I found this in a word doc tucked away in a folder on the laptop. I was going to just delete it, but I decided it was worth posting. It’s from last summer, which was a very busy time for me. So without any further ado, here it is, dated 8/10/07
Here I am, on the road again, out with Marty Balin. He’s one of the founders of the Jefferson Airplane (and later the Starship).It’s an honor to play with him, and he’s a really nice guy too. We’re only doing 4 dates on this particular run. That’s ok, because July was an incredibly busy month (that bled into the 1st 2 weeks of august). Last Tuesday (Aug 7th) I premiered Five Elements, a new group based on an idea I had a few years back. The idea was to use a wide variety of percussion – Afirican, Latin, Brazilian – but no actual drumset. The show featured Percussionists Amarildo Costa (Brazilian), Kazi Oliver (African), as well as jazz vocalist and flutist Judi Silvano and myself on a rather big rig (5 keyboards). Judi was kind enough to record it, so I’ve posted an excerpt from the show HERE. Other stuff I’ve been doing: 3 weeks of Ballet Class work at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center (in Tivoli, NY); The Susan’s Restaurant Jazz Jam Session (hosted by drummer extraodinare Bob Meyer); Robert Kopec’s “Big Bang Jazz Gang”, a big band playing Mingus, Monk, Coltrane, Dizzy and more; MBA, an experimental electronic free jazz project (website going up soon!); a few gigs with Judi Slivano’s jazz Quartet; Gigs with the Scott Weis Band (a great local soul-blues band); Marvin Bu-ga-lu Smith trio; the Neil Alexander Trio (acoustic jazz!) As well as a handful of solo Shows and of Course many NAIL gigs. I’ve got some down time coming (no day or night gigs till sat 8/18). Time to recharge the batteries, slow down a little.
The cool thing about all this is since I’ve left the Machine, I’ve more varied and interesting – and paid – work then I ever have in my life. I’m playing every kind of music imaginable (except country, bluegrass, and a few other things I ain’t interested in). And the sky’s the limit. Playing with Bob Meyer, I getting to meet and play with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the area (and the NY area is nothing to scoff at). I’m getting to the place I have oft dreamt about. The challenges come, and will continue to come; I will continue to work hard and to give my best to the music which I hold so dear.
I love you all, stay in touch.
OK, I think I’ve just about posted that Moogfest video everywhere I could…. I will be posting the second half (with Herb Deutsch) next week (when I get a minute!). Made some site changes; news posted on the NAILMUSIC site. Notice the date calendar in the sidebar here.
I’m trying to get more summer dates for us. Doing that has its own specific challenges, however, as I try to work around the very busy schedules of my two great musicians. (I think) I wish I could offer them so much work they wouldn’t have to do anything else… But even that I’m sure would come with it’s own set of challenges. Only one thing I can say about all that….
“BRING IT ON!!!!!”
peace out –
So – for those of you who have wondered what kinds of things I’ve been up to since leaving “the Machine”, I offer the following as a shining example. I’m living a dream: making original cutting edge music 24/7. I’ll focus on the last 10 days as a perfect example.
Wed. April 2nd: The second MAHAVISHNU PROJECT date at the Iridium in NYC was a smash. As an added bonus I got to meet the great writer, Bill Milkowski. The friday and monday following I had rehearsals for an upcoming dance performance (see below); Wednesday April 9th brought a quick jazz gig for the Intermediate school in Goshen NY with bassist Bill Crow and trombonist Eddie Bert, two legends of jazz. Thursday April 10th NAIL performed at an Orange County Press Conference celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month; singer Lillie Howard was a guest (look for YouTube videos to be uploaded soon). Friday April 11th I had a Jazz trio gig at Café Mozart in Mamaroneck NY with Nadav Z and Dave Ruffles. This group has been hitting steady since the beginning of the year, and is really coming along. Then Saturday Night April 12th was the SUNY Purchase Downtown Cabaret; I performed as part of the Dance Conservatory set of 5 pieces, all by different choreographers. I worked with Cori Kresgi, using the “Logical Oscillator” rig (laptop, controllers, synth). Packed house; great response. I should mention that another choreographer for Downtown Cabaret called me Thursday; her musician could not complete the score, and could I give her something? So Friday afternoon in between SUNY classes and a rehearsal for Cori K (about 2 hours) I composed, recorded, edited and mixed to CD an 8 minute original score. Whew! Her piece was performed Friday night. (So I guess I was in 2 places at once….?) I will post both scores at some point, with links in this blog.
All in all, 10 days of serious music making in a diversity of styles. That’s all I ever wanted. (Nice to get paid for doing it, too.) More? I say: “Bring it!” Tomorrow I start work on a 20 minute edit for choreographer Kevin Wynn, to be performed at the SUNY Spring Dance Concert (2 weeks!). Time to hit the software.
As always, thanks for listening.
– the NAIL
From Pete Levin’s website:
Did you hear the one about the jazz musician who won 1/2 a million dollars in the lottery?
An interviewer asked him what his plans were.
He said he’d just keep on gigging until the money was gone.
Back in 1971, the future of music was a hybrid of Rock, Jazz and Classical. Alot of groups were doing various combinations of things; prog rock combined classical and rock, for example. But for my money, the forefront of this movement was a band called the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The music was called “Fusion”.
Run by guitarist John McLaughlin, the M.O. pushed the limits of what was possible for a live band to do. The writing, performing and recordings were second to none. If you’ve never heard of them, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They helped define the music of a generation – my generation. Learn HERE.
Right around 11th grade in High School, we got the “book”. This was the McLaughlin Book – containing, in score form, the first four albums of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. My musician friends and I in high school spent many, many – I mean many – hours, working through every inch of that book. Trying every tune; re-arranging things, re-orchestrating, and just having an incredible time of it all. I learned a lot from that experience. I continued to play this music with whoever I could find for the next 18 years, often playing to empty room after empty room and getting turned down for gigs left and right. Seemed like no one wanted to hear this music. “Fusion” had become a “dirty” word. Too bad.
I finally walked away from that sound & style in 1997, concentrating on finding my voice in a new world. This finally happened in 2005, when I had a Eureka moment, and I realized how I could combine all my diverse influences into one thriving, growing musical unit – NAIL.
But – life isn’t finished throwing those wonderful curves yet. Through a convoluted series of events which included 10 years on the road with “the Machine” (those who know me know about that), I find myself receiving a phone call from Gregg Bendian, drummer and bandleader of a group called – and here’s where it gets interesting – the “Mahavishnu Project“. Well, having practically lived and breathed this music for so many years, I jumped at the chance. We’ve played 2 shows so far; I can only describe the experience as surreal. Going back and playing this stuff – it fells like I’m falling backwards through time. But the audience is there – now more then ever, perhaps, as new generations discover this (what I always thought of as amazing) music.
Anyway, enough rambling for now – I will keep you all posted.
As always, thanks for listening –