Warming Up

Warming Up

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player

Hello Readers, it’s time for the fifteenth installment of “Guess The Trumpet Player.” Something fun this week. The album that this tune is taken from is the first album I ever purchased by this artist. I was in high school and just starting to check out jazz and jazz trumpet players.

Click the link (it’s safe), click play, listen, guess the trumpet player. The first person to leave the correct name of this trumpet player in the comments section of this post wins a CD – your choice of Outside Pants Vol. 1 – Old School Players or Outside Pants Vol. 2 – Ron Miles Mix or Outside Pants Vol. 3 – Brownie Mix or Outside Pants Vol.4 – Dave Douglas Mix. The contest ends with Monday’s post.

Here’s the tune: http://www.box.net/shared/sdzg3fdny2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


“Listening to Bach now and then is good, if only for hygienic reasons.” Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Doug Hirlinger - Music Creative

With today’s post I want to highlight the work and new blog of drummer/composer Doug Hirlinger. Doug and I were neighbors when we both used to live in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Doug, who lives in NYC now, is a fantastic jazz-oriented drummer with a very advanced rhythmic concept. He is also a great composer and musical thinker. Check out this first post on the new blog portion of his musiccreative.org website:
I won’t cut and paste his text and musical examples – just click on the link and read for yourself – but I will cut and paste the intro to Doug’s post because I think this intro sums up why Doug is doing what he’s he doing and how the concepts can be applied to all instruments…even a trumpet:

As with all posts that will appear on this blog, this post is meant as a kernel to spur your own ideas. If you begin by mastering this small idea, you’ll probably find yourself with many more ideas and concepts. While I work on this idea mainly behind a drumset or as a rhythmic compositional device, this can be applied to any instrument or situation…

Check out musiccreative.org and visit again for new thoughts and ideas.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player Winner

Thanks to all who listened to Thursday’s track and to those who ventured a guess. The winner of the fourteenth edition of the Outside Pants Guess The Trumpet Player contest is…….fabulous Boston trumpet player, Jason Palmer. Nice work, Jason. Check out Jason here and here and plenty of stuff on YouTube.

The correct answer to last week’s contest is Ingrid Jensen. The tune is called Transit and it’s from the NYC-based big band, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society debut record “Infernal Machines.”

Ingrid Jensen is a monster trumpet player and her solo on this tune is a great example of her playing. To my ears, Ingrid has a really individual sound though it is definitely rooted in a lot of Miles Davis and Woody Shaw. And again, for my ears, that’s a good thing. I’ll be honest though, I have only heard a few of Jensen’s own records as a leader and I wasn’t super crazy about them. I tend to like her more on other people’s projects. There are a bunch of really amazing players I feel that way about. No shame in that game.

So last week I mentioned that this track would feature something different. Well, the difference is the gender of the featured trumpet player. I realized that I was featuring all men and that’s just not that cool considering the fact there have been and continue to be many great female jazz trumpet players (Clora Bryant, Valaida Snow, Pam Fleming, Laurie Frink, Jamie Dauber, Lina Allemano, etc.). This ain’t just a man’s world. And great female trumpeters don’t just “play pretty good…for a girl.” They are every bit the musicians of their male colleagues. To illustrate that point I wanted to highlight a woman. Not because I feel like I don’t want to look sexist, but because I think it should be emphasized that great trumpet playing knows no gender, no skin color, no age. Great trumpet playing only knows passion and thousands of hours of hard work. Period. Check out Ingrid Jensen – she is a monster trumpet player.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player

Hello Readers, it’s time for the fourteenth installment of “Guess The Trumpet Player.” Like the last two weeks’ tracks, I was planning to keep the music non-American, but I got to thinking and I realized that all of the previous thirteen trumpet player tracks I’ve featured so far have one thing in common. Maybe it’s time to feature a trumpet player that doesn’t share that commonality. So….

Click the link (it’s safe), click play, listen, guess the trumpet player. The first person to leave the correct name of this trumpet player in the comments section of this post wins a CD – your choice of Outside Pants Vol. 1 – Old School Players or Outside Pants Vol. 2 – Ron Miles Mix or Outside Pants Vol. 3 – Brownie Mix or Outside Pants Vol.4 – Dave Douglas Mix. The contest ends with Monday’s post.

Here’s the tune: http://www.box.net/shared/oi795vk87v

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Happy 420, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let’s celebrate with our good friend, Russian virtuoso Sergei Nakariakov. Fellow Philly trumpet player Stan Slotter kept talking to me one day about Nakariakov: “Man, you gotta get some Nakariakov.” Stan kindly burned a CD for me (Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme), and now I’m on a Nakariakov kick. The guy is a monster trumpet player. And he has been for years – and yet he is only 33 years old!

There are a bunch of Nakariakov videos on YouTube. Most of the repertoire that Nakariakov has recorded is of the Haydn, Mozart, Hummel, Artunian variety. He has recorded some pieces that were originally written for other instruments (cello, violin, bassoon). Performing these on trumpet/flugelhorn is obviously quite difficult because of the limitations of the trumpet. But the trumpet is clearly limitless for Nakariakov. His tonguing, flexibility, and finger dexterity are frightening. But that technical stuff, while impressive in its sheer brilliance, doesn’t really impress me in and of itself. What I enjoy most about Nakariakov is his interpretations, how he makes music and emotion out of the technical stuff. His use of air through the horn is just amazing. Check out how he shifts his air on the insane passage at the 6:38 mark in his version of Arban’s Carnival of Venice. The alternating low notes pop out at a completely different volume and attack than the turns an octave above. But these changes are occurring at a staggering quick pace. And they are perfect. This is so hard to do. I don’t generally like this piece all that much, but Nakariakov makes music out of all of those notes. Talk about a downstream player! That bell is almost in the ground!

Dig Mendelssohn's Concerto for Violin in D Minor
(Check out 2:50!!!):

And here is Nakariakov playing flugelhorn on Haydn’s Cello Concerto – what a sound he gets on the flugel. Perfect intonation and such lyricism.

And here’s a somewhat bizarre effort by his record label (probably) to make Nakariakov seem like a well-adjusted, healthy, heterosexual young man, not some freakish and socially screwed up Wunderkind:

Check out Sergei Nakariakov: http://www.nakariakov.com/

Mr. Nakariakov, please do a tour in the US!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Random Gigs: Beauty in the Rain and a Heart Attack in Church

My apologies for the lack of posts last week (I know you were crushed); it was a really hectic week. All that needed to be accomplished was accomplished. I met my writing deadlines and managed to balance a crazy work week with a super busy family schedule (including almost six hours of Little League on Saturday). The rehearsals were made and the gigs were played. And speaking of gigs played, I had two really interesting ones this weekend.

Saturday night’s gig was at the RUBA Club in Philly with my friend Matt Davis’ band, Aerial Photograph. Like elsewhere in the country, Saturday dumped some crazy weather on the Philadelphia area. It rained and rained, and rained, and rained, and rained. And then it rained some more, because, hey, maybe we needed more rain. The radio told me on the drive down to my gig that we were going to get one to two inches total of rain. What?! We got at least two inches of rain during my drive alone. Turns out the totals were more like five to eight inches of rain in my area which tends to get more than in the city (some minor flooding in my basement while I was at the gig – fun). It was a pretty crappy night to have to leave the house. But Matt is my buddy and his band plays beautiful music. When I got to the gig (pretty soaked because I couldn’t find an umbrella at home) I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was actually an audience there to watch us and a fabulous band called The Blue Cranes from Portland, OR play our sets.

Aerial Photograph has been around for six or seven years or so, I believe. The genesis of the group came out of Matt’s undergrad experience of writing for a guitar trio plus a string quartet. The band soon added a saxophone and then a five piece wind section (Saturday we played without trombone). The music is all Matt’s. Kind of a chamber jazz vibe. Beautiful, quiet, moody, elegant, sometimes simple, sometimes complex music. It’s a really special ensemble. I’ve never heard another band quite like this one. And the juxtaposition between pouring, violent rain and Matt’s peaceful and calm music could not have been more stark. The band played beautifully on Saturday night, especially on Matt’s new one, Sol Soul, which is built off of the chord changes to Miles Davis’ Solar. Yours truly got to solo through the progression with just a pointillistic string quartet backdrop. It was a challenge and a lot of fun. We also had a special guest on cello. A fabulous Swedish player (I can’t remember his first name, but his last name is Kramer) who had just auditioned that morning for the New York Philharmonic. He was pretty good :) Gorgeous tone and obviously a good reader. He comes from a family of accomplished string players. I think he made us all step up our game, whether we realized it or not. And our audience seemed to notice. We had a real nice reception. All in all, it was a nice night of music and one of the better recent Aerial Photograph shows. Not bad for a really crappy night.

I had to get up pretty early on Sunday for my next gig – a Palm Sunday service at a Lutheran Church in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. I was told to arrive really early so that I could rehearse the music (almost all of which I was seeing for the first time that morning) with the organist and the choir. I had about 35 seconds to warm up before we ran through all the music, plus some of more difficult music we’ll be performing at next Sunday’s Easter service. I generally don’t play all that well first thing in the morning, but my chops seemed to be handing all of that playing ok, although by the end of the service my lips were pretty much shot. Maybe not a great idea to rehearse for a solid hour before the Easter Service. Especially if I’m supposed to hit all those notes in that Handel piece. But whatever, this isn’t what I’m writing about. I’m writing about the incident that took place about halfway through the service.

Right after the sermon I was starting to get ready for the next choir piece that I was going to play. Just mentally going over the music, making note of key changes, and any passages with weird rhythms or fingering. Then I heard the pastor say “And now we’ll sing some hymns while the paramedics take care of Phyllis.” WTF?! I looked up, through the huge palms, and over the altar. There were about four paramedics attending to an elderly African American woman, giving her oxygen, and getting her onto a stretcher. Apparently, Phyllis had just had a heart attack while sitting in the pew. Her husband, Alex had quickly and discretely called 911. To keep things moving along, but in a manner respectful of the paramedics and their responsibilities, the pastor and the organist just kept the hymns coming and I just kept playing along, transposing and coming up with harmony parts on the spot. I’m not sure, but the congregation seemed to be singing louder and more passionately than normal. Maybe to sing Phyllis back into a stable condition. It was kind of emotional and really surreal. Then the paramedics took her away and the service went back to normal – just extended by about 25 minutes. That was a weird church service and a weird gig. Life is precious and you never know what’s coming next. So sing louder. Put your heart into it. Good luck, Phyllis. And Alex.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player Winner

Before we get to the answer of last week’s contest, I want to offer a preemptive apology for the light blogging this week. It looks like it’s going to be a really busy week of writing (music and otherwise) deadlines, gigs, rehearsals, and work stuff. Ok, now that that’s said…

Thanks to all who listened to Thursday’s track and to those who ventured a guess. Like last week, no one guessed who it was, so the winner of the thirteenth of the Outside Pants Guess The Trumpet Player contest is…….no one. And that’s…ok.

The correct answer is Hugh Masekela. The tune is called “Bajabula Bonke” (which means, I think, The Healing Song) and it’s from Hugh’s 1965 live at the Village Gate (NYC) recording “Lasting Impressions of Ooga Booga.” The second track is a fun trumpet overdub one called “Fuzz” (the police, people!) and it’s from the unfortunately rather hard to find 1968 album “Masekela” which looks to have never been released on CD (that’s a huge crime!). This is a vinyl rip, thus the crackles and pops.

Hugh Masekela is a special musical figure. He escaped Apartheid South Africa, made it to England with his horn, then he made it to New York, and later Los Angeles, then finally, once Apartheid had ended, he returned to South Africa. He is not a jazz player. I think maybe he wanted to be, but because of his background, he had so much more to offer. Apparently Miles Davis felt the same way. Back around the time of these recordings Miles encouraged Hugh to quit trying to play American jazz and focus on his own music which was informed by his South African roots. Hugh heeded the advice and these two albums are great examples of the music that Hugh chose to make. His music was successful, and, for some time in the late 60’s and early 70’s, Hugh was something of a pop star in America. He also was married for a while to the great Miriam Makeba – that’s a serious Power Couple! For what it’s worth, “Masekela” is one of my all-time favorite records. Awesome songs, powerful vocal performances and great Masekela trumpet playing - the licks and lines on this record are classic Masekela trumpet. If you listen to his playing from a jazz perspective then you’ll be missing the point. If you listen from a music perspective you’ll be more likely to be moved by the power of what he is saying. Oh, and his singing voice is singular, raw, and emotional. Get yourself some Hugh Masekela!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player

Hello Readers, it’s time for the thirteenth installment of “Guess The Trumpet Player.” Like last week’s track, we’re keeping things non-American. That said, this first track was actually recorded live in New York City. The second track was recorded in London (as best as I can tell). And if it helps your guessing, the singer is also the trumpet player.

Click the link (it’s safe), click play, listen, guess the trumpet player. The first person to leave the correct name of this trumpet player in the comments section of this post wins a CD – your choice of Outside Pants Vol. 1 – Old School Players or Outside Pants Vol. 2 – Ron Miles Mix or Outside Pants Vol. 3 – Brownie Mix or Outside Pants Vol.4 – Dave Douglas Mix. The contest ends with Monday’s post.

Here’s the first song (the trumpet doesn’t start until halfway in but don’t fast forward or you’ll miss the point, IMHO): http://www.box.net/shared/10g1xs0p4a

And the second, just because this one is fun: http://www.box.net/shared/xm6i3z502a

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Upcoming Gigs

Two gigs of note this week. Thursday night I’ll be back at Tritone with Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound. It’s been almost ten years that the band has had our once a month gig at Tritone. I’m not sure what’s on tap this month. We might play Bobby’s music like we always do or we might also include some music by the great alto saxophonist, Steve Coleman. Why? Because the Warriors have a big concert on Saturday at Montgomery County Community College with Steve.

Like last year’s amazing concert (you can watch it HERE) with alto giant Rudresh Mahanthappa, Bobby has invited (with some serious grant funding, of course) a guest composer to come in and write a whole new suite of music for the band and perform it with us. Rudresh wrote “Dasha” for us. Steve has written “Stasis and Change“ for us. Steve’s music is really hard. Really intricate interlocking lines and melodies, very rhythmic, very exact. Some of the guys in the band prefer a looser aesthetic so this is going to be a bit of a challenge. But because Steve’s language is so singular he is bringing down from NYC a few of his students/bandmates to flesh out our band and lend some support. It’s already been a great learning experience. A few more rehearsals should tighten things up and we’ll be ready to roll.

Here is some more info on Steve Coleman if you are interested: