The Devil You Know

Fall is proceeding apace. Hallowe’en is just around the corner, time for fun costumes, jack-o-lanterns, lawn decorations, witchcraft, devilry and all.

Things have actually been pretty boring around here recently. Work work work, getting things done. Sunday was a quiet rainy day at home, Hallowe’en devilry aside. There’s been lots of rain this October, which makes up for a dry September, but the weather has been generally pretty warm and mild. I’ve been able to get out skating and for a bike ride every week.

A couple weeks ago I was out for a bike ride in the Nature Study Woods. It was Sunday morning and there was a half marathon going on that included a trail section, with the runners coming the opposite way that I wanted to do. I ended up taking a bunch of trails that I don’t normally travel, just to find the road less taken. By the time I got to the far end of the woods I decided to take the road back rather then the trails. As I was pulling up a long hill I noticed my chain slipping of it’s sprocket into the next gear. Then without warning the chain snapped.

The bike is over twenty years old, and it was the original chain. I bought the bike in California, when Google was still a tiny little startup with their offices above Palo Alto Bicycles. (I actually talked Jeannie out of applying for a job there – worst mistake of my life.) I’ve ridden that bike over tons and roads and trails. So it was not too surprising.

I took it to a place in Pelham called Danny’s Bikes, that used to be Pelham Bicycles. The replaced the chain, which was fine, but I paid for a tune up and told them specifically that the derailleur was out of alignment and need to be adjusted, but they failed to do that. I ended up adjusting it myself, which I’d done plenty of times before, since it was easier that taking back to the shop and complaining. But still.

Last weekend Jeannie and I went on a hike in the Palisades. We’ve done a couple hikes around there, down near the George and up near the Mario. This time we picked a spot midway between the two bridges, right on the NY-Hj border. We got all the way down the cliffs to the river; it was very cool.

The same weekend we saw the famous guitar player Larry Carlton at the Iridium in NYC. We went with my origami friend Marc, who is also a guitar player and into cats like that. It was a great show, and the band consisted of Larry, his son Trevor on bass, who was most excellent, plus a sax, trombone, piano and drums. He played maybe six Steely Dan songs and the rest was his own stuff, sort of bluesy funk fusion. As luck would have it, Steely Dan was playing the same night uptown at the Beacon.

Speaking of origami, the OrigaMIT convention is coming up in just a couple weeks, so I’ve been folding and diagramming, ramping up and trying to finish and perfect some new models. Meanwhile OUSA has asked me to contribute some models to the annual Holiday Tree. The other night I folded one of my Giant Squid out a a 24″ square of some kind of cool paper I bought a while back. It’s over a foot tall. It looks great, very impressive. Just the finals sculpting to go.

In other news, my new recording Sun of the Son is almost done. (I know you’re been wondering since I haven’t talked about it in a while, but yeah I’ve keeping at it.) I’ve actually been working on it since the springtime, and even dusted of my alto sax to play the lead back at the end of the summer. Since then I recorded the synth solo and the piano solo, plus a few backing keyboard parts to pad things out. For the synth solo I had a concept in mind from the start, and was able to dial in the sound I wanted (a layering of several synth tones) and went down pretty smoothly. The piano solo turned out to be a bit more challenging. Since it’s just a piano you can’t rely on fancy patches or effects, it’s all down to the lines you play.

I had in mind a jazzy, bluesy solo something like Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea might do. But it turns out I can’t really play like those guys. Whatever I did came out sounding like a deranged mashup of Thelonious Monk and Keith Emerson. I guess that makes sense since I have studied those guys pretty deeply and have a fair amount of their pet riffs in my bag. So I decided to roll with it. Even so, I ended up stitching the solo together from multiple takes and it took a fair amount of effort to make if flow.

Now the tracking is done and next up was rendering out all the midi files (mainly the drums and keyboards) to audio for mixing. I finished that this weekend and began applying effects to the drum kit, mainly EQ’s and compressors. I have a default set of effects I use on my drum kit, but it always takes a fair amount of tweaking to make the drums sit right and really groove. Right now I’m honing in on the kick and snare. I want them to be present without being overpowering. The song has a fair amount of dynamics, and it has to sound good soft, loud, and in between. Almost there, then it’s on to the bass.

In the rock world, I’ve been keeping an eye out for new opportunities. One ad on craigslist caught my eye recently. It’s a drummer and guitarist starting up a originals project, looking for a creative keyboardist. The cited among their influences King Crimson, Tame Impala and the Delfonics. Well this seemed weird enough, and Crimso is one of my all-time favorite bands, so I got in touch. Now he’s putting together some audio demos and wants to schedule a rehearsal/audition. Meanwhile I sent him a few of my tracks, and learned how to play In the Court of the Crimson King. We’ll see how it turns out.

Also a reminder my jazz group, Haven Street is playing Saturday November 2 at the Bean Runner Cafe in Peekskill, eight o’clock downbeat. Hope to see you there.

Haven Street Live – Jazz at the Bean Runner

My jazz group Haven Street is playing Saturday November 2 at The Bean Runner Cafe in Peekskill, 8 o’clock start time, $10 cover. This an excellent place to see a show, and last time we played there we had a great crowd and the music was really on. This time ought to be even better. Should be lots of fun, so come check it out!

Oh Oh, What I Want to Know, Where Does the Time Go?

My how the time flies.

Last weekend we had a major and important celebration: It was Jeannie and my 25th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe it’s been that long. She remains the love of my life, and I can’t say enough appreciative things about her. We had a party Saturday. My Mum and Dad came into town to visit for the weekend, and so did Lizzy. Martin and Kathleen came down for the party, and Jeannie’s parents and sister came up from Long Island. It was a great time and a great party, and good to take a moment to celebrate and acknowledge these things in life. It was also a full house, and very busy, and of course it came and went too fast. Meanwhile Martin celebrated his 50th birthday right around the same time, as did my friend Nick. Sunday we went over to Nick’s for his birthday party and Oktoberfest. Here’s to the next 25!

It’s been a busy few weeks in other areas as well. At the end of September my jazz group, Haven Street, played our first gig of the fall at the Green Growler in Croton, one of our favorite places. The place was pretty packed and the crowd was great, really into it, which is always nice. Now we’re preparing for our next gig, onwards and upwards.

We also had a major milestone for the Global Jukebox last week. I went down to CityLore in the East Village and demoed the education section we’ve been building for use in the NYC public schools. They loved it, which is a good outcome for a long stretch of hard work. There are a few tweaks but now we’re mainly on to server-side integration.

Over in rock’n’roll land I had a lineup for a new rock group, and it looked as if we were going to get it off the ground. Had a bunch of tunes picked out and a rehearsal date set. But at the last minute the guitar and bass player bailed. So it’s back to square one again with that.

The jazz group has another gig coming up soon. This one is Saturday November 2 at the Bean Runner Café in Peekskill. The Bean Runner is pretty much a legit jazz club, and last time we were there we had a good crowd and they liked us alot. So this time we really want to get the word out so people show up, and we we really want to kill it musically. Despite the fact the music is so much better than it was in my last rock band, everyone in this group is really focused on getting to the next level. So come on and check it out, should be really good.