Road Report and Upcoming Performances

Houseboat by Night in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Houseboat by Night in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Dear friends,

What a month I had between Europe and Turkey. I first went over to do a tour with Herbie Nichols SUNG; after that  I ran two masterclasses on my own at Bern University of the Arts in Bern, Switzerland, then moved on to Istanbul, Turkey to join the New York Jazz Workshop team for a week of master-classes at Bogazici University, truly the Harvard University of Turkey. Three different scenarios and each deeply fulfilling.

First off the Herbie Nichols tour…a small dream that revealed so much about where Nichols’ music can go and how open people were towards it.  We’re taking an elastic approach to the forms, full of detours and improvisations that crop out of nowhere. So wonderful to hear how the music unfolds over four back to back concerts, every concert different from the other and always exploratory. I couldn’t have asked for better partners in pianist Achim Kaufmann and reedist Tobias Delius on this journey. These musicians know Nichols’ music inside and out, having played his pieces from years, a fact that left the possibilities endless. It was a revelation.  I learned so much and see Nichols music in a different way now. Not just tunes that are a master-class in themselves of form, harmony and thematic development, but now as fluid materials so strong that those melodies are indestructible beacons of light carrying feelings, sounds and intuitive joy. The feedback and reaction to the tour were amazing and I was floored by the reaction to our unorthodox approach.  The concert in Amsterdam, where the tour started had quite a few members of the Instant Composers Pool coming out to hear our way, musicians that know the Nichols’ book just as well, arguably much better than I do. The great reedist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars said  “Good you came over to give us a great view on Mr Nichols’ music.” !!!

Achim Kaufmann and Tobias Delius warms up at Salon de Jazz
Achim Kaufmann and Tobias Delius warms up at Salon de Jazz

After the HBS tour ended in Berlin, Germany,  I spent a few days there getting to know that great city during springtime. Always a lover of history, I learned more about the history of the city as East Berlin, with enough evidence around to back up the conversations. The night before heading out of town, I got to check out the Bad Plus in Berlin doing Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction with a front line to die for: Ron Miles, Tim Berne and Sam Newsome. Very honored to be Sam’s guest at the A Train and sit front row taking in all the beauty. Just in awe.

Then it was on to Bern, Switzerland where the master classes went so well at Bern University of the Arts, I almost cried. It was a small group of 5 amazing students in total, diving into a deep place looking at vocal confidence and audience connection. Every time I’ve given this workshop, there’s been a deep emotional response from at least one of the participants. This occasion was no different. The second class was on improvised group vocal improvisations with a rhythm section joining us exploring improvisation by ear over the blues, Stella by Starlight as well as free improvisation. Great discussions with these students, many of them at the Masters degree level in music and composition and it looks like I can go back! I was thrilled. The stay in Bern was brief, just a night before the master classes there, taking the night train back to Amsterdam that same evening.  Amsterdam now just as a mini vacation, seeing friends and family. A cool spring, hell everywhere was cool – yet sunny and beautiful too. I left there wishing I could stay just a few days longer. It felt so good and connected this time.

Students during the Vocal Improv Session in Bern, Switzerland
Students during the Vocal Improv Session in Bern, Switzerland

Istanbul, Turkey. I was the vocal instructor of the New York Jazz Workshop team and after a successful run last year, we were invited back Bogazici University to teach over 40 students during their Spring Break. The vocalists were so excited after last year’s proceedings that we doubled the amount of vocalists this year! The students aren’t music majors but they’re brilliant students in their own fields.  From freshmen chemistry majors to biomedical engineers working on their online evaluations for medical marijuana
and Ph.D’s…all for a love of this music. For more marijuana news go to https://dankcity.com/. The week was dynamic and the team was immense: Drummer Tony Moreno, pianist Nikolaj Hess, bassist Jay Anderson, guitarist Kenny Wessel…alongside our ring leaders and co-directors of the New York Jazz Workshop – tenor saxophonist Marc Mommaas and Marco Chelo. Last year, I had the group of vocalists entirely and this year, I had all of the vocalists in the morning, and floated around in the afternoon to the ensembles that they were a part of. Such a new way of interacting for me, which was uncomfortable at first but I got into it and learned so much about myself and the power of those vocalists integrating themselves into the different ensemble lead by the instrumentalists on the team. Last night when we put on the final concert…we were floored by the range, depth and power of the performances and the audience of a few hundred people responded in kind. How lucky I feel to have had anything to do with this amazing outcome and what a place in the world to have this opportunity. Istanbul is incredible.

A room with a view for sure, from out my window in Istanbul, Turkey.
A room with a view for sure, from out my window in Istanbul, Turkey.

I started to fall in love with Istanbul…the people, sounds (the call to prayer blows my mind), the food, the love of music, the chaos and the love people show. Passionate beautiful people…warm and appreciative was my experience. It’s such a beautiful city too, almost like a shining jewel. The house we stayed in on campus was decadently comfortable, with views from on high of the Bosphorus at every turn.  The five minute walk from my room to where I taught each morning was like walking past a postcard with differing views depending on the light. The amazing barges colored orange and red..stood in gorgeous stark contrast to that Bosphorus’ blue hue, sounds of the water moving through the trees just outside my window took my breath away too many times to mention. We also played a great concert at Nardis, the famed Istanbul jazz club. Marc Mommaas lead the band and featuring his compositions, and I joined the band with a couple choice standards and two originals of my own.  A packed house and a gleefully vocal audience!! An intense period of deep connection to great people in a dream like location with jazz as the catalyst.

This has been a dream month for me.  I can’t begin to express the deep gratitude I have for my life and music in this moment.  The force of it. The BEAUTY of it!!!!  What it does to people.  A few months ago…I questioned the importance of music and my place within it. I couldn’t see the value as I saw it before when I decided to become a musician in the first place. I went through a period of reflection and trying to find meaning, lasting months.  I live in a country that doesn’t really care about these things unless someone is successful or making a wave. New York is too hard a city to get carried away by beauty alone.  How would you eat and take care of yourself? How do you show the importance of beauty in a throwaway society such as ours. I had to come away and throw myself in the deep end in places that understand what that means. To make it real, we were here because someone decided they wanted the students to have this experience, simple as that. I write this post on the flight home from Istanbul where the experience hasn’t been processed enough but I can say that I had the time of my life, connecting to friends, students, musicians and people just happy to be where we met.  I come home a renewed being, having gone through some sort of metamorphosis that I can’t quite put my finger on yet…but you’ll hear it soon.

New York Jazz Workshop Student and Faculty Concert in Istanbul, Turkey.
New York Jazz Workshop Student and Faculty Concert in Istanbul, Turkey.

Great love and thanks to Achim Kaufmann, Tobias Delius, Tom Baeten, Nico Chientaroli, Danielle Oosterop, Renate De Rin, Wolfgang Glode, Lukas Frei, Ali Yekta Ulgen, Marc Mommaas, and Marco Chelo for contributing so much to make this month happen and unfold the way it did.

So what’s next? More music of course! Back at the 55bar on THURSDAY, APRIL 30th with cellist Marika Hughes and pianist Aruan Ortiz…playing a wide range of things. 7-9pm. No cover. . Then I’m a special guest with the ICP Orkest at Roulette on WEDNESDAY, MAY 6 alongside trombonist Ray Anderson. I love that band and it’s an honor to play with them once again! Later on in May, I head to the West Coast for a concert and workshop at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, CA on SATURDAY, MAY 23 and SUNDAY, MAY 24th respectively. The concert will feature fantastic Bay area musicians Lisa Mezzacappa on bass and John Finkbeiner on guitar – with special guest Steve Adams from the Rova Saxophone Quartet. The Workshop on the SUNDAY, MAY 24th is called “Improvising without Scatting” and I’m excited to share with participants all the interesting ways we can use our voices outside of the scat realm. Learn more about all of that here. Then it back to NYC, ending  May 2015 at the 55BAR featuring guitarist Kenny Wessel and bassist Ratzo Harris doing a totally jazzy Early Set on THURSDAY, MAY 28th.

Ahh music…you weave a thread so deep that carries across my life.  In deep gratitude for what I do and for what others allow me to bring into their lives as a musician and teacher. At this moment, I’m full and have what I need to keep going on. We’ll meet along the way.

So much love to you all,
Fay

A brand new subway line opened up in Istanbul just 100 meters outside the campus. Here the team is on the way to Nardis.
A brand new subway line opened up in Istanbul just 100 meters outside the campus. Here the team is on the way to Nardis.

All photos by FV…2015

May 2013 News

Spring has finally sprung in my part of the world and not a moment too soon, arriving just as May cruised in.  Trees became more lush, cherry blossoms began to bloom and fly through Spring air and birds sang more in earnest. Am I happy to see Spring our what? I am.  It took awhile and I welcome it with open arms…and perhaps feeling just a bit hopeful, grateful and full of faith.

Now despite the April chill, I had some wonderful musical times, highlighted by the New Commissioned Works at Roulette on April 21st where I took part in an incredible piece written by flutist Nicole Mitchell. What a great night that was! I also bought back Blues and Standards back to the 55BAR for my monthly residency there on THURSDAY, APRIL 25th – a slightly more laid-back affair than the first outing but still sweaty and swinging like I like it!  Great playing tunes with guitarist Anders Nilsson, bassist Ratzo Harris and drummer Jason Nazary.  They killed it and I’m looking forward to more with them in the near future.

For May’s residency I’m doing something extra-special at the 55BAR on THURSDAY, MAY 30th for the Early Set. I’ll present some of my private and workshop students in solo performances alongside some serious NYC vocal talent ‘Sitting- in’ for a tune including Marianne Solivan, Amy Cervini, Lezlie Harrison and Katie Bull.  I’m calling Students and Sit-In – it should be a fun night of song and sharing.  I hope you’ll join us.  Details up in the PERFORMANCE section.

Speaking of Katie Bull, on SATURDAY, MAY 11th, the wonderful vocalist is hosting a CALLING ALL FORCES, the first annual Earth Friendly Jazz Party – a party to celebrate the Earth with a great line-up of groups for a great evening of music, dance, poetry and art for a great cause! The ExPosed Blues DUO will perform at 8PM and the festivities jump off at 6PM.

In other news, I’m almost finished mixing the new Fay Victor Ensemble record Absinthe & Vermouth and I’m looking forward to presenting it to the world!!  We’ll play on the Red Hook Jazz Festival on June 9th and at the ShapeShifter Lab on July 2nd.  More news soon on release dates, etc…

Finally, here are some recent sounds and video:

Check out a video of Crystal, one of the selections from Absinthe & Vermouth

Check out my International Jazz Day Contribution

Check out a special take on Monk’s Brilliant Corners recorded in Berlin, Germany.

Thank you for reading –  I’m embracing this feeling of Spring, fleeting warm air passing by
and briefly stopping before it gets hot and after it was cold.

In music,
Fay

Mid March Mentionings

Greetings friends and I’m hoping all is well with you and wanted to share what’s been going on…

Spent the last week of February and the first two weeks of March in Europe, first having a wonderful family vacation in the French Alps, then moving on to Berlin to work with Pianist Achim Kaufmann and reedist Tobias Delius on the glorious music of Herbie Nichols. We played two nights in Berlin at Aufsturz playing Herbie’s music on the first night, moving into a free improv zone on the second adding Finnish guitarist Markus Personen and up and coming drummer Christian Lillinger.

The next day I hopped a train to Muenster, Germany for my annual mini blues tour with blues and boogie pianist Christian Bleiming. This time we played less as a duo and more integrated with other blues based groups and man did I have a good time! One wonderful highlight of this tour was working once again with drummer Ben Bönniger whom I also met back in the 90’s when I lived in Amsterdam and worked a lot with his jazz lounge trio, performing over 60 concerts in three years and featured on their last CD.  That was a nice straight ahead guitar trio yet Ben was always adventurous at a time when I was just beginning to be. And we chose moments to stretch when we could.  Fast forward to today and we’ve started a new development which truly began to flower in a concert with Achim Kaufmann in Muenster at the Museum for the Lackkunst, combining free improvisation, jazz standards and more in a liquid, stream of consciousness fashion, clearly the way I choose and love to fly these days musically.

Later this month I’m looking forward to greeting West Coast based bassist Lisa Mezzacappa and guitarist John Finkbeiner on this coast (after a fun tour experience back in November 2012) and we’ll play two gigs in town, first joining me at the 55BAR on THURSDAY, MARCH 28 for the Early Set and FRIDAY, MARCH 29th we’ll appear at Firehouse 12  as part of their Spring 2013 programming season in New Haven, CT, a wonderful venue to play! I played there back in 2010 with the Fay Victor Ensemble and I’m super excited to be there again in this configuration.

Nest post up in early April and I’m wishing everyone a robust and warm beginning of Spring!

Thanks for reading,
Fay

 

March 2012 – Pianists, Pianists, Pianists!

Spring is coming, about to swing the corner…

Greetings from rainy but warm Amsterdam, on this early day in March 2012 to tell you about the March happenings. I’m on the road, not playing in NYC until the end of April with the Fay Victor Ensemble after a sorta lengthy hiatus. I was off playing side woman for most of last year, a new role for me but one that I’ve been cherishing since I’ve learned oodles working with the likes of Anthony Braxton, William Parker and Dutch reedist Ab Baars.

Something special about this month too for, as it turns out, I’ll be collaborating primarily with pianists. All original and incredible musicians, in different configurations. A new development for me because I’ve been more attracted to guitar with so much music I do. For many years, I eschewed pianists, preferring the open-voiced sound of guitar and especially of the guitarists I’m drawn too. Yet, idiosyncratic pianists such as Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols are arguably my favorite jazz musicians.

So starting with Misha Mengelberg, that most economical of pianists, a person on the Monk/Nichols trajectory, it makes perfect sense that I’d be a fan of his. I’m a fan and perennial student and I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to not only play with Misha but that I have even gotten to know him.

I met Misha years ago when I still lived in the Netherlands, after we spoke on the phone when I was busy with looking for Nichol’s Music back in 2000, as I wanted to record “House Party Starting” (which I did with guitar no less…) and it was suggested that I call Misha about it. I was nervous when I phoned, we hadn’t met in person although I’d heard and been floored by the ICP (Instant Composers Pool), that conversation was the entree. I was so ‘professional’ when I called his home, all my questions laid out with the explanations at the ready. He dismantled that idea from the start of the conversation, me realizing that this conversation will go the way Misha wants it to go. So I better stay open and just listen, as hard as that was to do at the time. At the end of the conversation, I asked him if I could send him a copy of the record when it was done and when I did and followed up, Misha’s response to the record was “it reminded me of nothing”, which if you know Misha is about the best compliment you could get. I didn’t know then it was a compliment yet the more I grew to know Misha the more I would see it as such. Since then, we’ve done little projects/performances. I joined him the last night of his opening curation of the Stone in 2005 – where we performed the first time. Later that year, we played at the Bimhuis, him in a quintet I put together. And then for a series of concerts called the FreeSong Suite, in quartet with bassist Ernst Glerum and trombonist Wolter Weirbos, in which we began deconstructing pieces of Nichols, Monk, Ellington and my originals with free improvisation in the mix. These were wonderful, open concerts that lead up to Misha asking me to join his legendary ICP for a small European tour in 2010, I also joined them for an evening on their US tour in 2011, part of a the three day run at Ars Nova Workshop in Philadelphia where I was invited to join them for one night. So now, performing DUO with Misha is for me, a dream come true and we two are not sure where we’ll start or end in the free improv foray but that’s the beauty and the magic… We’ll play on a triple bill on March 7th at the Bimhuis that includes a solo set of Roscoe Mitchell right after ours, closing out the evening with Longrun Development of the Universe with Simon Nabatov.

Then I head to the Austrian Alps to play my first European festival with ReDDeer, a collective free improv trio of Austrian pianist Elizabeth Harnik and UK double bassist, Dominic Lash. We all met as Fellows in 2010 at the OMI International Musicians’ Residency and hit it off! Last October, the trio premiered at Korzo in NYC and many thanks to Elizabeth for her help with getting us on the wonderful festival of improvised music, ArtActs, held high in the Austrian Alps. What a line-up for the festival as well, check out all the serious people on the festival here.

Then I head to Berlin, Germany to develop a project with German pianist Achim Kaufmann of which I’ll say more of after we’ve worked it out. ))) We’ll play a house concert with Chicago cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm in Berlin before I head to Muenster to collaborate with drummer Ben Bonniger and Alexander Morsey playing tuba and bass at the Museum for the Lackkunst.

then back to Amsterdam and then home…

Please keep up with all the dates on the FV website and if you’re on FB or twitter, look for me and let’s connect. I love taking and sending pics from the road, and keeping everybody informed, I’d hate to leave you out if you want to know what’s happening.

In other news, I just completed a workshop for Creative Options for jazz inspired vocalists in Amsterdam. The venue I rented double booked us and just when I thought I may have to cancel, one of the participants offered the use of her Mom’s home if it were available and it was! The entire group went there and it was such a special workshop, so spiritual in what we could express with each other. I think the situation at the beginning immediately bonded us and when the course actually started we were already friends. A very special moment.

Makes me warm and fuzzy. Just in time for spring.

Thanks so much for reading…

Fay