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TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

A few weeks ago, when I blogged about how our Pacific Northwest tour would coincide with the Marionberry harvest, a kind soul in Eugene, Oregon brought a freshly picked bushel of them backstage for us. Yum! We don't want to push our luck, but it so happens that the Dmitri Matheny Group will be performing at Moody's in Truckee tomorrow night, and I understand the California Heirloom Tomatoes are exceptional this year. Ahem. ~DM


TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

A few weeks ago, when I blogged about how our Pacific Northwest tour would coincide with the Marionberry harvest, a kind soul in Eugene, Oregon brought a freshly picked bushel of them backstage for us. Yum! We don't want to push our luck, but it so happens that the Dmitri Matheny Group will be performing at Moody's in Truckee tomorrow night, and I understand the California Heirloom Tomatoes are exceptional this year. Ahem. ~DM


TIMING IS EVERYTHING 

A few weeks ago, when I blogged about how our Pacific Northwest tour would coincide with the Marionberry harvest, a kind soul in Eugene, Oregon brought a freshly picked bushel of them backstage for us. Yum! We don't want to push our luck, but it so happens that the Dmitri Matheny Group will be performing at Moody's in Truckee tomorrow night, and I understand the California Heirloom Tomatoes are exceptional this year. Ahem. ~DM


REAL LOVE 

“That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending - performing. You get to love your pretence. It's true, we're locked in an image, an act - and the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are. And if you try to remind them, they hate you for it, they feel like you're trying to steal their most precious possession.”
—Jim Morrison

FREE DOWNLOADS 



As a thank you to our friends and fans, here are a few FREE live tracks from our 7/26/13 appearance at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. These were recorded from the sound board and may be incomplete or require listening at a higher volume. Featuring Dmitri Matheny flugelhorn, Charles McNeal tenor saxophone, Matt Clark piano, Ruth Davies bass and Akira Tana drums. Download

COURSE CORRECTION 



This week, Sassy and I have enjoyed the hospitality of some friends who've generously provided lodging for us in their home while I play a few gigs in the area. 

 

Their son (let's call him Freddie) is a very talented young aspiring jazz trumpeter. 

 

Although I regularly give master classes on the road, and have done my share of classroom teaching, spending time with Freddie and his family over the past week has been a powerful reminder to me of what it means to be a serious musician and what an industry jazz education has become.

 

At the age of 16, Freddie has already taken advantage of more specialized training and travel opportunities than I had in my college years, and he's already twice the player I was in high school. 

 

Freddie's days are so full that I'm actually hesitant to call him an "aspiring" musician. Not yet a high school senior, he's already playing professional gigs, studying advanced concepts and techniques, taking and teaching private lessons, listening broadly and living a decidedly music-centered life.

 

Freddie studies privately with two teachers: one for trumpet, another for jazz.

He's a veteran of jazz camp, Jazzschool, the Grammy band, SFJAZZ All-Stars, J@LC Essentially Ellington and Monterey NextGen. 

 

He participates in a summer music mentoring program and leads sectional brass rehearsals for his school jazz ensemble. He's won awards in all the regional and national honors programs you've heard of and several that you haven't. And he's already performed on the most prestigious jazz stages worldwide: New York, Monterey, Montreux, North Sea, Umbria. 

 

I never practiced like this kid, not even at Interlochen. He hits it hard for hours every day. Each morning I awaken to the sound of Freddie's horn, methodically working its way through James Stamp warm-ups, Clarke etudes, Clifford Brown turnarounds, articulation and lip flexibility exercises and chord scale after chord scale. Every afternoon he has a rehearsal or two with this or that band. Every evening he practices again. 

 

When I was Freddie's age, my bedroom was a shrine to Lindsay Wagner and Spencer's Gifts. I had only just begun to take private lessons and didn't take them very seriously. I loved to play but hated to practice.

 

Freddie's room is a hardcore crucible of brass: his chair, music stand and horn are at the center, surrounded by stacks of lead sheets and method books. His walls are festooned with festival posters and images of great jazzmen. On his desk a laptop computer is open to an overstuffed iTunes library. Two speakers face the practice chair.

 

I spent a couple of hours trading riffs with Freddie, and am astonished by his proficiency on the horn and his familiarity with the nuances of the jazz language. He's already familiar with every classic recording I mention, and he seems to own nearly all the available Aebersold and music-minus-one collections of standards. He has a remarkably sophisticated ear for modern harmony and can toss off bebop clichés over complex changes at bright tempos. He listens to all the same jazz heroes I do, plus the latest recordings by Alex Sipiagin, Ambrose Akinmusire and Billy Buss. He already knows the tunes, licks and lore that I learned in my five years at Berklee.

 

The other night I invited Freddie to sit-in with me and the band on "Invitation." The audience was knocked out. He played a mature solo, including some very creative motivic development. After the set, Freddie was appropriately gracious and grateful, pausing to individually thank each member of the rhythm section. He even possesses enough charm to balance all that swagger.

 

After 30 years in music, I'm now at an age when I think it's important to pay it forward. It's been my belief that I have a responsibility to share what I've learned over the course of my life and career, and to mentor and encourage the next generation of musicians.

 

But if they're at all like Freddie, I don't have the time. 

 

I need to practice. 

— D.M.

BEFORE MOTOWN 



We're putting together a jazz residency in Michigan next spring, with concerts in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, and workshops at colleges and high schools throughout the state. These will be my first Michigan appearances since attending Interlochen Arts Academy 30 years ago, and I'm very excited about getting back to the Great Lake State.

As part of my preparation, I've been brushing up on the cultural history of the region. A great resource is the book Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit 1920-1960 by Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert — a very well-researched and enlightening volume, drawn largely from the oral histories of seminal musicians who lived and worked there. Highly recommended.

~DM

REMEMBERING WOODY SHAW (12/24/44 - 5/10/89) 



24 years ago, today, Woody Shaw passed away at the age of 44 (May 10, 1989).

We celebrate his legacy and all that he sacrificed to bring beauty, intelligence, and artistic integrity to planet earth.

“Woody Shaw was a true visionary. The world suffers from a lack of true visionaries. I was blessed and privileged that Woody saw something in this meager talent of mine to allow me to be in his band for a few years. That experience helped mold me into what I am today. I’ve had very vivid dreams of him. Indeed it was my good fortune to be in his presence. I’m so grateful!”
—Mulgrew Miller

"He was truly one of the greatest."
—Max Roach
 
"Woody Shaw is one of the voices of the future... Not of the future, of the present."
—Dizzy Gillespie

"In the back of my mind, I am always thinking of Woody Shaw."
—Kenny Garrett

"Now there's a great trumpet player...He can play different from all of them." 
—Miles Davis

"Woods covers the whole spectrum."
—Dexter Gordon
 
Woody Shaw Official Site

Image © Carol Friedman

AT HOME IN BAR OR BALLROOM 


100 Years Ago This Week 

 

San Francisco Bulletin

What's Not In The News

By Ernest J Hopkins

 

April 5, 1913 — In Praise of “Jazz,” a Futurist Word Which Has Just Joined the Language.

 

This column is entitled “What’s not in the news,” but occasionally a few things that are in the news leak in. We have been trying for some time to keep one of these things out, but hereby acknowledge ourselves powerless and surrender.

 

This thing is a word. It has recently become current in the Bulletin office, through some means which we cannot discover but would stop up if we could. There should be every precaution taken to avoid the possibility of any more such words leaking in to disturb our vocabularies.

 

This word is “Jaz.” It is also spelt “Jazz,” and as they both sound the same and mean the same, there seems to be no way of settling the controversy. 

 

The office staff is divided into two sharp factions, one of which upholds the single z and the other the double z. To keep them from coming to blows, much Christianity is required.

 

“Jazz” (we change the spelling each time so as not to offend either faction) can be defined, but it cannot be synonymized. If there were another word that exactly expressed the meaning of “jaz,” “jazz” would never have been born. A new word, like a new muscle, only comes into being when it has long been needed.

 

This remarkable and satisfactory-sounding word, however, means something like life, vigor, energy, effervescence of spirit, joy, pep, magnetism, verve, virility, ebulliency, courage, happiness—oh, what’s the use?—JAZZ.

 

Nothing else can express it.

 

When you smile at the office-boy (time: 7:30 a.m.) as though you thought him nice, that is “jaz.” When you hit the waiter for serving you cold waffles, that is “jaz.” When you work until midnight, then get up and work until midnight again without cursing your boss, that is “jaz.” When you look upon a girl and she loves you, that is “jazz.”

 

Some of the utter usefulness and power of this wonderful word now begins to appear.

 

You can go on flinging the new word all over the world, like a boy with a new jack-knife. It is “jazz” when you run for your train; “jazz” when you sock the umpire; “jazz” when you demand a raise; “jaz” when you hike thirty-five miles of a Sunday; “jazz” when you simply sit around and beam so that all who look beam on you. Anything that takes manliness or effort or energy or activity or strength of soul is “jaz.”

 

We would not have you apprehend that this new word is slang. It is merely futurist language, which as everybody knows is more than mere cartooning.

 

“Jazz” is a nice word, a classic word, easy on the tongue and pleasant to the ears, profoundly expressive of the idea it conveys—as when you say a home-run hitter is “full of the old jaz.” (Credit Scoop [Gleeson].) There is, and always has been, an art of genial strength; to this art we now victoriously give the splendid title of “jazz.”

 

The sheer musical quality of the word, that delightful sound like the crackling of a brisk electric spark, commends it. It belongs to the class of onomatopoeia. It was important that this vacancy in our language should have been filled with a word of proper sound, because “jaz” is a quality often celebrated in epic poetry, in prize-fight stories, in the tale of action of the meditative sonnet; it is a universal word, and must appear well to all society.

 

That is why “pep,” which tried to mean the same but never could, failed; it was roughneck from the first, and could not wear evening clothes. “Jazz” is at home in bar or ballroom; it is a true American.

 

To conclude, just a few examples of its use.

 

“Miss Eugenia Jefferson-Lord, was clad in a pink pongee creation suitable for a rainy day, and of great jaz.” (Society Notes.)

 

“Our Harry, sighting true for once, swung the willow against the pill with all his jazz.” (Baseball account.)

 

“Though fatally shot, the unfortunate captain still had sufficient jaz to murmur ‘He done it’ in the ears of the police.” (Murder story.)

 

“All the worl’ am done gone crazy.
Yassah, sure it has;
How mah brain am reeling dazy,
Sighin’ for the ol’, ol’ jazz!” (Plantation melody.)

“And Saturn strode athwart the cedarn grove,
Filled with the jaz that makes Creation move!” (Paradise Lost.)

IMPRESSIONABLE 



When I was young and asking the big questions, I learned most of what I still believe about loyalty, bravery and morality from the Silver Age superheroes in my comic book collection.

 

For real.

 

In later years I would travel internationally, study world religions, read classic works of philosophy and ethics, and even pay attention to my father's many lectures. I went to private school, public school, boarding school and the school of hard knocks. I'm an educated cat.

 

But to this day, when the world tests my mettle or challenges my sense of right and wrong, it's not Spinoza but my inner Green Lantern who shows up for the fight.

 

I've always been impressionable in this way. 

 

For example, I'm pretty sure I have a goatee because of the way Spock looked in "Mirror, Mirror." I know I started wearing dashikis in high school because of a picture I saw of Elvin Jones in Downbeat. I sport a beret on stage because Dizzy did.

 

Today, while watching Highlander for the godzillionth time, I noticed something about Christopher Lambert's home. Like so many characters in films of the 1980s and '90s, The Highlander lived in a loft.

 

It now occurs to me that my interior design preferences and bone-deep love of warehouse loft spaces and mid-century modern furniture are not based on anywhere I've lived or anything I've seen or studied. They don't reflect some sophisticated notion about the aesthetic requirements of an artist's life. They aren't because I need space to rehearse and create.

 

Nope. I learned about loft living from the movies. Dig: 

 

William Sanderson in Blade Runner (1982). Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (83). Lambert in Highlander (86). Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters (86). Mickey Rourke in 9-1/2 Weeks (86). Tom Hanks in Big (88). Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (89). Rosanna Arquette in New York Stories (89). Nancy Travis in So I Married An Axe Murderer (93). James Caan in Bottle Rocket (96). Ethan Hawke in Great Expectations (98). Julianne Moore in The Big Lebowski (98). Adam Sandler in Big Daddy (99). Christian Bale in American Psycho (00). Owen Wilson in Zoolander (01). Olivier Martinez in Unfaithful (02).

 

I want their cribs!

 

Thanks, Hollywood.

 

(Sure hope this flugelhorn thing works out.)

WESTWARD HO 

Across the plaza from Civic Space Park (where guitarist Stan Sorenson and I played a noontime concert today) stands one of the most interesting and historic buildings in downtown Phoenix: the Westward Ho.


 

Upon its grand opening in 1928, the neo-Renaissance Westward Ho was the tallest structure in the area (16 stories!) and one of the most elegant hotels in the west, with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and beautiful tiled floors.


 

Over the years, the hotel accumulated its share of fame.


 

Jack Benny broadcast radio shows from the Westward Ho during World War II.


 

Elizabeth Taylor kept a suite at the hotel and dined in its restaurant, Top of the Ho.


 

Paul Newman filmed a scene for the 1972 movie Pocket Money there.


 

Robert Wagner married Natalie Wood on the hotel patio.


 

Marilyn Monroe filmed the parade scene in Bus Stop (1956) on Central Avenue in front of the Westward Ho and is said to have gone for a moonlight swim (without a suit!) in the hotel pool.


 

Some of the Ho's other famous guests include John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Rogers, Jackie Gleason, Myrna Loy, Amelia Earhart, Esther Williams, Danny Thomas, Gary Cooper, Lucille Ball, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Bob Hope, Liberace, Lee Marvin, Tyrone Power, Eleanor Roosevelt, Shirley Temple, Al Capone, Spencer Tracy and John Wayne.


 

Contrary to popular belief, the Westward Ho does not appear in the opening sequence of the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film Psycho, but is featured in the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake.


 

A 280-foot television broadcast antenna, added to the hotel's rooftop in 1949, is now used as a cell phone tower.


 

In 1980, after 52 years, the Westward Ho hotel closed for business and was converted to subsidized housing for the elderly and mobility impaired. 


The building is now recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.