Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fresno's on the map

I got back from Fresno, California this afternoon. Last night I played there at the "The Brick Wall" with an incredible cast of luminaries: Don Burnham(Western Swing Hall-of-Famer, Lost Weekend bandleader,  pedal steel guitarist, songwriter, composer, singer, guitarist, recording artist, raconteur), Bobby Black(Western Swing Hall-of-Famer, Asleep at the Wheel, Black Brothers Band, pedal steel guitarist, recording artist, zen guy), Bob Applebaum(LA mando[lin]-to-the-max, Disneyland, sometime singer, science genius), Bernard Payton(LA shipbuider, towering ebony booming bass voice, songwriter of dance grooves for everybody, guitarist, mystery urban cowboy), Sarah Dee Burnham(lithe vocal counterparts, lead singer of Ned Miller songs). With the addition of myself, we comprised "Don Burnham and the Bolos". Way fun gig, nice folks in the audience, too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Joy Kills Sorrow tonight at the Freight and More...

The music scene has livened up a bit around here. I first heard Joy Kills Sorrow at spring Strawberry this year; talented bunch of youngsters creating fresh music!
Lawanda Ultan is a musical treasure and Joe and I had the good fortune of her presence in my kitchen last night. Sue Draheim joined us later. We are preparing some numbers for her upcoming birthday party at Chester's on the Bay on Sunday, August 29, 7-9pm. Be there!
On another note, I will be joining Steven Strauss, Billy Wilson and others at 50 Mason tomorrow evening in San Francisco to play music from 8-11.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Live Webcast Today at 10pm

Here is a day I have been waiting for. I will participate in a live webcast with my friends Eric, Jeanette, her husband Paul, and their daughter Tanya. We will be performing a live webcast tonight. Between 10 and 11pm is our start time. One of our aims is to give the sound guys stuff to do by switching up instruments and vocals. It ought to be interesting. I will be playing acoustic and standup bass, as well as guitar and violin, and I will be singing two songs. Please tune in to: between 10 and 11pm tonight

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Poems from Jazz Camper David Erdreich

Bassline 4/7/08 8:02 am

The bass is the bottom
Teller of stories
Outline, bare bones
Who was more solid than Ray Brown?
Who could express those uncomfortable feelings
Better than Charles Mingus?
A thousand other jazz bassmen and now jazz basswomen
Thumping those subliminals
Marking the mythos
Expanding the strand you stand on
Background foreground closure.

Chrysalis 6/5/04

Lost among the rushes
I appear full blown
A reed man
With no audience and no band
I arrange my bass line
And cast it into the water music
(Catch my Handl?)
A tune breaks the surface
Fog and mist rise from the past
A melody grabs the bait
Racing deep down into the future
I've been here all along
You just never noticed
My invisible song de

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Back from CCMC, on to "Music She Wrote"

What a remarkable day I have had in my musical life. After staying up until 1 or 2 am this morning, I awoke suddenly at 7:30 this morning. I immediately performed libations, packed up the car, and was putting the case on the bass when Jamie Stillwell appeared looking somewhat groggy. We had promised each other to play one of her tunes together and here was the opportunity, so I took the cover back off of the bass, she brought out her guitar, and she taught me one of her tunes. I like her music; it is slightly quirky, yet accessible, and deceptively simple, but certainly not easy to play. I got to play with Jamie a little at camp, and really enjoyed it. There were many other musicians with whom I enjoyed making music, especially Julian Smedley, Steve Smith, Tony Marcus, Mike Wollenberg, Christine Olsen, to name just a few. I had a fantastic experience there teaching and playing. I had fourteen bass students between two classes, and they were all phenomenal students who really worked hard and improved noticeably throughout the week.
Check out the original recording with Johnny Mercer singing "Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive" by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer...
When I arrived home from camp early this afternoon, I prepared for an afternoon rehearsal at my home studio for "Music She Wrote",  a benefit concert for Oakland Public Conservatory, involving some wonderful and dedicated musicians: Angela Wellman, vocals and trombone, Sandy Poindexter, Yehudit, and India Cooke on violins, and Branice McKenzie on vocals. Not present today were Jaz Sawyer, drummer currently in NYC and Victoria Theodore, keyboardist currently on tour with Stevie Wonder. We who were present at today's rehearsal each contributed a tune or two to the program. The music that we created today at rehearsal is exciting and is a product of the warm rapport shared by all of us., The music has a strong emphasis on improvisation in the structure, and there is a wide variety of styles. The first piece we played was a contribution from India Cooke, who teaches music at Mills College. It is a string quartet with three violins and bass, and just a wonderful piece of music that came together like magic when we played it together today. The concert is to be held at the new Piedmont Piano store on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland on Friday, July 30, at 8pm. Get your tickets now, there are only 100 seats for this very special concert presentation.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faculty Concert at CCMC week1

The faculty at camp put on a great show last night. There was much variety in style, and as the resident bass teacher, I was asked to play quite a few numbers. Each teacher was loosely assigned to a group of other teachers, and allowed to present two numbers for a maximum of 10 minutes for each teacher. I was so fortunate to not only accompany others, but to present own two pieces. I chose to perform "Out of Nowhere" for solo bass, and "Accentuate the Positive", with me singing and playing bass, joined by Tony Marcus. Connie Doolan's set was last, and she was joined by the fabulous Julian Smedley on violin and viola, the amazing Mike Wollenberg on guitar, and me on bass. I am so lucky to be able to play music with these wonderful musicians.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Off to Camp Again

I am preparing to leave for camp in a couple of hours. I will be teaching bass at California Coast Music Camp, and have been busily collecting materials all year. I do enjoy helping other folks discover the beauty and power of the bass.
Played a gig at the Mission City Coffeehouse last night with the Bolos, shared with the Honky-Tonk Dreamers. HTDreamers: What a great band! Tony Marcus, Jerry Logan, Charlie Wallace and Julee (forgive my spelling) on great guitar and vocals. It was great fun, and I sang Accentuate the Positive with the Bolos to a wonderful response from the crowd. It was the best Bolos gig yet. There were about 40 people there, a nice-sized audience. So, looking forward to this week, I will be enjoying the fabulous singing of Connie Doolan, and much incredible guitar playing. I love playing with guitars...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some of what I've done since Wellesley

Fantastic! A place to share! Wow! I think about my Wellesley days and am certain they shaped the course of my life so far...I was involved in music at Wellesley, and am still. I just got home from a rehearsal of second-year 6th grade band students. I conducted a piece called Haydn's Surprise, and wondered in my on-the-spot improvement as a conductor. I was able to be consistent (for the most part) in my count-offs, and the kids figured out how to follow me. Rewarding work, it is. I teach in public school and do my best every day, but I would like to not have to drive to work and am trying to build up enough courage to decide that I am going to teach locally. On the performing side, I have been playing in the Berkeley Symphony since 1982, with a couple of years and auditions in-between, but close to 27 years, including a long stint under super-star Grammy-winning Kent Nagano. I learned a lot about music from him and was blessed to enjoy rehearsal sets several times a year. I enjoy being semi-pro on the bass--physically it is demanding. I play probably 2 hours a day on some instrument or other, and am getting better on the violin, piano and guitar, respectively. I feel kind of awkward writing about myself like this, but I suppose it is good for me. I was young at Wellesley and have mellowed out a bit, become more mature. Teaching is important to me, as it is a way of sharing the passion I have for music... Last weekend I got to spend time and play music with some wonderful people. I have been teaching at California Coast Music Camp for the last 2 years and will be teaching during the first week this year: 7/11-7/18. A lot of professional tech-types (and many other kinds of folks, interested in a lot of different types of music) attended this retreat (85), and 2-300 will attend the camp. I have enjoyed attending many music camps since I have lived in California, since 1982. The Women's Philharmonic was just starting up when I arrived in Oakland, staying with Mary Watkins' friend for a couple of days and auditioning for the philharmonic (Women's Phil) before I had established a place to live. I was fired up! I am singing and developing a repertoire including a couple of Grateful Dead songs, a four-part canon, a couple of originals. I play in the Bolos with Don Burnham, who is in the Western Swing Hall of Fame, and whose music graces "Car Talk" on npr. It is a little ditty called "Apple, Google, and Gold", and I could have been in the video, but I had another gig...I have been developing my musical voice, still playing...I like organic and local and ride my bike a bit. My daughter is 23 now. That's it for now. Write to me, please.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wohlfahrt in Beginning Violin/strings Class

With what music will students most likely engage? Under what circumstances will they continue to desire to make music? And what opportunities will await them? Families make music together. Friends make music together. Friends are made playing music with other musicians. What is a musician? What are the rules of the road of the tribe of musicians? They exist, and are followed by most members of the tribe. Bad behavior is avoided. Musicians understand that we live on the ark of cooperation because it helps everybody. We live in a web, a matrix, and we rely on each other. Which brings me to orchestra class at the elementary school today.
I brought in the first pages of the Wolhlfahrt Easiest Elementary Method for Violin. In the first four pages of exercises, the following material is introduced:
1)reading all 4 strings in different rhythms
2)half-step and whole step above the open string
3)harmonic minor tonality
4)major tonality
6)balance of voices
7)a minor, d minor, and C and G major
High value package! More later....

Friday, February 12, 2010

Eroica by the Berkeley Symphony

Last night the BSO played a concert featuring a piece by Paul Dresher, and the Eroica Symphony. I felt the concert was successful, even strong, and I am enjoying playing the bass again. I want to begin playing some chamber music...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

CMEA Bay Section Winter Conference

I attended a wonderful conference on Friday at San Jose State. The sessions I attended were inspiring and helpful. First, I got to finally work with Greg Gilpin, whose vocal arrangements I have admired for years. Every music teacher present sang beautifully, and it was a positive and energizing experience. We started out with a groovy Benedictus in multiple meters that was a blast to sing. Two other highlights from this session: Fifty Nifty United States by Ray Charles, and a nice medley of Put a Little Love in Your Heart/Soul Train. I then attended a fabulous session on "How to Improvise", by Jeffrey Chappell. He attended Curtiss and Peabody, and had a 28-year career as a classical concert pianist when he decided to study jazz. He has broken in down brilliantly using LaRue's guide to musical style, and was effective in getting convincing improvisations from willing and not-as-willing participants. It was a well-attended session. The Alexander String Quartet gave a marvelous presentation on chamber music and rehearsal techniques, and Barry Green(The Inner Game of Music) gave a fun and interesting presentation on integrating voice, breath and movement to enhance expression. The "wine and cheese" reception was a cornucopia of wonderful things to eat and drink, and the Westminster College Choir concert was a thrilling example of the highest of human achievement in choral art.