Warming Up

Warming Up

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck

Just a quick post today and a friendly plug for an awesome local business.  If you are in the Philly area and you are at least somewhat hip to the local jazz scene then you surely know about Matt “Feldie” Feldman and his many-faceted enterprise: Lucky Old Souls. Feldie is a music lover, and a super knowledgeable music lover, at that. I was a big fan of his weekly GTown Radio show entitled Lucky Old Souls in which he spun an awesome mix of classic jazz, rhythm and blues, along with an infusion of newer and often local jazz. I learned a lot listening to those shows. And if you are a person who goes out to live local jazz shows then you surely know about Feldie’s monthly concert series at the Moonstone Arts Center. And maybe you’ve also heard that Feldie has been working on opening up a restaurant/jazz club in South Philly. Well, red tape and classic Philly bureaucracy have temporarily slowed down that process. Never one to wait around for things to just happen on their own though, Feldie has, for the past few months, been the proprietor of an amazing food truck. From the Lucky Old Souls website:

Lucky Old Souls brings joy to people through music and food.  Originally a jazz radio show and subsequently a monthly concert series, Lucky Old Souls is now also a burger truck serving delicious comfort food made with the best local and sustainably-produced ingredients.  Our "farm-to-truck" menu features grass-fed beef burgers, hand-cut fries, housemade bacon, housemade veggie burgers, seasonal local vegetables, made-from-scratch condiments, thick milkshakes, and all-natural artisanal sodas.

Most people don’t know this, but for years I’ve had a strange desire to have my own food truck (mine would sell bagels – good bagels, something which can be a rarity in Philly!). And over the years I’ve casually questioned some of the food truck proprietors that I’ve patronized. They all have told me that it is a LOT of work. But if someone can make it happen, and pull it off in style, it would be the enterprising – and uncompromising – Matt Feldman.

Well, I can’t believe that it took me this long, but today I finally had my first Lucky Old Souls burger (and milkshake). It was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.

I’m not a huge red meat eater anymore, but I do really enjoy a good burger – happens a few times a year. And over the years I’ve had plenty of really good burgers. This one was up there with the best - ever. Honestly, I was pretty blown away. My burger was the special: Lancaster County grass-fed beef (most ground beef in stores is from cows that are fed corn – cows aren’t designed to eat corn. It’s actually harmful to them. They are supposed to eat grass. And thus grass-fed beef just tastes better. It’s also way more humane), collard greens (yummy, a little sweet, a little salty, right amount of garlic), habañero cheddar (just a little bit of heat), homemade bacon (YES!), homemade mayo (yes!), on a really, really good bun. This is truck food at its very best. The items on this menu aren’t priced like a cheap lunch truck, but you certainly get what you pay for. The ingredients are top quality and local! I also had a milkshake today – the first one I’ve had in a long, long time. Sinfully delicious. Next time I will try the hand-cut fries.

This food is for real, people. As good as any burger joint anywhere. If you are in Philly, you owe it to yourself to check out the Lucky Old Souls truck. As Feldie’s site says “Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @LOSBurgerTruck

And here’s the menu:

And did I mention that the Lucky Old Souls Truck plays music?? Today while I waited for my food and chatted with Feldie I heard the late great rapper Guru, Nina Simone, and Charlie Parker. That's pretty darn cool!

And one last thing, if you don’t know about Feldie’s Philly Jazz Calendar, then by all means check it out here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Listening: The New Maalouf

Short post today. The new Ibrahim Maalouf CD “Diagnostic” is straight-up awesome. I’ve written about Maalouf before here and here. Like his first two albums, “Diagnostic” is eclectic and meticulously recorded, mixed, and mastered. It sounds amazing. And Maalouf is clearly growing as an artist. He’s not a jazz player or a typical classical player. His music melds the classical and jazz influences along with the music associated with his Lebanese heritage as well as the global music amalgam of his current home, Paris. This is global music. World music. Maalouf is a monster trumpet player. And a real artist. Check out this tune “Beirut” from the new record. The video is pretty special in its own right. Hey, Mr. Maalouf, please come play in Philly. Or anywhere in the northeast part of the US.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Listening: Rain

It happens every time. Every time I hear this song I think to myself “This song is just unbelievably awesome.” Then I hear something new in the song. Something I’d never heard before even though I’ve heard this song hundreds of times before. “Rain” by The Beatles. It’s just so freaking good.

I played "Rain" this morning as I was packing the boys their school lunches. I can’t be in a bad mood “when the Rain comes.” I’m a Beatles freak and this tune is one of my all-time favorites. So why is it so good? There are just so many reasons. It’s a great song. Great song-writing. Great hooks, great transitions, great structure. And the recorded sound is just amazing. So up front and in your face.
According to engineer Geoff Emerick, the reason for this is that Rain (and it’s A-Side “Paperback Writer”) was the “first release to use a new device invented by the maintenance department at Abbey Road called "ATOC" for "Automatic Transient Overload Control". The new device allowed the record to be cut at a louder volume, louder than any other single up to that time.” The guitars have a clangy, sitar-meets-harpischord-ish sound that was all new for the band at the time. Ringo’s drums sound like they are being played right in front of you. And Paul is also super high in the mix on his new Rickenbacker. And what Paul and Ringo play on this track is just some of their best playing ever on record. Paul’s lines are simply ridiculous. Listen to just the bass on this track. He’s rhythm. He’s melody and counter-melody. He’s accompaniment. He’s forward motion. He controls this track. Listen to what he plays coming out of the choruses. What?!?! And Ringo contributes his greatest work to this track, I think. Ringo plays some of the weirdest fills in Rock and Roll and this track features his weirdest. It’s like he doesn’t even know what he’s doing. Like he’s discovering the instrument for the very first time. And I mean that in the best possible way. (I tell my drum-playing 11 year old son, Julian, all the time to listen to Ringo's fills. Simple, but perfect in their own strange way)

Another thing that makes “Rain” so important is that, to me, it helps to mark the monumental transition from the pop, bubble gum Beatles into the mature, even experimental Beatles. This track was recorded in April 1966 and released a few months before Revolver came out. Sure it came out after “Rubber Soul” which was the truly the first Beatles album to have some studio experimentation. But “Rain” was truly experimental: slowed down and sped up tape tracks, the revolutionary use of the ATOC, the new up-front Rickenbacker bass, and perhaps the most important innovation, the backwards Lennon vocal. Lennon claims credit for the idea:

“After we'd done the session on that particular song—it ended at about four or five in the morning—I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that's how it happened.”

Producer George Martin also claims credit:

“I was always playing around with tapes and I thought it might be fun to do something extra with John's voice. So I lifted a bit of his main vocal off the four-track, put it on another spool, turned it around and then slid it back and forth until it fitted. John was out at the time but when he came back he was amazed”

I don’t know who’s idea it really was, but who cares? The fact is they made history with this little piece of genius. Regardless of your feelings and opinions of the Beatles, this was serious innovation in the recording studio.

“Rain” marks a pivotal moment in recorded music. Plus it’s just a superbad track. Oh, and they also made a music video for it. Another first of sorts. And this video should also prove that Ringo was the coolest Beatle. Good Gravy this song is good!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I’ve been a bit lax lately about posting my upcoming gigs on this blog (or lax about posting in general!). Because of that I never posted about two great recent shows I played. I never told you about the PhillyBloco Halloween show I played (photos here); and I never told you about the gig I did last week with guitarist Tim Motzer at Tritone. Both of those gigs were awesome in their own unique way. PhillyBloco gigs are always crazy fun parties (we’ll be at World Café Live for New Years Eve!) and playing with Tim gives me an opportunity to play my horn in a way that none of the other bands I play in do.

Even when I was a kid, just trying to learn the trumpet, I would always noodle around trying to make weird sounds on my horn. It wasn’t until I got into jazz and more avant garde musics during and after college that I realized that there was a whole history, a lineage, of trumpet players who had created unique, non-trumpet-sounding noises. Modern players (I won't even get into the old-school geniuses) like, Axel Dorner, Peter Evans, Dave Douglas, Cuong Vu, and Nate Wooley can get an amazing array of sounds out of the trumpet. Those guys can all play the horn straight too and can do it at a truly ridiculous, virtuosic level, especially Evans and Douglas. But there’s something about those strange sounds and the process of trying to figure out how they make those sounds that really fascinates me. And I think that I also have some sounds that I make that are sounds that I haven’t heard other trumpet players play. Besides making weird noises, I’m also slowly starting to get into the world of electronic effects. Recently I’ve been playing through a Digitech Whammy pedal,

a Boss Distortion pedal,and a Boss Loop station
– while adding some delay and/or reverb through my amp or PA. I’m also a sucker for a simple, pure melody line. Improvising with Tim Motzer gives me a unique opportunity to make all of those weird noises to my heart’s content, play through all of those effects, and also search for some beautiful melodies.

Tim is really a master of creating sound. He’s got a sick array of effects that he has truly mastered and incorporated into a sound that is only his. And he’s made a career out of this. No easy feat. He plays all over the world, collaborates with some amazing artists, records some magic in his studio, and improvises for dance classes at the University of the Arts in Philly. When we play, it’s always an improvisational experiment. Sometime we “compose” succinct songs and song forms on the spot. Other times, like at Tritone the other night, we create a set-long, ever-evolving soundscape. It’s always an adventure in listening and responding and conversing. For me it’s one of the most enjoyable music-making opportunities that I’m currently involved in.

Tomorrow night I will be playing with Tim as part of a really cool festival – music, dance, and super-cool visuals. Here are the details – if you are in the area and free, come check it out:

Cosmic Trigger - An Exploratorium of sound, light, and kinetics
Night Two of the Fall Experimental Music Festival at fidget space | Philadelphia.
10PM Saturday November 12, 2011
Cosmic Trigger: Tim Motzer and Dejha Ti collaborate to produce an immersive night of music, movement and interactivity exploration. The music, improvised by Tim Motzer (guitars, electronics, and laptop), both solo and in configurations of duo and trio with Bart Miltenberger (prepared trumpet and electronics), and Jim Hamilton (percussion) promises to be an evolution in soundscaping. The fidget space will be invaded by Dejha Ti’s unique blend of projections, real-time kinect visuals and modular set installations, while dancers Leanne Grieger and Zach Svoboda travel the “inner space” in search for meaning through their exploration of spacial stages and “trans-time dialogues”.  Art direction, set design with Erik Silverson, and cinematography, and lighting by Ahing Huang.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moving Forward

This blog has been lame for about a month now (hopefully you don’t think it’s been lame for longer than that!). I usually write my posts at night, but for the past month or so, I’ve had some busy nights – stepped-up practice routine, work on some new compositions, work on my house (my list of projects is spiraling out of control), plus I’ve also gotten some new toys that have very time-intensive learning curves. After years of writing out my tunes and other people’s tunes by hand I’ve finally moved into the 21st Century and purchased some music notation software. I am now the owner of Sibelius 7. I also recently purchased (practically brand new from Craigslist) an M-Audio 61 key midi controller keyboard. And the keyboard also comes with Ableton Live Lite 8.

I can’t really believe that I’ve waited this long to buy notation software. I guess with three kids I always figured there was more important things to spend my money on. Like quality eyewear.

But it just didn’t make sense any longer writing out parts by hand. I’m in the middle of composing a suite of music and the prospect of writing out a score part and then having to write out all of the individual parts just seemed like a total waste of time. So I put aside a little bit of gig money from each of my recent gigs, pooled the money, and then convinced my wife that this was a smart purchase for the family. Well, basically I just complained and told her that I was the last musician around who, technologically speaking, was still living in the past century. She bought it. Then I bought it. And now I have Sibelius 7 installed on my computer.

I’ve learned some of the basics and created some horn charts for PhillyBloco, the Brazilian band I play in. I’ve also drafted up some practice routines for my trumpet students – something I was really eager to do. Writing out the same (or at least similar) slurs and scale exercises is really tedious and completely unnecessary in this age of computers. I haven’t yet tried to use my midi keyboard yet to input notes in Sibelius, but I will probably get around to that within the next week. Sibelius 7 comes with a bunch of tutorials that each take a couple of hours to complete. By the time you have completed working through these tutorials, you will have a grasp of almost everything that can be done with in the program. I’m going to work my way through the tutorials and pretty soon I’ll really get the hang of it. Though the learning curve for Sibelius is fairly steep, I’m really looking forward to having this software change my music life!

And like I said, the M-Audio midi controller comes with a license for music software Ableton Live Lite 8. Ableton is a pretty sweet program. I have heard that a lot of musicians are using Ableton in live settings, playing through a laptop as opposed to a board of effects pedals. And specific to the trumpet, I’ve heard that a bunch of Scandinavian trumpet players are using Ableton Live during their concerts. Sounds like a great idea, but when I think about some the crappy bars I play in, there is a fairly high likelihood of some drunken fool spilling a beer on my laptop and then I’ll be out of business on the gig and out of an awful lot of money for a ruined laptop. So for now, I think I am just going to use my Ableton to fool around with and create some tracks that I can play my horn over. And once I get a good handle on my midi controller, I think that Ableton will give me a nice platform to use when composing. Like Sibelius 7, this Ableton Live Lite 8 comes with a fairly steep learning curve. But, also like the notation software, Ableton comes with many built-in tutorials that will help me learn the process and various techniques. I’m pretty excited.

Yeah, I know. This technology isn’t exactly new. Musicians/composers have been using this stuff for years. But it’s new to me, and I’m excited to have moved forward into the modern music world. The key for me with all of this new stuff, is that I don’t let my trumpet practicing suffer at the expense of spending time on the computer/keyboard. But, I have enough gigs coming up that require good trumpet chops so I think I’ll make sure to get my requisite playing in. The toys are still secondary to my horn playing.

Trying to be good – a post tomorrow on some upcoming gigs. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Guess The Trumpet Player

It’s time for the twenty-fifth installment of “Guess The Trumpet Player.” I know what you are thinking: “Darn it, Outside Pants, it’s been a month now since we’ve had a listening contest – what gives?!?!” Ok, well maybe you aren’t thinking that. Maybe you didn’t even notice the absence. Well, either way this is a pretty sweet track off of a pretty sweet album!

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/ub5mxer9jqlz33j6xte0

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Health and Trumpet Playing

This might sound pretty obvious, but taking care of your body will help your trumpet playing. Eating well, drinking lots of water, exercising, getting enough sleep – all of these things will help your trumpet playing. More than you might think.

As I get older I’m starting to realize that I can’t treat my body like I used to when I was in my teens and twenties. I still have a pretty high metabolism and plenty of energy, but I’ve noticed that if I eat crappy for a day or two and maybe drink a couple of beers, well, my gut actually gets bigger. And my energy goes down a little bit. So I’m trying to be good. I’m lucky because a few days of being good makes my gut get smaller.

But the main new thing I’ve noticed lately has to do with sleep. I typically can get by without a lot of sleep. I’m a night owl - but I have kids so I also have to be a morning person. So, yeah sometimes not a lot of sleep. This used to be ok, but as I’m getting older I’m recognizing that the amount I sleep has a direct effect on my trumpet playing. Not much sleep for several days in a row = frustratingly crappy trumpet playing. This makes sense. The body repairs itself when it sleeps. All of the physical work and trauma on lip tissue that goes into playing the trumpet all has to be fixed and renewed at night. Eight hours of sleep is enough to fix most normal issues (if you smashed your shops at a gig then you might want to take a whole day off). But not getting enough sleep can really be detrimental. So that’s my new vow – at least for the time being – I’m going to try to take care of my body so that my body will let me play my trumpet better. And there’s the whole added benefit of living longer with a higher quality of life, blah, blah, blah.

Eat properly, drink water, exercise, get some sleep, and practice. Seems simple enough.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guilty Pleasure – Don Ellis Montreux 1977 Concert on YouTube

OK I can’t seem to help myself. I really enjoy listening to Don Ellis. I’ve written about him before (here and here), but thanks to my friend, Philly musician and composer, Travis Woodson, I’ve just discovered that Electric Bathhouse has recently posted Don Ellis’ full concert  at the Montreux Jazz Festival July 8, 1977. (Update: some of the videos have been taken down due to copyright infringement. Stupid copyright infringement!).

Sometimes I’m almost ashamed to admit how much I like Don Ellis’ music. The guy can be really cheesy and his trumpet playing can be really hokey and corny (king of straight eighths). But – and this is a big but (!) – there is a sick amount of music involved with Ellis’ music and Ellis is a really good trumpet player. This Montreux set proves it. Ellis did almost all of the arrangements here. And like always, the guy was thinking big. Sometimes to the point of excess (it was the 70’s, remember). Most jazz bands had a hard enough time in the 70’s. But Don kept a big band working throughout the decade. And not just a regular big band; this one had an electric string quartet, multiple kit drummers (Don sometimes played kit on stage too – three kits set up on stage!), Latin percussion, mallet percussion, keyboards and synths, amplified sax section. How the hell did Ellis manage to pay these people? Seriously. How did he do it? These aren’t punk musicians. These guys (and ladies) can all play their butts off. And Don’s music is really hard. But the band is always crazy tight. Watching these concert videos now, I’m blown away by the quality of musicianship. Also blown away by the cheesiness of the set design and the band uniforms! I’m also wondering how the sound crew must have felt when they found out who they would be setting up and mixing for that night! And who w

Hope you enjoy watching these videos. I hope Electric Bathhouse can keep posting more Don Ellis!

Open Wide

Future Feature:


Sporting Dance:

Pussy Wiggle Stomp

Arcturus (
from the Star Wars album which I don’t have, can’t find anywhere, and really want!):

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Listening: New Miles

When I heard that Columbia was releasing yet another Miles Davis recording, my initial thought was “Do we really need to have yet another Miles album?” Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge Miles Davis fan. I have more Miles albums than any other artist in my collection. Even more than Jimi Hendrix. And I have a LOT of Hendrix. But still. Another Miles album? Then I read that it was a 3 CD live set (plus a DVD) from late 1967. This changes things a bit. Any Miles album is good and worthwhile as far as I’m concerned, but there is something unique and special about his Second Quintet. And by late ’67 this band had been a BAND for three solid years. They had coalesced into something extraordinary – an amoeba that could mutate and move in any direction at any time. And the restless, searching energy of this group is especially evident on live recordings. The band was completely different in the studio. That’s not to say that the studio albums aren’t amazing – they are. But live in concert, the band really stretched. Staggeringly so, considering how narrow the live repertoire was for the 3 ½ - 4 years this band existed. They, for the most part, played the same tunes night after night. Often in the same order. In lesser hands this would become boring and tiresome. But Wayne, Herbie, Ron, Tony, and Miles – this band, was a once in a lifetime kind of ensemble. A living, breathing organism.

A lot of times when people talk about the live version of the second quintet they mention the Plugged Nickel sessions. Yes, those are great recordings, but they were recorded early on, not that long after the group formed. Sure, you hear the band stretching and pushing, but not like on later recordings and bootlegs. Plus, Miles is in pretty sad shape during those concerts. Shitty Miles is still great Miles as far as I’m concerned, but he’s struggling with the horn on the Plugged Nickel sessions (a lay-off from health-related issues, if I remember correctly). Whereas, a couple of years later, on this new Columbia set from 1967, Miles is pretty much at the peak of his powers as far as trumpet playing goes - from a technical standpoint. He’s all over the horn. High, low, fast, slow, loud, quiet. Power and control. And his tone is gorgeous (his sound hasn’t gotten to that amplified, coked-up, splatty sound that he would get in the early to mid 70’s – mind you, I love that sound too!). It hasn’t lost the romantic sentimentality that he was famous for. But he’s really, really pushing himself. His lines on fast tunes are just frightening. Anyone who ever says that Miles just wasn’t that great a trumpet player is completely full of crap as far as I’m concerned. Don’t believe me? Listen to this:

First Listen: Miles Davis, 'Live In Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1'

Thanks, NPR! You’ve done it again (based on this alone, how can we not fund NPR???!!! – tongue in cheek – but not really!). NPR “First Listen” has given us the opportunity to listen to the first CD of this new Columbia set before it’s even released! And guess what? It’s AWESOME! The Band is absolutely operating at its peak. The music is a strange mix of old (Green Dolphin Street, ‘Round Midnight) and new (Agitation, Masqualero) and a few tunes that the band had made in the studio (Gingerbread Boy, Footprints). This is truly a moment of transition for Miles, and really all of the guys in the band. Six months later the Quintet would record “Filles de Kilimanjaro” – the record I really consider the pivotal record as Miles moves toward a different sound. “Kilimanjaro” comes before “In a Silent Way” and “Bitches Brew.” Change was in the air before people knew that change was in the air. And on this 1967 recording you can feel that something is going change. There are going to be new developments and new directions (This suit that Miles is wearing above is about to get tossed in the trash. Leather pants, scarves, crazy sunglasses, and mesh tank tops are on the horizon!). It’s almost as if they’ve pushed the music as far as it could go. And this new live document really illustrates this quest for exploration. It’s a pretty sweet set. And I bet the DVD will be pretty cool too. My wife has put it on my Christmas list. Got more money than me? Pre-order your copy here.