Fall and Change

Friday night high school football games and crisp, chilly mornings are reminders that fall is almost here. I really like the transitional seasons – spring and fall – because change is so obvious. It’s also a great reminder that everything is moving through some kind of transition. Some are gradual and others occur in an instant.
One example of change in my life:
I would have never thought that I would be directing the percussion section of a high school marching band again. I’ve been with Hampton High School Marching Band since this past JuneI’m really enjoying the opportunity. It’s filled with challenges and successes.
Here’s a link to this a vide past Friday’s performance. Although there’s lot’s of crowd noise in the video and our drumlins is missing the lowest bass drummer, things moving along. As long we keep improving, we should have a great show by October.

Sunday in The Strip

A great way to spend Sunday: Spending a lovely spring afternoon in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District with the one I love.
It’s sunny and 55 degrees outside.
And after a great lunch and a little shopping, we’re hanging out at one if our favorite coffee shops.

Last Night Was a Success

Last night was a busy night of drumming. I performed with two bands show at Howlers Coyote Cafe in Pittsburgh. The first band was Batamba — a band that I’ve played with for almost a year now. We were originally scheduled to be the opening act for the Zambian musician Mathew Tembo. However, four of the members of Batamba plus a bass player and a trombone player ended up backing the xylophonist/mbira player from southern Africa.
He’d contacted us about a week ago and asked if we’d like to be his band for the Howlers show. So with one rehearsal under our belt, we managed to pull off a good performance. Good enough that he’s asked us to join him for more shows.
Michael’s music is very enjoyable to listen to and it definitely makes you want to dance
For Batamba it was our first performance since last November when we opened for the Tuareg guitarist Bombino. It was so good to play with those guys again. We’ll be headlining our own show at the AVA Lounge next Friday, May 2.

Speaking of great Africa influenced music (and dance), a good friend of mine will be performing with the AfroCuban dance ensemble Oyu Oro at the Dance Africa being held at the August Wilson Center tomorrow, April 24.

Spring Cleaning

It was in the 80s today in Pittsburgh. This has been the first weekend where we’ve had spring-like weather for two days in a row. This provided us with great motivation to open the windows and do some spring cleaning. I vacuumed, swept and dusted for at least three hours.

Lot’s of performing opportunities coming up in the next few weeks. I have two dates with Batamba: opening for Mathew Tembo at Howler’s on April 24 and playing at the newly re-located Ava Lounge on May 3. I’ll also be playing with the Uptown Rhythm and Brass on the Northside at the Rochester Inn on April 25. And I have a gig with the Queen City Funk and Soul Band in Frostburg, MD on May 3.

So grateful for all the work.

 

Another Day of Drumming

I’m so lucky that I get to do what I love for living. Playing the drums – all kinds of drums – in all kinds of different settings. This work is so fulfilling.
I play the drum kit for jazz, Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian music groups. I also accompany dance classes for several hours each week.
Tomorrow morning I’ll be teaching students at a middle school about the history of steel drums from Trinidad.
Last week, I was playing the music of Ornette Coleman. Yesterday, I was playing in a duo with cellist for a contemporary dance class. Today, I’m playing for a master class led by Troy Powell director of Ailey II Dance company.

For me every day’s an adventure.

Upcoming Performance on January 31

I’ll be performing the music of Ornette Coleman next Friday, January 31 at 8 p.m. At the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
I’ll be joining jazz studies doctoral candidate Nathan Frink-alto saxophone, John Bagnato-bass, Lee Martin-vocals, John Petrucelli-tenor saxophone and Joe Badaczewski-trumpet on selections from Coleman’s records issued between 1971-1973.

Listening to the great Ed Blackwell on these recordings has been a real education.