7 Jazz West Returns to The Bass Line

My jazz septet, 7 Jazz West is returning to The Bass Line:

9pm Friday, January 16
130 E 1st Street, Mt Vernon, NY 10550
(across from the Mt. Vernon East Metro-North parking lot)
(914) 433-1052

This septet plays a variety of modern, straight-ahead, hard bop, Latin, and funk jazz, ranging from Miles, Monk and Mingus to Jaco Pastorius, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Clifford Brown, Joe Zawinul and more.

The Left Hook

Great news! My rock/funk/soul band now has a name. We’re calling ourselves Left Hook. Music with a punch, ya! This actually went down a few weeks ago but I’ve been busy with other things. Right now we’re on break until the new year, as are all my other groups. With Left Hook we’re getting close to having three sets of material down, and it’s shaping up to be a really smokin’ sound. So happy to be in a group where everyone is a good musician. Now that we have a name, we’re putting together a web site, and gonna record a demo of 8 or so of our best/tightest songs in the new year. Gonna do that off the board in the rehearsal studio, and come home and fly it into ProTools to mix. Oh and I gotta write a bio too.

And to top it off we have our first gig Left Hook coming up in February at a bar in New Rochelle. More on that as the time grows nearer. For now, we have maybe 6 rehearsals and gotta add 6 or 8 more songs to round out the set. Mostly soul and Motown classics that we all know already.

In case you’re wondering, the last Beatles gig was a bit of a mixed bag, due to problems with sound and power. We set started well enough, with good energy and musicality. The place was only half full but the people were into it. Got in some new songs that sound quite good, including Taxman, Rain, Hello Goodbye and Come Together. But as we went on the volume got louder until it was hard to hear the vocals onstage thru the primitive PA. Toward the end of the first set the power went out on the stage. I guess we blew a fuse. It took a long time for the bar to fix it, and after that the vibe just wasn’t the same. We ended up skipping the Abbey Road medley, much to my disappointment. Ah well.

Between the two groups, as well as the 7 Jazz West, this means I’m now looking to buy a PA to fill a small to medium sized room: something like a pair of 12” mains at 300-500 watts each, with a premium on lightness for the schlep factor; a 12 to 16 channel mixer (we need at least five XLR ins for microphones – four singers plus a sax in the Left Hook, even more if we wanna mic the drums) with built in reverb and compression so we can get a fat vocal sound live; maybe as many as 4 monitors so ensure coverage on stage. Right now I’m leaning toward powered speakers because then we can daisy chain them together for more power if we ever need it. Also non-powered mixers seem to have more flexibility in terms of bussing. So we’ll see how that goes.

Also, 7 Jazz West has a gig coming up in a few weeks and we’re doing My Favorite Things, with our interpretation based mainly on the John Coltrane version. During the Xmas Cabaret I played my soprano sax for the first time in a long while. It has a problem with the joint between the neck and body being loose. I think it may be even be a little leaky cuz its hard to play certain notes softly. So I’m looking to get a new soprano sax too. Hello Craigslist!

Origami Shop USA

My friend Brian has recently opened the North American franchise of Origami Shop at www.origamishop.us. For those of you who don’t know, Origami Shop was started by Nicolas Terry in France and is probably the premiere place to get high-end papers for origami for complex models. They have a great variety of papers in large sizes, many of which you can’t get elsewhere, and they have reviews of the different papers detailing things like thickness, texture, and what kind of folding they are appropriate for. Of course you never really know until you have that paper in your hand and start folding. So once a year or so I’ve been placing an order to restock my favorites as well as sample a variety of new papers. The only downside is the expense and slowness of having paper shipped from Europe.

Until now, that is! Brian now can ship to addresses in the USA and it arrives within days. Woo-hoo. I noticed on the website that some of the papers have an accompanying photo of a model, but many don’t. So I offered to Brian that I’d fold a bunch of models for his site, in exchange for the exposure, if he’s send me some paper. Brian graciously agreed and sent me quite a lot of different kinds, including a few I’d never heard of, and some suggestions for things to fold out of the different papers.

As luck would have it, the package arrived on Boxing Day, just as I was loading of the family for a trip upstate to visit my parents. It’s pretty relaxed up at their house so I had some time to dig in and start exploring. I folded one of my Brown Bears out of a paper called Bear Hide. (I think I may have seen it before but under another name. Brian and Terry seem to be rebranding different kinds of paper out there as “Rhino Hide”, “Lizard Hide”, etc., after Elephant Hide, which is the name in the origami community for Marble Wyndstone, the gold standard for heavy paper for complex models. For a while Origami Shop was the only place you could get Elephant Hide, at least in the States.)

Bear Hide is a great paper. I don’t think I’ve ever folded a nicer Bear in fact. And believe me I tried quite a few when I was doing the photos for my book, but they were all either the too thick, or to thin or the wrong color or whatever. I liked it so much I folded another, and then a Moose, and another Moose.

Then I tried a paper called Grainy. Brian had suggested I fold one of my Roses out of it. I almost felt bad taking a big sheet and dividing it down into smaller squares, but I made 5 squares out of it, the largest of which is 2/3 the original size, so it’s still pretty big. This paper is a bit thicker than I normally use for the rose, but it came out quite nice. I had to wet fold the tabs that tuck underneath to finish the model, but that’s it. For the big remaining square I think I’m going to use it to fold a Dragon.

I hope to fold a bunch more models in the days ahead and send them to Brian when I have a boxful. So look for them to appear on origamishop.us later this winter.

Day Trippers this Saturday!

My Beatles tribute band, The Day Trippers, will be playing this Saturday night, December 13, at the Lexington Grille, just over the Tappen Zee bridge in Bardonia, NY. This is our third gig and our ever-expanding repetoire is up to about 30 songs, two solid hours of material covering everything from the early Bealtemania pop to psychedelic blues and everything in between.

Show starts at 9:00. Looks like they also have good food there.

Christmas Cabaret

I’ve been really busy the last couple weeks with the Xmas Cabaret, a big fundraiser at Michelle’s school. Learned like 35 songs on sax and (one on) ukulele. It was a ton of fun. Last time I did one of these shows was three years ago, and I remember working my ass off because I hadn’t played a live show in years and needed to get back into playing shape on the sax, plus learning the tunes while transposing, skipping around the songs, and making my sound fit in with the group.

This time it was alot more relaxed, mainly cuz I already knew the people, and knew what to expect, and also cuz my chops are up and I can sight read and transpose and all that no sweat. Since Michelle L., the director, also runs the school choir, for this show she picked less traditional songs, by artists like Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr., Billy Squier, and some more mellow stuff like The Carpenters and Bing Crosby. It was the same crew, and great to see them all and perform together again. Mike L. on piano and musical director, his wife Michelle as show and vocal director, Brian and Kristen running the stage and props and sets and tech and all. Plus a dozen or so singers. The band was rounded out by George on drums and Shredder on guitar, both excellent musicians. They even let me sing the Clarence Clemons part on Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Six words, twice! They drafted Lizzy to do the sound, so she got some good experience running a mixing board.

It was a week solid of rehearsals, with performances Friday and Saturday night and matinee Sunday. And in between I taught an origami event at the Museum of Natural History in the city. I had been thinking of bagging it, but alot people signed up so I went. Even had a chance to check out the OUSA holiday tree before my class started. I’ve been donating models to them for a few years now and they have assembled quite a collection. In addition to my new stuff this year, I my stuff from previous years was well represented. The class itself went well. I was teaching models from my book Origami Animal Sculpture, starting with the Octopus since that was prominently displayed under the tree. Also got to the Common Loon and the Narwhal. Not bad for two hours. It’s funny, though, the more I teach the more I find ways to simplify the models to make them easier to get a across. I think if I had to do this book over it’d be that much more refined. Ah, well, a lesson to apply to the next one.

And, as you can imagine, tonight I’m pretty tired so I’m catching up on my rest.