Saturday, November 29, 2008

Expozine Set (Nov. 29, 2008)

My first real DJ set (not counting radio) was today at Expozine. I was astounded by the amount of indie 'zines, postcards, posters, CD/record designers and others that were exhibiting: the quality of the work was uniformly excellent. The crowd that turned out to support these underground, fiercely independent artists was heartwarming, though one exhibitor joked, "They're just here working off their hangovers."

Beck - "Black Tambourine"
Jamie Lidell - "Little Bit of Feel Good"
Herbie Hancock - "Actual Proof"
Ed Motta - "Eu Avisei"
Curumin f/ Lino Crizz - "Olhando De Lima Janela, No Centro Da Cidade"
Lekan Babalola - "Elegba (Bob Sinclair RMX)"
The Cheebacabra - "Sneak Attack"
Gilfema +2 - "Question of Perspective"
Fly - "JJ"
Joel Miller - "Cabeza de Vaca"
The Bad Plus - "Flim"
Floratone - "Floratone"
Makoto, DJ Zinc, Denius & Om'Mas Keith - "Close to Me"
Mara TK & Jake One - "Look What You've Made of Me"
Me'shell Ndegeocello f/ Sabina Sciubba - "Aquarium"
Jaco Pastorius f/ Sam & Dave - "Come On, Come Over"
Shuggie Otis - "Inspiration Information"
Stevie Wonder - "Creepin'"
The Roots - "Long Time"
Bad Medicine - "Trespassin'"
Blackalicious f/ Chali 2na - "4000 Miles"
Karma & Lotus - "Monk Swing"
Juba Dance - "We Will Wait for You"
Flying Lotus f/ Andreya - "Tea Leaf Dancers"
Elizabeth Shepherd - "Start to Move"
Kate McGarry - "The Target (Miracles Like These)"
Medeski Martin & Wood - "Pappy Check"
Bruce Hornsby - "Big Swing Face"
Domenico +2 - "Te Convidei Pra Samba"
Elton John - "Out of the Blue"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Radio Residency

First of all, thank you to everyone who donated to CKUT during our past funding drive. I think the final tally was somewhere around $32,000 - a bit shy of our $50,000 goal, but we'll take it. Of course, you can still donate online.

To celebrate the release of the new Indigone Trio & Strings record, and to motivate me to stay out of hibernation mode, I will be curating a show called The Montreal Sessions on CKUT which airs every Tuesday from 3-5 pm EST. Each show will feature an interview and a live performance, as well as music from my friends, colleagues, and the records I love. The themes and guests will be:

December 2 - Music For Strings w/ Chet Doxas (whose group, Byproduct, has released their own fantastic album with strings, Le Mur)
December 9 - Freeform Free-for-All 1 w/ Fieldtrip
December 16 - Electro-Soul w/ Kweku
December 23 - Montreal Brasileira w/ Robin Gorn
December 30 - Freeform Free-for-All 2 w/ Jon Lindhorst of Turtleboy

Of course, if you can't tune in live, there's always the CKUT archives. And the playlists will go up here after the shows. Tune in!

Blogroll Update

A couple of additions to the sidebar:

- Montreal DJ Cheeba Cheeba Kid is a crate digger par excellence and has his own little web warehouse at Soundological Investimagations. Big ups for representing Henry Threadgill and Monty Alexander in the same space.
- New reader and commenter Amanda maintains her own ivory-centric blog at My Piano Friends. It looks to be in the starting stages but there is some promising work over there.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big shoes to fill

I'll be subbing for my former teacher, Jeff Johnston, at Upstairs November 16, in a group led by drummer Karl Schwonik. Karl's a good friend, and we've played together as sidemen for vocalists May Cheung and Julie-Claire Carter. This is the first opportunity I've had to play his music, and his composing shows a similar musicality to his wonderful playing. Joel Miller is on saxophone, someone whose music I've long admired and advocated, but we don't play together often enough. The always solid Adam Over is on bass. We hit at 8:30.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sound System, or CKUT needs your help!

Most of you know that I've been an avid volunteer at CKUT 90.3 FM for five years now. I'm part of two of the music collective shows, Jazz Euphorium (Wednesdays from 20h00-22h00) and World Skip the Beat (Mondays from 12h00-14h00). I've also done numerous fill-ins, sat on the Programming Committee for two years, and co-organized a big band (with Sean Winters) for their 20th anniversary. I'll also be hosting The Montreal Sessions every Tuesday in December.

Being involved at CKUT has fostered my love for radio and music journalism, but more importantly having the access to the amazing library, production and control studios, and fellow programmers has made me a better musician. I've grown to love so much music I wouldn't have otherwise discovered; programming radio has made me acutely aware of how to present my own music on record and in concert. CKUT is the only English-language community station on the island of Montreal that serves so many diverse cultures - not only musical but ethno-cultural, GLBT, and many more.

For the next week (Nov 13-23), CKUT is asking for your financial help. The goal is $50,000, which covers the maintenance of the facilities, the upkeep of our stellar library and our newly renovated studios to keep bringing you the tuneage and the non-mainstream news. $50 is the cost of one hour of airtime. I know the economy is tough right now, but please pledge what you can to keep this vital pillar of Montreal culture on air. Check the funding drive page for gift lists, prize draws, and more! I'll be co-hosting both World Skip and Jazz Euphorium this week, so tune in and PLEDGE!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Make this moment sweet again

Last week I had the great honour and privilege of working with vocalist, improviser and teacher Rhiannon. Her group of students, called the Vocal River, were in town for their third and final retreat of the year, giving various performances around the city. On Tuesday, at the Yellow Door, I was more of an observer, watching the various improvisational scenarios Rhiannon set out for her students. Rhiannon and I did a duet, with myself on melodica.

Friday's performance, more of an open rehearsal session at Studio 303, was thrilling. Four instrumentalists - myself (piano, melodica, accordion, percussion), Michael Reinhart (guitar, accordion, percussion), Vovô (percussion) and Sarah Wendt (French horn) - joined the choir, and Sarah, Katie Ewald and Lin Snelling danced on a couple of pieces. This concert was a fantastic learning experience on so many levels. Rhiannon and her students embody a truly "anything-goes" philosophy of improvisation - from the full choir building McFerrin-esque circle songs, to soloists varying from spoken word to various vocal traditions from around the world to incorporating standards on top of improvised backgrounds. As Dave Douglas said, "'Free' means having the freedom to make any musical decision in real time."

Contexts were shattered among the instrumentalists as well: I've only ever played Michael's songs with him, with minimal improvising, and when we do work together I play his accordion. Friday marked the first time we had improvised together, and the first time he had ever really heard me play piano. Not only did I have the opportunity to use different musical vocabularies - from dissonant tone clusters to two-fisted gospel piano to re-interpreting standards - I got to work on a variety of different instruments. It was really a mental and aural workout. I only know Vovô from Estação da Luz, his batucada here in Montreal. As an improviser he is truly responsive, and of course, any time we locked onto a groove it was stunningly tight.

Experience in free improvising lends a certain openness to all the music I play, whether it's through-composed, semi-composed, or completely free. All the singers in the choir were fantastic, and I look forward to hearing their own music. Here's three of them: Alison Wedding; Katia Leonardo; and Patti Shaffner.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sky of memory and shadow

Just briefly - watching Obama's acceptance speech tonight reminded me of the feeling I had the first time I heard Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom." Both are emotionally stirring in the most powerful way, life-affirming. Hopefully, we truly are on the verge of a new world order. May Obama be able to really usher in the era of change he has campaigned on, that he has come to symbolize, and that a hell of a lot of us have been hoping for.