Friday, February 24, 2006

Progress update

So many things on the go right now.

I just spent most of this week - which has ostensibly been my "break" - playing on McGill jazz auditions. I've done it every year (with, perhaps, the exception of my freshman year), and while it's a blast to hear the new blood, it makes for very long days. By the end of it, I generally never want to hear "Body and Soul" ever again. The free refreshments in the welcome centre make up for it.

I'm infatuated with the idea of attempting an application for the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. I'm still not definitively sure on how large ensemble writing or New York City fit into the rest of my life, but it seems like as good of a test balloon as any. So now, that entails rounding up a big band to record the demo disc, and finishing new big band works. Luckily the assignment for Advanced Arranging right now is a big band chart, and I have a sketch for another piece which seems to lend itself to a larger ensemble of some form or other. And it turns out that the grant application deadline is - as is always the case - far too close for comfort.

Next Thursday, March 2, is Indigone Trio + Strings in Clara Hall at McGill. I am very, very psyched for this. I remember Chris Smith telling us in Basic Arranging about the profundity of hearing strings play your music for the first time. The whole recital was borne out of indecisiveness and general half-baked, hare-brainedness (I suppose any musical decision worth making is a product of absurdity in some way), but I'm lucky to have found kindred spirits who are willing to go down this path with me.

March 3, Kweku & The Movement hit at Café Campus. We're on a bill with The Dust Jackets and God Made Me Funky. Not sure of the band order, but it promises to be quite the show.

March 11, I'm playing in a free improv master class run by violinist Malcolm Goldstein. I'll be playing with trumpeter Gordon Allen, trombonist Paul Tarussov, and bass clarinetist Guillaume Bourque. We all went to Banff together but this will be the first time all four of us have played in one ensemble. It's in Clara Hall, again, from 2-4 pm.

As for other people's gigs: Last night I saw Quinsin Nachoff with Mark Helias, Jim Black and a string quartet of Québécois, playing all of Quinsin's originals. Quinsin's sounding fantastic on tenor and soprano, with great control of both horns, and a fantastic altissimo on the tenor that reminded me at times of Michael Blake. It was great to see Jim Black live, finally - the drum solo he unleashed on the last tune was a marvel of colour and gadgetry. He was pulling out various percussion accessories that hadn't made appearances in the concert previously, seemingly materializing out of thin air. Helias had some phenomenal bass solos on the second set. The strings and trio were tight together, in terms of Jim and Mark catching all the punches and playing dynamically, but I found the writing to be busy for my tastes, and I wanted to hear a little bit more of uninterrupted trio playing. "Whorls," for sax and strings, as well as the aforementioned concluding piece, loaded with trio and solo improvisations, were the most effective use of musical resources of the night.

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