Since June, I have been playing regularly with a jazz quartet called Thelonious Funk. As the name suggests, we perform jazz standards (many with unique twists), funk-jazz, as well as original compositions. As we each bring a unique voice and list of influences to the band, I look forward to seeing what new directions we will go in! You can find more information about the group on Facebook and stay up-to-date with upcoming performances. We are talking about recording in the near future so you can, hopefully, expect to see some tracks uploaded on the Facebook page soon(ish).
This weekend started off with a performance at Palace Coffee in Canyon on Friday evening to a full Palace Room. The show consisted of some old favorite jazz standards, new tunes we've been working on (Chris Potter, Kenny Garrett, Brecker Brothers, etc.), as well as three original premieres: "T.M.I.", a burning samba with combating 7/8 & 9/8 rhythms, and "After Hours", a slow grooving hip-hop tune, written by myself as well as a beautiful lydian-influenced ballad "Untitled" by bassist, Steven Ronk. It was wonderful to receive such positive feedback on the original charts, especially since these were our first serious jazz composition attempts. I have a few concepts for new originals that I'd like to write before our next show as well!
On Saturday morning, we met early and loaded all of our equipment into a borrowed minivan and headed south to Midland, TX to perform at Harvest Time Church's fall festival. Although the drive from Canyon to Midland is pretty uneventful (that's an understatement), we kept entertained with a wide variety of music via our iPods and Spotify as well as listening to "The Lick", which would become an ongoing joke for the entire duration of our trip. We arrived in Midland shortly after lunch and relaxed a bit before setting up on a large outdoor stage and beginning our soundcheck. It was great having a designated sound tech who monitored and adjusted the mix the entire day. We couldn't have asked for better weather and it was by far our largest audience to date. It was a great trip and I hope that we get a chance to perform in Midland again soon!
If you're like me, the long months of summer offer a great time to brush up on your skills and work on new and interesting material. However, the multitude of things to work on can often be overwhelming.
Check out this excellent article from the guys at Jazz Advice for some great summer practice tips.
Earlier this afternoon I passed my comprehensive oral exam over my graduate research paper, Jean-Marie Londeix's Contributions to the Saxophone and Saxophone Pedagogy, and the literature from my graduate recital that I presented in April:
Platti - Sonata in G-Major
Cockcroft - Beat Me
Yoshimatsu - Fuzzy Bird Sonata
Leszczynski - They Might Be Gods
JacobTV - The Garden of Love
This marked the final requirement of the Master of Music degree in Saxophone Performance and I will be walking in the commencement ceremony this Saturday!
As this semester winds down and the summer begins, look here for more frequent updates, audio/video files from my recital, and a new-and-improved Education section. As always, feel free to contact me via the Contact page.
This weekend I traveled to Greeley, Colorado with two big bands and a jazz combo from WTAMU to perform in the annual Greeley Jazz Festival. On Friday, I got to see great clinics presented by Jamey Aebersold and saxophonist Andy Dahlke as well as a Q&A session with legendary jazz bassist, Ron Carter. That evening, we attended a concert featuring the Ron Carter Quartet with saxophonist Donald Harrison, pianist Renee Rosnes, and drummer Lewis Nash that was nothing short of incredible!
On Saturday, both of the big bands had very successful performances and the combo received a great clinic from the adjudicator after our performance. The evening featured Geoffrey Keezer and alumni of the Jazz Messengers performing with the UNC Jazz Lab Band I. It was certainly a weekend of great music and inspiration. As a saxophonist with a largely classical background, I was reminded of how much I love jazz and how much more I have yet to learn about the art form. Time to hit the practice rooms!
In two weeks, the WTAMU Symphonic Band will be traveling toward San Antonio to perform as an invited Collegiate group at the annual Texas Music Educator's Association (TMEA) convention. For many music educators and college music students in the state, it is one of the highlights of the year. I have fond memories of TMEA from back in high school as a member of the Texas All-State Band and have continued going ever since. This year will mark my third concert performance at a TMEA convention. The program for this year's tour and TMEA performances is:
Overture to Bartered Bride - Smetana
Celebration - Sparke
Fantasia for Alto Saxophone - Smith
Lincolnshire Posy - Grainger
Cadence - Brooks
Our tour will kick-off on Sunday, February the 5th (Super Bowl Sunday... if you didn't catch the reference) and will take us through Midland and Brady before arriving in San Antonio for a total of 5 performances.
Rehearsals of the Claude T. Smith Fantasia for Alto Saxophone are going very well and I am so excited about getting to perform it with such a top-notch ensemble. The Fantasia for Alto Saxophone was the piece that I had ever heard for saxophone and large ensemble in a live performance - the occasion was the 2006 Honor Band of America and Otis Murphy tore the house down. I was fortunate to be in the band accompanying his performance and he, unknowingly, had a large role in my decision to study saxophone performance at the university level and pursue my dream of becoming a college professor. Below, I have included a teaser of the piece from a recent rehearsal.
I will be posting updates to this page more frequently over the next couple weeks as I chronicle my trip to Rochester, NY to audition at the prestigious Eastman School of Music and return to immediately leave for tour with the WTAMU Band. Stay tuned and feel free to leave a comment below!
I recently redid the design and layout of the website and have been very pleased with the new look. I will be updating this blog more frequently than in the past, so check back here often to stay up to date. I will also be adding a page of links and a comprehensive repertoire list in the next week or so. If you have any comments, feel free to post them on this blog entry or drop me a line through the contact page above.
The quartet has been really busy the past week traveling to local schools and presenting short concerts as well as answering questions that the students have about saxophone and music topics. We have had a blast performing and the response has been great from students and directors alike! So far we have presented seven concerts at five schools and we have a few more performances lined up for this week.
Here we are performing at Bonham Middle School on Friday morning:
Here is the final poster for our upcoming quartet recital on June 26th. Thank you Brianne Butterworth for the awesome pictures!
The Solstice Saxophone Quartet had a great photoshoot yesterday afternoon with my amazing girlfriend behind the lens. The pictures are currently being edited, but I'll be sure to post some of the best when they are ready. The quartet is busy preparing for our summer recital scheduled for June 26th. The program will be:
Handel - Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Ticheli - Back Burner
Desenclos - Quatuor
Mackey - Strange Humors
Maslanka - Mountain Roads
It will be a difficult program, especially getting to the end of the Maslanka with some juice left to get through the closing slow chorale - we couldn't be more excited though. The next two weeks, we have scheduled short performances at local middle schools and high schools - so far we have four scheduled, with more directors contacting us everyday. I'll be sure to keep this blog updated about the progress of the quartet recital as well as some other exciting projects and events that I have planned for the summer.