Tag Archives: new to me

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.”

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] iancareyjazz.com) 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

New to Me: Fly, Contemporary Quartet, Ryan Kisor, Ravel Duo Sonata

It’s been a while since the last installment, so looks like it’s ime for another edition of the series where I recommend albums which have recently jumped up on my radar–some of which may be new, some of which may be not-so-new, some of which I may be the last person on Earth to hear about (are you guys hip to this “Maybe Call Me” thing?). So here are four great records which are New to Me!

Fly — Year of the Snake (2012): This actually is a new one! I was lucky enough to see these guys (Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, and Jeff Ballard, that is) a few years ago when they released their previous album, the great Sky & Country, and they’re just getting better. The tunes especially are going new places–everybody’s got multiple composing credits and a wide variety of tune types are represented, from the Mingus-y straightahead “Salt & Pepper” to the sound-painting of some of the miniatures that make up the five-part “Western Lands” set. I had a regular trumpet/bass/drums trio for a while in my 20s, and really enjoyed writing music for that format, since–assuming you don’t want to just play tunes (which can be fine, too)–it forces you to do more with less, and makes a case for the whole “restriction as inspiration” idea. (See the Ravel below.) Counterpoint becomes especially important, and Fly makes great use of it on this record–see Grenadier’s “Kingston.” These guys make me want to start writing for that kind of small chord-instrument-free band again.

Continue reading New to Me: Fly, Contemporary Quartet, Ryan Kisor, Ravel Duo Sonata

New to Me: Geri Allen, Hancock/Shorter, Nonequal Bach

Last year I inaugurated a feature where I talk about music which, while not necessarily hot off the presses, is still New to Me–since it’s been a while since the last installment, here are a few albums which have recently been turning my crank:

Geri Allen — The Nurturer (1990) & Maroons (1992): I once got to go hear Geri Allen at the Village Vanguard after a friend who worked at an artist’s credit union discovered money for her which she’d forgotten about, and going to her show seemed like the best way to get in touch. She was off my radar for a while before a friend loaned me an album last year, which led to me digging up more. These two are  both fine early 90s efforts, with really interesting tunes and her own deeply personal blowing–and of special interest to trumpeters, great contributions from sidefolks like Wallace Roney and underappreciated legend Marcus Belgrave. (“Number Four,” an Allen/Belgrave duet on Maroons, is worth the price of admission itself.)

Derek Adlam — Masterpieces for Clavichord by Bach (2005); Christophe Rousset — Bach: Italian Concerto; Partita in B minor etc. (1992): Since stumbling on to Johnny Reinhard’s “Microtonal Bach” show during WKCR’s annual Bach Festival while I was in college, I’ve been hooked on recordings of my favorite composer made on instruments in historical, non-equal-tempered tunings–even though I love Bach on piano, once you’ve heard how colorful and interesting baroque modulations can be in nonequal tuning, hearing the same pieces on an equal-tempered instrument can be like going from technicolor to black & white. Rousset’s rousing album features a strident harpsichord in the Werckmeister III tuning, and outstanding versions of several Bach staples, including one of my all-time favorites, the Chromatic Fantasia & Fugue in D minor (check it out here). Adlam’s disc features the much more subtle clavichord (made for quiet performances in small rooms) in a tuning called “Young 2,” and a program of lesser-known (to me) pieces. (Couldn’t find a video but here’s Adlam playing some William Byrd in nonequal tuning.) If you want to get a great intro to historical tuning and the kind of color effects I’m talking about, check out this page featuring the same baroque piece played in Meantone, Werckmeister and equal (modern) tunings.

Herbie Hancock/Wayne Shorter — 1+1 (1997): It’s embarrassing, but I never got around to checking out this album until recently, when a friend put on the sublime “Meridianne/A Wood Sylph” at a listening party. (We had a great time imagining the Verve execs’ reaction in the studio–“Uh, are you sure you guys don’t feel like throwing in a version of ‘All Blues’ or something?”) With these giants, you know it would’ve been incredible even if they’d phoned it in, which they unquestionably did not. An outstanding reminder of the towering peaks still remaining to be ascended in this music. On the off chance that I’m not the last person in the world to recommend this record, I strongly suggest you pick it up.

New to Me: Ambrose Akinmusire, Clare Fischer, Avishai Cohen

Last winter, in lieu of a “Best of” year-end list, I wrote a “New to Me” Top 10–the idea being that these days we’re all introduced to music through a wide variety of sources including radio, blogs, YouTube, live shows, word of mouth, dudes shouting on street corners, etc., and albums which jump up on my radar these days are less likely to be “new releases” as such. “New to Me” means exactly that–an album may have been around for years or decades, but I’m sharing it because it’s new to me. I also promised to make this a regular series, which I’ve been less than diligent about. Until now!

Here are a few artists and albums which have lately been getting a lot of play around my house, car, ears, subconscious. (Two of them are even literally new!)

Ambrose Akinmusire – “When the Heart Emerges Glistening” (2011), “Prelude (to Cora)” (2008): Ambrose grew up around here and has been known to frequent the same jam sessions I go to when he’s in town, so it’s just bad luck I haven’t heard him live yet–but his recent media firestorm is well-deserved. I’d been looking forward to checking out “When the Heart” since his Blue Note deal was announced, and was even more interested after reading some interviews. A few things he said actually blew my mind a little–for example: “I can sound like the most articulate trumpet player… But at the other side, I want to be able to sound like a beginning trumpet player. I want to be able to sound like I can’t play. I’m thinking of that spectrum.” For a jazz musician, this is kind of a shocking statement–it shouldn’t be, since that whole unpolished, raw quality has been part of the music since its earliest days–but I think players devote so much (necessary) time and energy to becoming masters of technique (playing the “right notes,” having a clean sound and execution, etc.) that they don’t often give themselves permission to be messy and raw (and play some clams if necessary). I recently wrote that I really enjoyed David Smith‘s playing due to the unapologetic “trumpety-ness” of it, and Ambrose really takes this ball and runs with it. Obviously he’s not the first player to combine that fondness for the messier side of the horn with solid chops (I think Dizzy, Don Cherry, Lester Bowie, Dave Douglas, and early Wynton are probably all in his artistic genealogy somewhere–he might like my hero Shake Keane too), but the adventurous unpredictability of his ideas is what really makes it stand out for me. I really enjoyed “Heart,” which is pretty evenly happening (although the production sometimes gets a little weird, like when overenthusiastic use of panning gives the impression Ambrose is flying around the studio on a wire)–so I also checked out “Cora,” which I think I might like even better, since it comes across as having even less studio-polish (despite a fair amount of synths) and the fearless blowing comes to the fore.

Clare Fischer – “First Time Out” (1962), “Surging Ahead” (1963): Fischer first cropped up on my radar in college, when my arranging teacher Mike Mossman touted his big band charts. But I never really checked out his piano playing until recently, when I found a $5 LP of “First Time Out” after doing a gig at Bird & Beckett’s and was inspired to dig deeper. So I managed to track down a used copy of “Mosaic Select: The Pacific Jazz Trios,” which includes the complete tracks from “First Time,” “Surging,” and some unreleased odds and ends from Fischer’s early 60s trio featuring the young Gary Peacock, plus other great material from West Coast pianists Russ Freeman, Richard Twardzick, and Jimmy Rowles. Fischer comes across on these albums as a really interesting improviser, tons of chops (his octave lines alone should win over the bopheads), melodicism, with an arranger’s ear for harmony and plenty of daring. Highlights include “Free Too Long,” a brisk free-blowing tune (over steady time) which is an interesting comparison to Peacock’s (slightly) later work with Paul Bley, or Keith Jarrett’s early trio albums; a burning version of “Lennie’s Pennies” (Fischer was obviously working his way through Tristano’s language and finds interesting, personal things to extrapolate from it); plus straightahead smokers like “Without a Song” and intricate originals like “Strayhorn,” heard below:

Continue reading New to Me: Ambrose Akinmusire, Clare Fischer, Avishai Cohen

The “New to Me” Top 10 for 2010

It’s that time of year when people start cranking out Top 10 lists like fruitcake, so I thought I’d toss my cake in the ring and do one myself.

But since I usually come across new albums via used record stores and word of mouth, I decided my list would be not necessarily the best albums which came out in ’10, but the best albums that showed up on my radar for the first time this year (hence “New to Me”). Some of them are actually new! (But most aren’t.) Hopefully some of them will be new to you, too.

So now, in no particular order, here are ten albums which made my year:

Continue reading The “New to Me” Top 10 for 2010