Taking the Easy Way Out

A bunch of news on the music front. First, it’s time to say goodbye to the Day Trippers, at least for the time being. Here’s one last video from our inaugural gig last August at Heights Fests in Berkeley Heights, NJ.


Second, it looks like originals band, Buzzy Tonic is actually getting off the ground. I jammed last weekend with Charlie Guitar, and brought in young Wolfgang on bass. We got thru four songs together and all agree the songs sound good and the project is worth pursuing. Charlie calls Heat Wave “the crazy one”, but Wolfgang had no trouble keeping up. Now it looks like we may have a drummer to complete the lineup. Charlie reached out to a friend of his who listened to my demos and likes the songs, and agreed to come by next session, which will be next week. Not sure how long it’ll take to get a set together, but it’ll be fun. I suppose to really do justice to the records I’ll need to add a sax player, but that’s still down the line a ways.

Third, with Left Hook now getting our set together and looking for gigs, I put together a web page for the group:


This part of a new round of updates to my site. Much more exciting stuff soon!

The Return of Origami from Space

Well my busy spell at work has ended a bit sooner than expected, so I have some time now to get caught up on a bunch of long-standing projects. First off, I’ve been thinking about a second origami book, and tossing around ideas for a topic or theme. One of the more promising ones is to expend my repertoire of Origami from Space models with a constellation of related models. The other night I came up with a concept for one. I’m not sure whether to call it Space Probe or Radio Satellite, but over the last few days I folded several versions, experimenting and refining it.

Here’s two of the best so far. One version uses a 12×12 grid and the other 16×16. This model is a but unusual for me in the that it starts with a grid and uses some box-pleating, but it’s appropriate to the subject. The base is similar to my War Elephant, in that it embeds a Hydrangea tessellation in the middle of the paper and proceeds from there. Some day soon I hope to take some pictures on a black background with some salt sprinkled on it to simulate outer space. Meanwhile I also have an idea to fold a Sputnik.

Talent Time

Last weekend was the talent show at Michelle’s school. This was in lieu of the usual musical production that they’ve been putting on the last few years. The main difference is that this format doensn’t have the pre-K thru 4th grade, so logistically it’s much easier. For the older kids it’s not that much different; they have to audition, but then they can do an act of their choosing. Most are music, some are comedy or dance.

Michelle sang Don’t Cry for Me Argentina with her friend accompanying her on piano. The did really well and I was amazed how high the vocal part goes on that song. Some of the other acts were really good, and some sort of just there, but everyone had a great time. This year there was no orchestra, just either piano or karaoke depending on the song. I did the sound mixing for the event, which was a good chance to try out some of my new PA equipment.

Then on Monday Lizzy’s song a theatre group did a show with a rock band theme with a similar format. A bunch of kids, including Lizzy and a group of her friends, did songs with various adults (professional musicians) accompanying them, and were really good. Some of the other kids did full-on rock bands, but they weren’t ready for prime time, and worse they had three songs each!

At least the time was well spent for me. I’ve been thinking about ideas for my next origami book, but I’ve been too busy to fold anything lately. One idea I had was to expand the Origami from Space concept into a full book. So I came up with a model I’m calling Space Probe or maybe Radiosatellite. It’s a spaceship with a radio dish, boom antenna and some solar panels. A bit like V’ger but not quite. I folded one out of the program, and then last night while I was working on code, during compile time. Pics coming soon.

The Return of the Debut of the Left Hook

The debut show of my rock band, the Left Hook, was scheduled for last month but postponed due to the weather. We now have a new date: Saturday April 11. We also have a new bass player, Ken “Dr. Pluto”, replacing young Wolfgang Skywalker.

Left Hook remains a really smokin’ group, a real knockout. We have a great sound and loads of great material including funk, soul and classic rock, and are even better rehearsed than before. I’m playing sax, piano and singing. We have three strong vocalists and lots of harmonies, plus a slammin’ rhythm section, tasty guitars, everything you need. We have a new poster too. Here’s the info:

Music with a punch!

Westchester’s newest classic rock funk & soul party band
appearing live

Saturday April 11, 9:00 PM
at The Fisherman’s Net, 129 6th St. Pelham, New York

Change in the Weather

It’s been a long, cold stormy winter. Snow day after snow day all thru the second half of January, all of February and even three more snowfalls the first week of March. Enough already! And then suddenly two or three days ago the sun came out and the temperature rose above freezing. Now the snowpiles have dimished from five feet high to three feet, and you can even see a bit of lawn here and there. On the other hand, the remaining snow is black slush from hell and the potholes are in full bloom. Still, it feel like spring is finally here!

I spent most of the winter intensely busy at work. My previous project ended around the new year, and now I’m making the next-generation content management platform. It’s a whole new technology stack, with HTML5, AngularJS, JSON, Git, Gulp, Lint, Less, Vagrant, Karma, Protractor, with Scala and Akka on the middle tier, and lots of other good stuff. Also a major upgrade to our processes and best practices, including full-on test-driven development and continuous deployment and integration. So there’s been a lot to put together and come up to speed on in a short time. We also have a new and expanded team, including four people from my old group and three new guys with more one the way.

Our team is distributed, with guys in Italy, Poland, Nova Scotia, New Jersey, Queens and Westchester, so I’ve been working from home alot more. We have daily video conferences that include GIT pull requests, code reviews and design and planning sessions, which sometime go on for a half a day. Been also putting in alot of late nights and weekends. Still, I guess the best way to learn something new is to jump in the deep end with full immersion. It looks like I’m past the steepest part of the learning curve now. We have a big milestone demo coming up a couple weeks and it looks like we’ll actually get there.

New Song: Soul on Fire

I realize that I never shared the rough mix of my last song, To Be a Rock. That’s because I sort of parked it once I got the vocals down. It still needs some synths or guitars or something to really make it work. Still not sure exactly what, so instead I decided to put together the next song and bring it up to rough mix too, and then finish them off together.

This one is a jazzy, dancy number, sort of hybrid of swing, funk and disco. The main musical ideas I’ve had hanging around for a while; it just had to be hammered into shape. I did teach myself to play a pretty groovin’ walking bass line for the middle section. The lyrics are just something to sing that sounds good over a song that sounds like this. More or less about watching someone in the audience dance to the music while you’re playing sax at a gig. Inspired I suppose by the funk bands I was in in California. Still, I laid down the vocal track the other day and the performance brought the whole thing up a level. I did three takes straight thru with no overdubs, took less than an hour. Now of course this one needs the arrangement fleshed out too before I can share the track.

Soul On Fire

She don’t wanna hear no DJ
She wanna come and see the band play
Ah listen what the man on the stand say

She like a dancin’ and a bumpin’
Ah the room is really thumpin’
Listen then man on the stand tell you somethin’

Spirit in the night
Blinded by the light
In the midnight hour
When my soul’s on fire

She dance till dawn and the devil himself may care
Smoke in her eyes and fire in her hair
Spice in her smile and snakes stare in her glare

She got the groove
Yeah she got the moves
She got the legs
She even got the shoes

I got the horn
And I got the news
I got the sound
I even got the blues

She don’t wanna see no DJ
She wanna go and hear the band play
Listen what the man on the stand say


Last week I got the news that an old friend of mine died in a plane crash. (This brings the number of people I’ve known to die in plane crashes up to three, not counting 9/11, but still zero auto accident fatalities.)

Ted Reinhardt was the drummer and leader of the 80’s prog fusion band Gamelon, one the most successful bands to come out of Buffalo, NY. Gamelan had a unique and very evolved sound, with polyrhythms, angular harmonies, funky bass and three guitar players. One sounded a heck of a lot like Alex Lifeson, the next like Eddie Van Halen, and the third one was way out there, doubling on electric violin. Gamelon was the number one band on the scene when my own band, Event Horizon was gigging around. We were big fans and had seen lots of their shows and got to know them, and ended up doing a bunch of double bills with them. They were some of our best gigs, and theirs too. Gamelon went onto national success, playing on the same bill as Miles Davis in one of his last gigs.

I just got their first album again on iTunes and listened to it after many years. It sounds better than I remembered, with lots of stuff going on I missed back in the day. Anyway Ted was a great drummer and a positive influence on my music career. He’ll be missed.

Band Evolution

Winter lingers and we endure. It’s March already and there’s still a foot of snow on the ground, and it’s snowing heavily again right now. Apparently this February was the coldest on record in 80 years. Damn global warming. The Left Hook inaugural gig was cancelled due to a snowstorm last Saturday. It’s getting rescheduled for April, so hopefully the weather will be nicer by then.

Young Wolfgang Skywalker announced a few weeks ago he was going to leave the band after the gig, one week after he showed up for rehearsal dead-dog tired and lamenting about being buried under schoolwork. Ah well we knew it was a matter of time, and now’s a good time to make the break. We’re bringing in Ken “Dr. Pluto” on bass. He rehearsed with us last week. Hit fit right in, and already know a bunch of our songs, and knows Gary from the jazz circle. He should have no problem getting the set together in the next five weeks. So cool, onward and upwards.

We’re now starting to look for more gigs in earnest, so we need to put together a web site. I recently updated my music site with links and pages to my current bands Left Hook, 7 Jazz West, and The Day Trippers. I had started this as part of my ongoing wintertime upgrades to my web site, but once I was done, a realized that the new pages, even thought they the requisite band info and links to video and stuff, are pretty plain design-wise. So another round of updates in the offing. Unfortunately, I’m really buried under work for my day job right now, so it may be a while until I can circle back. Meanwhile we’ll be recording our next few rehearsals, so we can get some audio up so people can hear our sound. Watch this space for future updates.

And as luck would have it, The Day Trippers seems to have run it’s course. Between the question whether to add another singer, the logistical difficulty of getting together to rehearse, and the lack of upcoming gigs, this looks like the end, at least for the time being. Still it was a good experience and a lot fun, and gave me a great change to work on my vocals.

As one door closes another opens. I’ve been trying to get a project going to play my originals for some time now. I’d asked Ken to join, but he’d been busy with other projects. Now he has one less project (he was in DT too) and is very interested. Also this cat Charlie from the jazz circle, whom I approached in the fall, came back to me in January saying he now has some time and wants to get together and jam.

Charlie and I got together yesterday with me on piano and him on guitar. I showed him six of my tunes. He picked them right up and was really into them. He got down Checker Cab, Get on Back 2 U, and Ghost in the Machine. We also looked at Heat Wave, Your Dancing Shoes, and (IGBA) Beautiful Day. This is great news cuz a lot of guys can’t handle my songs; you need to be proficient in jazz harmony and odd meters. So hopefully we can get together soon with Ken on bass, and then all we’ll need is a drummer.

Animals out of Paper Live

Last night I went to see the play Animals Out of Paper, to which I contributed a few origami models, and many more of my designs were folded by others for use in the production. The play was really excellent on a number of levels. Animals Out of Paper was written by Rajiv Joseph and this production was directed by Merri Milwe and starred David Beck, Nairoby Otero, and Maneesh Sasikumar. Talo Kawasaki was the origami consultant.

This production was in a funky church on the Upper West Side. Off-Broadway theatre is a bit like bar bands for actors. You have some incredibly talented people working on a very low budget, doing great work without the accompanying fame. In this case the play had only three characters, which means that the writing and the acting have to be very good cuz there’s very little else. The story centers on the relationship between an origami master, her protégé, and her protégé’s math teacher who also happens to be her suitor. The actors really brought there characters to life with energy and charisma. By the end, you really care about them and their situation, which is more than you can for the typical modern movie.

Along the way there’s drama and humor, and a good amount of subtext and symbolism without getting cheesy, and a good deal of exploration of the creative process, particularly with respect to the question of loss and loneliness. Origami is the vehicle for all this, so there’s also a good deal of origami culture, actual technical knowledge, and even some in-jokes. The playwright is not (as far as I know) an origami guy but obviously cares a lot and spent some time at origami conventions and talking to folders, and he really got that stuff right. I have a friend who works at NASA and I was thinking this is how Steve must feel when he watches Star Trek. I mean, it sounds like the actors understand how a spaceship actually works.

Animals Out of Paper is an excellent play, very well written, and this production was brought to life with excellent actors, direction and origami. Unfortunately last night was the end to the run, so you’ll have to wait for another revival to see it.