Archive for jason palmer jazz boston songbook miles davis wytnon marsalis greg osby new england conservatory of music berklee

Piggyback

Posted in Jazz Ethics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by pogo56

I’d like to talk about an issue that I’ve seen come up a few times over the years that I think every musician who is ever endeavoring to travel and work abroad might experience. Let’s take a musician and we’ll name him John Smith. Now John Smith lives in Ny and has been called to do a festival in London for a week. Now John’s going to be there for a week for only 1 gig. That leaves for a lot of downtime. John has plenty of musician friends in Europe, one of them being a pianist that lives in Paris who happens to be a real aggressive hustler for gigs and he’s successful at it. John calls the pianist (let called him Jacques for now) and lets him know that he’ll be in London for a week for a festival and that he has a few days free. Jacques has some good paying gigs lined up already in Paris and would like to have John on those.


Now here’s where it’s gets tricky. John agrees to do these gigs. The festival organizers in London have already spent 900+ dollars to fly John over the Atlantic to the gig. So now all Jacques needs to do is buy a round trip ticket for John from London to Paris, which is relatively inexpensive (certainly cheaper than footing the bill from NY to London and back). This is called piggybacking on the behalf of Jacques. Now Jacques is ethically obligated to compensate the organizers of the London gig for the initial flight from NY.
Over the years, festival organizers have really started to crack down on this. Most agents work in a network and they all talk to each other so they know who’s playing where. If two agencies are presenting the same act during the same tour for that act, they’ll share the cost of airfare, especially for the U.S. based bands playing abroad (the cost to bring over a quartet or quintet is very expensive and it’s killed every prospect of me bringing my band abroad anytime soon, so I gave up trying to find work for my band abroad). Most acts that perform abroad from the U.S. have to have an “anchor” gig(s) (a gig(s) that covers for the plane tickets) to have any chance of making a profit on the tour.


So for all musicians looking to work abroad, when you do find work please be honest if you are playing elsewhere during your stay if you are questioned about it. Our reputations rely on this…

Until next time,




Jason Palmer

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Voicing a Question of Voices

Posted in Jazz Ethics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2009 by pogo56

Today I spent time thinking about the idea of having your own “voice”. There’s scores of players that I can “identify from a few notes or one musical idea”, but there’s something that goes beyond this notion of readily identification. It has to be developed and nurtured. I, as well as many of my friends can identify a players playing because we spent time really checking them out and in many cases that identification comes via association to the sound/concept of other players. This process of internalizing styles and sounds in this music ultimately shapes us into the musicians that we hope to be. In the long run we want to be remembered for having our own “thing”. I’ve heard some say that the age of obtaining a personal unique style of improvising in jazz is gone. I don’t really agree with that assessment but that notion didn’t occupy my thoughts today. This is what was on my mind:

I frequently read album reviews of artists that are in my generation (25-35). Many of the writers proclaim that the artist doesn’t quite have their own “voice” or that the artist is still in the process of finding his/her own “voice”. Whenever I read a statement like this I can’t help but wonder if the writer were to put the record on repeat and listen to it all day, day in and day out (no one I know has time for this, but you know what I mean), would that artist then have their own “voice” in the view of the writer’s mind’s ear? This repetitive listening process allows a listener to recognize Miles’s sound in one or two notes.

So I guess what I’m ultimately saying is that the thought of having your own “voice” is more subjective than I thought it was. But on the same token is Trane’s individuality an absolute? I would say absolutely, but there are some that would say that he didn’t live long enough to develop his own thing. Same can be said of Brownie, considering his untimely death in ’56. So my advice to review reader is if the writer says that the player hasn’t fully blossomed into his/her own, don’t take it as an absolute, and question how much the writer has really checked out the music. Having your own voice is in the ear of the behearer……

Keep swingin,

J.P.

How Some Things Have Happened for/to Me

Posted in jazz trumpet music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by pogo56

I field a lot of interesting questions from young musicians, but one of the questions that I get the most is, “How did you get the gig with_______________”. I’d like to talk about the process that helped me get to where I am right now.

While I was a student at New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, I would make it a point to attend as many masterclasses, student recitals, club dates, and concerts as I could. One of most memorable shows for me was hearing the New Life Jazz Orchestra at the Berklee Performance Center. The featured soloists for this show were Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, Jeremy Pelt, and RaShawn Ross. That show and the clinic they gave earlier that day changed my life. From that point on I knew that I wanted to give people the same feeling I recieved from that show after I left.

During my formative years in Boston I did the whole networking thing the best that I could which lead to many gigs and playing relationships that I am very thankful for to this day. Many of the inspiring shows that I went to left me with the dream of playing with players of that caliber in venues big and small. So I ended up studying, listening, practicing, jamming, etc. all my waking hours to the detriment of a healthy social life. I didn’t really participate in any activities that weren’t music-related and most if not all of my friend were/are musicians. I met many of these musicians while playing at Wally’s Jazz Café in Boston. Many of you already know about this club and the importance it has to the scene in Boston and the development of jazz musicians young and old. Wally’s has been a “school away from school” for me ever since I moved to Boston in 1997 and it’s the place where I learned how to connect with people who aren’t familiar with jazz. That experience I could never have gained in music school.

I didn’t grow up with computers at home so I didn’t really get into emailing, websites, and the whole world of technology until my 2nd year at NEC. I began to discover that many of my favorite musicians had websites and email addresses that I could actually contact them through (this was before the age of myspace, facebook, and other networking sites, btw). So around the year 2001 I decided to contact every prominent musician that I dreamt of playing with. This turned out to be a massive email campaign where I ended up contacting about 500 musicians that I was interested in playing with. Of those that I contacted I think I received responses from about 20+ of them. Of those 20 or so responses 2 or 3 of them were positive. One of the emails that I sent out was to saxophonist Greg Osby. At the time he was scheduled to perform at Harvard University and I asked him if it was okay for me to sit in with his band. He had never heard of me so I wasn’t surprised when he said no. I thought to myself that there must be a way to get some of my playing into his ear and the rest of the musicians that I wished to play with. I decided to look into online sites that I could host mp3s of my playing for all to hear. I then came across a music-hosting site, Soundclick, and posted some clips of my playing for all to hear. Mind you this is about a 1 ½ to 2 years after the initial mass email. So I decided to send out another mass email to musicians I dreamt of working with. Of the up to 1,000 emails I sent out this time which included a link to my soundclick page, I must have received about 30 responses. All of the musicians had great words of encouragement for me, but only one musician considered me as a sideman: Greg Osby.

Greg Osby to me is one of the most forward-thinking, history embracing, knowledge-sharing artists around right now. He and Steve Coleman were the founders of M-BASE(Macro – Basic Array of Structured Extemporizations), great collective of thinkers in the music He’s one of the few players of his generation who’s demonstrated a keen interest on younger musicians, a modern-day Art Blakey. Many great players have worked in his band and gone on to have very productive careers, i.e. Jason Moran, Matt Brewer, Eric McPherson, Rodney Green, Damion Reid, etc. I think that this form of apprenticeship is one of the most important experiences any young jazz musician must have in order to become an effective leader.

Greg was impressed with the playing on my clips and offered me the gig with him in support of his current cd at the time which was St. Louis Shoes. I already had that cd and I knew a lot of his music from his previous cds from the time I spent transcribing as a student, so joining this group was definitely a blessing for me. At that time the members of the band were Tommy Crane (drums), Matt Brewer (bass), Megumi Yonezawa (piano) and later James Gordon Williams (piano), Greg on alto, and me on trumpet. We never recorded in the studio, but I recording every gig we did and Greg, Matt, and Tommy played on my debut cd Songbook along with Leo Genovese (piano, Rhodes), Ravi Coltrane (tenor), and Warren Wolf (vibes).

When I was on the road with Osby I learned soo much from him, from dealing with promoters and directors, to getting the best sound out of a soundcheck. It was the first form of on-the-job tutelage that I had ever received and I am forever grateful because it has helped me become a better musician/bandleader/person. He hipped me too a lot of alternative marketing techniques (which I have yet to implement though) and taught me a lot about the business side of the music; all things that I never learned as a student in Boston. The things that I learned on stage will have to be a blog in itself!!

Also a big kudos to my wife Colleen because she has been a source of inspiration to me ever since we first met 7+ years ago. She kept me on the right track when I thought of giving up on the whole musice thing. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for her guidance!!

More to come,

Jason Palmer
mymyspace page
my UTube page

Why we Play…

Posted in jazz trumpet music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2009 by pogo56

A few days I was on the phone with a friend of mine Ambrose Akinmusire, a fellow trumpeter, an hour before my gig at Wally’s. In my humble opinion he’s one of the most creative musicians of the 19th and 20th century. Those who have heard him live can relate to what I mean. We spoke for about an hour and the subject of why we play this music came up. Lately he’s been asking musicians this same question just to get some perspective. This is something that I’m into doing on occasion as well. So many people play music for various reasons and it’s great to receive or give a small gem of wisdom every once in a while. As for me I’ve always struggled to really figure out why I play this music. It’s definitely not a lucrative career and there are a select few that are even getting record deals now (not that this has any meaning, but it does make it easier to get your music to the ears of distant listeners if you do). Later that night I received a precious sign which reminded me why I play this music in this day. Let me give you a little history which lead up to this revelation.

I know many musicians that have an influence that guides their style of playing/living. For me, the players that have resonated with me over the past several years are, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner. Mark Turner is an artist whose playing struck a chord with me the first time I heard him on record about twelve years ago. I know Kurt well and I’ve had the great fortune of subbing for Mark in Kurt’s band, but I’ve never met Mark. The fluidity along with the complexity of in his improvisational lines throughout all registers of his instrument is something to behold if you haven’t already. Check out Brad Mehldhau’s liners to one of Mark’s records here
, where he paints a beautiful picture of Mark’s playing in words:
One of my favorite records is Mark Turner’s Dharma Days. There’s a nice 5/4 tune on the record entitled Jacky’s Place. Back in October of 2008 I decided to compose a piece for Mark that was a variation of the B section of Jacky’s Place. The B section has two chord changes D major and Ab7 sus. So in my piece I used that progression but I added two sections with the same progression up a major 3rd (I call this and I’ve heard it called a 3-Tone method, same as John Coltrane’s Giant Steps). I actually wrote the song in my hotel room when I was on the road in Finland at the end of October. I named the tune 3 Point Turn.
When I got back from the road last year, I scheduled a rehearsal for my band to play the tune. The day of my rehearsal I read about Mark’s unfortunate accident involving the power saw. It saddened me quite a bit that day. We rehearsed it and it went well so we’ve been playing on my gig at Wally’s lately.

Fast forward to last night: I’m heading to Wally’s after chatting with Ambrose. We set up to play the gig, play a tune, everything’s fine. We get to the second or third tune, and I’m playing a solo and I’m going through a phase where my eyes are closed, but then I open my eyes and I see someone that looks just like Mark Turner about 15 feet away in a packed crowd at the bar. There’s a little doubt in my mind that this is him (why would he be in Boston and at Wally’s of all places?). But then I thought to myself that if he did go to Berklee he probably played at Wally’s when he was a student there, so he does have a history with this city. After I’m done with my solo I whisper over to Greg, my guitarist, “I think Mark Turner is here!” He was a little skeptical because he had seen someone come in that looked like him before. I felt pretty confident that my eyesight hasn’t failed me yet so I told everyone else in the band that Mark is here and for some reason, their playing turned up a little more for the rest of the set. It was very inspiring to experience that with these younger musicians in my band. I decided to pull out a tune by Kurt Rosenwinkel entitled Turns for the next song in the set. It’s an extremely difficult tune to play (and that much more difficult to play on the trumpet…I posted a track of us playing it on my youtube page here ) and I’ve only heard Kurt and Mark play that tune. I played it with Kurt on a gig at the Highline Ballroom last year. So we started the tune and I see this guy that looks just like Mark bobbing his head a little bit and I think to myself, that’s Mark or someone that looks just like him that’s there and digging the music.

We finish the set and this guy comes up to the bandstand and it’s Mark. It was my first time ever meeting him in person. I knew his face from his album covers. What are the chances that you get to play in front of someone that has influenced you at such a moments notice? The feeling that emitted from the band is a feeling that I live for and it’s Why I Play.

Keep swinging,

J.P