Happy 2016! I wish you and all your loved ones the best wishes for this New Year!! May this year be your most enriching and fulfilling yet….
I start this year in a warrior spirit. Like I’m gearing up for battle on many fronts including my own creative quest for who I am and what I need to say. It’s been a couple years since I felt sure of my musical vision. I’m a restless creative spirit that has to pursue a variety of things but always with a main project that anchors everything else. A project I call home. For over 10 years that was the Fay Victor Ensemble, the vehicle for my writing, band-leading and improvisational playground (co-written with my husband and bass guitarist Jochem van Dijk). We’re still going strong – be on the lookout for FVE 2016 dates soon – yet I feel a pulling to perform music that isn’t written by me at all. For a couple years now I’m performing tunes from the Great American Songbook again finding new possibilities that I couldn’t even think of when I was starting out as a traditional jazz singer and my ears were more closed. An amazing rediscovery for me!
Jazz standards will show up on my 55BAR residency this month (THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2016) with Sam Newsome on soprano saxophone and Ken Filiano on double bass that I call the Quiet Side. My first gig of 2016 mines the jazz universe in a different way; the compositions of Ornette Coleman. Guitarist Anders Nilsson suggested we check out some Ornette Coleman tunes for our ExPosed Blues Duo project. I love Ornette’s music, already a fan and even learned a few themes by ear yet never considered singing them until Anders suggested it. We’ve done Ornette’s music as a duo a number of times over the past few years, last Spring we bought it to the 55BAR and invited bassist Sean Conly to join us. As luck would have it alto saxophone titan Darius Jones stopped by to hang for the gig and sat in. No doubt after hearing these rough forays that there wasn’t something there. A few months later the quartet, with Darius and Sean played on Craig Harris’ Series in Harlem after Ornette had left us in June 2015. Guitarist Kenny Wessel (and ex-Ornette Coleman sideman) replaced Anders, who was out of town, and what emerged that afternoon made my heart sing. That group, In Praise of Ornette… will appear on the Evolving Music Festival on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6, 2016 at Clemente Soto Velez.
There are beautiful Free Improv forays too this month in settings I’m proud to be a part of: on FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, I’ll join saxophonist/composer Matana Roberts residency at the Stone in the Lower East Side of NYC at 10pm, performing with her and more wonderful folk, then on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 20, join me for another Green Avenue Music Presents at IBEAM with Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Ben Gerstein on trombone and a special guest Elisabeth Harnik on piano! SATURDAY, JANUARY 23 and SUNDAY, JANUARY 24, 2016 I’m playing in Chi-town!! on the 23rd at Constellation with the incredible multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey as we dig deeper into our duo dialogue and the following night I join drummer Mike Reed, bass clarinetist Jason Stein and Nick Butcher on electronics and guitar at the Hungry Brain for another fresh musical meeting. What a way to start the New Year. I hope to see you out at the shows and as always you can get all the performances details on the GIG section of the site…
Other super important things happening this month…SUNDAY, JANUARY 10, I’ll emcee an important event – a benefit to support the family of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old boy gunned down by police in Cleveland over a year ago. We want to assist Ms. Samaria Rice in getting the help she needs to fight the lack of indictment in this case. It will be a great event with musical performances and more…if you can’t be there, do what you can to donate to the cause and/or please spread the word.
On MONDAY, JANUARY 18, 2016, the Jazz Vocal Workshop will put on their end of semester performance! I’m very excited for this performance as these students have worked hard and risen to the occasion throughout the semester. This will be the most diverse presentation I’ve put on yet and I’m damn proud of this group. Sadly, it will be my last presentation as I am leaving the position at the end of semester. I had such a great two years at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music but the other news for 2016 is going back to school! So I’ll be focusing on that this year as well.
Ahhhh….a good feeling to start the year with a fighting spirit in a positive way. Life is painfully short. If no other year made that painfully clear, 2015 should be strong contender. No need to dilly-dally over the small stuff that gets in the way and distorts focus. We’ve got to fight the powers that be within and without.