Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thunder Lizard Recording on Soundcloud

I have been playing with an exciting new trio for the past few months. The band is called Thunder Lizard and features two of my favourite musicians and friends: Nick Peck (virtual B3 organ) and Joe Poole (drums).   The band shows influences from rock, jazz, and also from non-western musical sources. The focus is on grooves and stretching for new things in our improvising. It is also a chance for Nick and I to play our compositions and have Joe make them sound really great. I've been trying some more rock/blues oriented sounds in my guitar playing and that has been a lot of fun.  There is video coming soon and the band may record a studio album in December.

This recording is from a live gig a few weeks back.  Many thanks to my learned colleague, Lawrence Wu for his expert recording of the gig.
I really love playing with these guys and I'm excited to share the music with everyone.  Enjoy

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The blog is not only smells funny

No, the blog is not dead.  Not yet anyway. Despite the lack of digital evidence, lots of things have been happening.  Too many and too much to have time to relate here, loyal readers.

 In short, I played a lot of gigs in the spring, our family had a lovely holiday in France and Italy in the summer, and I have been very busy at Capilano U since September running a bunch of artist residencies and major concert events.
At Vancouver Jazz Fest w my sextet.
Highlights of my current work include: preparing a field school in Ghana with my friend, Kofi Gbolonyo and raising funds for the Nunya Musica Academy in Dzodze;  mixing a new live recording with Thunder Lizard, a trio I play in with Joe Poole (drums) and Nick Peck (B3 organ); and writing some big band music.

Here are some pictures from the last few months to prove I haven't been idle...
With Clyde Reed, Dylan VanderSchyff, Bill Clark at
Ron Samworth benefit show. Vince Lim photo.

at Tangent Cafe with Thunder Lizard. Vince Lim photo.

With Andre Lachane, Bill Coon, Ihor Kukurudza,
Brad Turner, Dave Robbins. 3 guitars! Vince Lim photo.

With Bill Clark at Ron Samworth benefit show. Vince Lim photo.

at Selkirk College for Cantando festival.

At Pat's Pub with Thunder Lizard. Vince Lim photo.

w. Ian McDougall at Cap U.  Laura Dunfiled photo.
w. South Delta Jazz Workshop faculty

at Ron Samworth benefit show. Vince Lim photo.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nice gig with Curtis Andrews

Nothing major to report, but I don't want to completely neglect the blog...


I played with the Offering of Curtis Andrews on Saturday night.  Lots of listening people were there in the audience, including quite a number of my students.  It was nice to see them there and see them really having a great time. The music was intense, as it always is when I play with Curtis. He tends to write impossibly difficult tunes that make your eyes cross when you are learning them but then things get loose and crazy on stage.  I don't think I have ever experienced anything quite like the musical contrasts and challenges that this band presents.  They are all great guys to play with.  John Korsrud (trumpet), Robin Layne (vibes), Russell Shumsky (percussion), David Spidel (bass, and Colin Maskell (saxes/flute).  Most of all, I get to exorcise/exercise my rock and roll roots a bit as you'll see in the clip... Thanks to John for taking a minute to record a snippet of my solo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Spring Gigs

Here is a guide to some of my upcoming public performances... I'm not playing quite as much as usual this spring.  There are a lot of private functions and that, coupled with my crazy teaching and administrative load at Capilano makes for a full schedule.  I

There are some good quality gigs coming up that should be a lot of fun.  I'm sure there'll be more announced, so watch this space or drop me a line if you're in town and want to know where I'm playing. Hope to see you around.

Jan 21 - Brad Muirhead Quartet at Presentation House Studio.  8pm $10 at the door.

Jan 30 - Tribute to Brazil show at Blueshore Theatre 8pm.  Capilano U box office for tickets.

Feb 4 - Jared Burrows Quartet at Presentation House Studio.  8pm $10 at the door.

Feb 7 - The Offering of Curtis Andrews at Cafe Deux Soleils.  9pm. $7 at the door.

Feb 18 - Soundimagenet at with Paul Cram at Presentation House Studio.  8pm $10 at the door.

Feb 26 - NARWHAL at Capilano U  Room Fir 113. 11:30am.  Free admission.

Mar 4 - Jazz Faculty concert with Kofi Gbolonyo at Capilano U.  Room Fir 113. noon.  Free admission.

Mar 11 - Valtkovich/Campbell/Burrows/Reed at Presentation House Studio.  8pm $10 at the door.

Apr 7 - Cap Jazz Faculty Quartet at Capilano U.  Room Fir 113. 11:30am.  Free admission.

Apr 9 - NARWHAL at Capilano U  Room Fir 113. 11:30am.  Free admission.

Apr 18-19 - Adjudicating at Cantando Festival, Sun Peaks.

Apr 25-26 - Adjudicating at Cantando Festival, Nelson.  Performance with Cap Jazz Faculty Quartet.

May 2-3 - Adjudicating at Cantando Festival, Whistler. Performance with Cap Jazz Faculty Quartet.

July 7-11 South Delta Jazz Festival daily teaching and performances.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tipping the Scales

For the last few weeks, I have been talking with my students about their reasons for making music.  Why do we do it?  Today is Diwali, a festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness. With all that is going on in the world these days, I feel more and more that I do it because making music is a meaningful response to the wave of negative and destructive energy with which we are confronted on a daily basis.  Music creates order out of chaos, meaning out of emptiness, reveals the beauty of humanity in opposition to the base and the crude.  In contrast to the hard, smooth edges of technology and the cold, algorithmic calculations of the machines that we invent and invite to govern more and more of our lives, music is organic and welcoming. Even the wildest, noisiest, most rambunctious music is beautiful to me and has an accessibility and a fleshy vulnerability that we need somehow.

Today, violence and hatred was visited on the sleepy capital of our country. It was a shock to most of us. This is of course a very small taste of the kind of pain and suffering people in other lands must face on a daily basis. We watch images of it on television on the nightly news, but it is always far away.  When such evil surfaces in our society, in any of its myriad forms, what can we do?  Heightened security measures won't prevent it, more guns won't help, political rhetoric of any kind will aggravate it.
When others wage war, musicians can wage peace.

I got to play a lovely concert tonight with some fine musicians from the Hindustani and Carnatic music traditions. The sound of the tanpura drone gently filled the room, melodies unfolded, ideas and rhythms were traded back and forth.  The audience was sitting very close, listening very hard, completely focused on the music. Outside, the rain was pouring down with a vengeance, there were traffic and city noises, a drug deal was probably going down at the 7-11 across the street.  But music made the outside world disappear for a time.  People smiled, hugged, drank tea and ate cookies, laughed and chatted with each other at the intermission. Even the ear infection that has been bothering me for 2 days completely stopped. I think it was Vidyasagar's incredible singing of raga Pantuvarali that did it.

 I know that while we were playing our concert, in many places in the world people were and are at war, suffering from cold, hunger, disease, and fear.  But I also know that in many other places in the world, people were playing music, painting, dancing, speaking poetry, writing books, acting plays, telling stories. Darkness and destruction will continue to be realities, but we don't have to despair or succumb. We can choose to exercise our true birthright as human beings to create beauty, order, light, and meaning and to share these things with each other. These acts of creation and sharing are acts of love. When we choose to do engage with acts of creation, as artists or audience members, we are in that moment tipping the scales ever so slightly in favour of the good and the just, the pure and the beautiful.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reaction to Geoff Dyer's "Catastophic Coltrane"

Geoff Dyer's recent article in theNY Times "Catastrophic Coltrane" was brought to my attention this morning. Here is a link to the article and a brief reaction to his piece.

Dyer does raise an important issue:  the Temple University concert represents a last rather than late example of Coltrane's art.  We don't and can't know what he would have done if he had been able to stay on this planet longer.  Thus, both Dyer's analysis and my reaction to it are both speculation based on our understandings of Trane's legacy.  Perhaps the difference is that Dyer wants to understand Coltrane's music within the scope of jazz and his impact on that idiom.  I want to understand Trane in the broader cultural and musical sense. He was not just a jazz musician, he was a cultural, revolutionary, spiritual and artistic force.

Dyer’s analysis makes sense if one views Trane’s music only through the window of ‘jazz’.  In this article, the writer fails to acknowledge the power of the activity of music making as a communal experience and process and as a site of not only personal development, but also cultural exploration, revolution, and redefinition. In my view, these issues were extremely important to Coltrane and essential for any kind of understanding of the last few years of his life.  Dyer seems to be looking for coherence in terms of the traditional harmonic, rhythmic, melodic, and formal concepts deriving from the jazz tradition.  Such obvious points of reference may be beside the point when we consider the music from the Temple University concert or other recordings from this last period of Trane's life.

I believe that Trane saw (or was beginning to see) the activity of doing/making music with and for people as primary.  The recording from Temple University seems clear evidence of that to me. The actual sounds resulting from the process might even be secondary to what was happening with Coltrane's music during that time, hence his tendency to include more and more participants in the music making.  Perhaps the use of the older tune-based improvisations like “Favorite Things” served as a warm-up or as a way of drawing in participants to a deeper experience. In any case, the importance of actual musical results as observed and evaluated by outsiders (let’s not forget that we are listening to a live recording nearly 37 years later) is secondary or perhaps even further removed.

The author’s suggestion that ‘free jazz' had hit a brick wall shows his lack of understanding of the communal aspect of music making and of subsequent developments in European (and now international) directions and developments in free playing.  Trane was simply pointing music in another direction.  Many people moved in that direction and the road has not ended yet.  Coltrane’s own career demonstrates an incredible arc of development: from simple imitation and music as entertainment to complete technical mastery of the idiom to artistry and innovation within the idiom.  Eventually, through intense self-examination and searching he eventually broke the bands of that idiom and began to question not only his relationship to the jazz tradition, but the purposes of music itself and the changing roles of performers and listeners.

This search and questioning should be viewed not within the narrow window of ‘jazz’ but rather within the broader cultural revolutions of the 1960s.  Speaking just within the field of music, we have at the same time period John Cage, Terry Riley, Lamonte Young, the Fluxus movement, etc. all asking similar questions. Some of them were very much inspired by Trane of course. What is music?  What is it for? Who is the performer and who is the listener?  I find it interesting that in 2014 we still have not fully come to terms with the things people like Coltrane and Cage were saying and exploring.  Many in the jazz world (and many critics certainly) are still extremely conservative.  What happened to the tradition of innovation left to us by Trane and other giants of the 20th century? Has the malaise of the post-modern (or post-post-modern?!) condition extinguished the desire for revolution? This question is directed first and foremost to myself and my own music, but it is worthwhile for anyone to consider it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Autumn Performance Schedule

Hi All,

I took the summer off from blogging and some other things too. The summer in Vancouver has lasted so far into September that I feel reluctant to get back to work on teaching and playing music. Nevertheless, Autumn is officially upon us and there are gigs to play. I am very fortunate to be involved in a wide range of exciting musical projects. Please come out and hear some great music and be part of the scene.

Sept 25 - JB Trio at Tangent Cafe.  8:30-11:30pm No cover.  food and drink are excellent.  I'll be playing with Kerry Galloway (bass) and Joe Poole (drums).  Mostly jazz standards stretched and pulled into new shapes. 2095 Commercial Drive.

Sept 28 - Swamp People at Tangent Cafe. 6-9pm.  I'll be performing the music of Jimmy Giuffre with two young geniuses: Geoff Claridge (bass clarinet),  Emma Postl (voice). 2095 Commercial Drive.

Oct 8 - Danderfer/Claridge Quintet at Presentation House.  8pm. $10 at the door. Free tea and cookies. Playing the music of Benny Goodman and his successors with clarinettists Geoff Claridge and James Danderfer, Joe Poole (drums), Graham Clark (bass).  333 Chesterfield, North Van.

Oct 16 - Terry Riley's "In C" at Capilano U.  Fir 113.  Free admission. 11:40am.

Oct 17 - the Offering of Curtis Andrews at Cafe Deux Soleil.  8-10pm.  Curtis' indo-afro-jazz-rock fusion extravaganza with a 7 piece band for your listening and dancing pleasure. 2096 Commercial Drive.

Oct 22 - Indian Music at Presentation House.  8pm. $10 at the door. Free tea and cookies. Classical Indian music from North and South and all points in between with renowned sarode player, David Trasoff,  Karnatic vocalist, Vidyasagar Vankayala, Curtis Andrews (mrdangam), and me.

Oct 23 - David Trasoff (sarode) and Sunny Matharu (tabla) play at Capilano U, Fir 113, 11:40am. Free admission.  I will join these two fine fellows for a few tunes.

Oct 26 and 27 - Convergence: Capilano Jazz Faculty Concert and Live Recording.  21 of Vancouver's finest jazz musicians work at Capilano U.  The concert will feature all of them in various combinations, with special compositions and arrangements written just for this show.  Click here for tickets and info. Oct 26 is for the public.  Oct 27 for Cap Jazz students.

Nov 6 - Music of Kenny Wheeler at Capilano U.  Fir 113, 11:00-1:00.  Free admission. Bassist, Dr. Paul Rushka, presents a lecture on the music of Kenny Wheeler followed by a concert of that music with Brad Turner (trumpet), Dave Robbins (drums), Dennis Esson (trombone), and Bill Coon and I on guitars.

Nov 7 Colin MacDonald Pocket Orchestra plays Eliezer's, "Fantasia.  Port Moody.  Details TBA.

Nov 12 - Music of Kenny Wheeler and Benefit for Doreen Wheeler at Presentation House. Brad Turner (trumpet), Dave Robbins (drums), Dennis Esson (trombone), and Bill Coon and I on guitars. 8pm. $10 at the door. 333 Chesterfield, North Van.