So it has been a few (crazy) weeks since I returned from Java Jazz. Turns out I was much busier at Java Jazz than I thought I might be, between the rehearsals, gigs, and keeping up with business back home, so I didn’t have much time for updating my site while I was there. Of course once I got back, I had the usual week of jet-lag and being both burned out and inspired at the same time that I usually feel after returning from such a concentrated and intense experience. I am just now finding some time to collect my thoughts about my time in Jakarta this year, so here are my highlights:
- Our two sets with the Ron King Big Band well attended and well received by the beautiful Indonesian audiences. Over the years, we have definitely gathered a loyal and enthusiastic following. They love the classic big band stuff, but also totally get into the modern stuff that Ron has been writing recently (including some masterful arrangements by Dave Richards). Much of this music is not for the faint of heart, so it’s always nice to see people enjoying it so immensely.
- I had the pleasure of meeting and working with a former American Idol contestant named Joshua Ledet. This guy is amazing. You just need to go look him up right now, because he’s an absolute natural performer and brings amazing energy to the stage. I’m sure if you hadn’t heard of him already and I hadn’t mentioned him, you will have known his name anyhow in the next couple years. His management/support team (which included his sweet mother, as well as Jumaane Smith, who was also there performing his own music) was also a delight to spend time with.
- The jam session, which due to my busy work schedule I couldn’t attend as religiously as in some years past, was still the great hang it usually is. It was great getting to see, hear, and play with some friends I’ve met and become accustomed to seeing each year, like the amazing organist Tony Monaco, trumpeter Maurice Brown, and many of the talented local Indonesian musicians.
- I love that I’ve actually got some friends that I’ve made through the festival that I keep in touch with back home, and it’s great to see them in person as well. Those that know me know that I also have an interest in photography, so I spent a good deal of time hanging with Doug Mackenzie (http://www.mackenzie-images.com), Audrey Widyanata (http://audreywidyanata.wordpress.com/) and Sandra Novita, who are all fantastic photographers. I hope you all get a chance to check out their work. Some of my photos in my gallery on this site were taken by these photographers.
- As always, it’s great when you can be all the way around the world and see people that you have known for years. It just makes the world feel like such a small place. Even better, when something as beautiful as the universal language of music gets to bring you together. I had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old friend from college who has had a good deal of success since we first met, and some exciting new things going on since we last saw each other (playing together at a jam session at Los Angeles’ Blue Whale a few years ago). I’m talking about Kamasi Washington, who not only participated in the recently released bombshell album “To Pimp A Butterfly” by rapper Kendrick Lamar but also just last week released his own “The Epic”. Check him out! (http://www.brainfeedersite.com/2015/03/11/kamasi-washington-the-epic-05-05-15/)
- Last, but not least- my favorite new artist discoveries this year:
- Anthony Stanco Jazz Ensemble from Detroit (whose tenor player, Marcus Elliot, has one of the most gorgeous sounds I’ve heard)
- Ben Herman Quartet (from Netherlands)
In other news, I’ve been almost as busy as I can be, balancing teaching, writing, gigs (they’ve come in so fast and close together that I’ve had to pass on some projects I’d love to have done- but I guess that’s a good problem to have), and rehearsals. Currently on the plate is some intense flute and piccolo practice for the musical Hello Dolly, and an upcoming gig at the Lighthouse with the Alan Chan Jazz Orchestra (on 4/19- see my calendar for details), as well as some writing and arranging for my groups at CSULB (you can hear our combos live at CSULB’s Nugget April 22 and 23 at 8pm). I’m hoping to find time to post some charts and new recordings soon!