Warming Up

Warming Up

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gigs This Weekend

I have two fun gigs this weekend. The music will be drastically different, but should be enjoyable.

Up first is my Friday night gig in Glenside, PA. It’s a fundraiser for Glenside Youth Athletic Club (GYAC). The event is billed as Comedy Night: three NYC comics and a warm-up band called the Weekend Squires. I am the “special guest” with the Weekend Squires. The schtick with this gig is that the band picks a pop artist/band to cover and then they do instrumental versions of the tunes. I joined the Weekend Squires for last year’s GYAC Comedy Night and we played all Black Crowes tunes (a bit rough cuz the Crowes singer basically sings the same thing on almost every tune – blues scale notes). This year the band that we are covering is The Clash. I’m playing on about 70% of the tunes – playing the original horn lines as well as lead and back up vocal lines. Sometimes I’m playing all these parts at once. How is that possible, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you; thanks for asking. I have a new toy which lets me play multiple notes at once.

For my birthday (March 14th in case you want to make a reminder for next year!), my wife and mom bought me a Boss PS-6 Harmonist pedal. This thing has been so much fun! Using Boss’ words, here’s what it does:
“Meet the new BOSS harmonist, with four intelligent pitch-shift effects and three-voice harmony in one convenient unit. Among the effect modes are Harmony, Pitch Shifter, and Detune, plus the all-new Super Bend for authentic pedal-bending effects and wild three- and four-octave pitch sweeps. You can even control pitch with an optional expression pedal. The harmony function is fast and simple to use, and supports a variety of interval patterns. It’s easy to create rich, three-voice harmony: choose a major or minor key, and set SHIFT to 3-VOICE—that’s it! The PS-6 Harmonist is an unbeatable combination of superior sound quality, ease of use, and powerful pitch effects, all under one hood.”

I’ve been fooling around with this pedal for the last month and because of the nature of this Weekend Squires gig, I think it’s a perfect time to debut the Harmonist. Some tunes I’ll use the three-part harmony, some tunes I’ll add to my pitch an octave above and an octave below, and some tunes I’ll use the Detune function which is basically a chorus effect. To further treat my sound, for some tunes I’m also going to play through a Boss DS-1 Distortion pedal – the idea is to make the trumpet sound less like a trumpet. I’ll probably mainly use the distortion on my solos.

So all in all, I’m looking forward to this gig. Though I won’t be getting paid (it’s a fundraiser and I’m donating my time), it will be fun to test out this new gear. Plus, I’ve grown a new appreciation for The Clash. Their drummer, especially, was pretty darn good. And transcribing some of their tunes has confirmed in my mind that I need to start a ska band in the near future. More on that later….

So, the next gig is Saturday’s big concert at Montgomery County Community College. Courtesy of the Ars Nova Workshop website, here’s the deal:

On April 28 at Montgomery County Community College, Bobby Zankel’s big band the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound will premiere a new piece written for the ensemble by legendary pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams. Recently named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and a member of Downbeat Magazine’s Hall of Fame, Abrams is a co-founder of the hugely influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and a composer whose work and influence spans the diverse history of classic, modern and avant-garde jazz. At 81, he continues to wield an enormous influence through his recordings and teachings, not least through some of modern jazz’s most important musicians.

Ars Nova Workshop has also hosted a four part blog about this concert by writer Shaun Brady – you can see the posts at http://arsnovaworkshop.org/

I wrote about this concert a few weeks back – check out the videos. There is a new video with pianist Vijay Iyer:

and also an interview with Muhal himself:

My favorite Muhal quote from this video is a real gem: “I don’t really advise people, but I would say be honest and true about music and practice and study. Forever.” Love it!

The Warriors and Muhal have been rehearsing for a couple of months and the music is ready. It’s one very long epic composition entitled “Soundpath.” In short, it’s badass! Muhal is a true master. And he has been such a joy to work with. He stands in front of us, a real maestro, but very humble and very accessible. He laughs, cracks jokes, and dances along with music – he’s 81 but with his energy and enthusiasm, you would think that he’s half that age. And he’s really encouraging us, pushing us to really get into the sound, to really explore. The whole process has been a blast and I’m excited for the culmination – our concert at MCCC.

Oh, I almost forgot - a special bonus for the Warriors for this concert is that we will also be welcoming into the band two master improvisers: the great trumpet (and a favorite of mine) Herb Robertson and the master trombone player Steve Swell. It’s been great hearing these guys with the band. And it’s been a real treat sitting next to, and getting to know Herb. This show is gonna be awesome!

A new development
: since this concert location is kinda out-there for some folks, Ars Nova Workshop has organized a bus trip to and from the Clef Club in center city Philadelphia to make things easier for you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not Music Related: Broad Street Run and Fighting Cancer

Unlike most of what I write on this blog, this post has nothing directly to do with music. Like last year, I am participating in the Broad Street Run as a team member of Jimbo’s Squad (here is what I wrote about last year’s experience). This year though I am also fundraising for Jimbo’s Squad which is a proud supporter of Fox Chase Cancer Center, the amazing hospital and research center that treated my wife’s Leukemia.

Here is the message that I sent to friends and family asking them for support. Thanks so much if you read this and feel an inclination to give. Two things I can promise you: Jimbo’s Squad is a great organization that really makes a difference in people’s lives; and, as long as I am breathing and able to move forward, I will run hard and I will run for Sara, our sons, and everyone that has supported this cause.

Dear Friends and Family,

My apologies for the impersonal email, but I'm writing today to ask for your support. On Sunday, May 6thBroad Street Run and I'll be running as a part of Jimbo's Squad (check out their mission and story here - note: the site seems to open best with Internet Explorer or Safari). I ran with them last year – a team of over 130 runners - and it was a great experience so I'm doing it again this year; but this year I want to do more than just run the ten miler, I want to support their cause by helping to raise money. 100 donors at $5/each. That's my goal. I'll be running the

This May marks two years of remission from Leukemia for my wife Sara. Like last year, I'm running this race for her. And for our three sons. During Sara's six month battle with cancer she received excellent care at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC). Jimbo's Squad fundraises for FCCC. When I slept in the hospital next to Sara's bed, I slept in a recliner chair provided in part by the funds donated by Jimbo's Squad. Many of the blankets we used were also provided by Jimbo's Squad. At the end of Sara's hellish treatments, Jimbo's Squad selected our family to send on an all-expenses-paid week vacation at Sea Isle City, NJ. Knowing that there was a light at the end of her tunnel kept Sara going through those last, very crappy weeks in the hospital. In short, Jimbo's Squad has made a big impact on our lives – and the lives of so many others at FCCC. And it's time to give back.

My goal is to have 100 people donate $5 in my name on Jimbo's Squad's website. The donation page is pretty easy to use; should only take a few minutes of your time. Just make sure to select my name in the drop-down box for runners. 100 donors at $5/each. 50 cents a mile. Please help me in supporting a great organization.

Jimbo’s Squad

Donation Page

Hope you all are well and thanks so much!

Bart Miltenberger

Here I am in last year's race - see me there, on the left? 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Upcoming Gigs

Just a quick post about a couple of gigs this week.

On Thursday, April 19th I’ll be playing with Matt Davis’ Aerial Photograph at Time. Start time is 8:30pm. Aerial Photograph has been around for seven or eight 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  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.

And on Friday, April 20th at World Café Live (downstairs) – I’ll be playing with Philly Bloco, a 22-piece Brazilian Carnival band. This band is a blast to play with. Crazy high energy party band. All covers – about half Brazilian tunes and half a mix of New Orleans tunes (Dirty Dozen, Dr. John, Meters, etc.) and American pop/R&B tunes (some Stevie Wonder and some Otis Redding) that get a samba treatment.  If you like to dance this would be a good show to come to!

Hope to see some of you at these shows!