Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's been awhile since writing and so much has been churning around in my life. I have been madly working to make my concert at La Peña Cultural Center on Dec. 21 a success. Not only will there be a concert of the Sephardic music we have been developing, but there is also a companion art exhibit in the lobby of the center. Just getting 13 artists organized was stressful enough. Everyone needed to have their artwork to me by Nov.30 so it could be hung on Dec. 1. Needless to say, many of the artists missed that date. Some came the day of the hanging, other art didn't even arrive until Dec. 2. BUT, I got it all, it has been hung in the lobby and it is really amazing to see how each artist approached the Hand of God. They are all really beautiful and I am thrilled that it all came together so well. Since the hanging of the artwork, I had a photographer--David Belove--come and photograph each piece. I then created a poster calendar and a postcard, each of which will be for sale at the concert. All of this is to help raise funds for the SME recording project. I have applied for grants to help pay for the recording, but I still haven't heard the results and I'm not counting on much--especially in these tough economic times. So, I'm trying to think of creative ways to raise the funds. I will also be doing a raffle the night of the concert with some really nice gifts that have been donated to the cause. I'm pretty confident the concert will be spectacular and the overall evening will be jampacked with lots of fun stuff. It's taking a lot of work to prepare for all of this, but it's been fun, and I'm sure worth every effort.

As of January 5th I will be substitute teaching music for 6 months. one of the music teachers at a school near my apartment is takng a sabbatical to go and tour and record a CD. Lucky for her--and lucky for me! I will be teaching K-3 grades. I think it will be a lot of fun and really good for me to get back into the classroom on a regular basis. And of course the money won't hurt either! As I said previously, we are in tough economic times and my money situation has been precarious at best. Places to perform on a regular basis here in the Bay Area are becoming more and more challenging to find. This is the time that being able to think out of the box in order to survive becomes imperative. I'm not worried, though, I know that I'll be fine. I just hold on, pray a lot and trust that the Universe is watching over me. When I am able to let go and TRUST I am usually well cared for. It may sound somewhat hokey, but I believe in a higher power and time and time again it has been proven to me that the Universe watches over me--and I imagine all of us. Maybe you call it by a different name, but nevertheless there seems to be something bigger than each of us that oversees our existences.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seattle and Beyond

Seattle was fantastic. Andy Gilbert wrote a really nice article about me and my music in the Seattle Times that significantly helped to attract customers to Bake's Place--particularly for the Saturday night concert. Bake's Place is such a beautiful jazz club. The most challenging thing about it is that it is located within a gated retirement community. A lot of people are put off by that fact and don't want to go there. But if they could just get beyond their own perception of what that must be like, they would realize what an awesome place Bake's Place truly is. The acoustics are wonderful, the environment is very intimate--it only seats 72 people, and the musical experience is probably like no other in Seattle. Many of the people that came out this weekend had never been to Bake's before. It was because of the article that they came (power to the press!!). I was very grateful and happy to have such fantastic audiences both nights. I made some great new fans and the band, as always, played spectacularly. Traveling with Murray, Peter and Paul is so much fun. They all have such great senses of humor and we all get along very well. I was also happy because the hotel I chose for us to stay in this time was close to the Sound and so we were able to walk down to the water and explore a different part of the Seattle area. While down at the water we saw a couple walking their cat on a leash! Peter got video of it--I'll see if I can post something here soon. So bizarre.

The whole weekend was a huge success. The Jewish Film Festival concert was completely sold out to the point where people had to be turned away. What a thrill that was. And the septet played beautifully. We are all now settling in to this new music and it is beginning to take on a life of its own. That is when the magic really starts to present itself. Even over the weekend in Seattle we played some of the Sephardic songs. As a quartet it was a little more of a challenge for the band, but we figured it out and created some new and interesting sounds around the songs. I guess for me it just really doesn't matter in what context I get to perform--I just LOVE to sing and any and all opportunities are a blessing and a treat for me.

Now I have a month to prepare for the La Peña concert on Dec. 21. The artists are submitting their artwork for the art exhibit by Nov. 30. the art gets hung in the lobby on Dec. 3 and the art reception will be the night of the concert. I also have to contact all of the JCCs in this area to drop off flyers for the concert. The goal is to sell out for this event. I think it will be a truly special evening of art and music and I need to make sure it is well organized and as wonderful as I am envisioning!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let me say first off that in the first time in my life I have never felt more proud to be an American! I truly feel the country finally got it right this time in electing Obama and he seems to already be proving that, even before his inauguration. As I've spoken with many people over the course of the past week, both in the SF Bay Area and in New York, I hear and feel a new sense of community, positivity and HOPE. It's fascinating to me that an election such as this historic one, can change a country's entire attitude towards life. Now I'm sure there are people who are very disappointed in the outcome, but I am confident that they, too, will see the change in the world's feeling towards us. And I must say that McCain gave a beautiful concession speech that really seemed to help to bring the country together. Okay, enough about politics.

After spending a few days in Brooklyn and NYC I am back home madly preparing for this weekend. Thursday, at the Cubberly Theater in Palo Alto, I will be performing after the showing of a documentary about an Israeli singer, Yasmin Levy, who is trying to keep Sephardic music alive. The Sephardic Music Experience will be performing a one hour concert after the movie. I love the idea of combining the arts in this way. AND to top it all off, I was featured in the Palo Alto Weekly and put on the cover of the paper! Check it out:

And then the next morning me, Murray, Peter and Paul will all head up to Seattle to play at Bake's Place in Issaquah for a two night stint. I'm looking forward to returning to Seattle to perform. The audiences there are very receptive and friendly. AND it will just be fun to be on the road with the guys for a couple of days. Lots to prepare, lots of practicing to do, lots of excitement in the air!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Waiting, Hoping, Praying

I must admit that I will be relieved when this election has been finally put to bed. I am so excited about the prospect of having an intelligent president who actually might turns things around and instill a new hope into this country. But what if Obama isn't elected? What if the country chooses yet another idiot to run things? Are we really a country of so many ignorant people that we can't see who is the stronger candidate? Is it a color thing? A liberal thing? Shouldn't we decide on the candidate who will lead us in an even mannered way, who has the education and the willingness to grow and learn? Shouldn't we choose someone who is actually in touch with everyday people instead of someone who has lived with a silver spoon in his mouth? And don't even get me started about how frightening it would be to have Palin in Washington. No, I just don't even want to imagine how even more screwed up the United States will become if McCain is elected.

I don't usually spout about politics. Before now it was never something I wanted to be involved in. But what has happened to this country over the past 8 years has awakened me. And to have someone like Obama appear and instill so much hope for change and a positive future has changed me. For the first time I am excited about the election. It's not about the lesser of two evils, but about choosing someone who will lead us into a future we can be proud to be a part of. Right now I have to admit I'm a little embarrassed to be an American--especially when I leave the country. I don't want to feel this way any more. I want to know how it feels to be a proud American. I want to be able to hold my head up and not have to make excuses about why a country as large and strong as the US would be stupid enough to choose an idiot like Bush--TWICE! PLEASE, oh PLEASE make the right decision tomorrow and vote for Obama. If he isn't elected then I am very seriously going to start looking for a new country I can call home. I can't fathom what life would be like under another regime as we have had. Now I just need to figure out which country to move to. I really hope it doesn't come to that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Last night I met a bunch of friends over at the Yoshi's in San Francisco to attend Edgardo Cambón's CD release concert. it was a fantastic concert, very well rehearsed, great songs, great band and great energy. Edgardo was in fine form as a band leader and performer and he was glowing with pride and fervor for the music he was presenting. He also included tango dancers, flamenco dancers and bomba dancers in the concert which added a really nice different element to the music. And to top it all off, the attendance was phenomenal. To be able to pack Yoshi's on a Tuesday night--for both the early and late shows-- is a huge accomplishment and one to be very proud of. So my congratulations all around goes out to Edgardo for such a successful evening and a fantastic new CD.

I have been busy getting my musical life organized. I wonder if I'll ever really get organized!! :) But I am trying to get grants written for the Sephardic Music Experience CD recording project as well as organize various trips that are coming up. The day after the election I'll be flying out to New York to visit with my son for a few days. I'm so excited to see him and to see where he is now living. He's been living in Brooklyn since June of '07 and this will be the first time I am able to go and visit him. It will be so much fun to see him in his new element and also to be in NYC again. I love that city and its energy. I'm also hoping to meet up with some musicians while there, make some new connections and possibly new contacts for places to perform. I would really love the opportunity to do an east coast tour next year sometime, and if all goes well, it will happen. I can't imagine playing on the east coast and not doing something in New York. That would be sad!!

I'm also getting ready for this Sunday's concert at the Little Fox in Redwood City (4pm). The Hearing Voices concert produced by BeasWa productions. It should be a really fun and eclectic kind of concert, filled with a variety of different styles of music. So if you're anything like me and love to hear many different sounds in one sitting, this is the concert for you!! I will have some different players with me that day which I find really exciting. When I play with new people I always find some new treasures within the music that I hadn't found before. Melecio Magdaluyo will be playing the piano--yes the piano!!, Sam Bevan on bass and David Flores on drums. We had a rehearsal the other day to prepare for the concert and I'm excited! These guys are all such consummate pros that I know that the concert is going to be amazing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jazz Vespers

Jazz Vespers is a concert series put on by Ed Klitsch here in the Bay Area. The idea was started in New York so musicians could play for musicians in a more sacred environment on Sundays. A time to reflect with jazz music. The services happen from 5-6pm--when musicians are finally waking from their weekend haze :) --and the format is really nice. The pastor, usually in a non-denominational church, says a few words of greeting and the musical group plays a song. The concert/service continues in this manner with the pastor sharing ideas with words and the band sharing ideas with music, back and forth, creating a celebratory aura within the confines of the church. It's really quite a nice way to present music and ideas. My group, Murray, Peter and Paul, performed last Sunday at Jazz@Peace in Danville and will again perform this coming Sunday at Noe Valley Ministry in San Francisco. I really look forward to these concerts. They give us a chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Another really cool concert series I am a part of is through BeasWa Productions. Wendy Waller and Matt Beasley have been producing jazz style concerts at the Little Fox in Redwood City for almost two years now. It's not easy putting these shows together and uniting the group of talented musicians they do, but somehow they pull it off and it is always quite a stellar program of music. I am honored to be a part of their next concert, Hearing Voices. There are three "acts" performing on Sunday, November 2 (4pm): my latin jazz ensemble, Wendy Waller and Her Fine Band, a mix of jazz, creole and folk music, and the Clockwork Singers, an a capella group of four singers. It is an eclectic mix of music and musicians and should prove to be an engaging afternoon of a variety of sounds.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The concert was an amazing success! We had a fantastic turn out of people, it was a completely gorgeous day in Golden Gate Park and performing outside in a beautiful setting was just icing on the cake. The only problem was that there was so much going on in that area that parking was practically impossible. I had a few people e-mail after the fact to tell me that they had driven to San Francisco specifically to see the Sephardic concert only to have to turn around because there was no parking within miles of the park. That's a bummer and that's what makes me most crazy about SF--parking! It's such an amazing city but not if you're driving a car!

The music itself was very well received. There are certainly some wrinkles to iron out but overall the body of work is fantastic and I'm really excited about this project. I'm also really proud of myself and the other musicians involved with how well the music was performed. We pulled it off! Two rehearsals, all new music and a lot of dedication and hard work. It's a beautiful thing working with these musicians and seeing my ideas come to fruition in such a spectacular way. It's also a huge relief that we were able to present this music as well as we did. :)

So now the big push will be to see if I can get funding to record a Sephardic CD. I am selling sampler CDs at my live shows that will help to fund the recording, but I will definitely need to find larger sources of money to be able to record this CD. I'm hoping there are still grants out there that will be willing to help support a project like this. I'm pretty confident there are and I intend to find them so we can get this music recorded and out into the world. I think it deserves a wider audience. The big message I received at the concert on Sunday was that there is definitely an interest in this music and people were asking for a CD with only Sephardic music. And the journey continues....