Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bringing the Road to you!

What I've been up to:

Last Friday, I filled in for guitarist Mark Whitfield (on keyboards) with Chris Botti in the lovely town of Great Barrington, MA in the Berkshires. The incredible Billy Childs is Chris' regular pianist (somehow he manages to squeeze Botti's endless world tour in between winning Guggenheim fellowships and writing awesome chamber, symphonic and choral music) a I occasionally sub for him in the band. So we had 2 keyboard players and no guitar. Chris liked the 2-keyboard sound so much that he hired me last minute to play in Chicago the next day, in a gorgeous concert hall called the Chicago Theatre, this time with Whitfield on guitar as well. It was lots of fun, my job was pretty easy (synth pads) and I got to mostly sit on stage and listen to one of the world's best jazz bands throw down hard! Not a bad way to make a living eh.

Then Monday I caught a 6 AM flight to New York to record a new album with my old friend Joe Locke, who graciously let me out of Sunday evening's rehearsal so I could make Botti's gig in Chicago. It's a working band, with Joe on vibes, Clarence Penn on drums, George Mraz on bass and a relatively unknown (not for long!) singer from San Francisco named Kenny Washington (NOT the drummer). Kenny's a true jazz musician, a real improviser and creative force. We've played together as a band several times, so the recording process went quickly and easily... just a great bunch of musicians doing what we do best. It felt like a live gig. It's been quite a long time since I've made a record this way - hit it and quit it. One take, two at most. Fine with me... if it ain't broke don't fix it! It was my first time recording with either Clarence or George. Hopefully not the last :)

This morning a creative video artist named Benton C. Bainbridge came over to the pad where I stay in Astoria, NY to shoot the inside of the piano - hammers hitting strings, etc - for visuals to accompany the song "Chrysoglott" from my upcoming electronica collaboration with Vancouver artist Mary Ancheta. Our project is called Montre Echo, and many of the song titles are names of obscure pipe organ stops (like "Kerophone", "Noli me Tangere" and "Montre Echo" itself). Stay tuned for 12-second video clips and updates via Twitter as the album progresses. No word yet on whether it will be self-released or on a label.

I'm home for 2 days then off to Japan to play with Jim Hall, Ron Carter, Greg Osby and a Japanese string section. Looking forward to the music, and glad Jim is in good health and able to tour again. He's a load of fun on the road, he hates all forms of technology (cell phones, computers, etc) but ironically loves to run his guitar through all kinds of effects pedals - which he places at waist level on a music stand so he doesn't have to bend over to trigger them. LOL.

See ya soon in blogsville!

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