what’s up in July 2016

fridman galleryFriends,

Hope your summer is off to a healthy and fun start!

Keeping  it brief and here’s what’s coming up if you’re around town this July and want to check out some music.  I’m doing a few wonderful things including my annual birthday hang at the 55 BAR on July 28th 2016!

Matana Roberts & Guests: “I Call America” Art Exhibit & Concert Series
Concert series, part 2, July 2016, doors at 7:30 p.m., music from 8 p.m.
Tickets www.fridmangallery.com/#!bookstore/c1xm4, or $10 at the door.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 6, 2016>>>>>>8PM
Fay Victor – voice, texts
Joe Morris – guitar

Fridman Gallery is pleased to present the first solo gallery exhibition by the renowned cross-disciplinary artist and experimental composer Matana Roberts, who spent most of 2015 in residency at the Whitney Museum of American Art, creating both visual work and musical compositions, responding to the Whitney’s new building and its inaugural exhibition, “America is Hard to See.” The residency culminated in a one-night installation and orchestral performance on December 31st, aptly titled “red, white and blues,” which questioned, in Roberts’s words, “the perplexities of what it means to be American in the twenty-first century.” It’s an honor to be included in the musical line-up which also included, Mary Halvorsen, Henry Grimes and Liberty Ellman. It’s is an incredible honor to perform duo for the first time with the formidable and incredible Joe Morris.

BARBES Residency with Jeremiah Lockwood

Jeremiah Lockwood is a wonderful guitarist and singer and bandleader that has relocated to the West Coast.  I was part of a soundtrack project he put together a few years ago and that was intense and fun.  We’ve also worked together on an Anthony Braxton Opera, Trillium J. Last year, he reached out for us to play as a duo on his yearly Barbes Residency last July and that was a hoot.  truly.  So glad he asked again and that’s happening next Saturday, July 9th at Barbes. Featuring Americana, the Blues and Gospel.

SATURDAY, JULY 9, 2016>>>>>>6PM
Fay Victor – voice
Jeremiah Lockwood – guitar
376 Ninth Street
Brooklyn, NY  11217

THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2016>>>>>>7PM
55 Christoper StreetResidency & Birthday Celebration!!
Line up to be confirmed soon….

Here’s a small sample of last years proceedings…see you out there and thanks for reading!!

My featured piece of jewelry this week : –gold slugs by Custom Gold Grillz (see more info by following the link to their website)-

What more is there to say?
What more is there to say?



Hot Summer in the City – July/August 2015

Judson Church, this year's host of Vision Festival XX
Judson Church, this year’s host of Vision Festival XX

Hello friends,

Summer’s begun.  I’d bet most of you are on your way to doing great warm weather things.  A good thing too.  If you’re reading this from the North East USA then you know all too well how horrible this past winter was.  And loooong. That’s all behind us now.  This summer finds me just slightly less busy then the rest of the year, which is a first.  My teaching practice – now booming  – isn’t letting up! Later this month, my dearest and I will celebrate 18 years of married life and love, the week after that – I turn 50!!  I can’t believe it myself.

One of the ways of celebrating that milestone takes place on THURSDAY, JULY 30 at the 55BAR! My residency enters its third year there and every anniversary I celebrate by inviting great friends and idols to join me a for a musical smorgasbord for a couple of hours.  It’s always a great hang, it’s free and having you there make the celebration all the better.  This year the special guests are: Anders Nilsson, Ras Moshe, Ken Filiano, Michael Attias, Mazz Swift, Reggie Nicholson, Cooper Moore and William Parker!

karl berger full house

Speaking of William Parker, just a couple days ago a joined a small chorus for his piece at the Vision Festival XX that was a blast. And as I write today – SUNDAY, JULY 12th – I’ll be at Barbes with the wonderful musician and singer Jeremiah Lockwood going deep into the blues at 5PM.

Early in August (FRIDAY, AUGUST 7th), I head out to the West Coast, playing with Lisa Mezzacappa  at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park working out some the material for Glorious Ravage – being more formally presented in September/October.  To learn more on that amazing project, check out Lisa’s website and even spread the word if you can.  Later in August, I run the Advanced Jazz Vocal Summit for the New York Jazz Workshop.  The Summit lasts 4 days and I’ve organized a nice gig at the Lexington Hotel, smack dab in midtown on FRIDAY, AUGUST 21st to feature the vocalists from this year’s session. Very happy to provide this opportunity to the students.  On TUESDAY, AUGUST 25th, I’m on the Harlem Jazz Series doing a program called In Praise of Ornette with Kenny Wessel, Sean Conly and Darius Jones. This is a great afternoon Jazz Series, curated by the great trombonist Craig Harris. I’m so excited about this! Back at the 55BAR  on THURSDAY, AUGUST 27th for the Early Set and the line-up soon come. Details on all the shows mentioned are in the GIG section of the site.

Just released!
Just released!

In other great, great news – I’m honored to be a part of a newly released book, entitled “Giving Birth to Sound: Creative Women in Music”, edited by William Parker and Renate De Rin and published by buddy’s Carlson Knives.  I got my copy a couple nights ago and I’m inspired by all the thoughts these powerful and creative women have on the process of making music. How music impacts our lives.  Pick up a copy and learn more here.

I’ll be back with a proper post come September so until then – have a great summer!! Thanks for reading and maybe, just maybe – I’ll see you out there.

Love, not war. and music.

What more is there to say?
What more is there to say?

FEBRUARY 2015 Happenings

Fire and Light!
Fire and Light!

Dear Friends,

Yep…winter is rolling right along here in the Northeast.  Where I am the cold, especially how erratic the temperatures rise and fall, have me loooonging for softer climes.  It’s an endurance test for me.  How long can I take this perceived injustice.  It’s a luxury problem in my case (I’m warm with shelter and proper clothing) yet still looking at the question – how much can I endure or how much can we – is a good one.

Last month, Patricia Nicholson Parker invited me to put a set together for the BlackLivesMatter Festival Arts for Arts put on in the last week of January.  My set turned out to be the closing set of the 8 day festival so I not only wanted a strong set, I needed to say something too.  I put together a little piece buoyed by words that reflect how I feel about Black lives matter and the question of endurance factors in. Check that out here…

That concert closed out January and before that I had a great time performing Herbie Nichols’ Music at the 55BAR with Ratzo Harris and Anthony Coleman, I played at the beginning of the month with Ratzo and guitarist Kenny Wessel at the North Square Lounge in the West Village, a gig that was fun, fun, fun! Taking part in William Parker’s piece at Roulette in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major highlight highlight last month. William Parker put together an interesting melange of musicians, actors and dancers which created a colorful tapestry of sound and substance. Finally, it was wonderful once again to be nominated the best Female Vocalist as part of the annual El Intruso annual poll.  Learn more about that poll here…

BlackLivesMatter Festival
BlackLivesMatter Festival
Here’s WHAT’S UP in February 2015

>>>>>THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12th I’m part of Aruan Ortiz’s ensemble presenting a great work-in-progress called Inside a Rhythmic Falls up at Harlem Stage.  We’re on at 7:30PM with a Q+A after the performance.  I’m excited about this music + I’ll get to play with two Cuban percussionists for the first time!  7:30PM. FREE
>>>>>SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14th, The ExPosed Blues DUO, going on 8 years strong presents a set as part of guitarist Anders Nilsson‘s monthlong residency at Barbes.  The avenues we go down in the name of th blues are many some come and see which way we go on that day of love…Valentines Day. 6PM, ONE SET. $10 suggested donation
>>>>>SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21st, I’m appearing for the first time at the hippest. swankiest jazz spot in Brooklyn, Brownstone Jazz.  Nestled in the parlor floor of a Bed-Stuy brownstone this weekly jazz spot is a place to come and sit back in an intimate and soulful atmosphere.  I’ll perform stands and the blues with Lafayette Harris – piano, Eric Lemon-bass and Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax-drums.  This will be a funky good time. 8:00PM Start, 7PM Doors ope.  Entry includes Fish Fry.
>>>>>SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 22nd, Greene Avenue Music Presents Fay Victor -Tyshawn Sorey DUO/ Fay Victor Tyshawn Sorey DUO + special guest Brandon Seabrook. Multi-instrumentalist/composer Tyshawn Sorey and I carry on our DUO explorations and invite Brandon Seabrook into the mix for the 2nd set. IBEAM, Sets 7:00 and 8:30.  $15 Suggested Donation
>>>>>THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26th, The Fay Victor Ensemble Returns! Playing the 55BAR and entering our 10th year as a group.  Come hear our bandlike cohesion mixing old and new.  I love this band.  Some of my favorite music with some of my favorite people. With Anders Nilsson – guitar and Ken Filiano – double bass. Ear;y Set, 7-9PM.  o Cover, 2 drink minimum.

The FVE - Anders Nilsson, FV, Ken Filiano.
The FVE – Anders Nilsson, FV, Ken Filiano.

Thanks so much for reading…hope to see you out at the shows!


A month of transitions into May 2014

A month of transitions…

April 2014 has got to be one of the most tumultuous months in my life.  This isn’t hyperbole – just the truth. I always look forward to April.  Spring is normally in full bloom. My husband’s birthday is right at the beginning of the month so we celebrate that and peoples faces begin to lighten since everyone knows that Winter is gone for sure.

booboobyebyeThis year’s difficult winter felt like it wouldn’t quit but even worse, just a few days into April we lost our beloved dog Martin on the 4th in a horrible car accident. This happened just a week before Jochem and I were presenting our first commissioned piece for the Fay Victor Ensemble with special guests as part of the TriCentric Music Festival put on by the TriCentric Foundation with generous support from the Puffin Foundation.  Happily and despite it all –  the piece came off very well.  The incredible Ensemble which consisted of Vincent Chancey (french horn), Nicole Mitchell (flute), Anders Nilsson (guitar) and Ken Filiano (double bass) presented Neighborhood Dynamics with aplomb, receiving wonderful feedback on the music and how we communicated our idea of gentrification, the subject the piece is based on. An absolutely incredible experience working, writing, rehearsing and developing this piece.  A huge step up for Jochem and myself as composers and the band dived into the music, giving it their all.  It was a blessing and a gift to have this opportunity and  I’m happy to say we did our damnedest to rise to the occasion.  Most touching of all was how the great Anthony Braxton took the time and space to listen to Neighborhood Dynamics and told me after that he was “simply blown away”.  A few days after the premiere, Jochem and I headed to Grenada to celebrate my uncles’ 89th birthday. Having no idea that Martin would be gone from our lives, the ability to get away was more of a godsend then ever.  A rejuvenating and transitional trip for many reasons, mainly for finding and connecting with family and learning so much more about myself in the process.  Truly a month of the loss and found.

Vincent Chancey, Nicole Mitchell, Fay Victor, Anders Nilsson, Ken Filiano courtesy of Jason Gutharz
Vincent Chancey, Nicole Mitchell, Fay Victor, Anders Nilsson, Ken Filiano courtesy of Jason Gutharz

I finished out the month of April gigging with the FVE at the 55BAR, now back to the book after working so much on the premiered piece for the Tricentric Festival. We also had cause for celebration – NINE years of being together as a group! Its the longest I’ve kept a group together and so grateful to have the best musicians and cohorts to work with.  Guitarist Anders Nilsson and bassist Ken Filiano are the absolute best.  What an honor.  We’re gearing up to play later this month (SUNDAY, MAY 25 2014) in Greenfield, MA as part of the Pioneer Jazz Shares Series and then the FVE will play at the Jazz Gallery on THURSDAY, JUNE 5 2014 in New York City! Our debut at this venerable NYC jazz institution and we’re thrilled. So please save the date NYC!

St. Georges, Grenada
Before all that I’m SUPER excited to present Herbie Nichols SUNG as part of the part of the Sound it OUT Series move to Brooklyn on THURSDAY, MAY 15, 2014 with Anthony Coleman (piano), Michael Attias (alto and baritone saxophone), Ratzo Harris – double bass and Michael Sarin – drums at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, my first time performing there as well.  Pretty cool since I started running the Jazz Vocal Workshop at the Brooklyn Conservatory this past February, long after the date was booked. The last show we had in December 2013 that closed out the Sound it Out Series at the Greenwich House was one of my musical highlights ever. We fired on all cylinders and the audiences responded with a rousing standing ovation! Its been magical delving into Herbie Nichols glorious compositions. Head on over to my soundcloud pages to hears some clips here: https://soundcloud.com/greeneavemusic

Herbie Nichols
Closing out the month back to at the 55BAR on May 29th at the 55BAR pianist sensation Aruan Ortiz and bassist Sean Conly for the Early Set and as always get all the deets on the GIG Section of the site and please sign up to receive my monthly newsletter if you haven’t already.

Thank you for reading.  I’m looking forward to Spring and music!

Stepping Up to May 2012

Greetings from chilly, chilly New York City. We had no winter, we’re having no spring. Gives the feeling of being in a constant seasonal limbo.  Do we now stop counting the seasons at all? Live day to day depending on how the temperatures fluctuate, always keeping in touch with our smart phones, Ipads, sundials – making sure we’re prepared for the next change.  No more taking out or putting away of seasonal items. Everything at the ready always.

I live in a part of the world where that’s a strange idea.  I mean, where would you house all the necessities of four sorta-seasons in a typical NYC apartment?  Yet where music is concerned, I’m doing this all the time.  Putting on and taking off different temperatures or seasons of music day to day.  Within performance, teaching, or the various projects I’m lucky to be involved in, I’m living the life of a musical schizophrenic.  A normal day may entail me working on standards or Tori Amos with students, working on my own original music, then going off and playing a free improv gig that same night.  It appears dizzying, some days it is. Mostly it flows like water the more I’ve gotten used to it as a way to exist. To see ALL the music I’m involved in generally and my expression specifically as coming from one source.  That source tries to stay open to everything.

For the past couple years I’ve been fortunate to play and interact with groups/musicians that have challenged me no end.  A new experience for me.  Being primarily self taught and leading my own groups for most of my performing life, rarely having the opportunity to be a sideman. The astounding benefit from absorbing and soaking as much as I could knowledge from these musician of prominence and excellence is priceless. Learning more about composition, form, ideas, perspective, and perhaps most of all, how to be a better bandleader.

Now…most of these projects, although ongoing (there are plans to tour Europe in 2013 w/Other Dimensions in Music for example), they have faded to the background for now and I’ve been quietly developing new projects with a rejuvenated voice that feels stronger and more secure.  More open even…

This isn’t clearer for me than with my group, the Fay Victor Ensemble(FVE). Yes, its almost a year since we last played in town with our last gig in June of last year yet in the meantime we’ve met to work on music slated for out next release in 2013(look for it!).

Something else happened along the way while I was off going to school (for real) – what I wanted for my music changed so there’s a searching quality to the music as well.  In that search to seek the way forward, I realized that I needed to open up to the sound, allow for transparency and allow the lyrics to sing out above the din.  To that end the FVE has a few concerts coming up that are without our drummer, the great Michael TA Thompson…its a temporary situation for now yet the sound is special as well. I hope you’ll join us, so looking forward to hearing your thoughts.  The FVE will play on MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012 (International Jazz Day!!) on the Evolving Series ending a great night of music with groups lead by drummer Charles Downs and trumpeter Roy Campbell preceding us. I do hope you’ll join us here and if you can’t make that date, we’re playing on WEDNESDAY, MAY 16, 2012 at Barbes (part of Oscar Noriega’s curated Palimpsestic Series) then at Cornelia Street Cafe on TUESDAY, JULY 31, 2012.  I’m also thrilled to announce the Fay Victor Ensemble is working on its first European tour with Danielle Oosterop Music Services slated for October 2013!  We’re thrilled with the association and much more news on that front soon. Finally check out some VERY recent FVE sounds, recorded March 2012.

Also in SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2012, The ExPosed Blues Duo re-emerges as well joining a double bill with bassist Shayna Dulberger’s Quartet at Sycamore and we’ll play on the last night of the season of the Evolving Series on MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2012 –  jumping on after Elliot Sharp’s set.

Thanks for reading and for supporting and loving music…



April 2011 News and Views

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring…or as happy as one can be this Spring.  Still brrrrr in NYC as I write and the world’s gone haywire (more on that later in this post) but I’m keeping the music going because it’s healing, soothing and stabilizing and with music, I’m having a good time. Before I get into what’s up for April, I want to extend many thanks for the friends – old and new – that came out to hear the ExPosed Blues Duo at Barbes and the Fay Victor Ensemble at University of the Streets in March. The FVE gig was especially thrilling because we unveiled all new music that’s studio bound and power house violinist Jason Hwang came by and shot a great video.  Take a look at that here and share your thoughts. Save the date for the next FVE gig on MONDAY, MAY 23rd as part of the 21st Century Schizoid Series at Cornelia Street Cafe…
VIDEO: Fay Victor Ensemble @ University of the Streets

And in April there is some amazing news to share.  This coming Saturday, April 2nd, I’ll go down to Philadelphia to perform with the incredible Dutch Tentet The Instant Composer’s Pool Orchestra(headed by pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink) at Ars Nova Workshop. I toured with them for the first time last May and it was a BLAST! so honored that they asked me again and for you NY’ers they are at Le Poisson Rouge this Thursday night.  Please go!  and next week SUNDAY, APRIL 10th the ExPosed Blues Duo has a hit on a new Series at FatBaby’s.  We’re on the 8PM Set and the next day please join myself and Arts for Art for our FIRST concert of the EVOLVING SERIES in our new location at Clemente Soto Velez!! After two wonderful years, it was time to move the Series from the Local 269…we had a great time there and it’s hard to start new and make a change, especially when the experience was fruitful and help set the stage for where we’ll go in the future. At the Clemente Soto Velez, we feel there’s more space to expand and I hope you’ll join us every Monday night at this NEW location as of MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011.

Celemente Soto Velez
107 Suffolk Street
Bet. Rivington & Delancey
F/J/M Train to Delancy/Essex Streets

and what a line-up we have planned!

7PM: Fay Victor/Dominic Lash DUO
Dominic Lash-bass

8PM: Theo Bleckmann/Jay Clayton DUO
Theo Bleckmann-voice
Jay Clayton-voice

9PM: Charles Gayle’s Forgiveness
Charles Gayle-tenor sax
Francois Grillot-bass
Michael Wimberly -drums

10PM: Arts for Artestra, conducted by Charles Gayle
Charles Gayle (tenor sax, conduction)
Matt Lavelle (trumpet, bass clarinet), Chris DiMeglio (trumpet), Ras Moshe (tenor sax)
Yoni Kretzmer (tenor sax), Dave Sewelson (baritone sax), Sarah Bernstein (violin)
James Keepnews (guitar), Brad Farberman (guitar), James Ilgenfritz (bass)
Francois Grillot (bass), Michael Wimberly (drums), Mike Pride (drums)

$10 per set – $20 buys the whole night – not a bad deal.
more info here.

And on TUESDAY, APRIL 19th, please join me for the Early Set at the 55BAR, performing with the Jazz Vault project and dipping into the repertoire of seminal pianists Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols.  Bringing the month full circle gig-wise as concert with ICP will include much of this repertoire. In other news, Kaiso Stories is starting to get reviews and the initial words on the project have been incredible.  On April 11th, I’ll be on Jason Crane’s the Jazz Session talking about Kaiso Stories and a lot more.  This will be my second time on the podcast and talking with Jason is a relaxed and lovely affair.  Please tune in to this podcast and there so much more, take a look and listen here.

I hope to see you out at the shows just to share some new and old music that comes from an honest place. These are difficult, trying times around us.  The earthquake in Japan and its aftermath, civil unrest all over the Middle East and the horror in Libya not to mention the dwindling prospects and the clearer adgenda of the powers that be in the USA has many feeling a heavy sense of hopelessness.  A sense that all the good things to work for are going away. Sort of everything is upside down and twisted and right or wrong have lost all meaning.  Maybe I’m old fashioned or just getting old but the world feels like a particularly alien place at the moment and I guess I’m wondering what I feel and what can I do.  In that wondering, I remembered a song of Mose Allison called “Ever Since The World Ended”(also an album of the same name on BlueNote Records-1987).  As I started thinking about the words and singing the song to myself, I started to cry because the words mean so much right now and moreover it shows once again how necessary artistic creation is – in my inability to explain my feelings, a song lyric does the trick:

VIDEO: Mose Allison-Ever Since the World Ended

Ever Since The World Ended

Ever since the world ended,

I don’t go out as much.

People that I once befriended

Just don’t bother to stay in touch.

Things that used to seem so splendid

Don’t really matter today.

It’s just as well the world ended–

It wasn’t working anyway.


Every since the world ended,

There’s no more bible belt.

Remember how we all pretended?

Going ’round, lying ’bout the way we felt.

Every rule has been amended,

There’s no one keeping score.

It’s just as well the world ended

We couldn’t have taken much more.


Ever since the world ended,

There’s no more black or white.

Ever since we all got blended,

there’s no more reason to fuss and fight.

Dogmas that we once defended

no longer seem worthwhile.

Ever since the world ended,

I face the future–

With a smile.


Hoping you are all coping and pushing forward.

In music,

Moving toward the Spring…

Dear Friends,

Life has been a little nutty!  And cold.  Winter’s been rough but there are some warming things coming up on the horizon.

First up though, thanks to the friends that came out to the 55BAR to see the FVE and University of the Streets to see Other Dimensions in Music last month.  At both events, there were wonderful listening crowds. And when the FVE unveiled new music at the 55BAR the reaction was positive and strong.  Starting out January, I was featured at the fabulous Mark Lamb Dance Salon ( a monthly event held every 2nd Saturday of the month…learn all about it here) alongside himself, his wonderful dancers, reedist Michael Attias and bassist Garth Stevenson playing with music, words and dance. Thanks for coming out the that event as well…

Besides an appearance on Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, they have been no gigs in town this month but please save the DATES for some happenings in March as we all move closer to Spring and longer days. YEAH!  On WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2nd, Anders Nilsson and I will do our ExPosed Blues Duo thing at Barbes’s Series (On The Palimpsestic Series – curated by Oscar Noriega).  We’re pulling out new tunes destined for a later follow-up recording and we’ll do some pieces from BARE!  Come by and hear how we move things around. We move things around again later in the month as part of Gary Lucas’ Jeff Buckley Tribute at the Knitting Factory Williamsburg on FRIDAY, MARCH 18 then on SATURDAY, MARCH 19th join the Fay Victor Ensemble at University of the Streets for the 8PM Set. The FVE will be all about new music too, working it out for our next recording. Check all the DEETS on the PERFORMANCE section of the website and as always – I look forward to seeing you.

What’s also up in March(March 1st for the US; February 28th for Europe) is the release of Silkheart Records KAISO STORIES with Other Dimensions in Music and myself.  Its a record combining free jazz and improvised lyrics of classic calypsos.  This is a project near and dear to my heart and I was thrilled to have this opportunity from Silkheart Records and to play with the incredible musicians in Other Dimension in Music (Roy Campbell(trumpet), Daniel Carter (reeds), William Parker(bass), Charles Downs(drums).  I believe we put down a very strong session and I’m looking forward to hearing feedback on this unique project.  You can take a look at the liner notes and here a clip on the Silkheart Records website here.

I’m also happy to share with you that I came in first place for Female Vocalists in El Intruso’s International Critic and Musician’s Poll! I feel honored and grateful…take a look here to see all the results.

Thanks for reading!


SEPTEMBER 2010: A Legend has gone, BARE Drops, Silkheart beckons…

Dear Friends,

How was your summer??

Fun, fruitful, restful and more?  For me it was a working and restful summer.  An amazing residency at MUSIC OMI that I was fortunate to be a part of (JULY 22 – AUGUST 9) was just what the foot doctor Mississauga ordered it seemed.  I returned back home refreshed and renewed.  I’m glad I did because the break was wonderful but meant that lots didn’t get done while I was away and this Fall is active to say the least…so without further ado, let me hip everyone to what’s happening and I hope to catch you out sometime in September.

BUT before August skidaddles away, BARE, the debut album of my duo with FVE guitarist Anders Nilsson drops from the sky as a brand new baby.  Save the date for the CD RELEASE for BARE at Barbes on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 at 8PM and Nate Chinen wrote a wonderful piece in Saturday’s New York Times about Abbey Lincoln’s legacy after her passing on August 14, 2010 and talked about the release of BARE and more in an article you can read here. Wow…Abbey Lincoln.  How does it feel to be included in a piece on one of the most seminal jazz vocalists of the last half century? Just amazing to even be considered for it and what a loss to the music world at large, not just jazz. Hell, what a loss to the spirit world of this realm.  To me, she was such a strong articulator of her ideas and the fact that she wrote many of the words she sang just made her presentation all the more intense.  They were great words coming from a woman who obviously LIVED a full life, observing the ebb and flow and negating none of it.  At least this is what her music said to me. She was one of the last links to the tradition of jazz vocals, coming out of Billie Holiday and I felt a void so big for days after her passing, because history died that day too. I had a gig two days after and I have no songs of hers in my repertoire yet I wanted to honor her in my own way.  During one of the improvs  and I started this pattern on “I said/you said” ending with “you said now that Abbey’s gone, maybe jazz is dead.” The day I found out that she died, I happen to take some photos of clouds (I’m a bit of a cloud fanatic) that were in a configuration that I can NEVER recall seeing.  The wonderful spoken word/song artist Paul Harding thought they were carpets laid for her journey…

It was a sad day indeed but her legacy and lessons lives on.

Before the BARE CD Release though, stop by Evolving Voice and Music on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 at 8PM for a very special performance of yours truly with the renowned avant-garde group Other Dimensions in Music (trumpeter Roy Campbell, reedist Daniel Carter, bassist William Parker and drummer Charles Downs – WHA??!!) on the series down at the Local and I’m thrilled about this.  Doing a special project called Kaiso Stories based on the texts of Calypsos from Trinidad & Tobago, where my roots are from.  We go into the studio with this project on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 for the Swedish based Silkheart Records!  I’ll keep you posted on the release as  I know more and performance details are in the performance section.  But I can tell you that I am thrilled AND honored to do this project with these gentlemen.

I’ve been wanting to do a music project based on Calypso for a long time yet didn’t have a clear idea of how best to represent the music.  I didn’t want it to sound cliched or that I was informing the world what a ‘calypso’ should sound like.  Calypsos have some of the best lyrics and stories I’ve ever experienced or read and I want to focus on that.  See, calypsos started out as a newspaper for the people of Trinidad and citizens trusted what the calypsonian (calypso singer) had to say than any politician or government official. Because of this, many calypsos have been censored by the Trinidadian government. Yet the best calypsonians find ways of masking their message to officials through the use of double-entendre, using patois and other clever devices to get the news through.   Humourous, politcal, social, sexual – you name it, the subject matter varied widely and the calypsonian needed to keep his audience enraptured by how the story was told because Trinidadians are some of the toughest audiences anywhere you can find. What a gig and I haven’t even begun to talk about how this all relates to Carnival, of which Trinidad & Tobago has the 2nd largest Carnival celebration in the world after Rio de Janiero.  So we’re recording a project that focuses on the lyrics told in these songs..and that’s all I’ll say about it for now.  Stay tuned!

Then join Arts for Art/RUCMA/The Local 269 for a special celebration of Evolving Voice Series turning ONE on MONDAY SEPTEMBER 20! We’re celebrating by having an ALL VOCAL program for the evening with Patricia Nicholson Parker and William Parker, The Fay Victor Ensemble, poets Patricia Spear-Jones and Steve Dalichinsky and  vocalist extraordinaire, Lisa Sokolov!  Sure to be a special night in celebration of a series that has blossomed in this last year and I’m so proud that it’s still going strong.  I will post an piece about this event later in the month but please SAVE THE DATE.

That closes out September for me will also be my last gig in town for a minute. I’m off to Holland at the end of September to perform with reedist Michael Moore’s group and then some, teach some workshops and tour Germany with a blues project towards the end of October into November.  I’m back in NYC in mid-November and hope to meet you then unless some of you are hanging overseas…

Thanks for reading and for your support of the music!


PS: Purchase BARE at AMAZON.COM and CDBABY…Print copies available on AUGUST 31st!

BARE: How the Blues caught me by the jugular and never let go

Dear Friends!!

On the last day of this August month, Anders Nilsson and myself (as the ExPosed Blues Duo) release our debut recording, BARE, on Greene Avenue Music.  I’m so excited about this project being released and we’re looking forward to hearing the feedback that’s bound to come – one way or the other.  Preparing for the release also bought me back in touch with why I love the blues so much and how that came to be.  I’d like to share some of that with you…

A couple years after I moved to The Netherlands in the 90’s, I got asked to sub for an American soul singer at a festival in Cologne, Germany. We performed a mishmash set including jazz standards, blues, R&B and soul tunes we threw together to make the show. When the set was finished, a guitarist came up to me and asked if I’d ever performed blues before and if I’d be interested in performing a complete blues gig at a monthly series he fronted the house band for in Muenster, Germany. I told him I knew a couple blues tunes but was certainly no blues singer and doing a gig like that was out of my league. He said he thought I could become a great blues singer and it’s worth a try. What did I have to lose he said. On a Monday night, decently paid, room, board and travel thrown in. I agreed to give it a shot.

For the show in Muenster, a great German college town about 3 hours from Amsterdam, I pulled together a set of tunes based on the few bluesI knew and some jazzy-blues numbers by Stanley Turrentine and that ilk. When the Theater Café filled to capacity that night, it was no time to be tentative. I did the best I could and surprisingly folks really enjoyed it. Now, I figured one-half of the reason they liked it so much is because I looked the part.  Being African-American gives me all sorts of rights to sing this music, despite the fact that in that moment, I knew almost nothing about it.

You see, the truth of the matter is when I started out and heard the blues sung by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith,I thought that was the real thing – or should I say the only thing. I learned some blues when I started performing because that’s what I was told to do plus they were ‘fun’ and ‘crowd-pleasing’ as opposed to a serious ballad or navigating a bebop tune. A jazz vocalist’s repertoire is incomplete without blues in the repertoire, just as it would be if one sang no bossa novas.

So this opportunity in Germany to put the blues out front made me look at that music differently for the first time. I began to see that it was an art in and of itself. Much older than jazz, simpler, clearer in expression, individual, ornery, dirty. I began to listen to Robert Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Blind Lemmon Jefferson, Memphis Slim, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson, Elmer Snowden, Skip James, John Lee Hooker, Son House, Charles Brown and so much more. That band leader in Muenster asked me to front his band, which I did for three years as well as work with other blues groups in Germany. At the same time, I began to appreciate and know how much the blues profoundly influenced the best part the soul and R&B music I loved and grew up with.

Gigging with the blues and the study that happened alongside it laid the foundation for a journey of learning to express myself through this substantial medium and I ‘got’ it early on that it’s not a music to hide behind.  It’s a music to deepen my understanding of myself because it won’t tolerate a facade.  At least it didn’t for me. And all those gigs (100’s) performing this music made it clearer still. The blues has helped me be a more colorful and storytelling vocalist and deeply informs the compositions Jochem and I write.  It’s a fundamental part of my expression.

So why a blues record now?

In 2007, I was asked to perform a blues-based program at the WinterNights Jazz Festival in Marseille, France. Myself and Fay Victor Ensemble guitarist Anders Nilsson came up with an approach and used some material I performed when I lived in Europe, added new tunes and re-wrote the script for that event. We thought we’d open up the forms and tunes, leaving BARE the possibility for free improvisation to emerge, just like those singular Delta blues guitarists, we said. It worked, the audience told us. It felt good to connect with an audience that way again! So we went on to develop what started in Marseille and formed the ExPosed Blues Duo, melding blues forms and free improvisation.  As we gigged around town, the music got more organic, pure, languid and visceral. We felt that some strong music may come out of this. Let’s record this happening and take it from there.

Here we are.


More info:
Greene Ave Music
Improvised Communications
Media Contact: Scott Menhinick

BARE is available for download at CDBABY and I-Tunes.
The Street date for the physical CD is August 31, 2010



Upcoming Gig at Barbes – October 15, 2009

So looking forward to play in Barbes again.  The Fay Victor Ensemble played there back in 2006 when reedist Michael Attias booked and ran a kick ass series called Night of the Ravished Limbs.  I have a feeling that the size, vibe  and intimacy of the room makes it a great nest to unfurl some burning blues in…


The ExPosed Blues Duo

Anders Nilsson-guitar
8:00pm – One Set Only
$10 Cover
376 9th St. (corner of 6th Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11217 F Train to 7th Avenue

Some sounds we’ve made here – www.myspace.com/exposedbluesproject