Tag Archives: funny

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!

Links: Another Thing I Do Instead of Practicing

Some of you may know that in addition to playing the trumpet, writing music, doing unnecessarily complicated illustrations for my CD, battling raccoons in my garden, and catching up on Japanese soap operas, I also sometimes waste time writing short internet humor pieces which may or may not provide minor amusement (and definitely do not provide even minor financial rewards).

Today I’ve got a new one up at McSweeney’s (everyone’s favorite way to spend 11 minutes procrastinating on the internet) called “I WILL Kick You Out of Bed for Eating Crackers“:

Listen, Kate Upton, we’ve been together for a while now, and while you are undeniably extremely attractive, and I would love to spend countless nights gazing longingly at your barely clothed figure here in our softly lit boudoir, the fact is I am going to have to go against my every instinct and kick you out of this warm, inviting bed.

Yes, because of the crackers.

You can read the rest here.

And in case you’re looking for more ways to make it to the weekend while doing as little work as possible, here are some other bits of mine they’ve previously kindly published:

16 Easy Ways for Jazz to Build Its Audience and Remain Relevant

Stuff like this can really help.

Once again, the Jazz/BAM internet is abuzz–abuzz, I tell you!–with opinions on how the music can grow its audience and remain a culturally relevant art form in the 21st Century. Well, I’m happy to say they’re all wrong! Musicians and fans, just follow these few simple steps, and before you know it, Jazz will be partying like it’s 1959!

  • Provide iPods at every gig so audience members can listen to their own choice of music during the show
  • Bring contemporary audiences in by covering tunes by hot new pop bands like like N’SYNC, The BeeGees, and Scott Joplin
  • Have the band begin the set naked, and offer to put on one piece of clothing each time someone claps
  • Play more standards
  • Take advantage of social media platforms by limiting your solos to 140 notes or less
  • Build a “Jazzyland” theme park in Orlando, featuring thrilling attractions like Sun Ra’s ArKoaster, the GraviTrane, the Tilt-A-Wayne, Jazz Argument! (with Animatronic WyntonBot), Keith Jarrett’s FLIP-OUT! and the Bitches Brew Album Cover House of Horrors, plus exclusive shopping at The Ahmad JaMall and a hot dog stand run by Anthony Braxton
  • Reinvigorate jazz by incorporating elements of rock, hiphop, Salsa, polka, Bluegrass, Tango, Death Metal, Tibetan throat-singing, New Wave, Death Bluegrass, Drum and Bass, Drum and Bass and Mariachi, Thrash Electro-Industrial Housegrass, anything with tubas, the “Dukes of Hazzard” Theme, jazz, and Paul Anka
  • Get every jazz group in the world to play nothing but “Misty” for the next year, over and over, just to cure people of wanting to hear that $@#*%! song (Next year: “When the Saints”)
  • Accrue thousands of dollars in debt getting a degree in jazz from an accredited educational institution–once people learn how qualified you are, they’ll have no choice but to buy your CDs!
  • Book non-jazz acts to headline every major jazz festival in the U.S. for several years, until audiences forget what jazz is–just kidding, that would never happen!
  • Play fewer standards
  • Make the music more palatable to a wide audience by avoiding unpopular elements like improvisation, swing, acoustic instruments, “blue notes,” syncopation, harmony, melody, and rhythm
  • Save yourself the time and effort of practicing by just running “Kind of Blue” through the house speakers while your band pretends to play
  • Start an island colony to raise a new jazz audience from childhood in isolation, exposing them solely to the highest quality of musical influences; watch them grow into passionate and knowledgeable listeners, only to see it all go to hell when a crate of Justin Bieber CDs washes up on shore
  • Stop playing all that noodly stuff–people hate that.

Jazz According to G

Ted Panken (who I used to listen to on WKCR all the time) has a great new blog, which has already featured some gems–among them, this classic interview with Kenny G, in which Mr. G advances the curious claim that Charlie Parker was nicknamed “Bird” because his reed squeaked. The jazz Twitterverse jumped on this with a vengeance, and has since been abuzz with hundreds of other surprising #kennygjazzfacts. Arcane jazz-nerdery meets humorous lists? I’m there!

My contributions (so far) to the fact-fiesta:

  • They called Louis Armstrong “Pops” because he founded the Boston Pops, and ate Corn Pops, and had so many children.
  • They called the album “Kind of Blue” because Miles was suffering from hypothermia.
  • “Birdland” was actually named after the movie “The Birds” and Harold Land.
  • They call it the saxophone because the first one was actually made out of a phone.
  • “Take The A Train” was supposed to be either “Take The Train” or “Take A Train,” not both!
  • Few people know that “Songbird” was actually a reharmonization of “Ascension.”
  • Who knew that jazz would grow from its beginnings in David Lee Roth’s “Just a Gigolo” to become a worldwide phenomenon?
  • No family has done more for jazz than the Jones brothers–Elvin, Thad, Hank, Tom, James Earl, and Barnaby.
  • Coltrane called his tune “Giant Steps” in honor of Wilt Chamberlain’s feet.
  • Chick Webb was an inspiration to every chick with with webbed feet who dreamed of playing jazz.
  • Few people know that Herbie Hancock got his nickname because he Goes Bananas.
  • Jazz evolved in the late 1800s when rustic field hollers began to incorporate synth bass, DX-7s, and QuadraVerb.
  • WC Handy was such a big sports fan that he named his most famous composition after his favorite hockey team.
  • The word “jazz” was a common American slang term meaning “as exciting as basketball in Utah.
  • I used to think Charlie Parker was great, until I found out he was just reading all those solos out of the Omnibook.
  • Jelly Roll Morton changed his name because “Croissant Morton” sounded too fancy.
  • Coltrane took such long solos because he had lockjaw, which is how he got the nickname Eddie “Lockjaw” Coltrane.
  • King Oliver’s nickname came from his favorite movie, “Oliver!”
  • Joe Henderson wrote “Inner Urge” after waiting in an especially long line for the mens’ room.
  • Everyone knows Kenny G invented jazz, but few remember Wynton Marsalis invented classical music.

More of my questionable attempts at internet humor can be found here.

UPDATE: Some of my favorites from other folks:

  • Is that the “Jazz Masters Cemetery” up ahead? Good–pull-over. I gotta pee. (@AtmosTrio)
  • Tina Brooks is a huge influence on me, both as a saxophone player and as someone who constantly gets mistaken for a woman. (@keithflentge)
  • Trumpeter Booker Little was not only a librarian but a dwarf as well. His real name remains a mystery. (@peterhum)

And I’m grateful to WBGO for giving a shout out to this list! (I’d be even more grateful if they’d give my CD a spin.)*

*No really, why have I had more luck getting attention on the web by being funny than by playing jazz? Is the universe trying to tell me something?

The Jazz Bucket List (via Twitter)

Lee Mergner of the happily resuscitated JazzTimes recently published (and A Blog Supreme mentioned) a list of “jazz-related things to do before you die (or Keith Jarrett kills you)”–an unfair jab, really, as it’s been years since Keith has murdered anyone, unless you count the fatwa he ordered after Umbria.

Anyway, the list had a few I’ve done:

  • “visit the Village Vanguard and soak up the history” (I think that was history I found on my shoes);
  • “walk on hallowed ground at Congo Square in New Orleans” (actually it was more like stumbling–3 hurricanes will do that to you);
  • “memorize at least one solo from a famous jazz record and hum it for someone who might actually recognize it” (welcome to my college social life); and
  • “Buy the CD of a local jazz musician playing a gig where no one pays attention to the music, ever” (That was me. I bought 1000 of them. Most are still in my garage).

Following JT’s lead, I came up with a few more musician-centric suggestions of my own:

  • Make a waiter call his boss at 1am to get the band paid
  • Be told by a relative he only likes “real jazz, like Al Hirt and Kenny G”
  • Take out thousands of dollars in loans to prepare for a career which pays tips and sometimes beer
  • Listen to Trane’s first recording and feel ecstatic joy at how crappy he sounds
  • Get a request for “Summertime,” within 5 minutes of finishing playing “Summertime”
  • Consider renaming your band “[Your Name]’s [Exotic-sounding word]” to get more gigs
  • Consider hiring a DJ, tubist, theremin player, hog-caller, and bearded lady to appeal to the indie crowd
  • Get shredded at a jam session by some kid from Lithuania who looks 14 years old
  • Get asked by a club to play something “jazzier”
  • Get into a physical fight about straight-8ths odd-meter jazz
  • Practice Bird tunes in all 12 keys on a NYC rooftop, get yelled at by neighbors
  • Quit music in heat of passion and then come crawling back
  • Buy 20 copies of my CD and use them as coasters, doorstops, cat toys, or pizza cutters

There were also a few good suggestions from Twitter’s peanut gallery, including the notorious Jazzfamoose (“Realize that Del’s Frozen Lemonade is so much better than who’s on the mainstage at the Newport Jazz Festival,” “Get berated by Lorraine Gordon at the Vanguard” (done that!), “Have your CD get reviewed by @natechinen & still sell less than 500 copies in 2010″), and improviz (“Contact Mingus by Ouija board”–I wouldn’t recommend that, I think he can still punch you from beyond the grave). Got your own? Throw ’em in the comments.

Announcements: Last Dance at the House of Shields, 4/11/06

UPDATE: Since posting yesterday’s announcement, I’ve been informed that the House of Shields has decided to cut us loose for the time being, so tomorrow will be our LAST performance there for the foreseeable future. You’ll definitely have more opportunities to hear the Quintet, but it may take a while to cultivate new venues, so it’d be nice to have a good crowd tomorrow for our farewell gig, and maybe to demonstrate to the owners that people do appreciate this kind of music.

Anyway, thanks for listening during this three-hour tour that became a three-year mission.

Dear Friends and Listeners:

I recently discovered that April is the nationally-decreed Jazz Appreciation Month, or “JAM” (Get it?), and some research led me to this information on the subject:

On August 18, 2003, President George W. Bush signed Public Law 108-72, which includes language strongly endorsing jazz and urging that ‘musicians, schools, colleges, libraries, concert halls, museums, radio and television stations, and other organizations should develop programs to explore, perpetuate, and honor jazz as a national and world treasure.’

Since I would hate for any of you to run afoul of Public Law 108-72 and possibly end up taking an unwanted vacation to, say, Guantanamo Bay, I’d like to provide an opportunity for you to fulfill your presidentially-mandated Jazz Appreciation Requirement (JAR) by coming down to the House of Shields—a federally recognized Jazz Endorsement
Establishment (JEE)—this Tuesday, where my quintet, a certified Jazz Delivery System (JDS), will be offering actual jazz music for you to “Explore” (but remember, you explore with your ears, not your hands), “Perpetuate” (until 8:30, anyway), and “Honor as a National and World Treasure” (tip jar’s on the bar).

Anyway, you don’t have to thank me for calling your attention to this—it’s all part of my duty as a practitioner of this National and World Treasure, which, it turns out, is a metaphor—there’s no actual treasure. That information would’ve come in handy about fifteen years ago.

WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet

WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet; Jon Arkin, drums; Adam Shulman, piano; Fred Randolph, bass, Evan Francis, saxophone.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 11, 5:30-8:30 pm

WHERE: The House of Shields, 39 New Montgomery, S.F.

HOW MUCH: Nuthin’.

Announcements: Quartet, 3/28/06

So you got downsized. So you lost a fortune betting on Michelle Kwan. So tax day is coming and you’re going to have to sell your last kidney. So you spent your kids’ college fund to build a Y2K bunker in your backyard, only to learn it already happened six years ago. So your wife left you for Gavin Newsom. So what.

Put that all behind you, friend, and come on down to the House of Shields, where everybody knows your name (provided it’s “Joe”) and they’re always glad you came (provided you brought your credit card).
And best of all, there’s no cover charge, so not one cent will be diverted from your libationary budget to pay for the fine entertainment being provided by none other than San Francisco’s own Ian Carey Quintet (minus Evan).


WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet Minus One

WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet; Jon Arkin, drums; Adam Shulman, piano; Fred Randolph, bass.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 28, 5:30-8:30 pm

WHERE: The House of Shields, 39 New Montgomery, S.F.


Announcements: Quintet, 3/14/06 (+ Bonus Audio)

The “original” quintet is back for another hit at the House of Shields. Stop by and soak up some culture, without even having to make a generous pledge or end up on a government watch list!

And as a bonus for those who might’ve missed it the first time around, here’s a sample from last Tuesday, followed by a fascinating interaction with a “fan” who really wants to hear When the Saints Go Marching In, and seems to think that insulting the band is the best way to make it happen.

You just don’t get this level of service from ordinary bands!

  • Cherokee (Noble) The old warhorse burner was the last tune of the evening, so it’s fast and loose.
  • Can you play ‘When the Saints’?, featuring the vocal talents of Ian Carey, Evan Francis, a fan who proves that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and the background chorus of the patrons of the House of Shields.

WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet

WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet; Evan Francis, saxophone; Jon Arkin, drums; Adam Shulman, piano; Fred Randolph, bass.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 14, 5:30-8:30 pm

WHERE: The House of Shields, 39 New Montgomery, S.F.


P.S. Jazz appreciators: Doug Ramsey linked to some great Charlie Parker clips over at Rifftides today. Check ’em out.

Announcements: Quintet, 1/10/06

Twelve Exclamations Likely to Be Heard at My Gig Tuesday

  • “Yowzah!”
  • “Shazam!”
  • “Boo-yah!”
  • “Boo!” (no ‘yah’)
  • “BART sucks almost as much as you guys are awesome!”
  • “Thelonious Monk on a cracker!”
  • “Great Googly-Jazzlies!”
  • “Holy Missing Saxophonist!” [Update: “Holy Special Guest Saxophonist!”–See below.]
  • “Woo-hoo!–and, kind sirs, I differentiate this woo-hoo, which expresses admiration and enjoyment, from the woo-hoo of drunken partygoers on fake cable-car buses, which expresses only the need to fit in with the other people shouting ‘Woo-hoo.'”
  • “Turn that crap down so I can hear what my drunk friend is shouting! Oh, never mind, it was just ‘Woo-hoo!'”
  • “Play Puttin’ on the Ritz!”
  • “I just gave the band a big tip, and you know what? I feel great!”

WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet

WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet;
Adam Shulman, piano;
Jon Arkin, drums;
Fred Randolph, bass; and, from NYC,
Special Guest Dayna Stephens, saxophone.

WHEN: Tuesday, January 10, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

WHERE: The House of Shields, 39 Montgomery St., S.F.

HOW MUCH: Less than it takes to put shoes on this starving child.

ALSO: My friend and former bandmate Dan Shuman, an excellent Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, is playing the following night (Weds. 1/11) at The Brainwash (1122 Folsom Street, SF) at 7:30 pm. Be sure to go if you enjoy good music and your brain is in need of a washing.

Announcements: Quintet, 11/22/05

My Gig Announcement, as Performed by the 80s Adult/Contemporary Sensation TOTO

I hear Jon Arkin’s drums echoing tonight
But you hear only whispers of some drunken bike messengers’ conversations
You’re coming in twelve-thirty flight
So you have time to catch the BART that guides you towards libations
I stopped an old man along the Bay
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient jazz melodies
He turned to me as if to say: “Hurry boy, beer’s waiting there for you”

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me out to hear you
There’s nothing that a hundred e-mails or more could ever do
I bless the drains down on New Montgomery St.
Gonna take some time to count the tips we never had

The wild Evan Francis cries out in the night
As he grows restless longing for some solitary saxophony
I know that he must do what’s right
Sure as the House of Shields rises like Olympus above the San Fran-ciski
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this trumpet player I’ve become

[Repeat Chorus]

All you wanna do when you wake up in the morning is see my gig
Adam Shulman, Adam Shulman
I never thought that a pianist like you could ever play for me, Adam Shulman

All I wanna do in the middle of the evening is trip over your bass
Fred Randolph, Fred Randolph
I didn’t know you were looking for more tips than I could ever give

Not quite a year since it went away, the Ian Carey Quintet
Now they’re gone and I have to say…. Da Da, Da Da, Da Daaaaa

Meet you at the gig, the Ian Carey Quintet
Meet you at the gig, the Ian Carey Quintet

[Repeat Chorus, fade out]

WHAT: The Ian Carey Quintet

WHERE: The House of Shields, 39 New Montgomery St., San Francisco

WHEN: Tuesday, November 22, 5:30-8:30pm

WHO: Ian Carey, trumpet, with:
Adam Shulman, Fender Rhodes
Jon Arkin, drums
Evan Francis, saxophone
Fred Randolph, bass