Practicing in Airports

I’m just old enough to remember looking forward to flying on an airplane. Back then, businessmen were dressed in suits, meals were complimentary, and children (like myself) received free toys and/or packs of playing cards! Unlike today’s flights where people wear pajamas and flip flops, the tray tables look like the bottom of a cotton candy machine, and the microwaved cheeseburgers cost $6.00. As a young musician, I used to think flying was one of the more glamorous aspects of being a pro, something only the successful artists could enjoy. Ahhh, champagne all around. I keep waiting for a flight…

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The New Record Deal

Have University positions become the new major label record deal for today’s jazz musician? When I moved to New York in the late ’80s/early ’90s, [we] were either looking to play in the band of someone famous or to get signed by a major record label. Today, since neither is an option, university positions seem to be the “new hustle,” as one of my colleagues likes to put it. – Sam Newsome, quoted from Downbeat, June 2010. He is on faculty at Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. The Past The legendary “record deal” is an endangered species. It was the…

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Band Camp

My upstairs neighbors finally convinced me to consider moving to another apartment at the end of our current lease. The 4:00am dumbbell drops just aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep, and no matter how many times I talk to them, or how many times the super and/or the owners remind them, the noise continues. My only choice is to consider moving, again. Now I look around my apartment with the knowledge of how hard all of this stuff was to move the last time; I need to reduce the load. We’ll probably be moving into an even smaller place…

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John Denver Epiphany

I was enjoying a rare evening at home with my wife, listening to some records (yes – records). We were going through some sides that haven’t been spun in ages. A touch of jazz, a bit of disco, some “easy listening”, and then we ran across a record that I needed to spin again and again and again. It was John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High. Fantastic! He was a brilliant tunesmith and that song “Prisoners” is a work of art. So here I am living in an entirely Dominican neighborhood of Manhattan listening to John Denver… Huh!?! What’s going on…

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Modern Range Expectations

This post addresses the range requirements of a modern professional jazz trumpeter, so it may be a little too specific for most people. You know… high notes and stuff… Professional jazz trumpet players are expected to play higher today than ever before in the history of the instrument. Perhaps the closest historical comparison would be during the baroque era, or, as Ed Tarr would say, “the golden age of the trumpet.” The picture above is a great example of a typical working trumpet section (L-R: Kelly Rossum, Seneca Black, Andy Gravish, Alex Norris). Tarr claims that the golden age of…

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Full Time Art

Maybe it’s my slightly workaholic disposition, or my academic upbringing; either way, I thrive on being busy. The first week or so of February was my first taste of full time work, happening approximately 4 months after moving to New York City. Each day, I was running from rehearsal to rehearsal, performing shows at night, and practicing whenever and wherever I could. The most satisfying aspect of this week was that these performances involved bringing specific artistic visions to life. Suspended Cirque’s Speak Easy show, February 5th and 6th Suspended Cirque is a troupe of dedicated performers specializing in aerial…

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