My two favorite weeks of the year are the week after winter break and the week after Labor Day weekend. Both signify the return to work and the transition to my two favorite seasons, spring and fall.
Usually the week after Labor Day brings the start of school, but I am now going on my second year of not teaching in the public schools. Last year I was happy to not be in school, but this year I was hoping to return to the classroom; the economic crisis put a dent in my plans as the NYC Board of Ed put a freeze on all new hires. So in addition to a few nights a week of private students, I turn to Bottomless Cup Music, my music prep biz to bring in a few extra dollars.
BCM launched this past spring and so far has brought in a quite a variety of jobs. In addition to straight up copy work, BCM has taken on some interesting projects including library clean-ups and transcriptions of original music. Now that I will be absent from school, I've decided to take on more music prep work. As much as I'd love to launch a big and beautiful ad campaign, the funds just aren't there yet. So, I turn to the intraweb and utilize that thing called "viral marketing."
Bottomless Cup Music now has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. My hope is that word will spread and those that need help with their music will find us. Granted, the majority of the people BCM will connect may not necessarily need our help, as so many musicians out there are up to date with notation programs and don't need any transcriptions, arrangements, printing, or any of the other things BCM offers. But I have big plans for BCM that may eventually involve my extremely talented peers... (intrigued yet?)
Follow BCM for info on music notation, notation software, and trending topics in today's music scene and education. We'll probably promote our clients from time to time and put out coupons and discounts for our services. BCM will continue to sync with this blog and work to support the BCJO.
... I think of it as the back room of my virtual coffee-house, where the Creation, Preparation, and Education of music percolate into a fine blend of artistry. Won't you join me for a cup?
Jason Moran presented a mixed-media concert that included never-before-heard recordings and images of Monk's rehearsals and arranging sessions. The night before, Charles Tolliver gave a note-for-note recreation of the original tentet performance. While there was some criticism regarding Tolliver's decision to attempt an exact replica of the original performance, no one can doubt that Tolliver has a deep respect and understanding for the importance of informing today's listeners of yesterday's repertoire. As modern jazz continues to evolve past 2 & 4 and flat 3s & 7s, the very term "jazz" is becoming broader and to some, more diluted. As a composer of such "fringe" or "little j" jazz, I am very much aware of the importance of remembering and respecting the roots and traditions of "big J" Jazz. This is also why I value concerts such as the Monk Town Hall Anniversary Concert and musicians like Tolliver who excel at, for lack of a better phrase, keeping the tradition alive.
So when I was asked to help prepare the music for an upcoming Art Blakey Tribute concert which was paying homage to not only Blakey and his music, but to Charles Tolliver and his commitment to continuing Blakey's legacy through an ensemble class at the New School (which was temporarily cancelled this semester due to financial cuts but causing a huge outcry from students and alumni) I was thrilled. In addition to being able to see and work with the written transcriptions and arrangements of Blakey's tunes, I was happy to get to be a part of something that emphasizes the importance of figures and repertoires like Blakey, that really inform musicians and listeners of the meaty traditions and practices of jazz, "big J." I must admit, at times here in NYC I crave hearing jazz that above all else just swings and feels good, rather than spouts intellectualism and advanced harmonic and rhythmic sophistication.
DO NOT MISINTERPRET! I am not a jazz snob or purist that feels it has to swing or employ blues notes in order to be considered jazz (which is no doubt an argument in semantics for another day). Many of my favorite bands I would term "little j" or "fringe" jazz. But I do think it becomes easy for modern musicians, in their quest to be different and to evolve, to either forget, or consider unimportant the music that came before. (Just as it is often unfair for those who feel a jazz performance must include swing and a blues to discredit the music that has strayed from the original definition simply because it does not swing, etc.).
Anyway, tangent over. The bottom line is that I am very proud and excited to be a part of this tribute to Art Blakey. In attempt to help promote the tribute, I have invited the organizer, Joseph Perez, to explain what makes this event more than a simple tribute concert and why teachers such as Charles Tolliver are so important to the education of jazz music today:
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak about this project. Being a former student of Mr. Charles Tolliver, I took a great interest in the news of the Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers Ensemble class not being offered this semester at the New School. Having taken that class for seven semesters, I can speak with some authority on how classes such as this one and teachers like Mr. Tolliver can have a profound effect on a student. New York City, being the "jazz capital" that it is, holds a distinct geographical advantage in the realm of higher music education in so much that students can come from around the world to study with people that have a direct link to the foundations of the art form. There is no greater example of this kind of unique and special person as Charles Tolliver. While a relatively obscure figure to the masses, Charles Tolliver has a both impressive musical resume and has contributed to both the artistic and business aspects of jazz. He was one of the first jazz musicians to start his own record label (Strata-East) in order to release his own music free of corporate interference. He has been an influential composer both for small and large ensemble in addition to being a singular voice on the trumpet. But to many, including myself, perhaps his most lasting accomplishment will be his work in the field of jazz education and his undying and unapologetic commitment to preserving the great traditions and values of the music. Charles Tolliver, and musicians like him, bring the music to life in a way that records and transcriptions can not.
When I became aware of this semester's cancellation of Mr. Tolliver's Blakey Ensemble and witnessed the ensuing online reaction, I decided to become involved. The Blakey class had a profound effect on me, and many others and Mr. Tolliver was the reason for that. I wanted to do something to highlight and celebrate the importance of Charles Tolliver, the music of Art Blakey, and the value of their legacy to younger generations. Presenting a concert of the very repertoire that Mr. Tolliver taught in his class (in some instances, using the same charts he uses to teach and has graciously loaned to us) seemed like the perfect way to pay tribute. On Monday, March 30 we will present a night of the music of Art Blakey with support from all the aforementioned parties, including the New School, Mr. Tolliver himself, and fellow students of Mr. Tolliver who have volunteered their time and talents to perform on the concert. It is my hope that this event will not only highlight the value of Charles Tolliver and artists like him but demonstrate the necessity of continuing to teach the core traditions of jazz music, especially the music of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
A Tribute To Art Blakey will be presented on Monday, March 30 with sets at 8:00 & 10:00 PM at Sweet Rhythm. Cover is $10 with a $10 minimum/ students get in free with a $5 minimum. Musical guests scheduled to appear include Valery Ponomarev, Marcus Strickland, Keyon Harrold, E. J. Strickland, Jason Marshall, Tatum Greenblatt, Stafford Hunter, and many more.
As the date approaches, the finer details of musicians and music will be announced. But I can promise you this, expect some of the best musicians of this generation that NYC can offer, entirely new music based on my recent overseas travels, and and of course, old comic book favorites.
I apologize,again, for my lack of activity this past month.
However, while Ethan plans to cut back, I endeavor to become a more active blogger in 2008. I've been testing the bloggy waters these past 10 months, and I think I've finally identified the voice I wish to wield, but more on that later... It's time for me to once again put the blog on hold, and go wrap some presents!
So in my never ending quest of a place to fit in (sigh, tear.), I’ve decided to join the ever-growing collective of bloggers. With just my toe in the water, I morphed my “news” section of my website into a haphazard blog. But alas, the lack of html preventing me from posting links and pics finally got to me, so here were are! Plus I think Anyssa was the only one who was actually reading it! I’ve backtracked and spiffed up the few posts I had before, so feel free to reread and add comments, for what blogger doesn’t love comments! -K