Hello friends, let’s all take a second to congratulate our main man Alex Burgoyne in his marriage this past weekend! I’m very happy for him and his lovely talented wife Devin, and hope they have a fabulous honeymoon this week.
In our edition today we have columnist Phil Maneri discussing his “Life As Art” philosophy, bassist Will Strickler gets you hip to a fantastic album by Brazilian musician Munir Hossn, Fritz the Nite Owl takes you back to a great Don Hales release, and I dish a little bit about an upcoming project.
One more once:
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As Phil Sees It // Phil Maneri
From The Trash Can.
Recently I was asked to write an artistic statement. I penned this before I understood that this isn’t what they had in mind. Sometimes I screw things up pretty good before I get them right. So I fixed that but when I read this again I thought it was interesting enough to put here this week.
I define my art as creativity applied with skill acquired through practice and performance. I wouldn’t presume to subject that definition on to any one else but it works for me. On occasion I do things in artistic ways without acquired skills, but I believe the point of my daily work is to apply myself in the acquisition of new skills or refining established skills with creativity as the driving energy. Those skills are wide ranging and can even be tangential to my main modality, music.
The practice and mastery of my main instruments, bass and voice, have occupied quite a bit of my lifetime, and will continue endlessly. Tangentially related to that end though, I learn and develop skills that enhance and support the main modality. Working in guitar repair informs me on details of how instruments are constructed and maintained or modified to provided optimum utility for creativity. The same is true of live show production and recording technologies. I learn how the gear works and practice with it to establish a skill set. Creativity applied through practice creates skills in those areas that support and expand my main creative expression on the bass and voice.
I apply the same methodology to music composition, writing in publications and journals, self care, cooking, exercise, spiritual practices; to just about anything. As such creativity applied with skill as art becomes a way of living. Life as art.
For me art is a process where creativity flows from practice to performance. There is no end in and of itself, the process is the point and it is ever evolving. With creativity as the inspiration, study, practice, perform, learn, repeat.
Letter From An Editor
Zakk Jones’s Whispering Gallery (Pt. 1)
In July of 2019 I had a residency at Dick’s Den, our local Jazz dive-bar haven. With 5 Wednesdays to present different bands and projects of my choice, I decided to do something I always dreamed of. I assembled a 12 person chamber orchestra, playing brand new arrangements of my own original music plus songs by some of my favorite artists like Hank Williams, David Bowie, Willie Nelson and even Death Cab For Cutie. By all accounts I was pretty nervous, as this was my first time leading a group of this size and scope. My duties were not only to write and arrange all the music, but to find the musicians, book rehearsal time, coordinate schedules, and promote the event. We had one day that worked for everyone to rehearse…two days before the gig! With my own hectic summer performance schedule, plus my other residency events to prep, I spent one long sleepless weekend arranging and orchestrating everything. I’m pretty sure I told myself if I ever had to look at a Sibelius (notation software) screen ever again I would quit music. (Of course, I’ve spent hundreds of hours on it since then on new music and projects.)
I think any musician or artist has had that moment where they think they’ve gone absolutely mad; “Good lord will anyone even like this?” “Are my parts good enough for these players to read?” “Did I even orchestrate this correctly?” “Why did I spend half a day reharmonizing a Justin Timberlake song?”
Then rehearsal started.
I think I might have screamed, or made some real audible oogling nonsense as I’m known to do. It was working, all the parts ‘n charts going smoothly, the players already imbued with such deep attention to the dynamics and heart of the music. It sounded incredible.
Fast forward a couple days later and there we are; the trio center stage and 5 string players and 4 horn players on the floor below us. In addition, two sound engineers recording and providing a fantastic mix for everyone. We somehow fit, amidst an already growing horde of people who came out to see the whole mess. Frankly just having a successful set-up and soundcheck was an accomplishment, and when we really started the show I was in pure bliss.
A lot of the time that night I felt like I was just observing it all unfold as a spectator. Even though I was leading many cues, conducting, and of course playing myself, once we started it just kind of…happened. An organic mass was awakened from its slumber, like some sort of Chtulu or Godzilla-esque creature. I can’t stress how incredibly talented, patient, and wonderful everyone was that was involved. I couldn’t thank them enough for putting up with my insanity. Beaming like an idiot before, during, and after every song, I knew I wanted to do THIS, in some way or another, at least once a year for the rest of my life.
I’m happy to announce that I’m keeping that promise to myself. Saturday May 23rd at Dick’s Den will be the debut of an entire suite of music for jazz trio + chamber orchestra entitled “The Whispering Gallery”. You’ll hear a lot more about the specifics of the name, and inspiration for the music next time. Until then, take a listen to some clips from the Orchestra last year! Yeehaw!
What’re You Spinning // Will Strickler
IndiGenaJazz is in the rare categories of albums that makes me think of four or five other albums I love, but sounds like none of them. The track that hooked me, “Meu Guarani”, brings to mind Animals as Leaders, if they were started by Jimi Hendrix, who had been living with Fela Kuti in the forests of Brazil. This tune is a far cry from “Girl from Ipanema”, yet it’s clearly rooted in the same Brazilian musical tradition. The rest of IndiGenaJazz continues in the same fashion, drawing inspiration from seemingly different genres, yet always combining them in a melodic and musical way. “Pop-jazz” is a term I’m usually very apprehensive of, but this album combines a pop sensibility for melody and cool song structures with harmonies, rhythms and musical virtuosity typical of jazz.
Munir Hossn, the composer/singer/guitarist/bassist/percussionist on this album, is a musician with great skill on all his instruments and there’s mind melting runs and licks in these songs, but only when called for. As a bassist myself, I love Hossn’s approach to the Jaco school of punchy 16th note bass playing and it’s treat hearing someone play so beautifully intricate yet filthily groovy bass lines. Adriano Dd supports these songs with hard hitting but never overwhelming drumming. Hossn is a great singer himself and having Tiphanie Constantin on back-up vocals is the icing on this musical cake. I found very little information online about the background of either of these supporting musicians, but I’ll definitely be listening to their albums. Hossn is a busy sideman himself, and I highly recommend checking out his bass and guitar playing with Alfredo Rodriguez, one of my favorite modern piano players on the Cuban side of Latin jazz.
Vintage Record Reviews // Fritz the Nite Owl on Don Hales
Originally Published in the Short North Gazette // December 2008
Don Hales: Unified String Theory (Chicken Coup Records: CCP 7011)
Don Hales is, and has been for years, one of Central Ohio’s semi-hidden jazz treasures. A guitarist with champion chops, ‘tis a puzzlement that he’s not been recorded more often. So be it. On this swingin’ session, he displays, on all eight tracks, his complete mastery of the fretboard.
Backed by B-3 burner Tony Monaco, who produced the CD, along with Andy Woodson on bass, Kris Keith on flute and tenor, and Matt Wagner on drums, Don displays his incredible prowess as he glides and romps his way through a superb selection of six Hales-composed originals and two semi-standards by others.
Mood, tempo, style, and approach vary track-to-track, giving the set an exciting and unpredictable variety. In addition, all the players get ample space to display their considerable talents as sidemen and soloists.
Among the many highlights are the opener, a straight-ahead swinger, “Strawberries-Raspberries,” followed by a light, funky bossa “Seaweed Song,” featuring fabulous fluting by Keith along with the fluid fingering of Hales and an easy-flowing groove by all. “Breath of the Blues,” which closes the set, is a superb, nearly 11-minute-long exploration of one of the jazz basics.