NEWS FROM THE FRONT...
I know I say this every year around this time, but it is
getting chilly out there. I was hoping sheer denial would make winter go
away, but it only worked for a few weeks. Oh well.
November got busier as it got colder. Although I had no
gigs planned for the first weekend, I did stop down at Forward Hall for a
performance by new original rock band Swerve. This group includes three
performers from J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm,
Rickie Hopkins, Mike Ohm and Ralph Reitinger. Rickie's dad, J.D., was
there, and he and I joined them for an opening improvisational jam, J.D.
and Sons style. Our newly released eleventh double-disc CD,
Astral Worlds, is now available at CD Baby, and showcases this band's
original style in a number of ways.
The following weekend Tony Stefanelli and I joined Basil
Ronzitti at the Papermoon for a relaxed evening of standards. This venue
brings jazz, art and food together in perfect balance, providing Erie with
a unique place to enjoy some of the finest musicians around. We always
have a good time playing there, as we did this weekend.
Once we hit Thanksgiving week,
things took off. First, One World Tribe took a
trip to Buffalo for a late night at Nietzsche's. Like Docksider's in Erie,
this club has the home base feel for the Tribe in Buffalo. We'd like to
give a special thanks to Ken for always doing such a great job on the
sound. After arriving back home at seven in the morning, I had a nice
relaxing Thanksgiving day with family and friends, turning in early after
a great all-day meal.
Friday the 25th dawned on what we call around here "Lake-Effect Snow",
which is another way of saying; sure am glad I have all-wheel drive and
all-weather radials. 3bop was scheduled to play at Scotty's with
saxophonist and composer Umar Raheem that night, who had to come from
Philadelphia to be in Erie. Unfortunately Umar could not make it through
the snow storm, so we decided to go ahead with the gig as a quartet
(Preach Freedom was already scheduled to join us on congas). On an off
chance, leader Steve Trohoske called Cecil Rucker, Jr. in Cleveland, and
although he wasn't available, he mentioned that Eddie Baccus Jr. of Pieces
of a Dream fame was available and looking for a gig. Eddie kindly joined
us that evening, and played incredible saxophone all night. It was a great
pleasure getting a chance to play with Eddie, and we hope to do so again!
Umar is scheduled to join us in April for Steve's birthday celebration, so
The third Saturday brought us to a JazzErie-sponsored concert featuring
recent Julliard graduates Dominick Farinacci (trumpet) and Carmen Intorre
(drums). Steve and I filled in the bass and guitar chairs, and had a very
enjoyable time with these talented musicians. Farinacci plays a fine
trumpet with a broad range of sounds and ideas to draw from, and he was a
very clear and easy-to-follow leader. Steve and Carmen really hit it off
as a rhythm section, making for very comfortable trio work when it came
time for me to take the lead, or when backing Steve during his solos. The
arrangements and exchanges that Dom and Carmen guided us through made for
an enjoyable evening for the band and the members of JazzErie who joined
us for this great event.
It was back to the Papermoon for the last Saturday, where Basil had sent
Jim Madden in as a pinch hitter, as he was a bit under the weather. Jim
joined Dick Thompson and myself for a fun three sets, pulling tunes out of
our hats as we went. It had been a while since Jim and I had a chance to
play together, so it was fun catching up as we played. Afterwards, I
quickly transported myself to Docksider's, jumping in on the
already-in-progress first of two sets of One World Tribe's occasional
visit to Erie. Although I had lost my full voice due to whatever germs
were being passed around that week, I did grab the mike during the second
set for an ol' skool rhyming session with Preach Freedom and D.J. Chilly
J. Those two ran through about ten classic funk lyrics before I jumped in
with KRS-ONE's Beef from BDP's Edutainment. It's always a gas to play with
the Tribe, and flippin' some Hiphop is icing on the cake!
December started out busy, as Steve, Preach Freedom and
myself played as 3bop for a private fund-raiser at Matthew's. Preach
played traps, keeping a great swing feel with perfect dynamics for a busy
restaurant. Steve and I pulled more tunes out of our hats, which seems to
be the order of the day around here! All together we had a great time,
keeping the jazz flowing for an appreciative audience.
Friday the 9th brings One World Tribe to Niagara Falls High
School for an evening performance. This will be a pretty large audience,
so I am looking forward to getting to know more new OWT fans. The next day
I am back to the Papermoon to play with Tony and Basil (fully recovered, I
The following weekend 3bop does a Friday-Saturday
appearance at Billy's Jazz Club in the Avalon Hotel at 10th and Peach in
Erie. Billy's is re-opening it's jazz appearances, so join us for the
beginning of a good thing for Erie! On Thursday the 22nd, original rock
band Too Big Power
appears at Sherlock's in Erie. This band includes J.D. and the Sons of
Rhythm players Joe Frisina (guitar) and Jayson Hopkins (drums), and their
first CD Ride A Wave, due out soon, includes me on bass. I will be playing
keyboards with the group at Sherlocks, and their new bassist will be
keeping the bottom locked down for us.
December ends with a Wednesday the 28th performance in Erie of saxophonist
Joe Lovano. We are all very excited to have this brilliant tenor player
visit us, and we're all taking the night off from everything to go see him
So, I hope you have a great holiday season, and if you are in the cold
belt, I hope you stay warm and beat the heating bills as much as possible!
And, since this season is the perfect opportunity to say it, see you next
peace - f
Previous NEWS FROM THE FRONT 2008 articles...
Previous NEWS FROM THE FRONT 2007 articles...
NEWS FROM THE FRONT 2006 articles...
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Lots of good music went down in October, making the first
weekend of November's time off very welcome. It all starts again next
weekend, so let's take the time now to review a fabulous October!
It all started with a rather crazy three-gig day on the
first, with piano in Meadville at midday, guitar for a wedding in the
afternoon, and bass at the Papermoon at night keeping me moving from place
to place and setup to setup - musical calisthenics, which is how most
musicians I know stay in shape.
Mike Ohm and I got to play some duets for the Art Museum
fundraiser on the fifth. Mike and I always have a great time playing
together. He is a superb guitarist and a very fun individual. Mike is part
of a new project called Swerve, which also includes Rickie Hopkins and
Ralph Reitinger of J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm. I got to see the group at
Forward Hall last Friday, and they rocked the house with their pop-rock
sound. They even let J.D. and the Sons open with an impromptu jam between
Rickie, Ralph, Mike, J.D. and myself. Thanks, Swerve!
Cat's A Bear got out for an exciting romp at Scotty's on
the 7th, playing our original brand of Jazz for fans and newcomers. Thanks
to all of you who joined us for a great evening! Scotty's also housed 3bop
the following weekend, adding Erie Saxophonist Charles Ventrillo and
Cleveland Vibraphonist Cecil Rucker, Jr.. Cecil plays an awesome set of
vibes; if you are going to be in Cleveland, look around and see if you can
find Cecil playing with his group Good Vibes, or with Cleveland
saxophonist Eddie Baccus.
Cat's A Bear spent the following
weekend with woodwind player and vocalist Valerie Gillespie, a
Northwestern Pennsylvania native now located in Tampa, Florida, where her
group is the Sunday house band at the Springs Theater. On Friday the 21st,
we opened for Maynard Ferguson and his big band at the Erie Shrine Club, a
venue that housed over seven hundred for the show. Valerie is a swinging
vocalist and saxophonist, highly skilled in both areas with a hard-core
jazz sound and approach. Valerie joined Cat's A Bear and pianist Basil
Ronzitti for a romp at the Papermoon the next evening, fitting six
musicians in a space normally close for three! For more about her music,
visit Valerie's website at
The month ended with another aerobic week with One World Tribe. After
driving to Buffalo, playing one school, tearing down, driving to the next
school, setting up, playing, tearing down, and driving back to Erie for
three days in a row, I met up with the Tribe on Friday to van-pool to New
Jersey for the Hackettstown gig on Saturday. We arrived at the hotel at
4:30 in the morning, slept it off, and played to a new crowd at the
Performing Arts Center, and then drove back to Erie overnight (thanks,
Jimmy and Kennedy!!). The only real rough spot in the road was running out
of gas ten miles from home. Luckily, one van got gas for the other, and
sleep finally came.
So we are back to a week of rest, and celebration of my wife's birthday before the November gigs begin. Next weekend, on the 12th, I am back at the Papermoon with Basil Ronzitti for the usual twice-monthly Saturday gig. On the 19th, also a Saturday, Steve Trohoske of 3bop (bass) and I take part in a JazzErie presentation of trumpeter Dom Farinacci and drummer Carmen Intorre. These two young lions are fresh from Julliard, so look forward to some tight playing. Find out more, including how to get tickets, at
On Wednesday of Thanksgiving week (the 23rd), One World Tribe returns to Buffalo to play at Neitzsche's for some late-night Funk, Reggae, Hiphop and World Music.
After my family and friends Isaac and Diana feast on Thanksgiving dinner, Greek-style (prepared by our guests - thanks!), Steve and I return to Scotty's Friday the 25th with 3bop and special guest saxophonist
Philadelphia native Raheem has performed with drummer Jimmy Turner, pianist Alfie Pollitt, bassists Donald Mosley and Charles Fambrough, trumpeter / pianist Elmer Gibson and many others, and currently plays with the Arpeggio Jazz and Music Ensemble and his own group, The Renaissance Band.
After Saturday's Papermoon gig on the 26th, I will run down
to Docksider's to play the rest of the night with One World Tribe, making
this month's harmonic rhythm densest at the end of the measure in classic
counterpoint style (busiest at the end for non-composers) - just how I
like it! Things are also shaping up for December and for the year to come,
including a 3bop gig at Scotty's with saxophonist Greg Osby, so stay
First Art Records activities, another J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm CD is on the way; this project called Astral Worlds.
Performers on this two-disc set include three members of Swerve, three members of Potato Battery, three members of Cat's A Bear, and One World Tribe member Preach Freedom.
The continuous output of this ensemble of players is athletic and highly skilled, with the players meshing more and more, and finding new ways to incorporate guests into the mix.
This release should be available in late November or early December, in plenty of time for the holiday season gift giving rush!
Well, rest period is almost over, so I will sign off for
now, wishing everyone a happy last-minute-gift-shopping holiday season.
Don't forget to make your gift-giving life easy with CDs
from NKP. Take care, and don't forget to set aside a little cheer for
those less fortunate than ourselves, in whatever form you can.
peace - f
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As we move into October, let's
hope it's an easier month for everyone in the United States, and in the
world. The local music scene here will definitely be hopping, so it will
be easy to hear good music in Erie, and it's always easy to purchase good
local music. Just go to the CDs from NKP page to see what's available
currently. More is coming, so stay tuned!
Before we get into the details of what's coming up, a few
words about September are in order. Honorable mention for hot sax playing
goes to Dave Schiavone, who dropped in from Buffalo to play with 3bop at
Scotty's. Dave tore it up, which is understandable considering his
background. Performances listed on his resume include Woody Herman, Tommy
Dorsey, and Doc Severinson for tours, and the Four Tops, The Temptations,
Gladys Knight, Nancy Wilson, Louis Bellson, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick
Jr., and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for free-lance gigs. Check out
these links for more on Dave Schiavone:
Dave's Jazz Quartet
| Hidden Treasures CD
Write up on Dave |
Buffalo State University
A rollicking jam took place in Woodcock, PA, site of Cootie
Harris' birthday celebration. J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm worked their
brand of magic for two sets, with Kenny Cornelius and Ralph Reitinger
splitting bass duties, and Mark Dewalt on keyboards, which left the
guitar-synth chair to myself. Mike Ohm and Joe Frisina filled the guitar
chairs, and Dave Callaghan and Phil Papotnik played the saxes, and the
music flowed as we enjoyed the perfect weather.
Moving Through the
Elements, J.D. and Sons' latest release, is
currently available, and
Astral Worlds, the next double-disc of spontaneous collective
improvisation, is on the way.
Since the cold weather is coming, I thought it would be
appropriate to give a little plug to my favorite cough drop, ginger root.
Two dollars worth of ginger will get you through most colds and flus, and
in addition to helping with coughs, sneezes, and congestion, it cuts right
through that nasty old post-nasal-drip and the subsequent stomach upset
that usually comes with it. More on ginger can be found
I also recommend some acupressure
in case of the fall and winter symptoms. For sinus congestion and frontal
headaches Bladder 2, located on the upper inside corners of the eye
sockets, is a good place to start. Apply gentle pressure for up to a
minute with your thumbs. Pressing with two fingers on either side of the
nostrils is helpful for similar symptoms. Li11 and Li4 are classic cold
remedy points (please heed the warning regarding not applying pressure to
Li4 on a pregnant woman), and GB20 can ease the pain of fall and winter
sicknesses. More on these points and other references with more detail can
be found at the
As usual, drink lots of room-temperature filtered water.
I'll be way too busy to get sick this month! The first day
of October begins a great month of gigs with three in one day! A private
graduation party in Meadville, played on piano, is followed by a private
function here in Erie with the Basil Ronzitti group where I will play
guitar, and the regular Papermoon gig, where I will play bass for the
evening. Later that week, Wednesday the 5th to be specific, I get to play
with Mike Ohm and Mark Marchant at the Erie Art Museum fundraiser. More on
this can be found
Cat's A Bear gets to strut our stuff on Friday the 7th at Scotty's. We
will be doing mostly our new originals, with some
older originals and one
or two covers thrown in for good measure. We look forward to getting our
progressive, original sound out of the basement for a day or two! Saturday
the 8th is taken up by a private function with 3bop, with guest drummer
Joe Dorris filling in for regular Brad Amidon.
3bop does its monthly appearance at Scotty's on the 14th, with guests
Cleveland vibraphonist Cecil Ruckers, and Erie's own Charles Ventrillo on
sax. This should be another rocking 3bop gig, so don't miss it! The
following Friday the 21st Cat's A Bear will back up saxophonist and
vocalist Valerie Gillespie to open for Maynard Ferguson's Big Band at the
Shrine Club. Valerie will join the Basil Ronzitti Group on Saturday for
the regular jam at the Papermoon. We are glad to have her joining us for
the weekend - she's quite a musician. You can find out more about Valerie
at her Web Site,
After a well-deserved rest, One World Tribe hits the school systems in New
York for three days, the 26th through the 28th, and leaves for Hackett's
Town, NJ for a Saturday performance at their Arts Center at 8pm. If you're
in 'Jersey, try to stop by and see us!
Well, after all of that, all I can say is, stay well and enjoy the music,
for there'll be lots of it, and don't forget to pick up a CD or two to
support the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and to enhance the quality of
NOTE: CD Baby has ended this contribution service, and the funds are no
longer re-directed. Thanks to all of you who kindly made purchases during
peace - f
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CD SALES TO BENEFIT HURRICANE KATRINA VICTIMS
Proceeds from the following CDs,
for sale on CD Baby, will be donated to the
Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund
for the foreseeable future.
NOTE: CD Baby has ended this contribution service, and the funds are no
longer re-directed. Thanks to all of you who kindly made purchases during
CAT'S A BEAR
Tito In Wonderland |
more info |
Tito: In Search of a Revolution |
more info |
Eye of the Pyramid |
more info |
Generations String Quartet |
more info |
J.D. AND THE SONS OF RHYTHM
Family Values | more info
August always seems to bring
change, both in my own life and in the world. This August certainly
changed the entire country in ways we won't completely understand for many
months and even years to come. Hurricane Katrina's devastation will mark a
turning point for many people and for our times. If you are interested in
helping out the victims of Hurricane Katrina and buying some good music,
please take note of the CDs above. All the artist profits from each CD
sold are being donated directly to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
On the gig front, One World Tribe started out September
with a benefit at the Pepsi Amphitheatre on Bayfront Highway in Erie,
donating all the proceeds from the $5 admission and a portion of CD sales
for that evening to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. We all encourage
you to send whatever you can to the Red Cross. This need will be with us
for a long time to come.
Starting this weekend, things get busy for a while. After
playing at the Papermoon with Basil Ronzitti, Tony Stefanelli and Tito, I
will run down (okay, really I'll drive) to Docksider's to jump into a
couple of sets from One World Tribe. Next weekend 3bop makes an appearance
at Scotty's Cigar Bar with Tenor Saxophonist Dave Schiavone as the featured
guest. 3bop also plays a private function on Tuesday the 27th, so students
- don't forget no lessons that evening (after 4pm)!
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm plays Cootie Harris' annual
birthday celebration on Sunday the 18th in Cambridge Springs. There's a
chance I will be the bass player for the J.D. and Sons performances, so
stay tuned! After playing guitar with the Basil Ronzitti group at
Papermoon on the 24th of September, I will also be playing bass with the
group on October 1.
Speaking of J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm, the new CD
Moving Through the Elements is now available at
CD Baby.com, and you can read more on the CD
here. This disc combines the spontaneous overdubbed layering found on earlier CDs, and plenty of the vintage live jamming that characterizes the J.D. and Sons style.
I am looking forward to a very busy October, so keep
checking that calendar for more information on upcoming gigs. For now,
let's help out where we can, and send our thoughts and prayers to those
who need it most.
peace - f
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Playing music is a great
lifestyle. There are challenges, enlightenments, and some interesting
perks, like parking on the sidewalk, driving over lawns, and having your
own special dialect of English. One such perk is being able to play gigs
outside in decent weather.
Traveling to Baltimore to open for
War the weekend of the 7th brought One World Tribe
to a beautiful outdoor venue, with a large, appreciative crowd and perfect
weather. After playing a rockin' set with some Hiphop spice in the mix,
OWT stuck around to hear War kick "Friends", "The World is a Ghetto", and
other hits by the group and a few other bands, with the hook from "Let Me
Take You Higher" featuring predominately at one point. Their rhythm
section kicks butt, so if you have a chance to catch them, do it!
We drove back that night to get to another outdoor gig; a
private fortieth birthday party. OWT got a little Reggae for the first
set, then finished out with Funk, World Beat and Hiphop in the mix for the
Coming outdoor attractions include the Soldier's and Sailor's home for
Cat's A Bear, the Celebrate Erie
festival for the Tribe and 3bop, and then another OWT road trip to
Sterling, NY for an outdoor event, coming back through Buffalo for a
street festival on Elmwood St. the next day. I go indoors for the
Papermoon with Basil Ronzitti the second weekend, but otherwise stay out
in the August summer weather.
On the CD front, a new release from J.D. and the
Sons of Rhythm will be arriving shortly - Moving Through The Elements.
This disc combines live collective improvisation with some spontaneous
overdubbing to produce music that could be made no other way, and that
will never happen the same way again. The disc includes cuts with Cat's A
Bear's Phil Papotnik, Joe Dorris and Tito, as well as the regular core
group of bass players and guitarists, and drummer, Dan Schwartz, who plays
on two cuts. Remember, if you are local to the Erie area,
First Art Records
can help you with CD production and packaging, as we do for most of the
discs for sale here and at
My technological life has gone into a holding pattern, but a good one
fortunately. My tech, J.P. Jamous, who built the new system for me, is on
a vacation in Lebanon. Before he left he took my old tower, now officially
named Tower2 but dubbed 'Grandpa' by J.P. in a successful attempt to poke
fun at me, and put it through its paces. Upon his return, we will try a
new motherboard that will actually handle the hardware requirements of XP
Pro, and see how that goes. In the mean time, Tower1 is mighty, with 2
gigs of RAM, a Pentium IV 3 GHz HT processor, and a graphics card with its
own dedicated 256 K of RAM. Before the end of the year we will add the
other 2 gigs of RAM to complete the 4 gig capacity of the machine. Then I
will teach it to do the dishes.
The music side of it is that I am acquiring skill with Reason, the synth/sequencing
program, on the new tower, and await my return to hard-disc audio
recording with Cubase on Grandpa. Once that is in place, I will begin
small-scale home music production in earnest, primarily for original music
and commercial production (client-based orders for music). Some ideas for
albums are growing slowly, so there will be more activity in the coming
months in that arena as well.
A final word to conclude here - August is what I call "change month".
There seems to be a pivot in the energies that move life, and that pivot
seems to come, at least for me and others that I know, in August. I look
forward to seeing what is around the corner for the coming year. Many
things are afoot, and it is exciting to think that anything can happen,
and usually does!
peace - f
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I just love the summer. The sun is out, the days are long,
and music seems to take on a whole different feel, whether you are playing
in a club or outdoors. Having recently played with
One World Tribe at the Pepsi Amphitheatre on the Erie Bayfront, I was
reminded of what a delight it is to play to a crowd on a hillside with the
sunset at your back. A special shout out to those who came down to share
the show with us!
Cheryl Hodge joins Cat's A Bear
for a show at Scotty's on Friday, and then the whole crew migrates to the
Papermoon on Saturday to join regular pianist Basil Ronzitti for another
round. Look for some astounding vocals on both nights, and great piano
playing as well. On Friday, Cheryl fills the piano chair, and on Saturday
Basil will be the keyboardist, leaving Cheryl free to concentrate on the
vocalizing. For more on Cheryl Hodge and her music, visit
More great jazz fills the streets of Erie the following
week as the JazzErie JazzWalk presents a multitude of jazz and blues bands
from the region. I'll be playing with Steve Trohoske's 3bop at Picadillo's
Restaurant, beginning at 10 pm. The Saturday evening Papermoon trio with
Basil Ronzitti and a gig on Presque Isle on the 29th with One World Tribe
will round out the month of July.
One World Tribe will hit the road the first week in August,
traveling back to Baltimore, MD, to open for the band War at a day long
festival. We are looking forward to playing again for the people of
Baltimore, and to seeing War on top if it all! Being on the same stage
will be a real experience.
Cat's A Bear stays outside for a show at the PA Soldier's
and Sailor's Home in Erie, playing a concert for the residents and anyone
who cares to drop in. The shows take place in the Gazebo unless weather
forces us inside to the cafeteria (to play, not to eat...).
The third weekend of August brings Celebrate Erie, a local
outdoor concert series with local, regional and national acts. One World
Tribe plays a show Friday Evening, and Sunday evening 3bop plays some Hard
Bop style jazz.
All in all, a great set of excuses to get out into the
summer and enjoy good times and good music. I look forward to seeing you
peace - f
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Greetings, visitors, guests,
Some of you may have noticed that
I haven't updated the home page for the last month. What you might not
know is I have been off-line for all of that time. Happily, I am back,
and, as soon as I finish reinstalling myself, better than ever.
It has been quite a saga, I must say. The long and short of
it is that 'grandpa', as my tech calls my old computer tower, came to a
grinding halt just a bit too early, and the new system wasn't quite ready
to take over. Grandpa is with my tech now, being rejuvenated to run
Steinberg's Cubase LE and a few other tidbits. The new tower is
incredible, and getting better as I get it set up for myself.
I finally got back online yesterday, and after loading the
software I needed to work on this site, I regained access to
franksinger.com! Please note, this included email for a while, until I
found ways of getting to it. If I have been negligent in responding,
please understand, and try again.
There is a lot going on, both performance-wise and
music-production-wise. I will update all of you on this in the very near
future. Some time is required to finish preparing my work environment. In
the mean time, please enjoy the website and come back often.
peace - f
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Wow - April was incredible.
Before we move on to May, I'd like to savor the events of the passing
month. Gigs were excellent, both ones I played on and those of others here
For myself, things began with a night of bass playing at the Papermoon
with Basil Ronzitti, Joe Dorris and Tito himself.
Playing with these great musicians is always fun, and doing so on the bass
is an extra treat. I love the guitar but thinking as a rhythm section
player has been a gas ever since I figured out how to do it (avoiding
"lead bass", that kind of thing).
Steve Trohoske's birthday at Scotty's with 3bop featured Tony Campbell and
Lou Stellute on saxes. Things got a little warm at Scotty's that night,
with these two incredible gentlemen taking the music to a whole other
level. Joey DeFrancesco also played in Erie that night at Forward Hall, so
in spite of the cooler temperatures outside, it was a very hot night in
While not exactly a gig, four more nights of studio sessions with
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm added in some
highly enjoyable playing time. Each of these sessions has a unique
character to it, the function of changes in personnel, orchestration, and
the intimate nature of the music. This particular set of evenings turned
up the heat in
Midtown Recording Studios, with a visit from some of
One World Tribe's percussionists and drummers
on the last and most intense night of all.
Returning to performances, One World Tribe traveled to Utica to pay a
visit to the Electric Company. Utica is a very friendly place, and the
crowd and workers at EC were wonderful. Jamming with OWT is always a
blast, and a little extra Hiphop was added in when Buffalo's Slice the Mic
Snatcher jumped on stage for a couple of original lyrics. Getting a full
seat in the van made the six hour journey (each way) almost a snap after
getting to play so hard with such a great group.
A Monday evening at Scotty's brought together baritone saxophonists
and 3bop for an evening of jazz standards and hard bop. Claire has superb
tone, technical facility and knowledge of her subject (playing great
jazz). Her wealth of ideas and warm spirit led the band in a well-attended
performance for a delighted audience, and 3bop and Erie were lucky to
share a night with this exceptional jazz artist.
A delightful evening of jazz standards at the Papermoon with Basil
Ronzitti and a set at the Docksider's in Erie with One World Tribe rounded
out a great month of playing for me.
Other notable events included a free performance and workshop over a
two-day period from jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his rhythm section
bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis at PennState Behrend.
These legendary musicians were wonderful to talk to (as they were signing
autographs) and are exploring an exciting approach to the totality of jazz
music. Back in Erie at the Papermoon, the month ended with a two-night
performance with Kenny Blake, joining local greats Joe Dorris, Basil
Ronzitti, Tito, and bassist Dick Thompson (Friday) and Tony Stefanelli
We begin this month with Mother's Day Jazz Brunch at the Papermoon on
Sunday, May 8, with music from myself on guitar and Phil Papotnik on flute
and sax from 11:30 - 2:30. The evening of music with Basil Ronzitti at the
Papermoon has been moved to Friday the 13th, and 3bop will make two
appearances this month. The first will be at Scotty's on Friday the 20th,
and will feature Chris Hemmingway and Allan Zurcher on saxes. Another warm
evening is predicted here! On Saturday May 28, Dwayne Dolphin (piccolo
bass) and Christian Howes (violin) will join 3bop for jazz with beautiful
orchestration and burning playing. The venue is still being worked out,
but Steve assures me it will happen. We will try to keep the smoke from
catching fire when it does.
Well, aside from the gigs, Mrs. Lincoln....
More studio sessions for J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm on the week of the
23rd, and Cat's A Bear has plans for some sessions in the second and third
weeks of May. A new release is around the corner for J.D. and the Sons of
Rhythm, and the long trip for One World Tribe looks to be Binghamton,
N.Y.. Hope I get a good seat.
I have begun work on my Hiphop album here at home with the audio gear, and
so far things are going slow but well. One thing I did remember about
working with sequencing and music production is that it is like
composition - one measure can take you days to complete, and if you get it
right it passes by in an instant, leaving the right effect on the
listener, but the workload required is barely noticable. I am also still
downloading and cataloging sounds, and expect to expand my work horizons
with this aspect of my music very shortly. It's nice to be back.
Well, I don't say this often, but when I do, I really mean it. Spring is
around the corner, and I can't wait to shed all this extra clothing! I
hope your spring is a good one, and that music fills your life with joy
and light. As one of our recent prophets said, "One thing about music -
when it hits you, you feel no pain." (Bob Marley)
peace - f
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in with a flourish this year, dumping almost three feet of snow on us here
in the Eastern Great Lakes Region. My instincts tell me this is the last
big push for the year, and I am not an optimist in this regard. I look
forward to removing the thirty pounds of protective clothing that keeps me
warm and dry for most of the year around here.
In the midst of our
transitional weather, we play it safe travel-wise until
One World Tribe's trip to Utica on the 16th.
Playing bass once and guitar once with Basil Ronzitti at the Papermoon
keeps things interesting, and two shows at Scotty's with 3bop, including
one with Koch recording artist Claire Daly (baritone sax) on Monday the
18th, round out the schedule. 3bop leader and bassist Steve Trohoske's
birthday bash is on the 9th, and Pittsburgh jazz artists Lou Stellute
(tenor sax) and Tony Campbell (alto sax) will come to spread some jazz
fire around that evening.
Also - make your reservations now for Mother's Day (Sunday, May 8th) at
the Papermoon, as Phil Papotnik will be joining me for the jazz brunch
from 11:30am to 2:30pm. As usual, the food will be exquisite.
I am finally up and running on the home recording front. Propellerheads'
Reason turns out to be a fantastic program, allowing for an incredibly
diverse combination of sounds and virtual instruments. I have begun to
settle in to producing sequences in Reason that I mix to a stereo audio
wav file (CD format). These can be imported into Cubase LE for additional
audio tracks if necessary, although the Hiphop beats seem to be working
out fine in Reason. Dance tracks will be available for sale soon at
Recordings.biz, and those interested in original Hiphop tracks should
contact me regarding pricing.
Other styles will be available soon.
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm have released
Beyond Attention and
Crossing Oceans of Time. These two discs are a
companion set, and represent some of the groups best work to date. The
addition of Phil Papotnik on sax has added a new dimension to the sound,
and J.D.'s experimentation continues with new mixes of fades, cuts and
transitions between tracks on the CD itself, as well as with more
overdubbing Imagination Doctors-style. These
are classic discs, with catchy riffs and funky grooves, once again taking
jazz to a higher level.
April looks to be a great month
for jazz in Erie, so if you are here in our local market, please look
around, ask around, and check the paper for listings.
Hall, and other venues are all presenting excellent jazz offerings
this month, so join us as we look forward to spring, or at least a toning
down of winter! Whatever you do, have a great April, and remember to
support local and independent music everywhere!
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I was digging out something in the
snow-covered driveway the other day, and I found March. I was a bit
surprised, as things were pretty much the same as February, but sure
enough, there it was! The weather has become much like the stock market -
fluctuating for no apparent reason. Luckily, the music is working more
like a steady rhythm - moving along at a good pace; a little hard to keep
up with, but going in the right direction!
One of those new directions is south on Peach Street to a new venue called
the Moonsense Cafe. This wonderful cafe is a great place to see and play
music. Steve Trohoske of 3bop and I play a duo there, and then complete
the trio with Brad Amidon at Scotty's Cigar Bar. Two Papermoon gigs with
Basil Ronzitti and friends round out the month of Saturday jazz. Since I
don't have any major traveling to do in March, the weather will probably
be nice on the weekends.
On the home recording front, things are definitely looking up! The new
gear arrived, and includes the Tascam US-122 hardward interface with
Steinberg's Cubase and Propellerhead's Reason. The Mbox came bundled with
a version of Reason called Reason Adapted, and that ran great and was real
enjoyable for making beats and doing MIDI, so I know I would like the big
one. The full-blown Reason is an awesome program limited only by your
processing power and RAM and the knowledge of the user (so I'm studying
The preliminary load of the bundled Cubase program was disappointing but a
free upgrade offered on the web site included Cubase LE, which ROCKS! This
program records audio input through the Tascam US-122 interface (an actual
device via USB, not software) and burns it right to the disc, so there is
no waiting for processing in the hopes that your computer won't crash
before you finish saving the data. You record and get immediate playback -
excellent. I am just breaking into all of the possibilities with MIDI and
have not really done too much input yet - more of that studying first so I
know a bit about what I'm doing. I am already getting satisfying drum
tracks and mixes, and recorded some jazz guitar and bass audio recently
which worked perfectly. The next solo guitar album will be done this way
The releases of Beyond Attention and Crossing Oceans of Time from
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm are on their way.
Preliminary feedback on the albums is enormously positive, and we are
looking forward to getting this music out to the public very soon. More on
the albums and the group can be found at
www.jdhopkins.com, and once the CDs are released they will be
available here as well. Check out the audio samples when they arrive - I
think you will like what you hear!
Much more is bubbling beneath the surface, but for now we will just say
that boredom won't be a problem. One thing to take note of - Koch
Recording Artist Claire Daly, baritone saxophone, will be performing with
3bop at Scotty's Cigar Bar on Monday, April 18 at 7:30. We look forward to
a great evening of jazz music. There are some other great shows coming as
well, so keep an eye on the Calendar of
Events for updates. In the mean time, have a great March wherever you
are, and remember to support local and independent music everywhere!
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That (January) was chilly, and it
ain't over yet, most likely. I try not to complain as much as I used to
about the weather, and I have adapted over the years (insulation, layers,
coverings, and indoor living), but we had quite a streak here next to Lake
Erie. Only one day really got to me, when I just couldn't get warm. I
think that was a zero degree day with wind chills in the vicinity of minus
eleven. It's all a blur, as I needed a few days to thaw out. Our weather
people call this the "Lake Effect". Nice.
February is often a little easier
to take, since you are now numb and don't feel it anymore. That's good,
because it's usually more of the same, and there's a lot of outdoor
activities on the horizon. One World Tribe
plays in Cleveland and Buffalo this month, 3bop plays at Scotties, I play
a solo jazz guitar gig at Giambrones in Mayville, New York at the Mayville
Cool Jazz Festival, there are
jobs, and studio work at
Performance Recordings and
Recording Studios. Between all of that and carting my son around,
there won't be many days that I won't be out in the outdoor icebox.
On the indoor front, my first
foray into midi and digital recording ended as quickly as it began. I
tried the Mbox with ProTools software, and once I got everything loaded
and setup (no small task in itself), I could record no more than about
seven bars of bass before error messages began showing up on a regular
basis. I never could get that seven bar phrase to play, except by
converting it to a wave file and listening to it on Winamp. As it turns
out (after numbing research), I have exactly the wrong setup (processor,
chipset, integrated graphics card) to run ProTools. For some reason the
Mbox will not work with hyperthreading, and the new system I am assembling
will be running a Pentium IV with hyperthreading, so back to Sweetwater's
it went! A different product is on the way, and is setup exactly for the
computer I am using now. We'll see what happens when the package
Beyond Attention and Crossing
Oceans of Time from J. D. and the Sons of Rhythm
should be released in the middle of March. These, even more than
Imagination Doctors and
Smoke Shadows, seem to work as a set of four
sides. The introduction of Phil Papotnik of
Cat's A Bear adds a new dimension in
a live sax player, and I get my first bass track (Crossing Oceans: track
12) on a CD. I will try to put up some new samples in the
Gallery in the next few months from these CDs.
The January tracks turned out great according to J.D., and I go back into
Midtown Recording for some overdub tracks with him this month, which means
at least two more sides will be out at some point, and things seem to be
coming in fours, so we will see.
More time will be spent at
Performance Recordings Studios as well.
Cat's A Bear has begun having its rehearsals there and recording the
tunes we've been working on. We are able to work on our sounds and spend
time getting things right, so hopefully this will blossom into new CDs for
us. I also begin recording the Hiphop dance tracks this month, with
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm's Ricky and Jayson
Hopkins. More projects with
First Art Records,
a full teaching schedule, and fatherhood should all keep me on my toes and
moving to fast to feel too much of the cold, and soon enough, March will
be here, with great hope for warmer times. I hope your season goes equally
as well, whatever it might be.
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January restarts the regular
routines, and begins new ones as well. With the holidays over, teaching
and gigging are back to more predictable schedules. In addition to doing
two weekends a month of jazz at the
bassist Steve Trohoske has reactivated 3bop, our trio with drummer
Brad Amidon (OWT,
Big Band, Erie Philharmonic). The group is performing one night a
month at Scotties' Cigar Bar in downtown Erie. This month the trio will
add two saxophonists, Bruce Johnstone and Charles Ventrello, in what will
certainly be a great evening of music!
See the Calendar of Events for more...
Much is happening on the music
production front as well. I have begun to assemble my home studio (again -
after almost ten years off), adding MIDI and Direct-to-Hard-Disc recording
capabilities to my office. This will enable me to compose music and
present performers with an actual recording for study and preparation. I
will also be creating HipHop dance tracks for
Recordings, and mixing and editing other material for various
purposes. The new learning curve is daunting, but as all practicing
musicians know, exercising your patience is the best way to keep it in
In addition to having two more
double-disc CDs being prepared for release, collective improvisation jazz
ensemble J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm will be
going back into
Midtown Recording Studios at the end of January to record more tracks
for upcoming CDs. This time various combinations of players will assemble
on different evenings, with Phil Papotnik, Tony Stefanelli, Joe Dorris and
Tito of Cat's A
Bear all joining the regular crew for one or two sessions.
I have also been sending CDs by
all of our local artists to radio stations all over the world as part of
our ongoing efforts to bring great creative original music to the people.
In addition to Bosnia, Brazil and England, we recently added Greece to our
list. If you're overseas, listen out for us on the radio! A few of these
stations have little or no access to contemporary music due to political
and economic upheaval, or little or no budget, and have been grateful for
the CDs. We're grateful that our music is being received in so many
places. Hello to RadioFEDRA!
Finally, as I write and a deep
snow falls outside, I think of the power of nature, and the overwhelming
results when that power is unleashed. Many of our brothers and sisters
were lost to us in the last few weeks, all due to the force of nature that
fell upon them in the form of a tsunami. We can only express our respect
to them in whatever ways suit us, but for the ones that remain, their
needs will be great for some time to come. If you have trouble finding a
reliable place to donate,
Google has a list of relief organizations with an outstanding track
record. Let all of us be reminded of how precious life is, and share that
blessing with those that need it most.
I wish you peace and blessings in
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December is always crazy. This year was no exception.
In addition to teaching and playing jazz at the Papermoon in Erie,
I spent the first two weeks in Midtown Recording Studios with
Jayson Hopkins and
Joe Frisina recording an album of original rock.
Jayson and Joe brought me in as a bassist, keyboardist and guest guitar soloist.
I just recently began playing bass again after over twenty years off, and this session really made me flex my chops.
After a few weeks
of studio work, it was back on the road with
One World Tribe. The Tribe presented a series of
in-school clinics at various schools in the Mt. Lebanon School District in
Pittsburgh, which included performance.
One World Tribe was also accepted as a PennPAT member last year,
and it has allowed the group to bring the music to more and more of the
Eastern Great Lakes Region since then.
Upcoming PennPAT trips so far include Cleveland and Baltimore.
I have also begun collaborating with Jeremy Long of
Performance Recordings to create music for dance and
theatrical performance use, fully licensed.
In addition to the more typical dance show material,
we will develop a series of Hiphop recordings with various
thematic suggestions for concept continuity with other performance music.
This work begins in earnest in 2005.
And, of course, there's the holidays.
We celebrated Chanukah and Christmas here
(it's a long story),
and our four-year old loves to party!
So I will conclude by wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season,
whatever your persuasion!
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