Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Arranging the Old Into the New

Last night I met with David Pinto who is arranging two songs for my Sephardic Music Experience project. David is Susana Baca's bass player as well as musical director. He is an incredibly talented man who is very soft-spoken yet strong in his ideals of the music and how it should be performed. We met at my apartment where he brought his portable studio. He wanted me to record the vocals over the arrangements he had created in GarageBand. He has quite a nice little set-up and it was fun to see how detailed you can get with that program. I definitely need to learn how to use GarageBand to help me compose and arrange ideas I have for new songs.

Anyway!! The arrangements he has created are exquisite!! I am so excited about how this whole project is coming together. Each arranger--and I've engaged four different people--brings something completely unique to the table. My dream of creating a "world" sound for this music is being realized right before my eyes. I was worried that I might not like tackling all of this music, but I am infused with a new energy of pure unadulterated excitement! :) Now I can't wait to get all of the arrangements to the musicians and hear how it will all sound with live instruments. I feel like we are beginning to create something very special here and I look forward to presenting these pieces to the world. All that remains is making sure we get enough rehearsals in so we can present the music how it is meant to be played.

Labor Day Weekend. I can't believe it is already fast approaching. Next week I will take on a substitute teaching gig at the JCC in San Francisco, teaching preschoolers music for a little over two weeks. I think it's going to be a blast working with such little guys, playing music and just generally having fun for a few hours each day. But first I have my first gig at Anna's Jazz Island in Berkeley this coming Sunday evening where I'll get to play with the quintet and SiNG!! I love performing with these guys so much because there is always some kind of magic that happens on stage. They are not afraid to take chances and explore the depths of the music. They constantly and continually inspire me to rise to higher levels within my own self and for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Talent and Decency CAN go Hand in Hand!

One of the things I appreciate most about the people I work with, besides their incredible talent, is what nice people they are. I have certainly met some "divas" in this business who believe that because of their talent they can be rude to others. But not so with the people with whom I work. And that is for a reason; I won't work with nasty people. Why should I? To me there is a certain kind of energy that I want to surround myself with and if I am playing with a musician who is rude and full of him or herself, then they create a negative energy that does not generate good "vibes." I want to be able to come to a gig--or a recording session--knowing that I am surrounded by good positive energy. This way I think we all perform to a higher level. I have been told that if I want to play with some of the best musicians of the world then I will have to tolerate some nasty behavior. But I still say no! I would rather play with lesser known musicians who bring their true, good selves to the gig, than have to be agitated by divas.

So why am I talking about this? Did something happen recently that caused me to get all riled up about this? No!! :) I was just thinking this morning about what wonderful, decent musicians I work with and how incredibly blessed I am to be able to share the same stage with them. So it got me thinking about what my musical experience could have been like and I became even more grateful that I have surrounded myself with such talented and nice people. Is the BAy Area a unique place for this? I think not. The musicians I have met elsewhere have all shown me that decency abounds in the musical community worldwide. What a relief that is!!

Tonight I will be performing at the Village California Bistro in Santana Row in San Jose from 6-8:30pm. Joining me will be Murray Low on piano, Peter Barshay on acoustic bass and Michaelle Goerlitz on percussion. This is going to be a fun and eclectic night of music in an intimate venue where we can really shine close up and personal. Playing with these very talented musicians is inspiring and exciting. I'm really looking forward to singing in San Jose again and hope you will come out and support live music.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Family Arts Bridge Camp was a fantastic experience. The camp was created to give families of all types, straight, single parent, gay, etc., a place to bring their families and feel accepted and comfortable to be who they are in a safe and loving environment. The bottom line is family and how much each of those families love and support their children. My friend Wendy brought up a really good point about "alternative" families: their children are more likely to be accepting of others as well as feel more comfortable--and supported--in exploring who they are as individuals. What I saw at the camp was a wonderfully tight community of people who deeply love their children and who are committed to giving them the best life possible. And it was evident in the way the children behaved and reached out to each other, becoming fast friends in the process.

My role as music teacher, drum circle leader and expressive arts practitioner was a blast. Everyone seemed to respond very positively to what I presented and the children were completely adorable in their enthusiasm and talent. I had a great time, met a lot of new people and experienced something a bit out of my own comfort range--which is always a good thing to do! I hope I am invited back there again for next year.

This month is proving to be a busy one for me. On Sunday I will be going up to Carson City with Wayne Wallace, Orlando Torriente, Carlos Caro and Javier Navarrette to once again perform with the Reno Jazz Orchestra. We will be the closing act for the Carson City Jazz Festival. Although we will travel the same day of the gig (4 hour drive), it should be a lot of fun to get to perform with this big band again.

I then come home the next day and then travel down to San Jose to the Village California Bistro in Santana Row on Tuesday to perform a couple of sets. This should be a lot of fun as well as I am playing with Murray Low, Peter Barshay and instead of Paul VW I'll be using Michaelle Goerlitz on percussion. I like switching things up to see what kinds of interesting new things occur on the gig. And besides, Michaelle is such a dream to work with--as are Murray and Peter--I know it will be a blast. AND I get to sing!! How much better can it get? :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Reno Jazz Orchestra and now Gualala!

Going to perform with the Reno Jazz Orchestra was a blast. They have been together for 10 years and have created a non-profit organization out of their group. They are very well organized and a really fun group of guys to perform with. Orlando tore it up as the other lead singer. He's got fantastic stage presence and really knows how to work an audience. We had such a fun time playing outdoors next to the Truckee River--so pretty. AND it was nice to be able to play in an area where smoking isn't allowed!! I now realize how lucky I am to live in California where smoking isn't allowed indoors. I literally was quite ill bu the time we left due to all the smoke in the hotel/casino where we stayed--yuck!!

This Wednesday I leave for Gualala, California to go and teach music at a the FAB Family Camp. It should be really fun. I'll get to work with children as well as adults at this camp and also be able to hang out in the redwoods for a few days. I'm looking forward to spending the weekend with these families. I will also get a chance to do some Expressive Arts workshops while I'm there. This is something I have been wanting to get more involved with and so this will be a great start for me. Hopefully when I get back I will be able to put together some more workshops that people might be interested in.

The Sephardic Music Experience concert series is moving along quite nicely. La Pena has given me the lobby space to display the art I want to have created for the Winter Solstice concert on Dec. 21. Now it's up to me to find a group of artists interested in creating these pieces. I think this is going to be a really fantastic combination of art and music and how we all need each other to create a more vibrant and cohesive existence. It's really fun putting these concerts together and making them into a reality. The music arrangements are going to be exquisite and I'm excited to get to play with a full group--7 of us--for each concert.