First the bad–you’ll notice the Quintet’s show scheduled for mid-January has been canceled, due to the unfortunate fact of the venue, Coda, following too many clubs to mention into nonexistence. This hits me, and the scene in general, particularly hard, as Coda was the perfect venue for jazz and related musics–the place looked great, treated the musicians well, paid decently, and took an interest in promotion, so of course it couldn’t last in the Bay Area. I was asked recently in an interview to name my favorite venue, and I said, “I used to like Pearl’s, until it closed. Then I liked Octavia Lounge, and it closed. And Anna’s Jazz Island, closed. My favorite venue is any venue that’s open.” So we can tack another on to that sad list. (Note the title of the Times article: “Death of Jazz Club Underscores a Changing Scene”–I wish that this represented changing. Seems like the same old same old to me.) Oh well–the hunt for places to play continues.
On a more positive note, my album Contextualizin’ has been featured on several “Best of 2010” lists recently–the first from The Jazz Page (“Another solid band out of the Chicago area”–close enough, maybe this’ll get us a gig there?–“Ian and the Quintet have a nice sound that can appeal to music lovers across the jazz spectrum and beyond”), and the second from Arnaldo DeSouteiro’s Jazz Station (I also made the trumpet and flugelhorn lists, with some very heavy company, and Adam Shulman was recognized in the electric piano category). Both give me the warm fuzzies, especially since the record was released so early in the year and has been off the jazz blogosphere’s radar for a while. (This would be a good time to put in a word of thanks to Terri Hinte, whose tireless work getting the CD to the right ears has been a huge part of its success.)
Another recent plus–my wife and I took an incredible 2-week trip to Japan this month, which was life-altering in at least a few ways. One revelation–I knew the Japanese were into jazz, but I had no idea how ubiquitous it would be. You hear it in cafes, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, everywhere–and not just the Kind of Blue or Coltrane/Johnny Hartman they occasionally deign to play at Starbucks–I’m talking about some burning shit to accompany your yakisoba or stationery shopping experience. There are also a ton of jazz venues, at least compared to the Bay Area. I was fortunate to make it to a jam session at Intro in Tokyo, which runs every Saturday from 5pm to 5am (!)–that’s no exaggeration, either–the trains don’t run between midnight and 5, so why not jam while you’re stranded? (I left at 3:30am, and the other musicians were surprised I wasn’t staying for the whole thing.) Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and plenty of great players over there. I hope to go back as soon as possible. (I should mention that The Ian Carey Quintet would happily sell its own grandmother for some gigs in Japan. Just an FYI.)
Finally, a quick update on what’s next for me musically–I’m about to start a few months of heavy shedding (that’s “woodshedding” or practicing, not shedding fur, although there might be some of that, too). On the agenda is writing new material for the group, hustling up some shows, working on my Okinawan sanshin and reminding the trumpet who’s boss. (I’m joking. The trumpet is always the boss.) Stay tuned for updates, and fresh installments of “New to Me,” which I hope to make a regular feature. And Happy New Year!