Category Archives: Updates

Site Redesign, Gigs, & New to Me

Hi folks, it’s been a while since my last update. As you can see, I’ve redesigned my whole site from scratch; the reasons were a) it was time, and b) I’ve been learning some new tools and this was a good opportunity to put them to use–for the design-nerd details, I created the site as a whole in Adobe Muse, the homepage animation in Edge Animate, and the blog is still in WordPress with a customized template (since Muse doesn’t yet have its own compatible blogging engine). Please have a look around–there are now pages for my projects, albums, a new bio, my design & illustration portfolio, a list of upcoming events, and you can let me know what you think at the new contact page!

Gigs-wise things have been interesting–I’ve got at least two more hits with Circus Bella this summer, had a really challenging and interesting show with the great Satoko Fujii at Duende (I hope they’ll continue their adventurous programming now that Rocco Somazzi is leaving), and am busily preparing for the world (!) premiere of my new piece for Quintet+1, “Interview Music”  (if you follow the jazz media at all you’ll get the joke/reference), this September at the California Jazz Conservatory. Ben Stolorow and I have also just confirmed Duocracy‘s first San Francisco appearance, at Bird & Beckett in October.

Finally, I’m overdue to give you a “New to Me” installment—here’s a quick rundown of some of the music that’s been on heavy rotation in my ears lately.

The top five:

  • Israel: The Music of Johnny Carisi — I can’t overstate how deeply this record has bowled me over since I picked it up (on Marc Myers’ recommendation) earlier this year. So intricate, so creative, so swinging–it’s everything I aim for in my own music.
  • Olivier Manchon: Orchestre de Chambre Miniature — This random used CD pickup was a lucky find. Gorgeous small-group string writing by this French violinist, lush harmony, creative textures, layered through with solid blowing by John Ellis and Gregoire Maret (who I was lucky to get to play with a few times in NYC). This is listed as “volume 1″—I hope more is on the way because this one is over way too quickly.
  • Hindemith: Kammermusik 1-7 (Berliner Philharmoniker/Claudio Abbado)  — This is a bible of modern contrapuntal technique. Drop the (virtual) needle anywhere for an immediate sonic bath of virtuosic counterpoint and texture. He makes it sound so easy (maybe it was for him). The cello-focused #3 is my current favorite, but they’re all amazing.
  • Villa Lobos: Wind Music  — As much as I love Hindemith, he can sometimes feel a little dry emotionally—the first time I heard this record, it made me think of a more soulful (and due to the Brazilian connection, inevitably more reminiscent of jazz harmonies) version of a Hindemithian texture. The duo, trio and quartet are all great. I am stealing lots of stuff from this record.
  • Halvorsen/Fujiwara/Formanek: Thumbscrew — I was lucky to hear these guys last month during their Duende residency (where else would that ever happen outside of NYC?) and was really floored. All three players are forces of nature, and the tunes are perfect vehicles for what they do best. (Although they do just fine without tunes as well, as demonstrated by the all-improvised second set they did with perfectly attuned sitter-inner Ben Goldberg when I saw them.) This (as well as the Satoko Fujii show) has really inspired me to get into more free playing.

Other records I’ve been crazy about lately include:

  • Darcy James Argue: Brooklyn Babylon
  • Donald Byrd: How (with incredible string charts by Clare Fischer)
  • Jimmy Giuffre: New York Concerts
  • Charles Mingus: Pre Bird (“Half-Mast Inhibition”!)
  • Henry Cowell: Piano Music
  • Kirk Knuffke: Chorale  (Finally got to hear him live recently with Todd Sickafoose–one of my favorite young trumpeters cornetists)
  • John Swana: Bright Moments (My friend Lorin turned me on to Swana, who is a mother$#&* of creative changes-playing and sounds equally scary on trumpet and EVI)

… plus a bunch of other great stuff I’m forgetting! Anyway, that’s a good start. Stay tuned for more news about “Interview Music” and part 2 of “Blues, Authenticity, and the Hopefully Not-So-Abstract Truth.”

Duocracy is Here!

Hi folks, I’m happy to announce that as of today, Duocracy, my new album with pianist Ben Stolorow on Kabocha Records, is available for purchase (and should be on a radio station near you)!

Physical CDs can be picked up at CDBaby, and digital downloads are available at CDBaby (in high-quality mp3 and FLAC formats), Amazon, Google Play, iTunes, and eMusic. (The album is not available on Spotify, since we’re not interested in being digital sharecroppers and getting $.000001 per play.)

Please pick up a copy or ten! And if you enjoy it, please consider adding a review–they really do help!

Coming soon: Video from our really enjoyable CD release show at the Jazzschool last week! And don’t forget our North Bay CD release show is March 7 in Tiburon.

January Update: Duocracy Coming, Gigs, New to Me

Happy New Year! (You can thank me later for not saying “jazzy.”) Lots going on, so here goes:

Here Comes Duocracy!
Duocracy, my soon-to-be-released duo album with my good friend pianist Ben Stolorow, is being pressed as we speak! (You can read a lot more about the album here: Ian Carey, Ben Stolorow, and Duocracy.) Ben and I are currently gearing up for our two CD release shows:

If you’re not going to be able to make either of those, we’re also playing a private preview show in Richmond on the afternoon of January 20 (MLK Day)–email me (ian [AT] if you’re interested in attending.

Winter Circus
Later this month, I’m happy to be involved in a rare off-season performance with the great Circus Bellafeaturing outstanding original music by accordionist/keyboardist/guitarist/composer/”Nice Guy” Rob Reich, with the Circus Bella All-Star Band (with Rob, Greg Stephens on trombone, Ralph Carney on a potpurri of woodwinds & sundries, Michael Pinkham on drums, & me on trumpet). We’ll be doing two shows on Saturday, January 26 at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco. Last chance to see us before summertime!

New to Me: Arranger Edition
You may remember I have a periodic series of posts about standout albums which, while not necessarily new to the world, are new to me. As I’m about to get to work on a new, extended composition for my Quintet+1 (funded by a generous grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music’s Musical Grant Program—you should apply too!), which will be premiered this fall, I’ve been spending a lot of time seeking out new-to-me recordings by great arrangers and composers in order to help get my creative wheels turning. Here are a few:

Continue reading January Update: Duocracy Coming, Gigs, New to Me

December Update: Year-End Honors for Roads & Codes, Duocracy Coming Soon

Hi folks, it’s been a while, so here’s some recent news: I’ve been very happy to see Roads & Codes getting some love in year-end lists, including a mention in Downbeat’s Best of 2013 Issue (alongside some heavy hitters!–although I wish they’d highlighted my album cover instead of that cornball Chick Corea-in-shining-armor painting).

Meanwhile, Andrew Gilbert of NPR’s California Report named Roads & Codes on his list The Golden State of Jazz: The Best California Jazz CDs of 2013, and included some of my artwork.

The album also got a really nice mention in James Hale’s Best Jazz Recordings of 2013 list (Hale also reviewed the CD for Downbeat, so I’m very glad it ended up in front of him!):

Bay Area trumpeter Ian Carey was the discovery of the year for me. On the inventively conceived Roads and Codes, he made great use of his highly skilled band of improvisers by writing to their strengths—a lesson gleaned from his mentor Maria Schneider. The program—an arty mix of pieces by Neil Young, Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives and his own harmonically pleasing compositions—covers a lot of ground, and does it all well.

Ken Frankling included “The Thread,” one of my tunes from the record, on his list of “the 10 best new songs from CDs released in 2013” on his blog Jazz Notes.

R&C also made the Top 50 list of Scott Albin of Jazztimes, and the honorable mention list for Ted Gioia’s 100 Best Albums of 2013 (any genre!).

I’m especially glad to see the record showing up in these lists since it came out in February, so if people still remember it, it must have made quite an impression. I give much credit to the awesome musicians–Fred Randolph, Kasey Knudsen, Adam Shulman, Evan Francis, & Jon Arkin–who made that music with me.

duocracy_covBut no resting on laurels, because I’m happy to announce that my new album, Duocracy, will be released in February. The album is an intimate duo session with my amigo the great pianist Ben Stolorow, featuring a selection of some of our favorite classic American Popular Songbook chestnuts, from the well-known (“All the Things…,” “Cherokee”) to the rare (“Two for the Road,” “Little White Lies”). We have two CD release performances scheduled so far: the first in the East Bay, at The Jazzschool in Berkeley on February 21; the second in the North Bay, at Old St. Hilary’s in Tiburon on March 7. The CD will hit the airwaves on February 25. Stay tuned!

Finally, from my other other career, a little thing I wrote with Darci Ratliff is up at the great literary & humor site McSweeney’s today: Things Not to Bring to a Gunfight.

Coming soon: part two of my rambling Blues, Authenticity, and the Hopefully Not-So-Abstract Truth. Happy Holidays!

New Album News, New Roads & Codes Review, Takoyaki 3 & Circus Shows

Hi folks, long time no etc. It’s been a busy musical summer so far for me, with shows by Takoyaki 3 (at Yoshi’s Lounge), Circus Bella (all over the bay), and even my shortest gig ever: a 3-minute obligatto for a groom-to-bride dedication of “All the Things You Are.”

Gig news: This Friday (7/19), Takoyaki 3 (Adam Shulman on organ, Jon Arkin on drums, & myself on trumpet) will be playing at Rose Pistola in North Beach from 9-11:30p. No cover! Then Sunday (7/21) at noon, Circus Bella (you can hear some live audio of the great original soundtrack here) comes to Oakland’s Dimond Park. Also free!

Also, I’m pleased to announce the next appearance for my Quintet+1, which will be Friday, September 13 at a secret venue in the East Bay. If you’re on my email list, you’ll get all the info beforehand; if not, why not sign up? (It’s easy-on, easy-off, I swear.)

New Review: Roads & Codes has been out for a while, but some nice reviews are still trickling in–this week the multi-talented instrumentalist and educator Michael Smolens named the album his “Must Have CD Pick” of the month, with this very kind and thoughtful review:

Ian Carey is a direct artist. Honest, informed, inventive. The pieces never scream “Look at me!”, but rather, “Come with me.” Unlike many jazz recordings, the length of each piece feels beautifully and organically proportioned, whether they are nearly 12 minutes or just over two – they never plead for airplay with artificial brevity, or feel indulgent with endless solos. Carey incorporates many influences, from the lush worlds of Kenny Wheeler and Maria Schneider, the kickin’ sounds of Joe Henderson and John Coltrane, to adaptations of classical 20th-century composers Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives, to a Neil Young film score. Yet his sound and compositional approach is always very personal. This sextet of three horns and piano/bass/drums actually feels more like a seven or eight piece band because of how much motion he puts into the horn writing, each horn sharing in the melodic and accompanying roles. Carey’s group has at once a very unified sound (remarkably, recorded in just one day), yet each member has a distinct voice as a soloist, always commenting on the piece at hand. Most affecting, though, is his visual art for the project. Carey directs his masterful illustrations to address the concerns that face most jazz artists in this country receive, from bewildering comments by critics, to the public’s lack of understanding of jazz, to the select jazz audience’s need for reassuring tribute albums. And he does so without the slightest hint of resentment. In fact, it is his child-like honesty in these artistic liner notes that is most breathtaking. (His comments on each of his tunes are informative, as well). Without a doubt, this is an artist you need to hear.

New Album News: In a few weeks, the great pianist Ben Stolorow and I will be mixing the duo project we recorded last month in Oakland. The as-yet-untitled album features 12 intimate tunes from the familiar to the rarely-heard, and we’re hoping to release it this fall. Stay tuned!

Announcements: Quintet+1 at Chez Hanny, Takoyaki 3 at Yoshi’s Lounge + Grant & Review News

Hi folks, I have a bunch of interesting stuff to throw at you at once. First, I’m doing two shows next week with two different bands, both guaranteed to be interesting!

Next Thursday, May 30, Takoyaki 3 (the streamlined, street-food-style version of my Quintet+1) will be returning to the lounge at Yoshi’s in San Francisco as part of their Local Talent Series.  We’ll be doing underplayed jazz classics, originals, and even a standard or two!

WHAT: Ian Carey’s Takoyaki 3
WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet; Adam Shulman, organ; Jon Arkin, drums
WHEN: Thursday, May 30, 6:30-9:30pm
WHERE: Yoshi’s Lounge, San Francisco

A few days later, the Quintet+1 will be making its first appearance since our CD release show, at the intimate San Francisco house concert venue Chez Hanny.  We’ll be performing music from Roads & Codes (“★★★★½ – a highly skilled band of improvisers, harmonically pleasing compositions… it all works” —Downbeat), including compositions by me, Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and Neil Young, as well as new arrangements of music from previous albums and the premiere of a brand new original piece. This will also be the debut with the band of the great Bay Area woodwind wizard Sheldon Brown. Seating is limited, so best reserve early!

WHAT: Ian Carey Quintet+1
WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet; Adam Shulman, piano; Jon Arkin, drums; Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone; Sheldon Brown, tenor saxophone & flute; Fred Randolph, bass
WHEN: Sunday, June 2, 4pm
WHERE: Chez Hanny, San Francisco
HOW MUCH: $20 suggested donation (see link above for ticketing/reservation info)

In other news, reviews for Roads & Codes are still trickling in, including this very poetic one from Jazz Weekly:

Ian Carey leads a small band in which he plays trumpet, flugelhorn and handles most of the writing with a lithe as cirrus cloud team … The melding of the three horns, especially when Francis is on the flute, create a lovely graciousness  of sound that feels like a breeze teasing linen drapes, as on the mellifluous “Wheels.” A pastel haze floats above the plain on “Rain Tune” while Neil Young’s “Dead Man’ features Carey’s lonely and gasping trumpet.  Some firm and forte bop is displayed on the driving “Count Up” which has some pungent stick work by Arking, while Charles Ives’ “West London” is delivered with a porcelain fragility. Nice and fresh music here that sparkles like morning dew on citrus trees.

Mellifluous indeed! It has been very interesting to see the wide varieties of effects the record has had on people.

Finally, I’m happy to announce that the great local organization San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music has chosen me as one of the fortunate beneficiaries of their 2013 Musical Grant Program. I’ll be writing a new multi-part “Suite for Quintet+1,” to be premiered at the Jazzschool in Berkeley in fall 2014. Time to get crackin’!

Takoyaki 3 Shows This Week, New ‘Roads & Codes’ Reviews + More CD Release Video

Hi folks, big musical week starting tomorrow:

TAKOYAKI 3, the streamlined, street-food-style version of my Quintet+1, is playing twice in the next week–on Saturday night (3/23) in North Beach at Rose Pistola, and next Wednesday (3/27) at Yoshi’s Lounge in San Francisco. The group features Adam Shulman on organ, Jon Arkin on drums, and myself on trumpet & flugelhorn, and we’ll be playing original music from Roads & Codes, as well as select standards and underappreciated classics by jazz composers like Herbie Nichols, Ornette Coleman, and Lennie Tristano.

WHAT: Ian Carey’s Takoyaki 3
WHERE: Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
WHEN: Saturday, March 23, 9-11:30pm
HOW MUCH: No cover!


WHAT: Yoshi’s Local Talent Series presents Ian Carey’s Takoyaki 3
WHERE: Yoshi’s Lounge, 1330 Fillmore., San Francisco
WHEN: Wednesday, March 27, 6:30-9:30pm
HOW MUCH: Also no cover!

I’ve also got two other gigs this weekend for those of you of the East Bay persuasion: Saturday (3/23) daytime, I’ll be playing with the Betty Shaw Quartet at the Cheese Board in Berkeley from 11:45am-2:45pm, and Sunday evening I’ll be playing with the Full Count Trio (Ollie Dudek, myself, and Jeffrey Burr) at Cato’s Ale House in Oakland from 5:30-8:30pm.

Next, there have been more reviews for Roads & Codes trickling in, including a very nice one from The Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

Carey is almost as good a cartoonist as he is a musician. The horn man created a comic-book-like cover for his “Roads & Codes” that talks about the difficulty of selling jazz these days. Inside, cartoon depictions of the players in the band decorate his liner notes, set in the same typeface as the word balloons on the cover. While all this cover material is impressive, the music — happy to say — is even better. The tunes are catchy and played by a sextet that, at times, sounds bigger, offering backup statements and horn harmonies that create a rich sound.

… plus a review from Ken Frankling’s Jazz Notes (“a marvel for its lush and intricate music and musical concepts, as well as Carey-designed packaging and illustrations that make it a clear favorite to win the year’s cleverest design”), another mention from James Hale, who wrote my DownBeat review (“one of the freshest albums I’ve heard in a long time”), a spin for “Count Up” and what according to Google Translate is a nice review from Radio France‘s Alex Dutihl (“Parution de «Roads & Codes» du trompettiste Ian Carey chez Kabocha, dont la pochette est illustrée par une bande dessinée qu’il a lui-même créée. Encouragé par Dave Douglas en ce qui concerne la musique, il poursuit parallèlement une carrière d’illustrateur”–couldn’t have said it better myself!), and from one of my favorite jazz blogs, the great Doug Ramsey’s Rifftides (the post title–“Recent Listening: Carey, Mingus, Ellington”–poses a serious threat of causing my brain to explode):

Carey writes lines that flow on astringent harmonies. His trumpet and flugelhorn keep the listener’s attention not through volume, velocity and extended sorties into the stratosphere, but with story telling and a burnished tone. Kasey Knudsen, the +1 of the band’s new name, spells Evan Francis on alto saxophone, leaving Francis to concentrate on tenor sax and flute. With the audacity of her conception and sound, Knudsen is a stimulant. The series of blues choruses and phrases that she and Francis exchange on “Nemuri Kyoshirō” is an album high point. The three-horn front line expands Carey’s arranging palette beyond that of his 2010 CD Contextualizin’, allowing richer ensembles and deeper voicings in figures behind soloists. Pianist Adam Shulman, bassist Fred Randolph and drummer Jon Arkin constitute one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s finest rhythm sections. Carey acknowledges that nearly half of his compositions are under the influence of his heroes Charles Ives (“West London”), Igor Stravinksy (“Andante”), John Coltrane (“Count Up”) and Neil Young (“Dead Man [Theme]”). The influences are points of departure for the individualism of Carey’s writing.

Finally, here’s some new video from our show at the Sound Room last month–this is the aforementioned “Nemuri Kyoshiro,” featuring a live rematch of that epic saxophone battle:

Announcements: “Roads & Codes” CD Release Show, February 21!

Hello folks, I’m pleased to report that after quite a while spent writing, rehearsing, recording, mixing, and designing the artwork,  the CD release show for the Ian Carey Quintet+1’s new album, Roads & Codes, will be held February 21 in Oakland! This group has been playing together for close to ten years, but Roads & Codes (“on the cutting edge of new sounds and exciting compositions for modern jazz” —CriticalJazz), represents our most ambitious effort yet.

The show will be next Thursday, February 21 at 8pm, at a nice new venue in Oakland’s uptown neighborhood, The Sound Room. It will feature the exact same personnel as the CD, even including Evan Francis, who we’re lucky to have joining us from his new digs in New York, and newest addition to the group, the great Kasey Knudsen, performing all the music from the album (including new arrangements of works by Stravinsky, Ives, and Neil Young) and select “hits” from our previous CDs. The show will also feature the original art which I’ve created for the album in both projected formats and as signed prints for sale.

And to sweeten the pot for those on the fence, everyone purchasing a ticket will recieve a FREE COPY of the CD!

WHAT: Kabocha Records and Bay Area Jazz & Arts present The Ian Carey Quintet+1: CD Release & Art Show for Roads & Codes
WHO: Evan Francis, flute & tenor saxophone; Kasey Knudsen, alto saxophone; Adam Shulman, piano; Jon Arkin, drums; Fred Randolph, bass; Ian Carey, trumpet, flugelhorn, illustrations
WHEN: Thursday, February 21, 8pm
WHERE: The Sound Room, 2147 Broadway (@ 22nd St.), Oakland
TICKETS: $15, includes free CD with purchase! (advance tix available here.)

Next Tuesday (2/19) will be the official “street date” of the album, which means it will be available for purchase at various sites around the web (links to come) and will (knock on wood) be heard on radio stations across the land.

Hope to see you Thursday!

First Look: Art for “Roads & Codes”

Since I guess it wasn’t enough work for me to write, arrange, rehearse, record, mix, and design my upcoming CD, Roads & Codes (due out Feb. 26),  I decided to incorporate my love of graphic novels and manga into the cover art. (Some of my favorite creators are Daniel Clowes, Jiro Taniguchi, Chris Ware, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and my dad, who’s been compiling books of dream drawings for years.)

It’ll be a serious time investment, but: a) I’m excited about testing my illustration chops, b) anything that gets the CD noticed and helps it stand out from that pile of discs gathering dust in Joe Jazz Critic’s closet (or the used CD bins!) is good, and c) I only do this every few years, so why not go all out?

I’m still figuring out what story the front cover is going to tell, but the back cover will feature a series of illustrations, each inspired by one of the tunes. I’ll be sharing them here as I finish them.

Here’s are the first four tune illustrations–the first is for our version of Andante (the first movement of Suite #1 for Small Orch.) by Stravinsky, the second for  “6 Av Local,” my tribute to the morning ride from Brooklyn on the F train; the third for “Nemuri Kyoshiro,” my samurai-movie-inspired blues; and the fourth for our cover of Neil Young’s haunting theme to the great Western Dead Man. (Click to see the full images.)

Click to see full-size.

Stay tuned for more–hope I can finish them all in time to press the CD!

New Album Update!

Hello folks, happy summer to you all! I hope you’re all OD’ing on corn dogs and peaches and outdoor shows while the gettin’ is good. I wanted to give an update on my upcoming, soon-to-be-but-not-yet titled new album.

After an outstanding house concert in the spring, we learned the sad but exciting news that the great Evan Francis was heading for New York, and decided it would be a crime to put this new music on disc without him. We were lucky to find a single day prior to Evan’s skipping town which worked for all six of us (plus our engineer Dan Feiszli), so we filed into Studio Trilogy in SF for an 11-hour, nine-tune marathon in early June. This challenged chops, fingers, tempers, and attention spans, but at the end of the day (literally), everyone was very happy with the result (or so they said!).

Currently Dan and I are knee-deep in the mixing process, and it’s looking like the album will be released in January (kind of a long wait but we have to avoid the jazz radio Christmas music crunch for obvious reasons). The disc will feature all new 6-piece compositions and arrangements, including six originals plus reworkings of music by Ives, Stravinsky, and Neil Young.

Look for more details soon about the CD release and show dates. (And I’ll be back soon with a fresh installment of “New to Me.”)