Thursday, August 27, 2009

Girls from Ipanema, UFOs and a new CD

It's been a few months since I updated the "blob", as my wife Susan calls it, but life's been a happy whirlwind (be sure to pronounce the "h", as is "hwhirlwind"). In the interest of saving time while still offering a healthy diversion from the health care reform battle, I'll try to condense the last few months into a few pithy paragraphs of particular potency.

In June I made my first trip to Brazil with the amazing singer Dianne Reeves. (Dianne, I love working with you and will go with you anywhere, any time.) Nobody can touch her in terms of overall power, vibe, and soulfulness... she is a master of her art. Ironically, I arrived safely home from Brazil, proud of the fact that I didn't get mugged (having the drummer-defensive tackle Terreon "Tank" Gully as your bodyguard doesn't hurt), only to find out I had $3,000 of fraudulent credit card charges. I got got, internet-style!

The surprise phone call of my life came just before that trip, when I got hired at the last minute to fill in for Danilo Perez in Wayne Shorter's quartet for 3 concerts in Los Angeles, Ottawa and Montreal. Suffice to say I jumped through the roof of my small office. Ever since I was 15 (1985) when I bought Wayne's record "Atlantis", and all of Weather Report's records before that, Wayne's music has been so deeply woven into my DNA that it felt completely natural and at-home to be playing in his group, a dream come true. Was I nervous? No time for that... there was music to make, and being in Wayne's presence just brings out the best. And what an inspiring guy to hang out with, too.

August brought a couple of gigs with Denise Donatelli, a lovely singer from Los Angeles. We're working on arrangements for her third record and will be in the studio in November. We played the San Jose jazz festival (my first time performing in an Imax theatre... where were the sharks?) and the Douglas Beach House in Half Moon Bay, CA, possibly my favorite venue on Earth. The gig is right on the ocean, and you can watch the sun set over the waves through big glass windows while you play. The ocean theme continued last week in Hawaii, as I played 2 concerts with Hawaiian slack-key guitar legend Keola Beamer, continuing our association that started in 2003 with my CD "Falling Up". Keola's music is so gentle and relaxing, and I feel like I'm just starting to scratch the surface of understanding how to play it. Joining us was a lovely and talented young Hawaiian singer named Raiatea Helm.

This week marks the release of a long-awaited pet project, a full-fledged electronica CD made in collaboration with Vancouver keyboardist/producer Mary Ancheta. Our "band" is called Montre Echo, and the new CD is called "The Near Forever", available as a digital download here. The response has been very positive already - it's unlike anything I've done before but it's right where I want to be, fully enmeshed in these wonderful, swirling electronic beats and sounds. We collaborated with NYC video artist Benton C. Bainbridge on "Chrysoglott". Most of the song titles are names of obscure pipe organ stops. Hope you check it out!