Driving to New York today was pretty smooth. We were shocked by how much we had to pay in road tolls and glad we didn't hit much traffic. We dropped Loren off in Brooklyn since he had another gig that night. We drove around the old hood a little, past our old apt. building and ended up having a great lunch at the V spot on 5th Avenue. (read more…)
This week was an unusual one for me because I played four nights in a row, at the same venue, with the same jazz quintet, Scott plays Bop//Scott plays Scott. That is unusual in Iceland. We were premiering music by drummer Scott McLemore and I was playing both Wurlitzer electric piano and an acoustic piano. We had a great time playing and were pleasantly surprised by the attendance every night and most delighted with the review in the Morning Paper. Scott can not only play drums, write music and cook great food, he also a very creative designer and he designed his own poster. I love it! Don't you?
Today I'm reaping the emotional satisfaction of the project but also paying for the late (read more…)
Lately, I have had the good fortune of being featured on other people's blogs. Trumpeter Jason Parker from Seattle is an active blogger who features other musicians every Friday and calls it Makin' it Happen. Well last Friday he was kind enough to feature yours truly, which you can read here.
Slightly further to the north, Ottawa-based reviewer Peter Hum just posted a review of my album "Songs from Iceland" on his jazzblog.ca where he calls it "… a warm, satisfying blend of rigor and freedom." You can read that here and leave comments too.
Interestingly both Parker and Hum bring up my catchphrase "bridging the Brooklyn-Reykjavik jazz divide with European elegance and a fiery New York drive." This was actually a homework assignment for a course I took (read more…)
This is just a short little note to announce that I will be performing in a duo setting with guitarist Andres Thor, Wednesday November 6th. We are doing a 30 minute lunch hour concert at the Nordic House in Reykjavik, as a part of a concert series organized by the University of Iceland. Show time is at 12:30pm. We will be premiering two tunes. One is a composition of mine that has been given the title "Long Pair Bond". The title was suggested to me on Facebook and you can read all about it in my previous post Name That Tune…My Listeners Did.
I was very much inspired by the submissions and wrote a new tune last Friday that I call "Autumnalia". That title was suggested by Michael Paul Pavlic. Thank you Michael. You can see a video of me playing it on Facebook.
I did a little experiment on my facebook fanpage last week. I posted a home video of myself playing a composition that I will premier next week and needed a title for. I was really just looking for a title, but when people started to submit their suggestions I realized that everyone was expressing how the tune made them feel. To me that was really neat. I rarely get such direct feedback from listeners. Most of the suggestions had a commonality and many referenced the season. It would be interesting to see how that would change if I had done this in summer. I got so many great suggestions that I really would like to write music with those titles in mind, if there are no objections. (read more…)
Saturday was the birthday of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk (October 10, 1917 – February 17, 1982) so I wanted to write a little something in his honor. First and foremost, he was unusual, and the uniqueness and peculiarities of Monk's personality were perfectly reflected in his music. This is partially the secret to his success. He put so much of himself into how he played, and the tunes he wrote that as a listener you can't help but feel some sense of kinship with him. He put himself out there as an artist, naked. He wasn't polished technically, but he was advanced in his own way. His melodies are very angular and rhythmic but catchy at the same time. Some are incredibly simple. Some deceptively so. His own sound on the piano was a bit square and clunky, but in a charming way. Most composers are very loyal to their tunes but Monk was one of few who might change his own tunes a bit from gig to gig. (read more…)
A few weeks ago I posted on my facebook fan-page and on twitter this question "Who do you think is the best jazz pianist ever?" However, I could have asked "Who's your favorite jazz pianist?" and gotten much different responses. The replies were interesting because most people don't necessarily just think about who is the best in terms of technical abilities on the instrument but combine it with who appeals the most to them musically, and that's the beauty of it. Technical abilities don't really mean much if the music (or the emotional content to connect with the listener) isn't there. But then again, without the technical abilities one may not be able to execute the ideas to communicate the emotion. It takes two to tango.
Patrick Jarenwattananon at A blog Supreme asked a few jazz bloggers to pick 5 albums that they thought might bring the open-minded listener into the jazz of today. However, more people responded, and by following the link to his site one can find samples and recommendations of quality jazz being performed today.
It is, of course, impossible to pick 5 albums that could magically appeal equally to listeners from various backgrounds such as heavy metal, classical, electronica etc. I used to live in Brooklyn, so my contribution to this discussion is heavily influenced by the music I experienced there. So here goes. (read more…)
Last Saturday I was peeling a carrot with a brand new serrated peeler that slipped and took a chunk out of the tip of my left index finger. Ouch! It was too small to have it sewn back on (which didn't even occur to me at the time) but bad enough for me to seek the assistance of my neighbor, who happens to be a nurse. I was stunned for the next two days. How could I be so careless with my hands? Then fortunately by yesterday I began to feel amazed at how quickly the hole was filling in and now it looks like I can start playing again. I wonder if I'll get a new fingerprint. Maybe I'll be detained next time I enter the US. Anyway, I feel grateful that it wasn't worse.
It makes me think of the great guitarist Django Reinhardt and how two of his left hand fingers were paralyzed in a fire (and not just that, the doctors would have amputated his right leg if his gypsy clan hadn't smuggled him out of the hospital), but he still managed to master his instrument and become a legend. About 7 minutes into the video below one can see how he solos with only two fingers.
Luckily, I won't have to learn to play the piano with only two fingers.