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Newest solo album now available 

Just a quick note to let you know that the third of the five solo albums I recorded this year are now available on most music streaming services.  Physical CDs will be ready when all five are finished.

You can check out all of my recent releases on my Music page, or go directly to my latest album on Spotify by clicking here.

This latest album features almost entirely original music.  When I first conceived of this monthly set-of-piano-music project, I cast a fairly wide net, but now that it's almost time to…

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Brazilian Music 

In preparation for this Sunday's concert with John Geggie and Tim Bedner I've been listening to a few really great new (to me) pieces of Brazilian music.  The songs I brought in were "Corsarios" by Bosca, a Hermeto Pascoal tune called "Bebe" and a few pieces by Egberto Gismonti.  A Brazilian singer I met on a cruise ship gig about 15 years ago gave me a copy of his incredible album Alma - I love the songs "Baiao Malandro", "7 Aneis", and "Agua e Vinho", but the piece we settled on was "Um Anjo"- a song from

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Toots Thieleman 

This Friday I'll be playing at the Merrickville jazz festival with Norm Glaude for his tribute to Toots Thielemans - here are two of my favourite tracks that we've done in the past.

Estate - from Only Trust Your Heart 

Before I was involved in this project I had already listened to this version a bunch as my go to for this tune.

 

Sno' Peas - from Bill Evans' Affinity - this is just about the hardest set of changes in a simple 8 bar section AABA tune that I've played in a while.  They break up its…

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Indian Music 

I've started rehearsals with Vinay Bhide for a show May 10th at noon at City Hall.  Vinay has asked Mike Essoudry and me to join him to play what we feel fits in the performance of two pieces.  One is based on the Raga Rageshri, on which I have previously written an original piece, "Pas De Deux".  In the key of C, the notes for improvising are Bb-C-E-F-A-Bb-C and the downward notes are C-Bb-A-F-E-D-C.  After a few minutes of getting it in your ears, an accidental G sounds glaringly wrong.

I've also been…

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Solo Piano - listening and playing 

Not a lot of shows coming up with all of my accompanist work looming, but I thought I'd share some things I've been checking out.

I've been listening to Keith Jarrett's Radiance, and album I couldn't get into when it first came out.  Now that I've been doing more solo playing and my ears have improved, I thought it would be good to give it a few more passes.  The concept is that he takes an idea from the previous improvised piece and forms a new piece out of it, and de-emphasizes melody, contrary to a lot…

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All - Never Took 

Here is the another video of a solo piano arrangement of a pop/punk tune.  The first one you can find by clicking here

I went to see the documentary about the band All and the Descendents "Filmage" when it came out and immediately became one of my favourite music movies.  Musicians that I looked up to lived a very tough life on the road, playing music for food and gas.  20 years after first hearing their music, it all makes sense to me now, and I still have a soft spot for all of their records.

https://www.

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7.5 beat time 

My love for North Indian Classical music began when I took a course taught by Vinay Bhide at Carleton University in 2002. His introduction to Indian music was aimed at all Western musicians, but to me seemed geared even more towards jazz musicians since so much of the excitement in Hindustani music comes from improvisation, usually over a pre-determined or standard form.  Their idea of form differs, but not as much as you might think. 

Although the amount of great reading materials is rapidly growing, I most…

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Simple Triads 

One of the first theory lessons I like to teach is that there are only 12 major chords and 12 minor chords.
Learning these is attainable in a relatively short amount of time.

To simplify this further I start with the six "3 White note chords":
C, Dmin, Emin, F, G, and Amin

And the six "White-Black-White chords":
Cmin, D, E, Fmin, Gmin, A

With these second six we start to have the potential for some unusual and more offbeat chord progressions.

The remaining chords can be thought of as "black-white-black" (6), "all…

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Jazz Standards- 16 you should know. 

This past weekend I moderated a jam session for Jazzworks at the new Ottawa Bluesfest Music School.  I prepared a handout on tunes to know that I wanted to make available to all my students and those who couldn't make the jam.

For the last few months I have been looking over many other people's lists of standards, as well as pooling my peers for their opinions on the matter.  There are tons of great lists out there, from the great book by Ted Gioia to lots of websites.  I even remember coming across regional…Read more

Music Note Sudoku 

I often encourage students to practice randomized chord patterns by picking a chord type or two, and then moving them through a tone row.

For instance CMaj7 - Ebmin7 - FMaj7 - F#min7 - Dbmaj7 - Dmin7 - BMaj7 - Emin7 - AbMaj7 - Bbmin7 - GMaj7 - Amin7.
And the opposite Cmin7 - EbMaj7 - Fmin7 - GbMaj7 - C#min7 - DMaj7 - Bmin7 - EMaj7 - Abmin7 - BbMaj7 - Gmin7 - AMaj7.

I had great breakthroughs in my playing working through newer chord types that I didn't realize were coming slower to my fingers than I thought…Read more

Bud Powell Un Poco Loco - part 2 

Once I realized that the actual improv going on was just over a C-pedal, I was curious to know what kind of material Bud would play.  Generally it's melodic, beboppish, but the adventurous parts are especially exciting. 

Click here to hear his solo slightly slowed down.

Click here to hear his solo on Alt take 1.

Click here to hear his solo on Alt take 2.

Instead of writing a huge analysis of these solos, and how they compare, differ, etc, I thought I would just point out some of my favourite juicy bits.  Even…Read more

Don't just know how to do something 

I had a huge breakthrough early in my college music studies when I first started practicing for extended periods of time (besides the obvious). 

When I was younger, I would generally practice the stuff I liked to play and avoid the stuff I didn't like (generally longer, involved pieces... that required more of an attention span).  This naturally led to me only being able to play the fun stuff and hating the hard stuff--  a vicious spiral.  When I confronted these issues in college, I went too far the other…Read more

Year in review 

While I had made attempts at blogging before, this fall, inspired by my brother-in-law's much more daunting endeavour, I finally started weekly entries.  Even if they are sometimes simple and short, I wanted to have something out there to focus my thoughts on music, life, and practicing.  And here we are, over 40 entries in!  For any of my friends, students, and potentially music fans who don't even know me, thanks for taking the time to check these out.

Here are a few of my favourite entries from this year…Read more

State of mind (Acceptance, Enjoyment, Enthusiasm) 

One wisdom nugget from Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth that has stuck with me for years is his idea of three states of mind.  When things are at their worst- his example is changing a flat tire in poor weather- at least you can move past negative feelings to a place of acceptance and do what needs to be done.  When what you are doing is better than this you might even experience enjoyment, and above that you can be enthusiastic. 

I try to apply these mentalities to everything, and they work especially well in a…Read more

Tripletifying a melody - My Funny Valentine (part 1) 

Often I describe back-phrasing to singers as purposefully starting late and pulling on the time and catching up.  I've seen this work for many singers, but one of the dangers is that the resulting singing can end up completely lacking in rhythm or even get the band lost.

Something I've been meaning to do for a while is write out a 'tripletified' version of a melody -- essentially worked-out back-phrasing.  I used the first eight bars of "My Funny Valentine" as a basis.  You can click here to hear me playing…Read more

Binge Listening 

People are almost proud of epic TV-show watching sessions, or binge-watching.  In the last few years it seems watching Netflix, Hulu or even DVD box sets all night is a far more common an activity than going out. Yes, this does not bode well for the live entertainment industry- not just music, but sports, movies, even restaurants, which all are having a harder time beating the home-based experience. 

In music, people have been warning of this day since the radio was invented.  Why go out?  Musicians went onRead more

The Body Conforms 

I have been thinking a lot lately about how over the years of playing a musician's body conforms to what they do. Sometimes you see this in a trumpet player's lips, sometimes they show exactly where the mouthpiece has sat those many, many hours.  Often, however, this kind of physical change is considered a sign of poor technique, or pushing your body too hard.

Recently I met some piano players who didn't have what many would necessarily consider 'good' technique, but were able to play what they needed to…Read more

Developing taste 

There's a bar in Ottawa that specializes in Scotch Whisky, The Highlander Pub on Rideau St.

When I'm there, I like to try the scotch of the day, usually something half-price that is normally out of my price range. In comparison I'm often not sure I like the higher end product as much as the middle range stuff. I've had similar experiences with trying more expensive wines at Vineyard's

One knowledgeable bartender informed me that sometimes when you sample a high end product your taste buds tell you that…Read more

Full speed ahead 

The other day I was at a diner and the busboy came along cleaning the countertops as quickly as he could, knocking over a closed container of salsa. He chuckled to himself, picking it up and wiping even faster to make up for lost time. One hand knocked over another bottle while the other knocked the salt shaker over, spilling salt everywhere. This time he looked sheepish as he reset everything quickly, having a final pass of the washcloth and leaving the area to dry, but clearly still covered with salt…Read more

Boud for Thought 

Welcome to my online journal!

This has been a long time in the works, I have been collecting ideas for years that inspire me, and I thought writing short posts online would be a great way to work through them and share them.

Alongside any musical stuff I'm working on I also have little stories and ideas about creativity and working full time as an artist that seem to keep coming up in conversation. I'm going to try to mix it up so there's something for everyone, not just those specifically into jazz and…Read more