Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Little Things are Pretty Big

Back at home, contemplating my “near death” experience, or my “nearly missing Monteton due to entrapment in a train bathroom” experience, I am wondering – since I was meant to be there, I hope that I did what I was supposed to do, and learned what I was supposed to learn, and exactly, what was it, and why was it worth kicking and screaming and fighting for? I’ve been trying to come up with a big profound answer, but instead, I just come up with little things.

Maybe I was there simply to have tea time with Big Dave

And a simple French dinner with Claude

Maybe I was there to be reminded of the beauty of silence

Maybe I was there to give pats on the back and to notice how other students have grown in their knowledge and playing ability.

Maybe I was there to laugh

and to dance

and to remind myself to always enjoy the music-making.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Messiaen Around in Monteton

On Thursday night the DJSS tutors joined me to perform a set of my newest tunes. It’s always a great thrill to be on stage with Quentin and Ian and Mark and Jonathan and Dorian, and of course, my best pal, Guy, on drums.

Messiaen Around is based on a 9-note scale that the French composer Olivier Messiaen created called the Third Mode of limited transposition. It’s weirdly fascinating, consisting of the first 3 notes of 3 sets of minor scales, each one a half step apart. (In this case, it’s C D E flat, E F sharp G, A flat, B flat B.) I studied it for hours and felt compelled to make a tune out of it. The hardest note to fit it was the B, but I managed it in measure 16 (whew!)

Because… was written for my friend Jim Farrelly, the wonderful sax player from Indianapolis who co-produced my Midnight at Monteton CD. Mark Lockheart joined us on this one and made it his own, he was amazing. The piece is slow and full of long notes that I love hearing on the sax. (Not that I don’t like fast notes, it’s just nice to sometimes just enjoy one beautiful tone for a long time.)

Sub Zero is a bouncy tune written to cheer myself up during the horrible winter (written January 22 and 23.) I'm pretty sure I was working on a chord voicing when this tune emerged. I always pay attention to pauses and rests when I replay the digital recorder during my improvs, becuase often that is the key to solving the piece. Jack Yardley and Michael Wright joined us on drums and bass to bring down the house (and the average age.)

Messiaen Around -
Sub Zero -

Tattletale in France

The first of my tunes was performed on Tuesday night with a great group of friends... Tanguy Pellen on his new trumpet, sax tutor Ian Bumstead, Olivier Coppi on guitar, Guy Clapham on drums, and Michael Wright on bass. The guys were fantastic, we had a blast!

In the sketches for the piece, I see that I spent a lot of time considering the rests - lots of shifting and scratching out went on. I struggled with ms. 8 because I didn't want to land on an A on beat 1 - too obvious of an answer. On the tape, I hear myself pausing to hunt for a better note. I finally realized that the key was in the pausing. So I wait until I'm almost at beat 3 before I hit the A, and then it works.

I've heard Tattletale described as "Perry Mason meets Dave Matthews" but I'm not really sure what that means. It does have kind of a noir sound which would be perfect for a theme song for a detective show, so if you are looking for music for a detective show, please be in touch...

View on youtube -

I am Brecky, Hear Me Roar (Please!!)

When you are traveling alone and find yourself locked in the bathroom on a train in France, there's not alot you can do except pound and scream and send a text with no time for spellchecking:

"I am brecky. Bathroom door on train wointy oppen About to arriove in marmande. Help. Car 16 class 2 seat 1"

The text didn't work, but the pounding and screaming finally did, with just one minute to spare. A new tune may come of this...I already have a title in mind...