Spent the Holidays in the Netherlands, deep in the Dutch woods

Best wishes to you for a wonderful 2020!! May it be full of possibilities and opportunities for the life and world you want to live in. I’m excited about 2020 for so many reasons. For the first time I wrote out all I was thankful for in 2019 which I’ll share further below.

First UP, First SHOW

I am thrilled beyond measure to share that I’ll perform a DUO show with the iconic French bassist & vocalist, Joelle Leandre!
TUESDAY, January 7 2020
Zurcher Gallery
33 Bleecker Street, NY NY
8PM $20 at the door

Later in the month catch me with Maria Grand (January 8); Women in The Arts (Jan 11-afternoon): WinterJazzFest Tribute to Steve Dalachinsky (Jan 11-night); We Have Voice (Jan 17-University of Pittsburgh); SoundNoiseFUNK3 (Jan 22-24/Dartmouth/Greenfield, MA).
Details on these performances on the Upcoming Gig Section of the FV website.

Gratitude Walk through 2019

Personally 2019 was a great and transformative year for me.  I feel I came into my own as an educator, developing an ever clearer vision of how to teach vocalists AND instrumentalists how to improvise. I’ve also performed more of my own composed music than ever before, sharing compositions with ensembles from Berkeley, CA to Banff and I kept on developing Mutations for Justice, set for a grand performance later in 2020, closer to Election Day.

I am grateful for all the support I’ve received last year for my work and for the myriad opportunities to stretch and expand outward.  So many folks to thank, listing quite a few below. 

My deepest gratitude to:

*John Zorn and The Stone at the New School for giving me the first week of January 2019 to honor the great pianist/composer that would have been 100 on January 3rd 2019.  I curated 4 days of concerts attempting to show  different sides of Herbie Nichols’ flexible genius that were well attended to boot.  I want to thank all of the musicians that contributed mightily to the proceedings and the New York Times for including the concerts in their weekly jazz listings.

*Martine Syms, Ellen Alderman and The Graham Foundation for the Fine Arts (Chicago, IL) for inviting to partake in a day of events closing out the 5 month exhibit of Martine Syms. I performed in Syms’ piece Incense, Sweaters & Ice which premiered at MOMA in 2017. The day at the Graham Foundation centered around a workshop on confidence building, performance in DUO with the esteemed Chicago drummer/impresario Mike Reed + with Q&A over process, message and improvisation. 

*Brice Rosenbloom & Matt Merewitz and The Winter Jazz Fest for presenting Mutations for Justice on the Festival, our 2nd WIP performance of the project.  This performance made Rolling Stones top 10 wrap of the festival, expressing what I want this project to be about -small mantras that state what’s going on.

*Matana Roberts, for including myself and trumpeter Jaimie Branch in a set to open up the season at the Issue Project Room.

*The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music for bringing me on as a faculty member!!

*Brad Linde at the Georgetown Day School in Washington DC for inviting myself, pianist Anthony Coleman and bassist Ratzo Harris to celebrate the great Herbie Nichols Centennial through masterclasses and performances with the students and a full Herbie Nichols SUNG performance as well.

FV's 2019 Banff Ensemble (Banff Center for Arts & Learning)
FV’s 2019 Banff Ensemble (Banff Center for Arts & Learning)

*Our new landlords (who we found in Feb 2019) for our new and comfortable digs!

*William Parker and Hamid Drake for the invitation to record with them as a trio.  The *ISH is LIT! I understand it will be included in a box set to be released later this year.

*Billy Martin and Creative Music Studios for asking me to take part in a stupendous fund-raising concert that included the likes of Marshall Allen, Marc Ribot, Oteil Burbridge and so much more at Brooklyn Bowl and for inviting me to be an Artistic Director!

*Steven Bernstein and Verna Gillis for inviting me to celebrate Roswell Rudd, who we all miss so much, at City Winery. It was a heart warming and beautiful event.

*Jamaaladeen Tacuma for inviting me to be a part of the closing set on the Outsiders Festival in Philadelphia, PA.  I shared the stage with the legendary reedist Gary Bartz as well and H Prizm and Charles Treece. A musical highlight!!

*Amy Bormet, for inviting me to join her and a killing crew of musicians at the Art Summit at the Kennedy Center where we were tasked with composing a closing song that encapsulated all that happened throughout the day.  We did good! Phew.

*Billy Martin for inviting me to be a Workshop Leader at the Annual summer retreat in the Catskills for the Creative Music Studios.

*Vijay Iyer & Tyshawn Sorey for inviting me once again to be guest faculty at The Banff Center for the Arts and Creativity for the 2nd year in a row. Teaching there has changed me as an educator in the best possible way.

*The New York Jazz Workshop for asking me for the 10th consecutive year to conduct the International  Jazz Vocal Summit.

*Headlands Center for the Arts for rewarding me with a residency to write more of Mutations for Justice.  I also thank Headlands for inviting to perform a solo excerpt of Mutations for Justice as part of their yearly fundraising event.  A special shout out to the residents I spend time with there; a very, very special shout out to the Residency Manager, Holly Blake, who was warm and welcoming throughout.  Not mention the person that knows absolutely all there is to know about that amazing space on earth.

*Pianist/composer extraordinaire Myra Melford for inviting me into her UC-Berkeley classes to share music and my performance practices with her ensembles. It was a blast to work with Lisa Mezzacappa as well in Myra’s class as well as in a couple performances.  

*Steve Dickinson at the Poetry Center of San Francisco for organizing a wonderful day of events at San Francisco State and Center for New Music, effectively launching the DUO of Myra Melford and myself that we then took to the Western Front in Vancouver, BC (Canada) and Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle, WA.  We tested beautiful ground in the afternoon talk and performance, already clarifying the ideas that moved into the evening concert.  A very unique connection of texts, song, form and improvisation. These opportunities are priceless to feel things out and happen far too little. Wonderful to work with Steve and everyone at the Poetry Center for this happening.

*guitarist/composer Jeremiah Lockwood for presenting me twice in the Bay Area while at the Headlands at Beth Sholom Congregation. First as part of a monthly listening series where I presented my compositions with Lisa Mezzacappa & Darren Johnston and then for Kol Nidre, which was my last day as Headlands Resident.  I’ll never forget it.

*pianist/composer/educator/curator JASON MORAN for getting an amazing exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  And he was so generous with it, including a series of performances in the sculptures throughout the 5-month run. I was honored to be one of the featured performers and that event was so incredible on many levels.  So grateful and honored to have gotten the opportunity.

*Nick Lloyd and Carl Testa at Firehouse 12 for programming SoundNoiseFUNK in the Fall Series.  We took that opportunity to record a live album, due to come out in 2020 on ESP Disk. Grateful to make more music that more of you can hear with this amazing group! Sam Newsome (soprano sax), Joe Morris (guitar) and Reggie Nicholson (drums).

*the powerful musician and educator James Newton for inviting me to be an Artist-in-Residence at UCLA this Fall. An incredible learning experience. I gave a lecture for the students on the importance of communicating messages in one’s music; I rehearsed an instrumental ensemble to perform my music for a final concert. Grateful for the opportunity to work with these great students that gave so much to the music

 **Northern Spy Records for releasing BARN SONGS on November 15 2019, my 10th album as a leader!!! If you haven’t heard it yet, do have a listen at: www.northernspyrecs.com

Outside of my New School Class, I gave more talks/lectures than ever in 2019 on subjects such as *Jazz Composers on Jazz Composers (Banff), *Experiments in Communicating Message (UCLA & The New School), *Beginning Jazz Harmony (NYU), *Creative Improvisation (Creative Music Studios, Banff + Private course) Rhythm in Real Time w Myra Melford (University of British Columbia)

I’m ending with giving special shout out to all the people that inspired me with their vision, their faith and their love. Thank you, Thank you for being YOU Nicole Mitchell, Imani Uzuri, Tyshawn Sorey, Vijay Iyer, Marika Hughes, Joe Morris and my hubby Jochem van Dijk who never ceases to amaze me. I connected more to my family in 2019 too, even meeting my half-brother in person for the first time. I ran into cousin at Banff that I hadn’t set eyes on in 30 years and my closest aunt turned 70, celebrating with a huge celebration that bought so many of us together from far and near. And ending the year with my Dutch family was special too, the first time that has happened since I moved back in New York City in 2003.

Dream BIG y’all. No reason not to.  May you soar into the light in 2020.

Selfie w my sister and husband on the last day of 2019