All posts by Ian

The 2018 “New to Me” Top 10

A while back I started a mini-tradition in response to the ubiquitous year-end top ten list–since my own annual most listened-to albums were rarely new releases (and in some cases were super-old!) I chose to focus on records that were New to Me. So here are 10(ish) albums that got me excited in the past year. Some of them actually came out in the past year! But most didn’t. (Note: asterisked albums include friends of mine.)

John Hollenbeck Ensemble: All Can Work (2018) I am late to the party on Hollenbeck’s bands, but this really hit the spot for me this year. (Also spent time with quite a few of the Claudia Quintet’s many great albums.)

Contemporary Composers Series: William O. Smith (1958) Known in the jazz world as Bill Smith, clarinetist and composer of “Concerto for Clarinet & Combo,” one of my all-time favorite jazz compositions; I tracked down this long out-of-print LP of some of his early chamber works, and it did not disappoint. Find it if you can! (Hit me up if you can’t!)

Marty Ehrlich’s Dark Woods Ensemble: Emergency Peace (1991) Loved everything about this album. 

Muhal Richard Abrams: One Line, Two Views (1995) Yet another extremely heavy musician who I unfortunately waited until after his passing to really check out seriously. But better late than never. His combination of dense and heady writing with folkloric freedom was just what I needed at the time. 

Duo Oktava: Pilgrimage (2007) The whole record is great, but I especially dug deep on Walter Piston’s absolutely phenomenal Duo for Violin and Cello

Bristle: Future(S) Now(S) (2014); Bullet Proof * (2011) Joy and humor and virtuosity. ‘Nuff said. 

Anna Webber’s Simple Trio: Binary (2016) I forget who suggested I check out multi-reedist Webber’s kaleidoscopic music, but thank you, whoever you are! 

Kamikaze Ground Crew: The Scenic Route (1990); Postcards from the Highwire (2007); Madam Marie’s Temple of Knowledge (1993) This horn-heavy medium-large band was active while I was in NYC but I somehow never learned about them until this year. Which is too bad, because they’re great. Dense compositions (by Gina Leishman, Doug Wieselman, and others), interesting instrumentation/orchestration, great improvisers.

Aaron Novik: Frowny Frown* (2018) Clarinetist, comic artist, and cracking composer Aaron Novik left the Bay for NYC a year or so ago (before I had the chance to play with him much, dammit!). I really love this record/comic set (and not just because he sent me this sticker with it):

James Newton Ensemble: Suite for Frida Kahlo (1994) I have Ethan Iverson’s in-depth profile to thank for introducing me to Newton’s phenomenal writing, which ranges from freeish straightahead to full-on chamber. (“This,” as my friend Lorin Benedict would say, “is my shit!”) This album, chock full of interesting and woody textures, was my favorite of the many of his I checked out this year. 

Michael Coleman & Ben Goldberg: Practitioner* (2018) If you know anything about me at all, you know I normally hate “____ Plays the Music of [Famous Dead Guy]” albums. But: Coleman! Goldberg! Steve Lacy! Original art baseball cards! And super-imaginative interpretations of extremely rarely played tunes. 

Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days: El Maquech. (2018) O’Farrill is from another planet where the musical gravity is much heavier, so when he arrived here he was immediately imbued with superpowers. We’re lucky to have him. 

Sanity-saving Honorable Mention to Walter the dog and James Drummaboy Harris. (2018)

In Need of a Deeper Dive

These are records that came across my radar but that I haven’t yet had the time to give the attention they deserve. First look at Top Ten 2019?

Steuart Liebig: Pomegranate (2001) Chock full of amazingly dense and interesting writing in mini-concerto format for a variety of interesting soloists–randomly found this last week and can’t wait to dig in. 

Sam Rivers Trio Live (1973) Rivers is a fascinating improviser and I especially want to spend more time with this period of his playing.

Holus Bolus: Pine Barren This 2011 album from composer and reedist Josh Sinton grabbed me on first listen. I’ll be back for more.

Ethan Iverson: Live at Smalls (with Bill McHenry, Reid Anderson, & Jeff Williams) (2000) Kasey Knudsen, one of my favorite improvisers (who kindly consents to playing my music regularly) recently mentioned this one to me–I somehow missed it the first time around, but will be rectifying that pronto. 

John Lewis Presents Jazz Abstractions (1960) Especially Jim Hall’s Piece for Guitar and Strings!

Rediscoveries

These are albums which I had heard in the past but jumped out at me with a fresh appeal this year. Always be ready to be floored anew by something you thought you knew!

Wayne Shorter: Night Dreamer (1964) (b/w Booker Little & Friend) (1961) I own a 1994 Toyota Corolla (gifted by my wife’s parents) which we affectionately call “the Other Car” or “Ol’ Bess.” In place of the usual satellite radio and Bluetooth, it includes a state-of-the-art cassette deck, which inspired me to dig into my garage and grab a bunch of tapes which I dubbed from CDs and LPs in college–this one actually still worked, so I’ve just left it in on infinite auto-reverse for the past few months. Night Dreamer wasn’t one of the Wayne albums I’d spent the most time with (mostly due to Lee Morgan, who you may remember I controversially don’t usually love). But man, does it sound great now–the tunes, the solos, the roiling rhythm section of Elvin, McCoy, Reggie Workman, just one of the finest examples of this music ever. (I listened to it with Mark Levine as we took Ol’ Bess to an A’s game last summer and he said, “how’d you know to bring my favorite album?”) The Booker Little one is of course also a favorite. There’s also something great with cassettes about having to just listen to the album in order (unless you want to deal with the dreaded << or >> buttons and risk getting the tape wound into the player), rather than jumping around impatiently and skipping the ballads as we’ve all gotten used to being able to do.

Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall (2002) After Roy Hargrove’s untimely passing I was digging around for some recordings where he really dug into some modern/modal stuff (in addition to all the great standards, blues, etc. he played) and someone posted this album, which I’d previously sort of dismissed as an all-star tribute album. But man, does Roy sound great on this, fierce and inventive and lyrical.

Nicholas Payton Trio: #BAM Live at Bohemian Caverns (2013) I listened to this a fair amount when it first came out, but I noticed this year that just checking out a track or two before practicing or playing would immediately fire up some “good musical decisions” machine deep inside me that I’d forgotten was there. Payton has said “Live at the Plugged Nickel” is his favorite Miles, and this record captures some of that same fearless energy.  He plays some ripping piano solos on this, too!

Sunday 12/9: Fire In My Head (The Anxiety Suite): East Bay Premiere

Hello folks! I wanted to invite you to a very special performance coming up–it’s the East Bay premiere of my brand new composition Fire In My Head (the Anxiety Suite) for my Quintet+1 (with Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone; Sheldon Brown, bass clarinet; Adam Shulman, piano; Fred Randolph, bass; Jon Arkin, drums, and myself on trumpet) at The Back Room in Berkeley.

Some back story: a few years ago I wrote a suite for my Quintet+1 called Interview Music, which was purposefully not about anything. I wanted to let the music stand on its own, and while I don’t regret that decision, in retrospect 2016 was a not a good year to be “above the fray,” artistically speaking.

So when I was very fortunate to receive a grant (from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program) to compose a new major work for my band, I decided to write about something I’ve been struggling with on a personal level for ages, and that pretty much everyone I know has been dealing with on an hourly basis since, oh, late 2016: anxiety.

Fire In My Head is my five-part, 55-minute attempt to translate that emotional cyclone into music. The movements (Signs & Symptoms, This Is Fine, Thought Spirals, Internal Exile, and Resistance) range from straightahead jazz to chamber music to free improvisation, and represent some of the densest yet most personal composition I’ve ever done. But one thing I discovered in the process is that, just as my wife pointed out to me that “even your happy songs have an undercurrent of anxiety,” even my intentionally anxious material can’t seem to help but to also reflect hope and a desire to create beauty and connection.

So please join me and my bandmates (who have been working their butts off on this challenging material) Sunday, December 9 at 5pm for our East Bay premiere at The Back Room in Berkeley!

The Ian Carey Quintet+1: Fire In My Head (The Anxiety Suite)East Bay Premiere
Sunday, December 9, 5pm-7pm
The Back Room, 1984 Bonita Ave, Berkeley
Tickets ($15 advance, $18 door)

Sunday 11/4: The Ian Carey Quintet+1 Premieres Fire In My Head at SFJAZZ

Hello folks! The day that I’ve been waiting for, obsessing over, and in a state of near-panic about for the past several years is almost here—I’m talking, of course, about the midterm elections Tuesday. (Vote!) But I’ve also been doing pretty much those same things in anticipation of the world premiere this Sunday evening of my new piece Fire In My Head (the Anxiety Suite) at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab (joined by my longtime partners in crime Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Sheldon Brown on bass clarinet, Jon Arkin on drums, Fred Randolph on bass, and Adam Shulman on piano).

Some back story: a few years ago I wrote a suite for my Quintet+1 called Interview Music, which was purposefully not about anything. I wanted to let the music stand on its own, and while I don’t regret that decision, in retrospect 2016 was a not a good year to be “above the fray,” artistically speaking.

So when I was very fortunate to receive a grant (from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program) to compose a new major work for my band, I decided to write about something I’ve been struggling with on a personal level for ages, and that pretty much everyone I know has been dealing with on an hourly basis since, oh, late 2016: anxiety.

Fire In My Head is my five-part, 50-minute attempt to translate that emotional cyclone into music. But one thing I discovered in the process is that, just as my wife pointed out to me that “even your happy songs have an undercurrent of anxiety,” even my intentionally anxious material can’t seem to help but to also reflect hope and a desire to create beauty and connection.

So please join me and my bandmates (who have been working their butts off on this challenging material—see a sneak peek below) Sunday at 6pm or 7:30pm for this opportunity to hear original music by local musicians at the beautiful SFJAZZ Center! Buy tickets here.

ALSO: I’ll be talking about the show (and giving away some tickets!) with Alisa Clancy this Thursday morning at 9am on KCSM Jazz 91. Tune in or listen online.

World Premiere: Fire in My Head (The Anxiety Suite) at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab, 11/4

Hello folks! I am very excited to announce the premiere next month of my new suite Fire in My Head, which was commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program.

The piece, which ranges from straightahead jazz to chamber music and beyond, is a 50-minute, 5-movement exploration of the topic of anxiety, which is something I’ve dealt with personally for a long time and that many of us have recently been forced to deal with on a community level. I wrote the piece for my long-time musical partners the Ian Carey Quintet+1 (“a highly skilled band of improvisers” –Down Beat), featuring Adam Shulman, piano; Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone; Sheldon Brown, bass clarinet; Fred Randolph, bass; Jon Arkin, drums; and me on trumpet. (You can get a taste of the piece in the video below.)

I’m especially excited to be premiering this work at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson LabTickets are now available for both shows (6pm and 7:30pm). Please don’t miss this rare chance to hear original music played by great local musicians in this beautiful space!

ALSO: I will be on our local treasure KCSM Jazz91 talking about the show with Alisa Clancy on Thursday 11/1 at 9am. Tune in or listen online here!

Summer 2018 Update: Circus, Clevenger & Randolph Groups, CJC Class, & More!

Hello listeners! I just wanted to tell you about some exciting shows coming up. Things in the world are awful and difficult and sometimes it feels like our little artistic endeavors don’t amount to a hill of beans, but sometimes music does bring us together (and it can be a way of working through these crazy emotions—see Fire In My Head below), so I’ll keep making it and hopefully you’ll keep listening to it. I hope to see you at one or all of these shows!

Circus Bella presents “Ring Out Loud!”

Shows Through June & July

Circus Bella presents its 10th Anniversary Circus in the Parks season (dedicated to the memory of our longtime friend and bandmate Ralph Carney), with shows throughout June and July at locations all across the Bay Area! With live original music from Rob Reich and the Circus Bella All-Star Band (including me)!
View the schedule here.

Nathan Clevenger Group (Pocket Edition)

Saturday 6/16, 8p, Jupiter, Berkeley

Nathan Clevenger is one of my favorite local composers and bandleaders, and it’s always a (really freaking challenging) treat to play with his group. With me on trumpet, plus Cory Wright, woodwinds, Lisa Mezzacappa, bass, and Jon Arkin, drums.

Jazz Inside Out with Jim Nadel & Friends

Friday 6/22, 8p, Campbell Recital Hall, Stanford University

If you’re new to jazz and wonder how the musicians all play together without any sheet music, this special Festival kickoff concert is for you. Even if you’re a longtime jazz fan but still aren’t clear on when jazz musicians are improvising and when they’re not, SJW Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel will demonstrate with his horn and his band of top-notch players.

Fred Randolph Quintet

Sunday 7/15, 4:30p, Bird & Beckett, SF

Bassist and composer Fred Randolph brings his quintet to the great SF jazz & culture hub Bird & Beckett in Glen Park. With Sheldon Brown, saxophones, Ian Carey, trumpet, Dan Zemelman, piano, and Greg Wyser-Pratt, drums.

Class: Modern Jazz Improvisation

6 Weeks Starting Tues. 7/10, The Jazzschool at CJC, Berkeley

Ready to take your improvisational toolkit beyond bebop licks, modes, and blues scales and into the sonic worlds opened up by artists like McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and Woody Shaw? This course will look into three different approaches for developing melodically compelling ideas for use in a wide variety of harmonic situations. (Basic knowledge of jazz harmony required.)
Register here.

Save the Date! The Ian Carey Quintet+1: Fire In My Head: The Anxiety Suite (World Premiere)

November 4,  Joe Henderson Lab, SFJAZZ Center

This November, I’m thrilled to bring my Quintet+1 to the SFJAZZ Center for the first time. We’ll be premiering my new piece Fire In My Head (The Anxiety Suite), which was commissioned by Chamber Music America and deals with themes of anxiety (both personal and on a community-wide basis). With Sheldon Brown, woodwinds, Ian Carey, trumpet, Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone, Adam Shulman, piano, Fred Randolph, bass, and Jon Arkin, drums.
More info & tickets here.

Friday 11/3 in Berkeley: Ian Carey & Nathan Clevenger: New Music for Septets

Hello folks! I’m very excited to tell you about a special performance this Friday (11/3) at 8pm, at California Jazz Conservatory (aka The Jazzschool) in Berkeley. I’ll be bringing my brand new genre-bending septet Wood/Metal/Plastic (with Alisa Rose and Mia Bella D’Augelli on violins, Jessica Ivry on cello, Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, Lisa Mezzacappa on bass, Jon Arkin on drums, and myself on trumpet), performing a new book of original music (by me) ranging from chamber music to straightahead jazz to free improvisation.

We’ll be joined by a true treasure of the Bay Area musical scene, the Nathan Clevenger Group, led by my friend the guitarist and composer, and featuring Rachel Condry on bass clarinet, Cory Wright on tenor sax, clarinet & flute, Tim DeCillis on vibraphone and percussion, plus Kasey, Lisa and Jon (who will be doing double duty in both bands). The Group has released two acclaimed albums and notable recent performances include SFMusic Day, the Switchboard Music Festival, and a featured night as part of the Best Coast Composer Series at the SF Center for New Music.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! After our individual sets, the two groups will be combining, Voltron-like, to an 11-piece “superband” to perform two brand new compositions which Nathan and I have written specifically for this concert.

Tickets available here! Don’t miss this chance to hear two (really three!) adventurous ensembles for the price of one! And check out a preview video of Wood/Metal/Plastic below.

 

Wood/Metal/Plastic Rehearsal Video + KPFA Interview

Hi folks, I’m very excited about our Wood/Metal/Plastic premiere next Friday at The Sound Room in Oakland. The music is really coming together and I’m looking forward to getting it off the page and into your ears! (Tickets here!)

Last night I had the chance to visit the great local DJ and music writer Larry Kelp’s “Sing Out” show on KPFA to talk about the project and share some rehearsal audio. You can listen to the show here (for two weeks I believe).

And here’s some footage from our recent rehearsal with snippets of several tunes. It’s a little rough around the edges as we were still working on the music, but should give you a taste of what kinds of things we’ll be up to at the show. Hope to see you there!

WOOD/METAL/PLASTIC: World Premiere 9/22 at the Sound Room

Hi folks! Here’s a press release about the world premiere of my new band on 9/22. Hope you can be there! –Ian

(Tickets available here. )

As a jazz musician and composer, Ian Carey usually viewed string instruments as distant cousins to his musical world, something he deeply enjoyed listening to but didn’t expect to have many opportunities to interact with one-on-one. But a chance musical encounter planted a seed that blossomed into a vivid new musical terrain: his 7-piece chamber-jazz ensemble Wood/Metal/Plastic, which makes its world premiere performance at The Sound Room in Oakland on September 22.

“For years I’ve played with Circus Bella, a great local circus troupe which has a live band,” led by San Francisco accordionist/composer Rob Reich. “Our long-term saxophonist left the group several years ago, and Rob decided to fill the spot with the great violinist Alisa Rose, so I spent the summer listening and soaking up what the instrument was capable of.”

Carey, who at the time was just finishing up several years straight of writing, performing, and recording the epic hourlong suite and album Interview Music (“[an] ambitious compositional vision” –Andrew Gilbert, San Jose Mercury News) with his long-term collaborators the Ian Carey Quintet+1, was looking for a musical change of pace and a new challenge.

He put together a new quartet, the loose and adventurous IJKL, featuring Quintet+1 holdovers Jon Arkin on drums (whose credits range from Lee Konitz to Ben Goldberg to the Afrobeat ensemble Albino!) and saxophonist Kasey Knudsen (who has played with Tune-Yards, Marcus Shelby, and the Holly Martins), and adding Bay Area creative music icon Lisa Mezzacappa on bass (who leads her own Bait & Switch and Avant Noir ensembles and has performed and collaborated with an encyclopedic array of notables across the creative music world); the new group focused on the freer side of jazz, performing new compositions by Carey at Studio Grand and the Make Out Room’s creative music series. “It was an exciting change of pace, jumping from the heavily planned-out world of Interview Music into this unpredictable group based on interaction and never playing something the same way twice.”

When a potential composition grant opportunity arose, “I wondered what it would be like to take our little free-ish quartet and stick it in the middle of a chamber ensemble with strings,” Carey says. He reached out to Rose (whose talents range from high classical to backcountry fiddle) and fellow violinist Mia Bella D’Augelli (who has performed with the traditional string quartet the Town Quartet as well as contemporary composers like Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis), as well as cellist Jessica Ivry (who performed for a decade with Rose in the Real Vocal String Quartet and is a composer in her own right), and Wood/Metal/Plastic was born.

To prepare for the project, Carey took a deep dive into studying stringed instruments and how to write for them, at one point even renting a cello and spending several weeks practicing the basics to help wrap his mind around how it worked. “I was super-excited when I began to get callouses on my fingers,” Carey says, “but then I suddenly remembered how much time I had left to actually write the music and got back to composing quick.”

The result is a vivid musical palette ranging from lush chorales, to dense contrapuntal thickets, to wild cacaphonies and back again. Carey’s compositions incorporate influences as diverse as 20th-century masters Villa-Lobos and Ravel, chamber jazz pioneers Gil Evans, Jimmy Giuffre, and Charles Mingus, and free jazz adventurers Ornette Coleman and Steve Lacy.

How to bridge the gaps between these diverse spheres of influence? “As much as I love straightahead jazz, and completely written-out chamber music, and free improvisation,” Carey says, “part of my reason for doing this was that I knew I couldn’t resist writing tricky and beautiful things for so many instruments, and by putting together a group like this, with players this good, I wouldn’t have to choose.”

Ian Carey’s Wood/Metal/Plastic is made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and supported by the Heller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

Starting 7/11: “Playing the Changes” & “Modern Jazz Improvisation” at CJC

Hi folks, I’m excited to be teaching two 6-week courses this summer at California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley (aka The Jazzschool). Here are the details:

Playing the Changes

About the course: A structured and in-depth study of techniques for playing harmonically specific jazz lines that “nail the changes.” Students develop the ability to improvise lines that clearly suggest a tune’s underlying harmonic progression in melodically compelling ways. Emphasis on mastering the II-V-I progression in major and minor, turnarounds, and standard jazz harmony. Lots of playing in class. Students should bring their instrument and manuscript paper to each class session. Prerequisites: knowledge of major and melodic minor scales. Tuesdays 8:15–9:45 pm; 7/11–8/15. You can find out more or register here.

Modern Jazz Improvisation

Ready to take your improvisational toolkit beyond bebop licks, modes, and blues scales and into the sonic worlds opened up by artists like McCoy Tyner, John Coltrane, and Woody Shaw? This course will look into three different approaches for developing melodically compelling ideas for use in a wide variety of harmonic situations. Beginning with the applications of pentatonic scales, the course will progress to the simple technique of combining pairs of major triads (and the six-note scales that result), and finally intervallic pairs, in each case examining their use in major, minor, and sus chords, a variety of dominant chords and ii-V-I progressions, and modal or chromatic contexts. Finally we will explore methods to integrate these new ideas into the student’s existing language in a natural and non-contrived way. (Basic knowledge of jazz harmony required.) Tuesdays 6:30–8 pm; 7/11–8/15. More information and registration here.

Interview Excerpt: On “Definitive Versions” of Tunes and Playing Fast

Here’s another excerpt from my interview in Thomas Erdmann’s book How Jazz Trumpeters Play Music Today. (Part 1 is here. )

On “Definitive Versions” of Tunes

TE: When I interviewed Chris Botti he said that after Wynton Marsalis recorded “Cherokee” no one else should ever record that tune. I beg to differ, and your recording of “Cherokee” [from Duocracy with pianist Ben Stolorow) proves my point. You found a unique and original way to approach the difficult changes by playing a series of wonderfully connected short motives before you work yourself into serving as an accompanying voice to Ben’s solo… When approaching such defining moment standards, such as “Cherokee,” how do you recommend young trumpeters approach the music in order to make a personal statement?

IC: That’s a good question. It’s interesting Botti said that about Wynton, because if you follow that logic, then Wynton shouldn’t have played it because of what Clifford (Brown) did! But thankfully he did because his recording is pretty amazing. By the way, Wynton probably shouldn’t record it anymore either, because he already set his own high watermark!

This sounds a little cliché, but I think for “Cherokee” or “Giant Steps,” —any of those watershed tunes that are really hard and you have to practice the hell out of—that the answer is that you have to learn them so well you can forget them. I would not have tried to record “Cherokee” 15 years ago, or I might have, but it would have sounded pretty self-conscious.

I talk about this with friends of mine sometimes, where you hear a someone playing along, swinging, then you hear something that sounds like a new lick they just learned. They put the lick in the middle of the solo and it sounds totally prepared and out of context; it doesn’t fit. The solution to that is you need to get tunes like that to a point where it is in the subconscious and subsumed into your musical language. When I listen to our version of “Cherokee,” the thing I’m most happy about is how little it sounds like we’re trying to impress anybody.

For tunes like that, the flag-wavers, as one of my old teachers, the great drummer Michael Carvin, said, there are different ways to approach solos. You can start simple and build; or you can take one motive and develop it; or as he said, “You can come in doin’ it, and keep on doin’ it.” I think that’s great, if players are really at that level. For me, I didn’t want it to ever feel like it was a fast tune. Some of the reviews of that recording said we were playing that tune at a “leisurely tempo,” or something like that—but it’s not at a leisurely tempo! We did it at something close to 300 beats per minute. That was gratifying, to me, that it didn’t sound like it was fast. I think the reason for this was because we both internalized it to the point where we forgot about the tune. When you’re able to forget a tune, you can be surprised, and stumble on things, more so than if you are really conscious of the tune as you’re playing it.

On Playing Fast

TE: Talking about playing fast, on “Cherokee” you also play some beautifully constructed improvised contrapuntal lines with Ben after his solo, not to mention the ripping fast notes that are absolutely locked in the rhythmic pocket. You also play fast flawlessly on “Tom/Tom” from Contextualizin’, and rip it up on your Interview Music CD as well. How do you practice in order to be able to play as fast you do, yet still play so cleanly and rhythmically perfect?

IC: Thank you. This goes back a little to what I said about swing earlier, in that I realized, when I was learning lines back in my 20s, that you really want to practice that stuff evenly. I remember Claudio Roditi came to The New School when I was there. His chops were so fluid, clean and smooth. He was giving people a hard time when we were playing Brazilian tunes about how they were swinging too much. He said, “No, no, play straight, play even.” These were kids who had heard all of the (Stan) Getz records; to me Getz doesn’t sound very Brazilian on them. I remember after that going back to my line practicing—like everyone else I was learning ii-Vs and transcribing Wes Montgomery solos and so on—and taking Roditi’s lessons to heart; trying to practice playing lines perfectly evenly from super slow to fast. If you’re trying to learn something and you start at a slow tempo and are swinging it and not playing evenly, then by the time you get it up to a fast tempo it’ll be a jumbled mess. … I also feel like I don’t sit on fast lines for a long time. I like to use them as a color, throw that color and texture out there, let it sit there and allow people to think about it, and not just have a solo be a constant string of fast notes. If you are judicious about playing fast notes they become more effective than if you’re just burning eighth-notes all the time.