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Keith Jarrett's European Quartet 

I'm so pleased at how these Saturday group classes are going - please feel free to stop by and hangout.  I will be presenting different mini-topics each week through the school term.  

On the Jan 23 class, I talked about the music Keith Jarrett wrote for his European quartet, thinking about the story from the Ian Carr biography saying he just jotted down some simple music on the plane ride over.  I also shared two of my versions of his song "The Windup" and "My Song".  There are lots of different versions…

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Announcing Group Classes 

As of January 2021 I have started a weekly group class for my teaching studio, every Saturday morning at 11AM over Zoom.  

You can come join in by simply joining my Zoom room at 11AM this coming Saturday.

Students who study with me privately will have access to recordings of the older classes, but I am hoping to share some of my handouts online for everyone to see as well.  

In the trial class on January 16, we briefly talked about Bb blues in jazz, especially in Monk's music.  Here is a handout I made of…

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Wall LPs (Summer 2020) 

On the wall in my teaching studio there are three IKEA LP frames that fit vinyl records that can be easily swapped in and out.  Because I can only listen to vinyl in the basement, it's a nice daily reminder of some of the music I've picked up physical copies of, usually from the Record Centre on Wellington.  I try to change the records out once a school term and put the three albums on a Spotify playlist so I can let those albums percolate a bit through repeated listens.  

Over the last several months the…

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Updated Store and Spotify 

I have been preparing some new solo piano music but in the meantime, I updated my store to only show physical products, as I've made most of my earlier albums available on major streaming services like Spotify.  I also added a tip jar, which I'm intending on using during any online events in the coming months.  If you are listening to my music online and want to make a gesture of support, since purchasing and downloading albums is less of a thing, please feel free to do so.  Thanks!

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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Post Jazz Festival times 

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this year's Ottawa Jazz Festival.  It was a very special honour for me to be part of the house trio hosting the jam sessions every night for ten straight days - the first year I went to the jazz festival (1996...) I probably went to eight of their late night jams.  It was my first exposure to the music in a club setting - real professionals playing mere feet away, the sound came from the instruments as much as any sound system.  I'm really happy to have had this chance…

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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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Radio Play 

My hopes of a regularly maintained thoughtful content-filled blog haven't materialized in the face of my regular practice and teaching schedule.  However, I thought this might be a great and easy way to keep track of fun news and things I'm doing as they happen, instead of constantly bombarding my e-mail list.

Most recently, I've been practicing video game theme songs for this Friday, when I'll be playing with the relatively new F8-BIT at Live on Elgin.

Alex and Michel were interviewed about the project…

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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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Modern Bootlegging 

First of all, the very word "Bootlegging" has to do with clandestine action, and what started me thinking about this issue was the extremely overt and non-secretive manner in which people currently are reproducing live music.

We have all had that thought when someone holds their phone up to record a shaky, badly lit chunk of video from a live music performance. What are they thinking? Do they lack the presence to enjoy the experience without proof they were there? Do they love their phone more than the…

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Bodyjar - Five Minutes Away 

For three of my posts in this series I wanted to record solo piano versions of songs that aren't covered by solo piano very often.  This exercise of figuring out a vocal melody and harmony and making an arrangement is something I get my first year university students to do- there's nothing better than working out a song you love.

The first one is by Australian group Bodyjar- I saw these guys play sometime in the late 90s at a tiny club in downtown Ottawa that doesn't exist anymore, the Liquid Monkey maybeRead 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

Bud Powell Un Poco Loco 

My big project this fall was digging into Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco". 



It's a song with more than one moment that pushes the envelope of standard jazz language, rhythm and form. The Max Roach drum pattern alone has been elaborated on by many- the 5 over 4 pattern is filled with energy and slightly lopsided, not quite adding up to two bars.At the fast cut time tempo, I feel like it has a falling forward momentum, which feels to me like he was aiming more for whole note triplets across the barline (this was…Read more

Music: An Investment of Your Time 

Full time and part time musicians alike are living in an age where it is increasingly hard to put a monetary value on music.  In the 20th century, people in the western world found ways to monetize every aspect of music- performance, recording, royalties from recordings of performances, and even getting paid for royalties of songs other people wrote that substantially sounded like songs you wrote.   Many interesting developments have happened quite recently, from the drastic decrease in costs of home… Read more

Interpreting a melody - My Funny Valentine (part 3) 

After getting the ball rolling with three worked-out versions of the first eight bars of My Funny Valentine, and then looking at how three singers performed them, it was only natural to find three great instrumental versions to look at.  Keep in mind that this is the first time the melody is being stated in the performance- although with a song like this there is a lot of familiarity with the original on the part of both listener and performer.

Sonny Stitt - from a Quincy Jones' collection.  It was really…Read more

Vocal phrasing of a melody - My Funny Valentine (part 2) 

This is really a continuation of my previous post about rhythmically worked-out backphrasing.  I thought it might be interesting to take some of my favourite singers' versions of My Funny Valentine and see exactly what they are doing. 

Here is Chet Baker from "The Best of Chet Baker Sings" - one of my first vocal jazz records.  On it are simple and beautiful versions of 20 songs every jazz musician should know.  Chet's phrasing leans towards triplet-type figures.  The exact rhythm in measure 5 is hard to…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

Ornette Coleman "How Deep Is The Ocean" 

Ornette plays standards (and with pianists) so rarely that I want to dig into what this early example of his band sitting in with Paul Bley does.  I also have lifted a bunch of his playing on "Embraceable You" but this performance of "How Deep Is The Ocean", an Irving Berlin Standard from the '30s, is a track I haven't really listened to before, from an album (Live at the Hillcrest 1958) I've been meaning to dig into more.   The horns play a unison intro line, it sounds loosely out of time but they…

Miles Davis' Sidemen Graphic 

I've often wondered what a complete family tree (or I guess intricate cloud) of people who played with Miles Davis would look like, but of course anything past one or two degrees of separation increases so exponentially that we would come across Kevin Bacon or your neighborhood jazz student within six or seven steps.   Just for fun I chose ten albums covering a large sampling of just his studio recordings (Charlie Parker's Swedish Schnapps (1953) to Tutu (1986)) and connected the sidemen from each. Any… Read more

Lena Horne "I've Got It Bad And That Ain't Good" 

When I wrote some CD reviews for Peter Hum at Jazzblog.ca, I felt I gained some good insight from that kind of in-depth listening- especially knowing I would have to turn those thoughts into words.  (And that someone might actually read them).  Recently I have been doing a lot of really focused listening to all kinds of music, some familiar, some I thought I was familiar with but that sounds new on re-listen, and some completely new from all genres and time periods.  This is the first of some individual…Read more

Untitled's Blues 

I can't count the number of tunes I have played called "Untitled".  Or a variation depending on what music notation software calls a piece with the title left blank.  I personally struggled when setting an untitled poem to music with what to call it.  In the end I used words from the poem that seemed appropriate.

Jazz tunes can be short- a blues head can be 12 bars long and provide enough material for extended improvisations.  One common titling tradition is naming tunes after colleagues and friends, like…Read more