Happy Friday everyone! A week from now we’ll be buried in Christmas cheer up to our eyeballs. I can’t wait! So this week I’ve checked out some great music, both shows at the 55 Bar. The first was my good friend tenor saxophonist Sean Nowell with his acoustic quintet, which had an electrified Dana Leong on cello, Kenny Grahowski on drums, Sam Minae on bass, and Art Hirahara on keys. He was performing music from his Firewerks album (that includes yours truly) and his recent release “The Seeker.”
On Wednesday night I went back to the 55 and checked out a conglomerate that included guitarist Nir Felder, pianist Uri Caine, bassist Tim LeFebrve, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, drummer Nate Smith, and one of my all time favorite tenor saxophonists Chris Speed. They were pretty much playing unrehearsed freeness, playing around with several grooves and textures. It peaked a little early for me, but was pretty consistently great throughout. I only stayed for the first set, but Sean Nowell showed up for the second set and he told me yesterday that it was cool.
I’ve also been working on a horn arrangment for singer/songwriter Jed Davis. He has a hilarious song called “Yuppie Exodus from Dumbo” that he wants sort of a Dixieland accompaniment with the horns. The interesting thing about this arranging assignment is that he’s already recorded a reference track that includes bari sax and clarinet, and he wants to include these in the final mix. So I’m writing lines for trumpet and tenor sax that don’t get in the way with what is already going on. It’s forcing me to write sparsely and more simply, which is cool. I’m also trying to make the arrangment sound more like an improvised Dixieland band interspersed with telepathic moments where things fall into a unison or nice harmony. I’m pleased with how it’s turning out!
Have a great weekend!