I’m really enjoying seeing lots of sunlight and feeling its warmth and I hope you are too. It’s such a good feeling and now is a good time for me to take a small step back and chill for a moment after the whirlwind month of May and get recharged for the fun later on in this month of June. I’ve got a SAVE the DATE in this post too because the Fay Victor Ensemble is included in The Vision Festival XV line-up this year! On a night that is just to die for. But more on that in a minute, I’d like to share what went down in May…
May 2010 was a pretty life-changing and life-affirming month.
The month got off to a running start with the ExPosed Blues Duo meets Thomas Ulrich double bill with stellar vocalist Kyoko Kitamura & dancer Mark Lamb (SATURDAY, MAY 1st). We took over 5C Cafe in the LES and the cozy space could barely accommodate the folks who came out to support and listen. Not only did we have a great time but an old friend from the Netherlands came to hang with us on her first visit to New York. A week later I appeared in Mark Lamb Dance Second Saturday Sanctuary Salon Series at Seven (SATURDAY, MAY 8th) where I sang an a capella piece and improvised piece with Mark Lamb himself. That was a wonderful experience because I not only sang, I dance along with Mark and it was improvised. The words, the movement, the music – it was exhilarating and I think I want to dance more. This great monthly event also included an entire set by Kyoko Kitamura and Mark Lamb as well as performances by vocalists Kendra Shank, Terre Roche and the Mark Lamb Dancers. Learn more about the Salon Series and Mark Lamb here.
The next day, I boarded a plane to Europe to start a three gig run with the venerable ICP Orchestra (I explain how venerable in an earlier post here) in Germany and The Netherlands (MAY 12-14, 2010). I arranged to get there a full day ahead to chill with friends before I rehearsed with the group because I was very nervous. Almost scared to death. This was a big deal. I knew the music and played with some members of the group before. Yet I also knew they never hired a vocalist in this capacity before so I put even more pressure on myself to deliver. The day of the rehearsal at the BIM in Amsterdam, I checked into the hotel nearby and almost had a panic attack, worried that perhaps they made a mistake and what was I thinking. What were they thinking? When I get to the rehearsal I run into journalist Kevin Whitehead, over to hang with the group on tour but I didn’t expect to see him here at the rehearsal. My anxiety level rose toward overdrive…
But what was I thinking to be worried. Everyone in the group made me feel welcome almost immediately. I was nervous and decided to share that fact with the members I already knew. The rehearsal started with a tune that I knew well too. So I eased up gradually and we got into the thing. Three hours later we worked out what was needed to hit the road and it felt good. I could breathe again. Freely.
That night I hung out with a dear friend and went to Zaal 100 (a funky, fun spot to hang) where I got to hear the FANTASTIC Chicago drummer Mike Reed, Amsterdam jazz stalwart Sean Bergin and lots more. I was so eager with anticipation to head to Cologne the next day to perform at the Musik Trienniale as part of a double Bill with Henry Threadgill’s ZOOID, that I ducked out early from this hang because if I didn’t, I’d have been there til 3AM. Amsterdam is my favorite city to hang in. With the right people the hang is GOOD. But not this night. I needed to be as ready as I could be.
Our first gig felt good though slightly tentative, since it was being recorded for radio and Cologne’s Philharmonie was very beautiful but uber-intimidating with its pipe organ the size of a Brooklyn brownstone and all that wood. Yet the next night, back in the Netherlands, the concert in Den Haag’s more gritty venue, made everyone feel at home and I felt freer. The final night at a packed Bimhuis in Amsterdam was simply glorious. A musical highlight of my life. The audience was incredibly generous and so were the musicians. And the Music! My husband Jochem, who flew in to be at the concert told me later “You sound like you’ve been in the band for years.” and to top it off Kevin Whitehead DJ’d in the bar afterward till 2AM! Here are some great pics of the Bimhuis gig taken by Jochem and some pics of Amsterdam here. At the end of the gigs with ICP, when I had a moment to reflect, I realized that the concerts went well because I fit into their thing but also was more and more myself. I comfortable to express myself with them and vice versa. I’m happy I managed that at the end. It made me feel that I can try anything – no matter the outcome – because that’s the only way I’ll know what I’m capable of. And what I can reach for. I am so grateful for this experience…I learned a lot and had an absolute ball. That’s a hanging band!
I stayed a few days longer in Holland to see fam and friends and tried to steer clear of the volcanic ash which reared it’s ugly plumage again while I was over the Pond. But it worked out and Jochem and I got back home safe and sound. I hadn’t a second to lose either. That next day (WEDNESDAY, MAY 19th) I took part in a Spring Concert at Claremont Prep in downtown Manhattan where I had been part of a mentoring program hosted by the Jazz Foundation of America and arranged by actor Michael Imperioli of The Soprano’s fame. You can read more about that here. That same day I got a call to replace Madeleine Peryoux at the Jazz Foundation of America Annual “A Great Night in Harlem” Gala at the Apollo Theater the following night (THURSDAY, MAY 20th) as part of a special tribute to Billie Holiday with Vince Giordano & Nighthawks, performing Billie’s seminal “Don’t Explain.”
And May closed out with a whopper of a gig with the Fay Victor Ensemble!! We just past the 5-year mark as a group and had our first gig for 2010 at the INCREDIBLE Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut (FRIDAY, MAY 28th). Wonderful audience and we just got back into our space and then took off in new directions. Plus the venue simply takes care of you. All we had to do was concentrate on getting there (oooh the traffic!) and making music. That opportunity is priceless and I think the music we performed is reflective of that ability to just focus and create. I’ll get to hear it in a few and I’ll post some tracks…
Plus EVOLVING Voice & Music, the series I co-curate with Bradley Farberman through RUCMA/Arts for Art, Inc. had one of it’s strongest months in May, culminating with a tribute to Interstellar Space (John Coltrane/Rashied Ali) at the Local with only drum/sax duos this past MONDAY, MAY 31st. It was a resounding success, the room packed from 7PM on and the music was FANTABULOUS! Everyone who was there really loved it. How easy is that to do in NYC? We couldn’t be happier. Not to mention wonderful sets throughout May by the likes of Katie Bull, Sara Serpa, fellow Trillium E-ite Chris DiMeglio, Nora McCarthy and more AND we started the Vocal Improv Sessions with vocalists Nora McCarthy and Maryane DeProphetis and reedist Ras Moshe. Woo…that was great! The next one is happening on July 26th. Some pictures too: Click here to check out pics from (the mainly vocal ) sets in May 2010 and click here to see pics from Interstellar Space Night!
What a month…
For June: I’m taking a small breather before the Fay Victor Ensemble meets again to play at Vision Festival XV! Please SAVE THE DATE (FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010) for this one and come on down. The entire night is too damn cool for school. Seriously. We open things up at 7PM and we’re followed by the Sabir Mateen Ensemble, then JAYNE CORTEZ and the Firespitters (I LOVE her…a MUST see) and finally the legendary Amira and Amina Baraka round out the night!! Check it all out here. It’s such an honor to be included in the Festival in the first place but getting to present my own group as well is very special, so please do try and make it if you can. I’ll be bugging you about the Vision Festival gig throughout June but hopefully not too much.
Before that join the party and celebrate Anthony Braxton’s 65th birthday!! two nights of music and celebration on FRIDAY, JUNE 18th at Le Poisson Rouge and SATURDAY, JUNE 19 at Issue Project Room. We’ll be doing excerpts from the Braxton opera Trillium E at Issue Project Room.
I close out June with an appearance at Rose Live Music with the Jazz Vault Project as part of a evening called Brooklyn Experiments Groove Series on SUNDAY, JUNE 27. We’re up on the 10:30 Set. All details for the gigs on the PERFORMANCES section of the site.
A monthful and a mouthful for sure. Thanks again for reading and thank GOD for music!
Happy trails and sunlight,