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.

No comments:

Post a Comment