Pondering, and maybe some photos
Jessica Jones | 6:47 pm | February 16, 2013
Jessica Jones | 9:21 pm | January 23, 2012
Ah, my dramatic twenties…music and love all mushed up together…gotta love it.
Jessica Jones | 11:24 am | December 4, 2011
We have a Peter Apfelbaum and the New York Hieroglyphics concert coming up next week at the Jazz Gallery in NYC. In honor of that, I post this ditty I wrote about how it feels to play with the Hieroglyphics. It was written 30 years ago, but it’s pretty much the same. Always a highlight for me. Thanks for being the Scoutmaster, Peter.
1981, reflecting on a Hieroglyphics gig in SF the year before
Peanuts and a plastic half-pint container of orange juice – the peanuts always have too much salt – and maybe a bag of corn chips. Browse in a couple of Castro street card stores, wander amicably back to the Great American Music Hall. Downstairs, bidi smoke, and beautiful men deciding which hat looks best with these sunglasses. Casual greetings indicative of a tight friendship. Assessment of neighbor’s new sax accessory, mention of typically late band members who will no doubt have some exotic explanation involving public transportation.
“The Hieroglyphics Ensemble…” Bang – the music. Strong, rough at the releases, brusk and gentle, and fat tones and skinny tones and the best brand of confidence all singing one song.
And the audience sings too, with its faces.
The music is made of possibilities and of remembering what it’s like to be alive.
After the concert, everyone is six steps closer to each other than they’d ever admit. ”Where you hangin’?” ” Can I have a hit of that? That was a raw solo.”
After the Flints’ BBQ, after the recreative drugs, and the hearing the tape of the concert, after the teasing, after the silence of comraderie – we go back to our various pockets of home.
Jessica Jones | 4:30 pm | February 12, 2011
From one of my 11 year old students:
I have a French Project where I must interview a teacher. I have a couple question to ask you.
1. Why do you like jazz?
I think I like hearing people’s personality in their playing, which happens in jazz improvising. I also think that a lot of different moods can be expressed.
2. What is your favorite song?
I have many. Lately I’ve been listening a lot to Marie Antoinette by Wayne Shorter, played by Freddie Hubbard. Jazz musicians tend to have favorite players rather than songs…
3. How many instruments have you played?
I’ve played a lot of instruments, but I only practice and try to get better at saxophone, piano, flute, and drums. And sometimes clarinet. I’ve also tried playing the trumpet and trombone.
4. What are some of your hobbies?
Music…teaching…exercise, like swimming, jogging.
5. What is your favorite color?
Probably deep red.
6. What is your favorite food?
I’m pretty fond of chicken enchiladas. Or eggs benedict.
7. Do you have any pets?
8. What is your favorite instrument?
Tenor saxophone. With drums second, piano third.
9. Is there anything else interesting about you?
Probably not. My middle name is a mixture of my two
grandmothers’ first names.
Jessica Jones | 7:52 am | May 16, 2010
A lot of musicians ‘in this economy’ have some kind of day job that allows them to continue to pursue their art at a high level. Some have created lives that allow them to just practice and compose, but I have a sneaking suspicion that’s a more rarified situation than we may realize. Even full time musicians likely spend good chunks of their day calling, emailing, and sending out information to people, which is not quite the same as playing music.
So I’m wondering, musicians, how has your day job, or work outside of music, influenced your music? Let me know.
I seem to have fallen into teaching music, which has put me around kids for a large part of my life. I watch their spontaneity and inability to be false, and am inspired. It helps me understand what I’m trying to get to with my improvising and my life. I see them in groups, and the natural joyous chaos that ensues, and have to hone my skills of knowing just when the creativity is ending and the Lord of the Flies is beginning, and be able to snap them back to grid. The innocent questions make me question and reaffirm my understanding of the basics of music daily. Their perspective as both young people and a different generation allows me to leave my own point of view and try to understand something from another outlook. “Something’s wrong with my clarinet, I push the buttons but it doesn’t work” sent me on a long pondering about the video game/computer interface model that kids grow up with, as well as a check in with myself about what effort feels like, and reminder that creating and receiving vibration is a new experience for those who haven’t experienced it much. It snaps ME back to grid, in a Zen Mind-Beginner’s Mind way.
Looking forward to hearing some of the ways your other work affects your music. Check in, people!
Jessica Jones | 9:11 pm | July 7, 2009
Stevie got it right, twice:
Jessica Jones | 8:49 am | June 9, 2009
We are playing once or twice a month at Puppets, a cool small jazz venue in Park Slope, Brooklyn and it’s been gratifying and revealing to be playing regularly in the same spot. Maybe it’s today’s version of a week at the Vanguard…but due to inflation, each night is suspended between two to four week intervals.
We are playing with the core group of myself on piano, Tony Jones on tenor, Candace Jones on vocals and are sometimes joined by wonderful drummers and bassists (Ken Filiano, Keith Witty, Levi Jones, on bass; James Windsor-Wells, Lou Grassi, Diego Voglino on drums) and other guests. A month or so ago guitarist Andy Fite joined us from Sweden! That was big fun. So we have been building our repertoire with Candace, and stretching the familiar songs a little outre which feels like what we’ve been trying to do with them all along. Often, Candace and I play a duet set, which is challenging for me. I spend most of my musical time thinking like a single-line saxophonist so its quite healthy for me to stretch my ears to more horizontal thinking. If you see what I mean. And Candace is dreamy to play with, her sense of pitch has spoiled me for other singers. Tony, of course, has his Own Thing and you have to hear it.
We are going to be integrating more of the original quartet pathways into the gig – maybe a set of vocals and a set of quartet (yay, I get to play saxophone again!) with guests. In July we will be bringing back our good friend and collaborator Mark Taylor on french horn and mellophone. I am very fond of the sound of the horn section of Mark, Tony and me. Three horns in the same range, slinking around, blending and then appearing on top of the fray…its like tenor clef sleight of hand.
I feel like this gig is a dream I had, and the kind I used to read about, where a band can develop themselves and people can witness it. And I can’t tell you what a blessing it is that I am having this experience with my family.
Maybe see you there: Puppets Jazz Bar
Jessica Jones | 5:42 pm | April 19, 2009
It’s spring in NYC, and trees are blooming and the lovely seasonal aromas are wafting by as I ride my bike – the rosemary bread from the bakery, the fresh mown lawn at the cemetery – and the mix of animal hay and the smell of those weird pink popcorn candy bricks I remember chomping into as a kid hang in the air over by the Universoul Circus in Prospect Park. And the other bikers whiz by, and I try to stay ahead of the runners and the walkers, on that one hill…
So instead of continuing my surround-smell picture for you, I’m going to talk about my favorite TV shows, the ones I most commonly watch:
Little House on the Prarie
I think those are because I like the innocence, and the family, and the dad who hangs around the house a lot….I really like those shows. Sorry!
Extreme Makeover, Home Edition (but it’s a little over the top for me usually)
I enjoy seeing clean organized houses, and I particularly like seeing a space and then visualizing how it’s going to be, and then seeing that happen. It gives me hope, not just about my own entropy-magnet home, but that I can visualize things in a way that they aren’t yet, but that could come true, in the Real world.
Comedies (my alltime favorite category):
Arrested Development (they do still show a rerun now and then)
Adventures of New Christine
What’s on at home, so I watch it:
Law & Order (all the time! They need to make a Law & Order channel already. There are so many of them. Our favorite is CI)
Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olberman on MSNBC. Since the campaign.
King of Queens (but have seen every episode over 4 times)
Other stuff: The Closer, and for ‘comfort TV’, an episode of Matlock or PBS Mystery now and then.
You’ll be glad to know we have been eschewing the Idiot Box for a few hours each night to make room for Bud Powell and others to take the sonic stage since we got a real record player. Yes, records.
Here’s Bud for you to look at, if you don’t have a record to stare at:
Jessica Jones | 7:56 pm | March 29, 2009
I’m not even sure of the title of the post…
But anyway it seems that people respond to confidence, it makes them feel comfortable. They feel more secure when someone else is willing to take the reins (and reigns!). I can understand that. And confidence on stage is pretty charismatic. However, there is a real beauty to doubt. Like, just plain “I don’t know the right answer. The first choice could work, but I can see how the second choice might also work. Who am I to say?” That can be a richer, more intriguing experience, even for an audience. That’s been my experience.
However, as a teacher, middle school students REALLY don’t respond well to doubt! I mean, in terms of structure of the class and what to expect. So the mother in me has learned to create structure and an architecture to start with, but hopefully – both in playing and teaching – it is a flexible structure that allows all kinds of variations based on the creativity of the people utilizing it. Seeing a lot of possibilities simultaneously is a skill that people are needing right now, in This Economy and all. The creativity that allows for pivoting from anywhere to get anywhere else. It’s like the training was all in a straight line and now everyone is lost except the artists or creative people, who can turn on a dime, change direction, think of new ways to try things.
That’s what I’ve been thinking about. Doubt might be creativity.
Jessica Jones | 6:35 pm | March 26, 2009
In response to Lois’ comment, here’s a better one with me at the BHS concert:
So here is proof I was there. (with Lavell, Dayna, and Steven)
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