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 acrobatics. The members are: Joshua Dean, Ben Franklin, Michelle Dortignac, Kristin Olness and Angela Jones. I had worked with a couple of aerialists in Minneapolis, so I thought I would know what to expect… nope. WOW, what a show! Speak Easy transformed the Galapagos art space into a 1947 gin joint and featured the vocal talents of Victoria Cave. Only in New York can a show come together in a venue like this. Galapagos is a club in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn, which features a 1600 square foot lake in front of the stage, intimate booth seating, a balcony and two full bars. It was the perfect setting for this spectacle of the senses.
Along with Victoria Cave (featured vocalist), the rest of the band was comprised of top-notch pros: Peter Kiesewalter (band leader, piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Eric Halverson (drums) and me (trumpet). Chris Olness (trombone) was kind enough to join us as well, along with cast members Josh (trombone) and Kristin (saxophone) sitting in for a couple of tunes.
The show was such a success, the troupe is back with Swinging’ at Jack’s in April!
Jeremy Walker’s Bootet, February 7th
Jeremy is a pianist and a good friend of mine from Minneapolis, whose compositions reflect a strong Ellington/Monk vibe. He’s been honing his tunes for years with his Jazz Is NOW! ensemble(s), and the music is viciously swinging and truly rewarding to play. He brought his book out to New York to launch his new group, the Bootet, down at Fat Cat in the Village. The timing of the show was both a blessing and a curse; it was Super Bowl Sunday. The downside is that the usual NYU crowd that hangs out there was gone. The upside is that the usual NYU crowd that hangs out there was gone! No pool playing! The musicians could hear each other and the audience was able to really embrace his compositions without the wall of sound usually heard down there.
A long time ago, I read an interview with a jazz musician who mentioned how he was in awe of all of the other musicians on stage; that’s how I felt playing this gig. Joining Jeremy Walker (composer, pianist) was: Ted Nash (saxophone), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Michael O’Brien (bass), Matt Wilson (drums) and me(trumpet).
The music soared and sizzled, what a pleasure to play with these guys! Hopefully there will be more performances with this band after Jeremy moves to New York this summer.
Jomama Jones’ Lone Star CD release, February 9th
Back in October, shortly after getting to town, I played some horn parts on the new CD project by Daniel Alexander Jones. The music was/is fantastic! I’m a big fan of Sly and the Family Stone as well as other ‘70s soul/funk bands, so this groove was a great fit for my ear. Daniel is an amazing talent; he channels the soul diva Jomama Jones, who, by the way, is a sweetheart as well, for the entirety of this project. After the recording session, Daniel was gracious enough to invite me to perform with the band at the CD release show at Joe’s Pub.
The release show featured Jomama Jones and the Sweet Peaches (think Gladys Knight and the Pips). So in addition to Jomama Jones (vocalist), the Peaches were: Grisha Coleman (vocalist), Sonja Perryman (vocalist) and Helga Davis (vocalist). The band consisted of Bobby Halvorson (MD, drums) who flew in from L.A., Ted Cruz (keyboard), Nick Blossom (guitar), Eric Kim (bass) and me(trumpet).
The show was sold out, weeks in advance, so hopefully this show will get an encore performance soon. Here is a video of Down, Down, Down that was shot at the show.
Another added bonus to this great week of music, is that by the end of the month, I actually hit my budget mark. The post-holiday months are historically slow for freelance work, so I feel extraordinarily lucky to finish my first February in the black. March, on the other hand…