November 2011: On the Road Again…

Happy Autumn Y’all!

Here in the Northeastern US of A we’ve already had our first official snowstorm, with downed trees and all.  Boots on and collars up for the next little while. And for the next little while I’ll be on the road with Dutch reedist and composer Ab Baars as a featured guest in his new Invisible Blow Project. The Invisible Blow is a boxing term to indicate the unprotected moment that everyone has, no matter how weel trained you are.  Ab Baars is expanding the term as a metaphor for life, the inevitable confrontation of growing older and dealing head on with the Invisible Blow of life.  Ab has composed incredible music to texts taken from  Charles Bukowski, Muhammed Ali, William Carlos Williams, Joyce Carol Oates and more. The project is also cause for celebration of Ab Baars’ Trio being together for 20 years!

We’re doing 15 concerts in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Romania and Polnad.  Its the first time I’ll be part of a tour of this magnitude and I’m  honored that Ab wrote such beatiful music using voice that I get perform. Rounding out the group for the tour is french horn player  Vincent Chancey. Phew! The full itinerary is up in the Performance section of the FV site or you can learn more on the Stichting Wig website too. As a very special treat, I was asked to pick concert tips for the Bimhuis’ incredible month of programming! Just for fun, check that out here

Before heading off, I need to properaly say goodbye to October 2011.  I certainly felt like a musical schizophrenic last month but what an exhilirating time I had firstly with the TriCentric Foundation and Anthony Braxton for the Braxtonian Festival at Roulette. Performing in the Syntactical Ghost Trance Choir and Trillium J was certainly a career highlight for me.  Not to mention an honor to get the opportunity.  The turnout for the 4 day festival was not only impressive but downright inspiring!  To see so many faces of different hues and ages coming out to honor a living composer made me think that creative music has a great chance of flourishing in this city!  The TriCentric Foundation did an incredible job organinzing this amazing event.

a couple weeks after that, Austrian pianist came to town to perform two gigs (in TRIO with British bassist Dominic Lash and myself and one concert as a DUO) and have her pieces performed with Moon Young Ha’s Ensemble.  Elisabeth, Dom and I met as Music OMI Fellows in 2010 and we hit it off musically!  Having Dominic stateside for this past year was a great opportunity to try to play together again.  Really glad we did.  We have some things on the fire for 2012 and will get back with more on that later on.

Finally I performed my final gig on the books for 2011 in NYC on Halloween as part of the Blues Hues for Halloween themed evening held at the Evolving Series that also featured vocalist Lisa Sokolov and reedist Roy Nathanson.  Anders Nilsson and I bought our refreshed ExPosed Blues DUO business and made some scary sounds. Boo!

If we’re friends or you’re fans of FV on FB, I’ll post pictures from the tour and I’ll even attempted to shoot some video of cool places.  See you all around the bend.

In music,

Making Tracks this Fall 2011

Labor day weekend already.  Really? As slow as I took this summer, I’m still surprised its gone so soon.  That means life is about to pick up in my little music world.

And I’m so excited, feeling better in tune with the effect of music on us humans. I don’t know if I understand better per se, just observing more and filing the results.  turns out subways stations are a great lab to listen and see. A few months ago I wrote a piece based on hearing a cellist in the subway. Then a few days ago, I missed an L train, already late to where I was off to.  Seeing I had to wait 10 minutes for the next train annoyed me but there was this music. A big tall guy with a baby face strumming a guitar singing tunes from Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc. The now quiet platform gave me a seat on the bench not too far from the guitarist.  He went into ‘Creep’ from Radiohead. He just strummed the chords but he slowed the tempo down considerably and sang the words plaintively.  Those words soared and expressed what we all feel we are at times.  I’m glad I had on shades because I choked up. Gradually people moved on to the platform and were just as mesmerized, opening their wallets.  In silence.  Me too.  I’m still carrying around his version of ‘Creep’.  Anyone who thinks music doesn’t matter could observe these happenings.  The molecular structure of the structure you’re in changes shape when music is played within it.

Having some time this summer made it easy to appreciate this more.  Its so important to step back and observe when I can, living in NYC makes that hard. I relished this time since I know it’s going to get busy in what seems to be an exciting period full of new stories and of course I’ll share them here!  For now, I’d like to let you in on some news and what’s in store for the rest of the year.

Next week, I’m headed to Berkeley, CA to teach at the JazzSchool.  It will be my FIRST time to the West Coast to perform and teach a workshop – you can check out all the info here.  The West Coast has offered up a warm welcoming mat, rolled out with a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle by esteemed journalist Lee Hildebrand.  It’s online now and you can read that here! I’ll be playing with bassist Lisa Mezzacappa & guitarist John Finkbeiner – playing some originals and free improv, for sure. The following day, on September 11th, I’ll run a MasterClass talking about the “Creative Option” for vocalists.  There are some spots available. Check here for more info.

Shortly after I head to Germany for a mini “Breezing Blues through Germany” tour with pianist Christian Bleiming, we play a couple clubs and make an appearance on the Coesfeld Jazz & Blues Festival as well.  I’ll meet  musician/composers Ab Baars and Ig Henneman in Amsterdam to start working out the music of the Invisible Blow, the tour I’m so honored to be a part of in November 2011. The Invisible Blow is a celebration of 20 years of the Ab Baars Trio( with bassist Wilbert DeJoode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven), presenting new compositions by Ab Baars inspired by: William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski, Hans Faverey, Anneke Brassinga, Aischylos, Joyce Carol Oates, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Weldon Kees, Robert Creeley, Seamus Heaney. We’ll tour Europe making stops in Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Romania and the Netherlands.  We record the project at the end do for release at a later date. Ab Baars has one of the most gut-wrenching tenor tones, full of brass and knuckles.  And as a composer, his music is some of the most inspired I’ve heard for keeping the urgency of the ‘free’ while writing melodies that outline the structure beautifully.  It’s going to be a thrilling musical ride in which I’m sure I’ll learn a lot, be challenged and inspired.  Learn more about what the Invisible Blow is about, the tour and where we’ll be here.

In between the European forays, I’ll play in the Anthony Braxton Festival, a 4-day extravaganza from October 5-8, 2011.  I’m in The Ghost Trance Choir on October 7th and the World Premiere of Trillium J on October 8th!  All happening at Roulette.  The programming is incredible, so many sides of Anthony Braxton will be on display.  How cool is that?  In addition, Trillium E, the first recorded opera of Anthony Braxton’s will be released in October 2011.  Learn more about that and all things Anthony at the Tricentric Foundation.

The Evolving Music Series will be back up and running in October as well, still at Clemente Soto Velez but temporarily housed in the 2nd floor theatre until mid-November when we resume the Series in the Gallery space. Also check out InGardens, starting up in September through October for the third year in a row. Bring creative experimental music to some of the city’s community gardens.  Keep up with both events here. Later in October, Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnink comes to town and we’ll continue to develop the trio started at MusicOMI in 2010 when we were fellows (along with UK bassist Dominic Lash).  We’re calling it ReDDeer.  We’ll explain in person why! Please check the PERFORMANCE page on the FV website for firm DEETS.

KAISO STORIES had a great review in Cadence by Jerome Wilson, where he says “Victor is proving to be one of the most extraordinary vocalists on the scene today and here she comes off as actress, sorceress, and temptress, working an area of rough, declamatory improvisations in the tradition of Jeanne Lee and Abbey Lincoln but with her own burning passion and galvanic force.”

Thanks for reading.  Here’s hoping that the tracks you’re making are yours as much as possible.  Love and music.