Bunny Hop and Duck Walk

Happy Easter everyone! Been busy as usual. Lots going on. Busy at work writing lots and lots of code. April came and is almost gone in a flash. Spring is here.

We didn’t have much of a spring break this year, just a couple days off. Lizzy came home for a long weekend, and we all went out to Queens for Easter Sunday with the family. Mary’s were there and Denis and his whole family were in town too. Very nice time.

Today we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I haven’t been there in four years and they had a special exhibit on rock’n’ roll musical instruments. Very cool. The first thing you see is Chuck Berry’s guitar from Johnny B. Goode. A couple rooms later you’re in a room with Jimmy Page’s Les Paul that he used on all the Led Zeppelin songs, Jimi Hendrix’s Flying V, and Eddie Van Halen’s original Frankenstrat. A couple rooms after that it’s Keith Emerson’s live rig with the Hammond organs complete with knives stuck in the keys, and his original monster Moog. I’d seen that rig close up once before when I saw Keith Emerson Band and you could go up to stage at intermission. It’s nice to see it even more up close and check out all the customization. Lot and lots of other famous historical instruments: Clarence Cleomon’s sax, the Born to Run semi-Telecaster, the synth and echoplex used on Fly Like and Eagle, a mellotron, the Stairway to Heaven Gibson doublenck, the Theremin from Whole Lotta Love, Ringo’s drums and George’s 12-string Rick, and on and on. So many iconic instruments I recognized. Totally amazing.

While we were there we took in a bunch of other halls of the museum, including the historical musical instruments collection, the arms and armor, the Greco Roman, Mid-Eastern and East Asian art, and even a bit of modern and classical paintings. Lots and lots of cool stuff. Good to take a break from the day-to-day and expand your consciousness and creativity a bit.

With my little rock band it’s all drama these days. After one rehearsal our new drummer decided not to join after all, and so we had to arrange another round of auditions in a hurry. We got a new new drummer now, Adrian, who seems like a nice guy and is a very good player. Which is a good thing, because we have one more rehearsal before the start of a string of ten or so gigs that run thru July. The first one is at Rudy’s in Hartsdale on Friday night, May 3. So come out if you can.

We have a few jazz gigs coming up too. The first is Saturday May 10 at the Green Growler in Croton, and it should be really good. We’ll be debuting three new originals.

A couple weeks ago I went to the music store to get new reeds, and while I was there I picked up a copy of the John Coltrane Omnibook. If you’re a sax player you know the original Charlie Parker Omnibook is an all-time classic music text; it’s a transcription of lot and lots of Charlie Parker solos. I studied in high school, it took maybe two years to work my thru from start to finish. Now they’ve expanded the series and made a bunch of books out of the solos of a bunch of great players.

Compared to Bird, Trane’s work is just astoundingly diverse in terms of mood, style and what kind of ideas he was into with harmonic development at any given time. The book is also about twice as thick as Bird’s. Still a common thread runs thru it all from his early bluesy stuff, his work with Miles, the sheets of sound era and the later, really out-there stuff.

There’s something really magical about sight reading. The first song in the book is Acknowledgment, the opening movement to A Love Supreme, which is basically a concept album built out of a 3-note riff. It’s a record I’ve listened to a million times but never tried to figure out by ear. So it was really something to read it down and let it flow thru you, straight from your eyes to your fingers without much mind in between, just being a channel. Then it comes back to you thru your ears and it hits you; you’re just floored hearing the whole thing exactly as is sounds. I never knew I could play that! You can look at it and all his secrets are right there. And then with a bit of practice you can pick them out and work them into your playing. Which is nice because as I said we have a few jazz gigs coming up, and will be heading into the studio sometime soon.

Here Comes the Sun Machine

It looks like spring is finally arriving in earnest. Everything feels warmer and coming alive. The big news here is we got solar panels installed on our new roof. The company that did the work was Apex, and I must say they did a great job. Like the roof they came and installed everything in one day. Of course before all that they spec’d the system and did the engineering and got the permits from the town and all that. A few random tasks remain. We’re adding a hookup so we can power the house off a generator more directly. Also the city needs to do an inspection and the electric company to come and install a two-way meter. Then we’ll be all set to let the sun shine in and face it with a grin.

I’ve been practicing sax more lately, trying to level up my playing. Been woodshedding alot of standards as well as our originals. Working on heads and melodies as well as being able to run the changes and put good ideas over them with fluidity. There’s just so many tunes out there, many of which I haven’t played in quite a few years. Some songs I haven’t played since college, when I played alto, so the key and the layout is all different. Been working on Take Five and A Night In Tunisia in particular.

I saw Joshua Redman at the Blue Note in NYC the other night. I never realized it before but he’s Dewey Redman’s son. Joshua is one of my favorite modern tenor players. Such a high level of virtuosity and technical facility. He has an unbelievable altissimo range, and not just for blasting out the occasional high note, but with dexterity and dynamics, like a whole third register on the horn. But you don’t even pay attention to his chops because his musical ideas are at the forefront and very compelling. The band was a quartet and the set was mostly originals and a few standards including the Dexter Gordon classic I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry. Excellent piano player too.

In the rock world, G! Force played our last gig with our drummer Pete last Saturday night. It was our best gig yet and musically the group keeps getting better and sounding tighter. He’s a good guy and will be missed.

Luckily we auditioned a new drummer tonight. He’s even better, with a super solid sense of time and everything sounds a bit more snappy and energetic. Just lifts everybody’s playing a notch. Plus he already knows alot of the tunes. So hopefully this will work out. We have a few weeks before our next gigs, and then there’s ten shows in May, June and July. Onwards and upwards.