song on ancient wooden flutes just outside that food court? Nope, at least not live; they were always on break when I was in the Rivercenter, so all I heard was the CD that they played in between sets. (I did hear a new rock song on the CD, though; they're now covering Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Heh.)

  • Eat at Casa Rio and The Original Mexican Restaurant? Check. I added this to the checklist, because, no matter how much the locals tell me I should drive off-site to get "real" Mexican food, these are the two places where I always end up every year.
Needless to say, I also did a ton of walking, and that was taking its toll by the end of the day on Saturday. But as I said earlier, the walking offsets the big meals and then some, so it's a net gain.

TMEA is one of my favorite times of the year; it seemed too short because of the one fewer day down there, but the part that we got to experience was great. My calendar is already marked (electronically, of course) for February 8-11, 2012.

Monday, February 14, 2011

When I Go Out of Town, I Get an Office

As I said earlier, I'll be posting pictures from TMEA throughout the week. The first one comes from the Drury Plaza Hotel, which was profiled two years ago in this post.

As I noted earlier, this building started off its life as a bank, and the hallways and doors have kept that certain office-y vibe even after the renovation:

In case you're wondering, the frosted glass on the outside has wood paneling behind it, so it's not like privacy is compromised in the effort to keep the classic look of the building. And while the mail slot works, the only thing I received through it for the duration of my stay was a flyer from "Big Tony's Pizza."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

...And We're Back

The trip to TMEA has been completed, and I'm beyond tired now. I had maybe 15 minutes to relax at home upon my return before heading right back to school for a rehearsal for an upcoming recording session.

As always, it was a great time in San Antonio; I was doing so much stuff this year that I didn't even have time to post during the past two days (though I've been Facebooking like crazy). I'll try to have some pictures up in the next day or two for those of you who aren't Facebook friends. But for now, it's back to my 287 loads of laundry and off to bed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

And Old Home Week Begins Once Again

SAN ANTONIO--After a day's delay because of the weather, we finally arrived at TMEA in the middle of the afternoon. While it's colder than usual down here, it's also nice and sunny, which makes for much nicer walks from the hotel to the convention center (and believe me, the walks are needed, what with all the amazing food choices down here). Within five minutes of leaving the hotel, I had already run into nine people I knew; as I said on Facebook, this has to be the greatest "family reunion" of music teachers that there is, anywhere. I've never felt more at home in a city that I only visit for five days every year.

One thing's for sure; either my alma mater has exploded in popularity (as if it hadn't been wildly popular in the first place), or we just got off to a really late start. Whatever it was, the One O'Clock Lab Band's performance in the newly-renovated Lila Cockrell Theatre was more-than-standing-room only well before the downbeat, which I don't think was the case the last time they played here six or seven years ago. I got to hear most of the concert from the hallway and actually see the last tune (the iconic "Got a Match?").

It's been a tiring day of driving, and with a belly full of Mexican food, I'm comfortably settled in my hotel room. There's an early meeting tomorrow, followed by a fun-filled, action-packed day. In other words, a typical TMEA.

Blowing out the candles: Happy 10th birthday to my oldest nephew, Noah. The story of his actual day of birth (which was also during TMEA) has been blogged before, on the occasion of his third birthday.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Snowpocalypse 2.0?

Well, here we go again...maybe. After an unprecedented four days off from school last week because of winter weather, it looks like we're in for a second round tonight--just in time to mess up my departure time for TMEA in the morning. (I'll have students from my school with me who will be performing down there, so if the school closes, the trip can't start yet.)

So what do you think--will this be a (much briefer) repeat of last week, or will it be more like this past Sunday night, when the much-heralded "snow during the Super Bowl" never actually took place?

UPDATE: We did get our "winter events," but by midday the following afternoon, the sun had been out a few times, and a lot of what came down had already evaporated. Here's hoping for a travel-worthy day on Thursday.

Monday, February 07, 2011

It Was a Good Game; How Did You LIke the Ads?

As always, the commercials that run during the Super Bowl get as much attention as the game itself. While there weren't as many memorable ads last night as there have been during previous years, there were still some good ones.

My personal favorites? The NFL Fans commercial that seamlessly mashed up all the different TV series, from Happy Days to The Simpsons would be tops in my book, followed by VW's Little Darth Vader spot (which almost doesn't count as a Super Bowl ad, because it went viral on YouTube nearly a week before the game), and the Bridgestone beaver would be #3 for me.

So what were your favorites? (If you need to review them, because you missed one on a potty break or the place you were watching the game was just too loud, go here.) Cast your votes in the comments.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Playing This Week in the Kevmobile

This week's entry will by much shorter than usual, since--thanks to Snowpocalypse, which caused me to drive a grand total of 14.8 miles between Monday night and Saturday afternoon--I wasn't in the car very often. But here's a rundown on what did play when I was driving (and didn't have the radio on for weather forecasts):
  • MONDAY: Deep Schrott, One. As I said on Twitter, there's nothing like a bass saxophone quartet to get you through morning rush hour.

  • TUESDAY: Nothing. The ice was at its worst on this day, and I only went as far as the corner.

  • WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY: Synergy, Cords. Larry Fast, known to some as the Godfather of Techno for his early work in synthesis, gave us this 1978 gem which still holds up well all these years later. (And this was done before MIDI, when every track had to be laid down one at a time; it took about 9 months to make an album!)

  • SATURDAY-SUNDAY: Jonathan Kreisberg, South of Everywhere and Donny McCaslin, Perpetual Motion. Two serious up-and-comers here; Kreisberg, the New York-based guitarist (who seems to be a favorite of all my jazz friends at UNT) and McCaslin, the tenorist known for his work with the Mingus Big Band and Dave Douglas. (I also met him on a hotel elevator in Greeley, Colorado a few years ago.)
Here's hoping for a more normal week of driving and listening, especially with TMEA on the horizon.

(All of the CDs listed above are also available through eMusic. Thinking of subscribing? Show the blog some love and let me refer you; we'll both get some free tracks out of the deal.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

North Texas Can't Handle a Super Bowl? That Idea Needs to Be Put Back on Ice

I've watched the local TV news more during the past week than I have since Christmas, when I'm at my parents' and they watch it every day. So I've had to put up with all the smack that a lot of the national sports reporters' smack talk about how this area supposedly can't handle a Super Bowl just because the weather this week is colder than either of the home cities of the teams in the game. I know that Jim Rome (whom I've largely ignored over the years) said, "6 inches of snow? Really, Dallas? Good luck getting another Super Bowl." And Sports Illustrated's Peter King, whom I used to respect, tweeted, "I'm telling you: I-30 between Dallas + Fort Worth is a plow-less, snow-windswept moonscape. This is officially a debacle." And there are more at the link above.

My reaction? Eh, put a(n athletic) sock in it, guys. It's not like this sort of thing happens every week here; it's just an unfortunate convergence of events. (Though even I'll admit that I'm amused by those who are saying that this is obviously proof that God hates Jerry Jones. Heh.)

But the thing that really got my dander up was a column by a Fox Sports writer whom I'd never heard of before--and now have no interest in reading again--named Alex Marvez, who came up with this clunker of a statement:
Let it snow.

Let there also be sleet, freezing rain and an avalanche.

Anything that will convince the NFL that plopping Super Bowls in cold-weather locales is a brr-brr-brr-brutally bad idea.
Umm, dude...Dallas/Ft. Worth isn't exactly a "cold-weather locale." Neither is Atlanta, which had a similar thing happen when it hosted Super Bowl XXXIV back in 2000. It's just a freak of nature over which nobody has any control. Bad timing? Yes. But a reason to exclude all but a few cities from Super Bowl consideration for the future? Not at all.

OK, I agree with the guy that it might get, umm, interesting in a few years when Super Bowl XLVIII is played in the New Jersey Meadowlands--outdoors. And even though he notes that "such a cold-weather site is better equipped to deal with the elements than an area like Dallas-Fort Worth," at least the game here will be played with the roof closed.

It appears that, if this Marvez character had his way, the Big Game would only be played in two places: Southern California and South Florida. It hardly seems right to let those two areas hog all the attention (not to mention the economic impact from the big week), especially when other areas have new stadiums that they want to show off on the big stage (and especially when L.A. doesn't even field a team at the moment).

Look, I'm sure everyone wishes that the weather was a little more typical of the area this week. If it had been a week ago, the high today would be 75 (and how much do you want to bet that a few Northern reporters would be griping about the heat?). Yes, the bad weather couldn't have come at a worse time, but it's not like anybody could help it, and--apart from a few debacles like the rolling power blackouts and DART dropping the ball on having its trains ready to run on Tuesday)--everyone handled things as best they could.

Here's hoping for nicer weather for the next two days and a game that goes off without a hitch tomorrow; if the big day itself leaves a good taste in everyone's mouth, maybe those same mouths will finally stop slamming us.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Obligatory Snow Picture 2.0

Yeah, I know--I posted my obligatory annual Texas snow picture here a few weeks ago...but I had to post another one, because this snowfall is far superior to the previous one:

Last night's snowfall, on top of the remaining ice (and taking place during a time when we've been below freezing for over three days) was certainly nice-looking, but it threw a complete monkey wrench into anyone's driving plans today. I did take my own trek to the outside world this afternoon, but I stayed much closer to home this time, and the biggest challenge was getting back up my own driveway. (It's hard to differentiate the driveway from the yard in this picture, but take a look at the height of the railroad ties at the front of the yard and you'll get an idea; my driveway is pitched at about a 45-degree angle.)

This has been one of the strangest weeks of winter weather in the entire time I've been in North Texas; I can't remember there being four missed school days at any time. But, as Annie says, the sun will come out tomorrow, and long-delayed errands will get done. I for one can't wait!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Daily Snow Trek Report #3

And now, the latest report from Nanuk of the North, freshly returned from his daily trudge through the tundra: On the one hand, some of the roads are considerably better than yesterday, and more people are out and about. But on the other hand, bridges are still quite packed with ice, as are many parking lots and places that are completely in the shade.

I was able to hit a top speed of 30 MPH on the main road by my house, which is almost completely clear today. But the aforementioned bridges and shady spots (one of which is still so icy that it doesn't have a full set of ruts in it) caused the speed to go back down to yesterday's 20 MPH, which is fine; it's not like I'm in a hurry or anything. (But today did mark the return of a few overconfident idiots who think it's OK to go the regular speed limit, no matter the weather. I try to stay as far away from those people as possible.)

I won't bet on the status of school for tomorrow quite yet. I do have a few brave souls coming over for lessons, but the mad scramble to get everyone in before Solo & Ensemble will be all for naught if school is canceled again tomorrow; the contest will then be postponed for three weeks.

And they're saying there could be snow tonight. That would certainly make things look nicer than they have been, but it would also cover up all the ice. Here's hoping that a similar trek tomorrow afternoon is still possible.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Most Unusual Groundhog Day

It's a good thing that Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow this morning, because if there were ever a time when we needed an early spring, this year would certainly fit the bill. With schools closed for a second day (which is threatening to turn into a third), we're running out of bad weather days, and everyone's starting to get cabin fever in a big way.

I got a little bit of relief from that earlier this afternoon. Thankfully, local hamburger chain Scotty P's decided to open today and trumpeted that fact on Facebook. With one of those just up the road, I decided to venture out farther than the corner store today, and it was great to get out of the house for an hour or so. (Others had the same idea, of course; Scotty P's was nearly full.) The roads were much better than they had been yesterday, although the bridges are still pretty much a sheet of ice. I didn't drive any faster than 20 MPH, nor did anyone else seem to be going faster than that. The most treacherous terrain I encountered was the sidewalk, so walking was much more dicey than driving.

There's a chance that schools will be closed again tomorrow, so I'm bracing myself for a very busy day on Friday if we get to go back. This has definitely been the strangest winter ever in the whole time I've been in North Texas, and it's not even halfway done yet.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


So they've just announced a second snow day for both my public schools and the college. I can't say as though I'm surprised, because I took a quick trip down to the corner to get a newspaper, and a morning commute tomorrow would have been adventurous, to say the least.

I'm not exactly happy about this, of course; my high school students have Solo & Ensemble contest on Saturday, and it will be a major scramble to get everyone's lessons rescheduled between now and then. But I'll do what I need to do, because there's really no other choice.

It is pretty crazy that we're using up both of our designated "bad weather days" in a single week like this, because there's no saying that this will be the end of the wintry weather (anyone remember last year's spring break snowfall last year?). Still, safety has to be the primary concern, so they'll deal with any extra missed days as best they can.

And there could well be more missed days, as it's not supposed to get above freezing until Friday. This could get interesting...