Tag Archives: Jazz

A New Chapter

The page has turned.

RBD and mda have both moved on from our untimely departure from our previous jobs (read our blog ‘Struggling Arts Hits Home’ directly after we lost our jobs). mda has found a great new home with the Percussive Arts Society or PAS, where he is now the Director of Marketing and Communications. Congrats to you mda!!

I, however, has gone a slightly different path. Instead of hitting the pavement and going out and looking for another job (hopefully within the arts industry), I decided that since I had enough gigs and money saved up to pay bills through the calendar year, I would invest my time into the bass trombone, tenor trombone, orchestral trombone and jazz trombone. My goal was (and still is) to become a solid player on both the bass trombone and tenor trombone in both the jazz and classical worlds. No small order to be sure.

I’ve always had one foot in the classical world and one foot in the jazz world. I work in both and have been successful in both. But I wanted to be the best all around player. I wanted to be able to go do a small group jazz gig on my tenor trombone, and turn around and win a bass trombone orchestral audition. Well, five months later, I’m getting closer and closer to my goal.

I recently won a position with the Sinfonia da Camera out of Urbana Illinois, conducted by Ian Hobson and I am also on contract with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra in Anderson Indiana conducted by Rick Sowers. These are two small orchestras with a grand total of 12 concerts I’ll play, but its a start and I’ll be blogging about each orchestra as the season unfurls. Each orchestra has a good brass section, clear and easy going conductors and are playing good repertoire so it should be a fun season of playing!

Later this week, I’ll be blogging about working within the Jazz and Classical world and expanding on how I am practicing for each genre!

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The Current Relationship Between Jazz and Classical

So this is nothing new at all.  This has been happening for a very long time.  If you want a history lesson, I will let RBD give the history lesson.  He would be better at that than myself right now.  What am I talking about?  Well that would be musicians crossing over between jazz and classical.  Again, it has happened and will continue to happen.  Heck, RBD does it all the time!

However, I want to touch upon one young composer and jazz musician.  Steve Lehamn.  He, like other young composers, have begun really looking at more of the ‘avant garde’ side of each discipline and how to connect them.  *note: I am not always a fan of the term ‘avant garde’ and yet I find myself using it quite a bit.  Too late to change now…*

And yet, I feel Lehman’s music is still very accessible for people.  There is still an underlying ease of groove, for lack of a better word, whether you are listening to his jazz compositions or contemporary compositions.  It’s people like Steve Lehman that still gets me excited about new music.  Granted, it’s not hard to get me excited when it comes to new music pushing the boundaries of the jazz or classical world; however, this music is even better.  That’s how I have always been, whether we are talking about music, art or literature.

The first video will give you insight into Lehman’s work within the contemporary classical world.  Four great compositions by Steve Lehman. The second video gives you insight into Steve’s compositional process and his work within the jazz world.  I will put in a plug and strongly urge you to check out his album Steve Lehman Octet: Travail, Transformation and Flow (the second video is a live show of music from that album).  It truly is a great album to listen to and feels just as fresh today as it did when released in 2009.

ICElab at LPR | Impossible Flow: Music of Steve Lehman from ICE on Vimeo.

Jazzlink# 8 : Steve Lehman from Josselin Carré on Vimeo.

So take the step and check out some of this new music.  Find these musicians who are pushing the boundaries and making new things.  It really is exciting and there is so much to take in.  It shows that the arts, although not supported like it should be, is still trying to move forward and be a force within humanity.  If enough of us check it out and support it, maybe things will change.

~mda

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Spring Training 2010 Trip #1

Spring Training Baseball!!

Travel Day, March 6th, Indianapolis, IN to Tampa, FL

3/6/10
Indy to Tampa, Florida

DAY 1:
After ingesting fried seafood accompanied with sweet tea in Southern Georgia, our  trip to Spring Training baseball has truly begun. Having traveled for a little over 12 hours, 700 miles and only being 3 hours from our destination, blogging seems the only possible course of action to subdue the tremblings of our bowels and strain on our hearts.

RBD: So far this trip has been fairly uneventful. Being too excited to sleep and waiting for laundry to finish, I didn’t really fall asleep until after 3am. 7:30 am rolls around and mda pulls into my driveway. We load the car and hit the road. Then I receive a text from my great friend, jazz trombone playing brother and in demand around the world as a jazz composer and arranger Brent Wallarab. This text said simply, ‘Did you get a chance to send me those trumpet solo parts for the overdub session?’ Simply stated…no I did not. So, mda and I drive around downtown Indy looking for free wireless (remember it’s 7:30am) We found a hot-spot, I converted the parts into pdf’s and while in the car emailed said parts to Brent. Crisis diverted.

Stop eating that cookie mda!!!

Red Bull

mda: After a quick grocery store stop, RBD informs me that we would NOT be living on Red Bull, Oreo’s and Doritos for the entire week.  Instead we loaded up on veggies, fruit, hummus and sandwich fixins’ (southern drawl). Finally around 8:30 am, we hit Interstate 65 pointed south. After reaching our cruising altitude and speed we played one of our new favorite albums, ABACUS by Frank Glover. This is a complete masterpiece and when it is finally released to the general public in May of 2010, every person should purchase, love and enjoy loving this incredible album! ABACUS pretty much got us to Louisville KY, where

Doritos...mmmm

we switched to Vince Mendoza. While passing through Louisville, KY, we began discussing the arts scene there and compared it to the scene in Indianapolis. It seems to us that the jazz scene in Louisville is having the same trouble the Indy scene is having. Having no way to fix anything, we pressed on.

RBD: I must have dozed off, because I woke up and we were through Kentucky and getting close to Nashville

Rich's white knuckles through Atlanta

TN, where we hooked up with Interstate 24. This is where I took over the driving. Little did I know that we would soon be hitting the mountains, the state of Georgia and Atlanta. Let me say this with all due respect to anybody affiliated with Georgia and Atlanta: LEARN TO FU*%)N@ DRIVE! Ouch, sorry, I mean really! I don’t like to speed too much, so I had the cruise control set conservatively at 76 when the Speed Limit was 70. And 72 when the Speed Limit was 65. I had people passing us easily going 80-90+ miles per hour. Then the same people would pass us again and again. “Why was that?”, we thought. The speeds that people were driving fluctuated so much that they would jolt up to a high rate of speed, pass you, then pull over in front of you and slow down to below the speed limit. OVER and OVER this happened! I got cut off so many times it started to seem like a natural occurence in my life. Not ONE person would slow down to let me into their lane. No, they would SPEED UP!! DAMN! Needless to say, I white knuckled the steering wheel, took off the cruise control and proceeded to go as fast as it was possible to go. The only thing to settle the nerves was to put on some awesome music. What did we listen to mda? I remember having music on, but I was too busy cursing the damn Georgia drivers. Fill me in.

Bjork: Verspertine

mda: Well, that awesome music would be Bjork! We listened to Vespertine, Medulla and Post.

RBD: Oh yeah! I remember Bjork! I’m really starting to get into her music. What was the vocal album we listened too?

Bjork: Medulla

mda: That was Medulla. Every sound on this album was created by the human voice…well 98%, they used a piano on that one track and an electronic sound on another track. Everything else, is vocal based. From the low, low bass notes, bass drums, cymbal crashes and everything in between. If I remember correctly, she used the Paul Hillier Vocal Ensemble. He is famous for teaching at the IU School of Music and his ensemble’s interpretation of Renaissance Music.

RBD: Yeah, that was truly a beautiful album. I only have one Bjork album and that is Verspertine. Zach Lapidus turned me on to that album. I’ll soon be picking up Medulla too.

mda: Then, once your nerves settled and we cleared Atlanta, we listened to a couple of episodes/podcasts of WNYC’s incredible radio show, Radiolab. We listened to an episode about the Musical Language which was specifically interesting.

RBD: I agree, very interesting. RadioLab always gets me thinking.

mda: Yup, me too.  After that was a very bad dinner at Tifton, Georgia.  I have personally banished myself from making any other choices on where we will eat for the rest of the week.  So Rich you will either make all the decisions for restaurants or we will be going back to Red Bull, Doritos, and Oreo’s.  Whatcha think o’ that boyo?

RBD: I will make the decisions necessary so that we don’t gain 50 pounds in a single week. We are going to have fun, but be responsible about it. Deal?

mda: yes, sir….

~RBD
-mda

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Renaissance Brothers Top 10 of 2009

It seems that everybody and his/her brother has a Top 10 list. Well so do we! However, our Top 10 list will be much better than all the others.  Why?  Because it is from your Renaissance Brothers.  It will also be better than others because we are writing the Top 10 list while sitting in the new Upland Brewery Tasting Room in Indianapolis.  Upland is hands down one of the best microbreweries in the world (in mda’s humble opinion, it may just be THE BEST).

But we digress.  The Top 10 of 2009.  This list will discuss the 10 best live classical and jazz performances that one or each of the Renaissance Brothers have had the pleasure of enjoying in the greater Indianapolis area. We both enjoy live performances and tend to see quite a few shows each year so we feel we can create a good list for the city.  Without further ado…

– Wagner Das Reingold Indy Opera/ISO at Clowes Hall

You can NEVER go wrong with Wagner.  This was a very interesting production as it was ‘partially staged.’  What does this mean?  Well, the orchestra (the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra) was on stage throughout the entire opera.  The acting in the opera was done with a video screen for scenery and the vocalists performing on scaffolding.  Sounds strange?  Well, it really wasn’t.  The Indy Opera brought in quite a few well-known Wagnerian vocalists for this production and we are glad they did.  Great stuff right here…plus RBD played in the orchestra.

– Higdon Violin Concerto with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

This was a world premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto that was performed in February 6th, 2009. Commissioned in conjunction with Curtis Institute of Music and the Baltimore Symphony, the first performance was indeed here in Indianapolis. Played by the great violinist, Hilary Hahn, this concerto started with a bang and never, ever, let up. What was truly amazing is that Hilary played this FOR MEMORY! This night was truly a once of a lifetime experience and I congratulate the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for programming such a wildly adventurous piece and am still in awe of the piece itself and Hilary Hahn’s virtuosic performance of the concerto.

– Leisure Kings Big Band Show at The Jazz Kitchen

The Leisure Kings is a two-man operation.  They take 80’s popular music (gangster rap, hair/metal music, Kenny G…you know the usual) and ‘loungifies’ them.  It is one of the most hilarious things one will ever witness.  Now let’s add a 16 piece professional big band to support the hilarity!  That is what happens twice a year at The Jazz Kitchen (generally June & December).


– Marcus Miller at Indy Jazz Fest

So I (mda) have been a Marcus Miller fan for quite a while.  Granted, some of his music becomes a little too ‘smooth’ for me, but damn the man can play.  I originally heard his stuff from the Miles Davis albums but really first got into his music from a Michel Petrucciani-Marcus Miller live album on the Dreyfus label out of France.  Great stuff.  The group he brought to Indy Jazz Fest on Sunday blew away everything else from that day (sorry RBD, who played that day as well).  I set included a great mixture of originals, Miles Davis tunes and even a tribute to the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson.

– Joshua Redman at Clowes Memorial Hall (to begin Indy Jazz Fest)

It seems the new trend for a lot of major jazz artists (especially tenor players) is to work within a trio (tenor, bass and drums). This trend is nothing *new* per se, just consider Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker’s  piano-less quartet. A small jazz group sans piano really opens up the harmonic structure that the jazz artists have to work with. (Would it be too cynical of me to also suggest that it is cheaper not to worry about one more person on a tour and finding a nice piano for the pianist to play…?) Well, at any rate, Joshua Redman was at Clowes Hall September 19th to kick-off the 2009 Indy Jazz Fest. Along with Josh (on tenor sax) was Greg Hutchinson on drums and Matt Penman on bass. It was easy to tell that this trio has been playing together for a while because they were TIGHT! Playing jazz standards together is a wonderful thing. Playing jazz standards in awkward meters like 7 or 5 tightly is a different story all together! My mouth dropped open at the first downbeat and stayed open for a full 75 minutes! The energy was palpable. The connection between the three musicians was visible. Moments of that performance have been imprinted on my brain and I am happy to say that I will carry those memories until the day I die.

– Les Claypool at The Vogue

OK so this is not really a classical or jazz show per se.  However, the show was amazing and Claypool’s playing is always very improvisational.  His band is an odd collection of top session players in the jazz and rock world and the music is as good as it can get.  Les Claypool defies all genres.

– Frank Glover and Claude Sifferlin at The Chatterbox any Thursday

Frank Glover and Claude Sifferlin have performed together for over 20 years.  They are two musicians that would be on top of the jazz world if they were located in NYC.  Their performances are bordering on sheer genius every Thursday night at The Chatterbox jazz club in downtown Indy.  Frank is releasing a new album in 2010 on the Owl Studios record label.  This is with his new group Kilho and features a 25-piece orchestra.  This WILL BE one of the best albums of 2010.


– Ariade auf Naxos at Clowes Memorial Hall

The Indy Opera company is a hidden treasure in Indianapolis.  The 2009-2010 season is unfortunately one opera short due to the economy.  However, the economy has not hurt the quality of the operas being performed.  Ariadne auf Naxos is a great, late opera from Richard Strauss.  It is a great mixture of comedy and drama.  Of course with the music of Strauss, one knows the opera is going to be great.  The production is especially significant because it featured Indianapolis native, and opera diva Angela Brown.

– Bach B minor Mass at St. Pauls Episcipalian Church

Bach is pure. Bach is beautiful. Bach was a nice nightcap to my 2009. On November 13th, 2009, mda and I (RBD) and our buddy Eric (trumpeter) went to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for an experience that we will not soon forget. Some say that the acoustics at that church are poor, but I simply loved this performance. All of us in attendance were all impressed and comforted that this performance happened in Indianapolis. The Indiana University Chamber Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Professor William Jon Gray, performed this piece and the audience, at that point in time, the luckiest people on the planet. Such peace and goodwill flowing through the sanctuary was almost overwhelming. Everything was so clear and (dare I say) perfectly executed there were nothing but smiling people leaving that building on the night of November 13th, 2009.

– APA afternoon concerts at Christ Cathedral

The American Pianists Association has a great piano competition for up-and-coming young pianists, which takes place right here in Indianapolis.  The competition included a chamber music portion at Christ Church Cathedral on the circle of downtown Indy where each finalist performed with the Parker String Quartet. Taking place every day for a week during the noon hour (FOR FREE!), this might have been the best concert series in Indianapolis for 2009.  The level of musicianship was absolutely amazing.

Honorable Mention

Magic Flute IU Opera in Bloomington

Opera…you either love it or hate it, or maybe ambivalent about it. Either way, people have opinions, and some of those opinions are about Opera. I (RBD) really enjoy Opera. I’ll always go into it with a positive attitude. Early opera is not my thing, and Mozart is really not THAT early, but still, you know what I mean. I’ve played the Magic Flute twice while at IU so I knew what I was getting into. BOY WAS I WRONG!!! This production was so exciting! The production was done in conjunction with the Atlanta Opera and will be premiered down there in April of this year (2010). I was mesmerized by this production and was sad when the opera concluded. The fact that the music was sung in German and the dialogue was in English was at first jarring, but you soon got over that! I am continually amazed at the production value of the IU Opera Department and was thoroughly thrilled at The Magic Flute!

– Fareed Haque CD release party at The Jazz Kitchen

Fareed Haque was recently awarded the Best World Guitarist of 2009 by Guitar Player Magazine.  He released Flat Planet in March on the Owl Studios record label.  The album received rave reviews, including being top on the JazzWeek world music radio charts and a feature interview on PRI’s The World.  Fareed traveled through Indianapolis for a CD release party at The Jazz Kitchen and blew the roof off the place.  Certainly take advantage of Fareed’s tours around the world.  He always puts on a great show.

– Freddie Hubbard Tribute at Madame Walker Theater (Indy Jazz Fest)

With a line-up that includes Steve Allee on piano, Rufus Reid on bass, Donald Edwards on drums, Rob Dixon on tenor sax, James Spaulding on alto sax and 4 incredible trumpet players: Randy Brecker, Nicholas Payton, Derrick Gardner and Pharez Whitted, one would think that this concert would be easily in our top 10 and not in an ‘Honorable Mention’ category. Although this concert was great consisting of wonderful solos by world-class jazz musicians and incredible new arrangements by David Baker, Steve Allee and Derrick Gardner, the concert was L O  N  G!!!!!! I mean, really long! We’re talking easily 3.5 hours! Now THAT’s a lot of trumpet! We knew it would be a long concert when each player took 10-14 choruses EACH on the first tune, all trying to outdo the other! Whew! It was a journey, with a lot of playing, but sometimes you want to leave the audience wanting more…

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Welcome to Renaissance Brothers Blog

Hi, my name is Rich Dole…

and I’m Matthew Altizer…

…and we are in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Crossroads of America.  Just another place in the world to find and discuss great artistic ventures happening right in your neighborhood! This is not JUST about Indianapolis, but this will focus on the Art World in General! Let us know what YOU are doing to promote and hear/view the Fine Arts in Your Community!

Together we will begin and/or continue artistic discussions of all kinds and varieties on this BLOG! We will discuss many things, including:

  • the state of the arts today
  • How to introduce the General Public to Chamber Music
  • Bringing Chamber Music to Non-Traditional Venues
  • Reviews of Recitals, Concerts, Shows, Exhibitions and the like (you can add to this too!)
  • Discussions on the Classics! (and the New Classics!)
  • Baseball, whether it relates to the Arts of NOT! (It’s baseball…)
  • And whatever else piques our interest…IT’S OUR BLOG BABY!!!
  • Want to contribute? Comment or send us an email: chamber.indy@gmail.com

Welcome, thank you, enjoy and good luck! We plan on having fun, hope you’ll join us!!

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