October 2010 NEWS…a little late, a little bruised.

Dear Friends,

I’m writing from partly sunny Amsterdam, recuperating from a fall I had last week.  Yep.  I biked in the rain my second day here, tried to avoid someone, slipped and fell.  Banged up my knee and have been on crutches for a week and just a couple days ago got the go ahead to work back towards normal walking life.  It goes OK.

I don’t know why this happened but those close to me seem to think it may have something to do with the heavy schedule I’ve been keeping up. And me literally not taking a break for weeks on end.  Perhaps this was a rather mellow warning to slow down.  Take it easy and reflect.  Seriously.

So what all happened in September?  It was an amazing, musically schizophrenic month where I recorded and mixed one record and released another and where the Evolving Voice Series celebrated a one year anniversary.

September started off with a gig and a recording for Silkheart Records. Silkheart’s owner Lars Gustavsson and I met about four years ago when he stumbled onto a gig of mine at Enzo’s Jazz Club in Midtown Manhattan.  He liked what he heard and he wanted me to record for his label but didn’t have an idea for a project.  Over the years we threw a few ideas back and forth.  Nothing really gelled until he came to the Vision Festival in 2009.  We met there and there he came upon the idea of doing a project with the legendary Other Dimensions in Music (or ODIM – trumpetist Roy Campbell, reedist Daniel Carter, bassist William Parker and drummer Charles Downs). He even spoke with Roy and William at the Festival about the idea and they were both into it – which was an honor for me.  So cool that they were willing to do a project but WHAT would the project be??

Lars suggested I take the time necessary to figure that out and in the end decided to do something with my roots in the Caribbean and the legacy of Calypso as a people’s music, important to tell the REAL news of the day. After some research and discussion – I arrived at the idea of focusing on the lyrics of calypsos alongside free improvisation.  I thought this might be an organic way to spotlight the importance of the message in a given calypso with an improvised musical backdrop sometimes recognizing the source – ofttimes not.  It turned out to be a good idea and on Labor day (MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2010) ODIM and I performed on the Evolving Voice & Music Series at the Local 269 to a packed house and unleashed the crux of the project. The response was so strong that it garnered two live reviews, one here at AAJ.com and the other review here, in AAJ-NY’s October issue.  We went into the studio two days later to record and it looks like the record will be ready for release by early 2011.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the midst of this project came the CD release for BARE, the project of the ExPosed Blues Duo, released on AUGUST 31 on Greene Avenue Music(you can purchase directly from the Website now!).  What a night that was!!  The back room at Barbes on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2010 was standing room only and what a beautiful audience it was. Guitarist Anders Nillson and I were thrilled to be recommended by both the New York Times AND Time Out New York for the concert.  TONY even went on to put our CD release on the small list of Must See Shows that night in town with such luminaries as The Bad Plus and Marc Ribot!

Then just five days later we celebrated the One Year Anniversary of the Evolving Voice Series on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2010.  We celebrated by having an all vocal night featuring poetry with Steve Dalachinsky and Patricia SpearJones and music by the wonderful Lisa Sokolov and co-curator Patricia Nicholson Parker did a powerful set with William Parker on bass.  The music opened up with the Fay Victor Ensemble presenting new music that Jochem and I have been writing, gearing up to record early next year.  It wasn’t our best gig but it was great to try the music and look forward to more gigs in the coming months as we delve deeper into the new ideas.

What a month!

Now I’m in the Netherlands.  Got here at the end of September to rehearse and perform with reedist Michael Moore’s Fragile Quartet, and I’ll play on a great experimental series tomorrow(SUNDAY, OCTOBER 10th) in Utrecht at the Centraal Museum with flutist Mark Alban Lotz and guitarist Jasper Stadhouders. Next week Sunday (OCTOBER 17, 2010) I’ll conduct a workshop called “Opening and Evolving the Voice” just a few days before heading off to Germany for three weeks on a Blues tour with a wonderful German pianist by the name of Christian Bleiming.  If you know someone in the area who may be interested pass on the word.  I have a few open spots left.

In between, seeing friends and family, making as much music as possible and getting my leg back up to fighting strength.

Be well and 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!