Friday, December 28, 2012

Press for Old Time Musketry's "Different Times"

Old Time Musketry's debut album "Different Times" is starting to get some reviews, and good ones at that!

“2012 Best Debut…a first statement full of promise…enjoyable and intriguing…”
–George Grella, The Big City Blog

“…the most exciting music looks back yet continually moves forward. Different Times does just that and more; Old Time Musketry makes joyful music filled with strong melodies and fine solos. “
–Richard B. Kamins, Step Tempest Blog

“…this year’s best jazz debut by a country mile. Melodic contemporary sounds don’t get any more interesting, or downright catchy, than this.”
Lucid Culture Blog (also ranked #14 on their 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2012 List)

“3 1/2 stars…tight group interplay…reserved melodies [that] build slowly with stately tension.”
–Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz Blog

For more info on the album and Old Time Musketry, go to

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Minerva Brooklyn Tour!

Greetings fellow music lovers,

Tonight marks the beginning of Minerva's 3 day Brooklyn Tour! We'll be playing some new compositions and enjoying the opportunity to explore new directions in the music each night. I sincerely hope you can join us for one, two, or even all three shows!!


Carlo Costa - Drums
Pascal Niggenkemper - Bass
JP Schlegelmilch - Piano

The itinerary is as follows, please see the poster below for the full bill listings.....

Thursday Dec 13th at I Beam (168 7th st) @ 9:30pm
Saturday Dec 15th at Douglass St (295 Douglass St) @ 9pm
Sunday Dec 16th at Firehouse Space (246 Frost St) @ 8pm

Hope to see you out there in the non-virtual world!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

RADIO ZERO Benefit for Sandy Relief concert tonight!

////TONIGHT, Thurs 29 Nov 2012
8 pm-10:30 pm
at the Sycamore
1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn. Q train to Cortelyou.

I'm excited to participate in this performance tonight with the other wonderful improvising musicians in the Radio Zero music series.

Martin Urbach - Drums
Kenny Warren - Trumpet
Patrick Breiner - Saxophone and Clarinet
Adam Schneit - Saxophone and Clarinet
Will Mcevoy - Bass
Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic - Bass
Erika Kapin - Violin
Juan Pablo Carletti - Drums

Radio Zero Improvisors Pool benefit for Hurricane Sandy Relief (all dollars go to Jazz Foundation)
Many amazing bands will play. Some have never played together before. We will be pulling names from a hat and forming duos, trios, quartets, quintets, and more based on chance! Pure improvisational bliss. Art will flow as will your generous donations of cash, non perishable foods, blankets,etc.
$10-20 suggested

The Jazz Foundation is a great organization. They have a good track record of helping displaced New Orleans musicians post-Katrina.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Schubert at The Firehouse Space

On Sunday I saw a great concert of music by Franz Schubert at the Williamsburg venue Firehouse Space. The concert was presented by the Brooklyn Art Song Society as the third part of a series focusing on the music Schubert composed during the last year of his too-short life.

"Facing the inevitability of his own untimely demise at 31 years of age, Franz Schubert (1797-1828) composed an astonishing quantity of music of unearthly beauty in the last 365 days of his life. Brooklyn Art Song Society is proud to present the complete song cycles, miscellaneous songs, and representative two- and four- hand piano works from the most inspired year of the most inspired composer of art song."

The music that really drew me to see this performance was the song cycle "Wintereisse", which has been an obsession of mine since I stumbled upon a recording by Sviatoslav Richter and Peter Schreirer in Academy Records two years ago. It was an intense experience to hear the twenty-four songs in their entirety. The music is unrelentingly bleak, as a rejected lover wanders in a frozen winter landscape.

Check out Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake's version WITH MUSIC VIDEO! This is awesome. I think some of the Wintereisse music bears a distant relation to certain hyper-emotional pop music, it's almost proto-goth in a way.

The cycle ends with one of the most haunting pieces of music I've ever heard, "Der Leiermann" (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man), where the protagonist encounters an old beggar playing a hurdy-gurdy at the edge of town. The late, great Fischer Dieskau's version of this is unforgettable.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Better late than never....

In the summer of 2011 NOOK recorded seven new tracks which have been lying dormant like some pre-historic beast frozen during the coming of an ice age, waiting to be thawed and reanimated to spread mayhem upon the planet.
This is exactly what is about to happen, my friends. Kenny Warren and I have ventured back into the studio with the help of the intrepid mixing engineer Jonathan Anderson and are putting the finishing touches on this wolly mammoth.
It's quite an experience to revisit music after such a lapse of time. I'm very excited to finish this project which features some excellent playing by the band: James Windsor-Wells on drums, Jeremy Viner or Saxophone and clarinet, Ben Gallina on bass, and a special guest appearance by Andrew Smiley on guitar.
More info and perhaps some music to listen to soon.....

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Different Times" Reviewed by Step Tempest blog

Richard Kamins writes a brief but very nice review of Old Time Musketry's new album "Different Times" in his blog, Step Tempest.

Thanks to the folks who came out to our show at Milk and Roses last night, we enjoyed our first appearance at this fine establishment.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Old Time Musketry at Milk and Roses tonight!

Old Time Musketry is playing tonight at a cool new spot in my beloved neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Milk and Roses is a charming restaurant/cafe with a baby grand piano and book-lined walls, friendly staff, and obviously good taste in booking live music. Ha-ha-ha....

We go on at 8pm, we're playing some new music, too!

Milk and Roses is located at 1110 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn.

The band (as always):

JP Schlegelmilch - Piano and Accordion
Adam Schneit - Saxophone and Clarinet
Phil Rowan - Bass
Max Goldman - Drums

Friday, October 12, 2012

On tour with Fireworks Ensemble

I'm excited to be playing some concerts with the chamber group Fireworks Ensemble this week! We're performing a program called "American Tapestry" featuring the music of Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein, Philip Glass, Duke Ellington, and selections of American folk music.
Today we play at the Pawleys Island Music Festival in South Carolina, and then on Saturday in Tacoma, Washington at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Different Times" is now available!

Old Time Musketry's debut album "Different Times" has been released on the new SteepleChase LookOut label! We're very happy to be included in one of the first batches of releases on this new branch of SteepleChase Records, one of the largest and most enduring independent jazz labels.

The album is now available for purchase here:

CD from Amazon

MP3 Download from Amazon

MP3 Download from ITunes

If you purchase from Amazon, please consider posting a review, we appreciate it!

We're playing at Caffe Vivaldi tomorrow night at 9:30pm, and will have CD's available at the show! It's our first gig in a while and we'll be debuting a new song.

The CD features beautiful art by our longtime associate, the very talented Connie Wang.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Two of Anything at I Beam this Wednesday!

My quartet Two of Anything is back in action this week, sharing a bill at I Beam (168 7th st, Brooklyn) with Pascal Niggenkemper's trio, Wanderlust.

Should be a good one!

The details:



Pascal Niggenkemper - Bass
Darius Jones - Alto Saxophone
Tatsuya Nakatani - Percussion


Two of Anything

JP Schlegelmilch - Wurlitzer and Synthesizer
Eivind Opsvik - Bass
Jason Nazary - Drums and Electronics
Jeremy Viner - Saxophone and Clarinet

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Tootie for President"

Ah, many summer days have passed with no blogging. C'est la vie. I've been mostly cloistered in my apartment working on music for a gig next week at I Beam with my quartet Two of Anything.

I did venture out to the Village Vanguard last night to hear Ethan Iverson, Ben Street, and Albert "Tootie" Heath. It was fascinating to listen to this cross-generational trio. Tootie Heath is a master jazz drummer who played on John Coltrane's first recording, and he kept the music afloat with joyous swing the whole evening. Ben Street and Ethan Iverson each have a very personal and modern approach to the jazz tradition, and there was a wonderful tension in their adventurous improvising combined with Heath's very grounded beat.
Great choices in the repertoire, too! I can't remember the last time I heard "Stompin' at the Savoy" at a gig.

Oh, and the band were each wearing pins that I thought were for the Obama campaign, but on closer inspection read "Tootie for President."

Friday, August 10, 2012

All-female Russian band takes on the Patriarchy

My ears perked up when I heard the BBC reporter pronounce the name "Pussy Riot" on the World Report this week. The Russian band is currently being held in custody after making an anti-Putin statement at one of their concerts at a church. Madonna has since weighed in on the band's behalf. These are some brave musicians!

Some BBC coverage. It's worth it just to hear them say the name..

Also, there are few things more badass than the tradition of all-female punk bands with names like the Slits, Bikini Kill, and of course, Hole.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Out Of Your Head at Freddy's Bar!

I'm very excited to be playing a set of improvised music tonight with some great musicians from the Out Of Your Head Collective. Please come check it out if you're free!

Where: Freddy's Bar (627 5th Ave, Brooklyn)
When: August 5th, 9:30pm
What: Andrew Bishop-reeds
Oscar Noriega-reeds
Kenny Warren-trumpet
JP Schlegelmilch-keyboards
Gerald Cleaver-drums

Here's the blurb from the NY Times:

"Out of Your Head Brooklyn (Sunday) This biweekly series assembles crews of young musicians for first-time spontaneous interplay. The first set, at 9:30 p.m., will include the saxophonists Andrew Bishop and Oscar Noriega, the trumpeter Kenny Warren, the keyboardist JP Schlegelmilch and the drummer Gerald Cleaver. The second set, at 11 p.m., will feature the tenor saxophonist Eric Trudel, the bassist Greg Chudzik and two drummers, Kate Pittman and Nathan Ellman-Bell. At Freddy’s Bar, 627 Fifth Avenue, at 17th Street, South Slope, (718) 768-0131,,; free. (Chinen)"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stravinsky in the air

At last, at long last the Bad Plus is performing their arrangement of Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" in New York! Tomorrow, August 2nd, for free, at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors concert series.
As we approach the 100th anniversary of this still-badass masterpiece, I'm looking forward to a lot of "Rite" and Stravinsky related activities. The Carolina Performing Arts has launched a website dedicated to celebrating and exploring "The Rite". There are some great commentaries from composers about their encounters with the piece.
I've been reading Stephen Walsh's biography of Stravinsky and listening to his works in (mostly) chronological order. I've decided that things really get interesting for me at "Petrushka".
I also finally got around to reading "The Apollonian Clockwork", a kind of free-form collection of essays about Stravinsky by composers Louis Andriessen and Elmer Schonberger. This book lives up to the praise heaped upon it by countless musicians and critics. My favorite quote about the book is from Stravinsky scholar Richard Taruskin: "The one book about Stravinsky that Stravinsky would have liked."
Thank god for the Performing Arts Library, they have 3 copies of this rare book. It fetches a high price on Amazon.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Old Time Musketry Tour Recap

Just got back from a great week of gigs with Old Time Musketry. It's such an amazing thing to get to play with a band every night, the music really developed a lot! We played a homecoming show at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn that might have been one of our best gigs ever.
We were interviewed on the Washington DC station WPFW by the wonderful Keanna Faircloth, who hosts the show "Mid Day Jazz". The show is archived for a few more days here.
We're going to start planning our next tour for the fall when our first CD will be released! Our next show is August 1st at Zirzamin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Old Time Musketry Northeast Tour Itinerary

Old Time Musketry is on the road this week playing around the Northeast. Here's where we're playing, please spread the word if you know anyone is these parts who might like to hear us!

Monday July 9th: An Die Musik
409 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD
8pm Jazz Lunch
9pm Old Time Musketry
$10 cover

Tuesday July 10th: Twins Jazz
1344 U Street Northwest
Washington, DC
Sets at 8pm and 10pm
$10 cover + $10 minimum

Wednesday July 11th: Time Midtown
1315 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA
9pm to 1am

Thursday July 12th: The Outpost 186
186 1/2 Hampshire St.
Cambridge, MA
8pm Haven Quartet
9pm OTM
$10 suggested donation

Friday July 13th: Dobra Tea
151 Middle Street
Portland, ME
8-9:45 PM
$10 suggested donation

Saturday July 14th: Radio Bean
8 North Winooski Avenue
Burlington, VT
$10 suggested donation

Sunday July 15th: The Elevens
140 Pleasant Street
Northampton, MA
8pm Tim Eriksen and the Feral Woods
9pm Old Time Musketry
10pm In Example

Friday, June 29, 2012

Beasts of the Southern Wild soundtrack

Here's an interview with multi-instrumentalist and producer Dan Romer, who composed the score to the new film Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is really starting to blow up.
I recorded some piano for part of the score, I'm excited to see it on the big screen!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being an ethical music fan

Links to David Lowery's letter to Emily White at NPR's All Songs Considered have been popping up everywhere I look lately and I finally got around to reading it this evening. It is the best article I've seen thus far about the ethical decisions that we face as music consumers in the digital age. I strongly urge you to read it if you care about these issues.
I mused on some of these dilemmas in my post about Spotify a while back.

Some particularly good points from Mr. Lowery's article:

On the perception that fairly compensating artists should be up to large corporations or governments:

"fairness for musicians is a problem that requires each of us to individually look at our own actions, values and choices and try to anticipate the consequences of our choices. I would suggest to you that, like so many other policies in our society, it is up to us individually to put pressure on our governments and private corporations to act ethically and fairly when it comes to artists rights. Not the other way around. We cannot wait for these entities to act in the myriad little transactions that make up an ethical life."

On the "you can't fight progress" idea:

"Rather than using our morality and principles to guide us through technological change, there are those asking us to change our morality and principles to fit the technological change–if a machine can do something, it ought to be done. Although it is the premise of every “machines gone wild” story since Jules Verne or Fritz Lang, this is exactly backwards."

And just really laying it out there for you.....

"The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:

Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?

Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?

Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?

This is a bit of hyperbole to emphasize the point. But it’s as if:

Networks: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Hardware: Giant mega corporations. Cool! have some money!

Artists: 99.9 % lower middle class. Screw you, you greedy bastards!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tonight at Sycamore: RADIO ZERO SERIES VOL. 3

This week's RADIO ZERO series concert promises to be an exciting evening with the Mavi Yol Quartet and Nashaz! Two groups playing original music incorporating Arabic music, jazz, and improvisation.

The RADIO ZERO series is happening every Monday at Sycamore (1118 Cortelyou Rd) in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. The month of June was curated by me.


Senem Diyici - Voice, Percussion
Alain Blesing - Guitars
Bruno Tocanne - Drums
Can Omer Uygan - Trumpet

On tour from France!

Mavi Yol 4tet evolves constantly between jazz, free improvisation and traditional music from Turkey. A musical complicity nurtured by their exceptional qualities of improvisers allows the 4 musicians to explore an infinite number of musical horizons while remaining in the heart of emotion.


Brian Prunka - Oud
Kenny Warren - Trumpet
Apostolos Sideris - Bass
George Mel - Percussion

Nashaz plays original music drawing on the Arabic tradition with a jazz perspective.

Here's a collage of video from last week's concert:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jesse Stacken's Weekly Composition Project

I was just at pianist/composer Jesse Stacken's website catching up on his weekly composition project. He's writing a new piece every week and posting a recording and score online. This is an inspiring feat, my composing process can be pretty slow. Also, Jesse is exploring specific musical concepts in each piece, like a compositional etude. My favorite so far is "Seeing Iris", a slow brooding piece with mystical-sounding chords constructed from a diminished scale.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Announcing the RADIO ZERO music series at Sycamore!

This Monday, June 4th marks the beginning of the RADIO ZERO music series, hosted by Sycamore in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

Every Monday we'll be bringing you exciting music from the Brooklyn improvised music world and beyond. Each month will be curated by a different musician, so expect lots of variety and a great hang!

I curated the month of June, and I'm playing a few times, including tomorrow night with Old Time Musketry!

There is no cover charge for these shows, but there is a $10 suggested donation, all of which goes to the musicians. The full calendar for June is below, we hope to see you!

Monday June 4th


Dan Loomis - Bass
Justin Wood - Alto Saxophone
Danny Fischer - Drums
Andy Hunter - Trombone

Improvised music in the creative cauldron of New York City.


JP Schlegelmilch - Accordion, Wurlitzer
Adam Schneit - Saxophone, Clarinet
Max Goldman - Drums
Phil Rowan - Bass

OTM presents a joyous music that draws on the exuberant spirit of early jazz, the poignant melodies and soulful grooves of rock and folk music, the energy and spontaneity of free improvisation, and a willfully experimental attitude towards combining these elements into a unique vision of American music.

Monday June 11


Carlo Costa - Drums
Jonathan Moritz - Saxophone
Sean Ali - Bass
Owen Stewart-Robertson - Guitar

Textural improvisation, sonic landscapes conjuring strange distant forests teeming with life.....


jonathan goldberger - guitar
owen stewart-robertson - guitar
aryeh kobrinsky - bass

Ambient Americana

Monday June 18 (an evening of Middle-Eastern-infused improvised music!)


Senem Diyici - Voice, Percussion
Alain Blesing - Guitars
Bruno Tocanne - Drums
Can Omer Uygan - Trumpet

On tour from France!

Mavi Yol 4tet evolves constantly between jazz, free improvisation and traditional music from Turkey. A musical complicity nurtured by their exceptional qualities of improvisers allows the 4 musicians to explore an infinite number of musical horizons while remaining in the heart of emotion.


Brian Prunka - Oud
Kenny Warren - Trumpet
Apostolos Sideris - Bass
George Mel - Percussion

Nashaz plays original music drawing on the Arabic tradition with a jazz perspective.

Monday June 25th


Douglas Bradford - Guitar
Nicholas Anderson - Drums
Zach Lober - Bass

Guitarist Douglas Bradford unveils his new trio project!


JP Schlegelmilch - Wurlitzer, Synth, Compositions
Jason Nazary - Drums and Electronics
Aryeh Kobrinsky - Bass
Jeremy Viner - Saxophone

Analog sounds? check. Digital? check. Acoustic? double-check.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Solo Projects: Ches Smith and Jason Nazary

In the past week I've seen two solo drum performances that were also CD release parties. First I saw Ches Smith play at Zebulon, celebrating the release of "Psycho Predictions", his third installment of solo percussion music under the name Congs for Brums. I've caught a couple of Ches' solo shows, and the evolution of his music is pretty remarkable. Ches' drum set is situated in a kind of triangle with a vibraphone and Moog synthesizer and other electronics. A lot of the compositions are based around loops played on the synth, and then elaborated or deconstructed on the vibes or drums. The variety of textures was excellent, with the sometimes harsh electronic sounds side by side with the glowing resonance of the vibes. The set concluded with Ches pummeling the drum set, but not in the "drum solo" way that you might expect in a solo drum performance. It was more of a concentrated, groove-based explosion. I felt like Ches' compositional ideas were equally important as his always incredible drumming.

Then last night I saw Jason Nazary's CD release performance for his solo project, So Ghost. Jason mics his drums and runs the signal through his computer where he can control effects and loops. The music has an improvisational feel, but at the same time I was aware of a planned progression through different sound worlds. At times there was an incredibly dense layering of sounds, with the loops transfigured by effects or played at different speeds the music began to resemble some kind of alien tribal drum ensemble.
One similarity to Ches' show was that there was a long buildup to any kind of traditional drum set playing. But when Jason finally played the whole kit at the end of the set, the effect was revelatory. Like at Ches' show, it was also a groove-based explosion rather than a "drum solo", with a wall of sound blaring from the electronics. Totally gripping.
Another cool feature of Jason's set was a projection of a kind of sine wave graphic that responded to the sounds. The image was projected on Jason's white shirt, which was pretty cool to watch in a dark room. I tried to capture a little bit on my camera.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

John Hollenbeck's "The Drum Major Instinct"

I am eagerly anticipating seeing John Hollenbeck perform his composition "The Drum Major Instinct" this Friday at I Beam. The piece is based on a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I heard "The Drum Major Instinct" at Symphony Space many years ago and it was an incredibly moving experience. You can listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech here.

Here are some notes on the piece by Steve Smith:

"Hollenbeck makes use of a recorded sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in "The Drum Major Instinct." The piece is scored for two tenor trombones, bass trombone, drumset, and the taped voice of King. According to Hollenbeck, he chose trombones "because statistically they’re the most humble in a big band setting – they are the team players." He had not yet encountered the sanctified trombone choirs of Harlem, but had been impressed with trombonist Gary Valente’s "preaching" in the band of Carla Bley, leading him to feel that the instrument had the right "spiritual characteristics" for the piece. Nor had he heard drummer Max Roach’s LP Chatahoochie Red, which also makes use of a King speech. Hollenbeck sets King’s words in an entirely different way from his legendary forebear, yet both find an artistic affinity in the orator’s martial cadences.

"The Drum Major Instinct" is performed in total darkness, so that the presence of the musicians would be as invisible as that of the orator himself – necessitating memorization of the written materials. The piece begins and ends with a simple four-chord cell, and follows the rhythms of King’s heroic oratory – drawing upon its emotional power while simultaneously creating a dramatic setting for it. At times, the players follow the cadences of the speech, while elsewhere they comment freely upon it, like a congregation echoing the words of the minister. The piece builds in intensity along with the sermon, resolving into a chorale as King’s message reaches its climax. At the end, the instrumentalists follow King down the aisle of the church and shut the door behind them as they exit."

This performance is part of the Undead Music Festival, which is putting on concerts from May 9th-12th. Lots of great stuff!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Two of Anything live tracks

Here are some live tracks from the recent Two of Anything gig at Sycamore in Brooklyn.

The band:

JP Schlegelmilch - Wurlitzer and Synth
Eivind Opsvik - Bass
Jeremy Viner - Saxophone and Clarinet
Jason Nazary - Drums and Electronics

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Musicians Solidarity Council against Nonpayment in NYC Clubs

The Musicians Solidarity Council describes themselves on their website as "an autonomous group in affinity with Occupy Wall Street and the labor movement at large. We are musicians: instrumentalists, singers, DJs, audio engineers, producers, composers, performers and teachers. We are the 99%. Like many other workers, we are integral to city life, but often live in precarious conditions."

Today, May 1st, the group is planning actions against clubs in NYC that don't pay performers. The following is from the press release for the actions.

"On May 1st, a historic day for Occupy Wall Street, labor and immigrant rights movements, OWS activists from the Musicians Solidarity Council (MSC) will hold actions in several nightclubs in Manhattan's Lower East Side, highlighting the venues' practice of not paying musicians – in effect, asking performers to volunteer their talent and services to a for-profit business."


"New York City is known for its rich cultural heritage, and many popular clubs derive their success from live music. However, they rarely pay the musicians that bring draw in their customers. Instead, the bands typically "pass the hat," asking the crowd for donations; talented performers often end the night with $5-10 a person. Musicians may also be required to spend their own resources on promotion, and guarantee a minimum number of paying customers.

"Musicians are not covered by New York State regulations that protect other nightclub workers like bartenders and waiters. In fact, they are explicitly excluded."


"As rents reached record heights in the 1990s and 2000s, clubs that did compensate musicians fairly (such as Tonic in the Lower East Side) were squeezed out. A growing number of venues adopted these exploitative practices – including Rockwood Music Hall, the Living Room, Pianos, 169 Bar, and Zebulon Cafe Concert – and nonpayment of performers has since become conventional wisdom in the NYC music scene."

Ah, Tonic how I miss thee! I remember going to protests when they were being evicted to make way for the luxury condo building Blue. Goliath won that day.

I play regularly at the venues mentioned by the MSC. In the past 6 years living and performing in NYC I've come to accept that venues in this town don't pay, that nearly all gigs are "pass the hat".

I don't like it but I'm not sure what the solution is. So many musicians and performers of all kinds flock to NYC desperate to play for people, and they'll play anywhere for free. I can understand that the venue owners may have trouble seeing the point of compensating the performers when talented people are beating down their door to play at their dive bar. I don't know any of these venue owners personally, but I'm sure that the exploding NYC rents haven't made things easier for their bottom line. I wonder how well they're really doing, are they really getting rich of our "volunteered labor"?

Wouldn't it be great if all the musicians in the city joined together and decided not to perform anywhere that didn't pay us at least $50 for a gig? Hmmm, probably impossible. Hey, isn't there a musicians union? What do they do anyway? I don't know any musicians who are members.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bruce Springsteen's SXSW Adress

I hope people don't come to this blog hoping for the most up-to-date happenings in the world of music. This was over a month ago but I just got around to checking it out now. Very inspiring top hear the Boss talk about his musical influences and his creative journey as an artist.

Bruce Springsteen's SXSW Keynote Speech

He really made me want to check out the Animals!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NPR's "Goldberg Week"

I'm slowly making my way through NPR's weeklong celebration of Bach's Goldberg Variations. The highlight for me so far has been pianist Jeremy Denk's contributions, he's become one of my favorite writers about music. I follow his blog and loved his piece in the New Yorker about his recording session of Ives' Concord Sonata. It was great reading about another pianist's battle with the nerve-wracking experience of recording solo piano, especially after just doing a solo recording myself this winter.
I listened to Glenn Gould's first recording of the Goldberg's yesterday for the first time in a long while and experienced a state of "sound wonder" (a term from Anthony Braxton's lexicon, he used it to describe what he felt seeing John Coltrane in concert).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two of Anything gigs this month

A quartet project that I'm calling Two of Anything is springing back into action this month. We're playing on Monday April 16th at Sycamore in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, and then on April 28th at I Beam. I'll be playing Wurlitzer electric piano and synth, and the compositions were written by improvising on those two keyboards. I'm excited to be playing with these great musicians:

Eivind Opsvik - Bass
Jason Nazary - Drums and Electronics
Jeremy Viner - Saxophone and Clarinet

I saw Jason play a solo drums/electronics set a while ago at Douglass St. It was amazing! Eivind's new record Overseas IV is one of the most unique and thoughtful musical statements I've heard recently. Jeremy is an incredibly versatile player, at home with the complex musical structures of Bobby Aver or Travis Reuter's music as well as in free improvisation.

Here's some live tracks from a show at Barbes last year, with Flin Van Hemmen on drums.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spotify and Artist Compensation in the Digital Age

For those who haven't checked it out, Spotify is an online digital music service where you can listen to almost any music you want FOR FREE! You don't even have to download the music, it comes to you streaming from Spotify's vast library. There are some limitations if you use the service for free (2.5 hrs per week, and each track can only be played 5 times total) but with paid subscriptions you get unlimited plays.

I've heard more than a few people say that they are no longer going to buy music since they can listen to whatever they want on Spotify either for free (with ads) or with the subscription, which is only $4.99 a month. I find this troubling on a number of levels, both as a musician who hopes to sell my recordings, and as a music consumer.

Even though the music industry has been in a steady decline for years due to the rise of internet file sharing, a site like Spotify really puts these new realities into stark relief. Whenever some new miracle technology arrives, it can be so exciting in its possibilities that we don't consider all the consequences. One question that immediately presents itself to a musician is, "How are the artists getting paid"? I decided to do a little research into how Spotify works.


It turns out that there's not much information out there about artist compensation because when Spotify makes a licensing deal with a record label, the label signs a non-disclosure agreement, meaning that the songwriters are not allowed to know the details of what Spotify paid for the rights to use their music.

There was recently an article in the Guardian about how major labels (who also own shares in Spotify) are able to negotiate better streaming rates from Spotify. Many smaller independent labels are reacting by pulling their music from Spotify and other digital music services. In November, UK-based digital distributor and label management company STHoldings Ltd. pulled 234 member labels from Spotify, Rdio, Simfy, and Napster, citing poor revenues and detrimental effects on sales.

Just how bad is Spotify's artist compensation? Again, it's hard to know for sure because of the non-disclosure agreements (NDA's) that the labels sign. There are some shocking statistics floating around, like Lady Gaga earning $167 from 1 million plays of her hit song "Poker Face". In my online research I also found the site of Brooklyn musician Sam Rosenthal, who is also the founder of an independent record label Projekt Records which has since pulled its music from Spotify. Sam has a lengthy page detailing his thoughts about Spotify and digital streaming services. He says that from a stream on Spotify his label is paid an average of $0.0013.
For some perspective on the streaming vs. downloading divide, on ITunes artists are typically paid 10 cents for each 99 cent track downloaded. This isn't a great deal either, but at least the numbers are closer to the decimal point!


Spotify's founder and CEO claims that their service will ultimately be good for the music industry. In an NPR interview he said: "I don't want to be characterized as an iTunes killer. What we really are trying to do is move people away from piracy into a legal model that contributes revenue back to the music industry. It's really that simple, and I think the key is by creating more convenient products."
Personally, I don't think that claiming to be a step above piracy is a good defense of your business model. And getting $0.0013 per stream does not seem to be much better than piracy anyway.

Spotify is based in Sweden, and the service is hugely popular there with almost 1 million subscribers, almost a tenth of the country's population. According to this Guardian article, Spotify was expected to pay out £47 million to Swedish record labels in 2011, and that about 80% of digital revenue for Swedish labels will come from Spotify. So the optimistic vision put forth by Spotify's advocates is that as subscriptions grow, so will the money being paid back to the labels, and then finally trickling down to the artist (whatever is agreed to in those mysterious NDA's).


One of the exciting possibilities of the internet for musicians is the idea that you can connect with listeners around the world, and get paid directly from fans for your music. It gives musicians a kind of entrepreneurial platform to promote their work. Now in an ironic twist, that same technology is making it near-impossible to sell music at all. I'm not really sure if there's any turning back, if there will ever be a way for musicians to be fairly compensated for the use of their recorded music in the digital age. But as the music industry goes through these changes, we shouldn't ignore the unfair business practices that are happening in this brave new world.

And for the record, I use Spotify myself now and then, and I don't have a subscription. It's a pretty amazing concept, and incredibly useful for a musician to have access to a database of music for study and enjoyment. But I still have one foot in the old world, and I cherish my CD and record collection and am still romantically attached to the physical art object of recorded music.

An entirely different discussion is the way that this kind of unlimited access to music changes the way we listen. Composer Gabriel Kahane makes some good points about that subject here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This week in Brooklyn

Tonight I'm going to Sycamore in Ditmas Park to hear my friend Patrick Breiner's excellent trio Sons of Daughters, who are sharing a bill with In One Wind. I expressed my admiration for Sons of Daughters in an earlier post as being a great example of a group of improvisors committed to the "band" concept. They don't read music onstage, they tour, and they even have merchandise like hooded sweatshirts with their logo!

Then tomorrow I'm going to Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg to hear my friend Shannon Fields' new band Leverage Models. If you're interested in left-of-center, creative rock music you should check it out. Also on the bill is Skeletons (playing an acoustic set) and AU.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stravinsky's "Grand Choral"

Igor Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du Soldat" is a piece that I keep coming back to and I always find more to love about it. Whenever I get obsessed with a piece of music I always want to play it to try to absorb it as fully as possible. "Soldat" is written for the unusual (and awesome) instrumentation of trombone, bassoon, clarinet, bass, cornet, violin and percussion. I've transcribed small parts of "Soldat" for piano, partly inspired by Christopher O'Riley's incredible arrangements. There's a movement in the form of a chorale, but Stravinsky-ified, flouting the rules of voice leading and producing something that sounds ancient and modern simultaneously.
This is an arrangement using overdubbed tracks of accordion playing each voice.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble

Last night I saw a performance by the incredible Nritygram Dance Ensemble at the Joyce Theatre. I was totally blown away by the virtuosity of the dancers and musicians, and by the joyful expressiveness of the entire performance. This ensemble is actually the repertory company of the Nrityagram dance village, located outside Bangalore, India. The village was founded by the Odissi dancer Protima Gauri Bedi on ten acres of farmland, and is similar to an ancient ashram where gurus imparted technique and philosophy to their disciples. The musicians, dancers, and choreographers live together developing their art and also studying yoga, martial arts, Sanskrit and classical literature. The sense of "wholeness" of the performance reflected the close working relationship of the artists. The dance and music were joined in a way that created something really magical.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So Percussion plays John Cage

The percussion ensemble So Percussion was on WNYC's Soundcheck yesterday and performed a version of John Cage's "Credo in Us". It really knocked me out! The collage effect of using an old turntable playing classical music combined with tightly executed ensemble drum passages, an early example of Cage's "chance procedures", created an incredible musical landscape.
You can hear the performance at Soundcheck's website. There's also an amusing video of John Cage playing an amplified cactus.
So Percussion is also performing as part of the American Mavericks series this week in NYC.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Neighborhood Concerts

On Sunday I saw a great violin and piano recital at the Brooklyn Library presented as a part of Carnegie Hall's "Neighborhood Concerts" series. Jennifer Kho and Reiko Uchida played a program of American composers, all but one of them still living. It was my first encounter with Jennifer Higdon's music, they opened with her piece "String Poetic". It was very exciting rhythmically, and there was a passage where the pianist mutes the strings with her hand while the violin plays pizzicato (plucked strings), making a surprisingly similar timbre.
The non-living composer in question was Lou Harrison. I love a lot of Harrison's work (see this post on performing his "Varied Trio"), but I admit that I only liked parts of this piece, called "Grand Duo". One of the highlights was the pianist's use of an "octave bar" used to play smashing clusters of all the notes within an octave simultaneously. This was used to great effect in the "Polka" movement that concluded the piece. There was a very ominous atonal slow movement , which is a side of Harrison's music I haven't heard much of, but he did study with Schoenberg.
There's a few more of these concerts left, go see them!

Friday, March 16, 2012

"The Album" is not dead!

I just started listening to the Roots latest album, "Undun", and it's becoming increasingly fascinating. It's a concept album telling the bleak tale of a criminal's life, starting with his death and working backwards in time. In an age when the common wisdom seems to be that people don't listen to albums anymore, it's great to see works like these being made. ?uestlove had an article on Pitchfork writing about his favorite concept albums. I'll have to give another listen to Stevie Wonder's "Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants."

Some of my favorite concept albums: The Flaming Lips - "The Soft Bulletin", Pink Floyd - "Animals", Kate Bush - "Hounds of Love", Tool - "Aenima", David Bowie - "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust".

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jason Moran - "Promoting the abstract"

There's a short interview with Jason Moran on PBS talking about his new role as artistic director at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. My favorite part is his response to a question about the role of jazz in our culture today, given that the art form has become marginalized.

"We can promote the abstract....Improvisational music and jazz really forces us to focus, it forces us to have an imagination, to create our own ideas about what we're hearing....I want to promote that, that audiences come in as thinkers just as much as the performers are thinkers."

Watch Jason Moran 'Promotes the Abstract' in Jazz on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Firehouse Space

Minerva played a show on Sunday at a new performance space in Williamsburg called Firehouse Space. It's a very nice room in an old converted Firehouse and they've been having some really great concerts featuring New York-based improvisors and composers, check out their schedule here. I'm very excited about the fact that they have a piano, actually two pianos! And so close to my neighborhood, I'm planning on checking out more music there soon.
We shared the bill with Speaking Tube, featuring singer Elie Sorbsel, Frantz Loriot on viola, and Pascal Niggenkemper on bass.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Live Music Report from Pete's Candy Store

I had a great time playing with Old Time Musketry at Pete's on Saturday. It's a cozy room with a very unique looking stage. Many bands have gotten great promotional photos out of playing at Pete's, with the signature row of lights above the stage.
It was fun sharing a bill with our friends Surface To Air, here's some video clips of the performances.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

OLD TIME MUSKETRY at Pete's Candy Store on Saturday, Jan 28th!

I'm excited for Old Time Musketry's show at Pete's this Saturday sharing the bill with Surface to Air, a great trio with Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Rohin Khemani on tabla and percussion, and Jonti Siman on bass.
The awesome poster above was made by Connie Wang, you can see more of her work at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter and Winter at the Stone

There was a lot of great music at the Stone this month with shows curated by the Winter and Winter record label. I saw two performances, one was a tribute to Paul Motian with Jim Black, Chris Speed, Oscar Noriega, Brad Shepik, and Trevor Dunn. I had never really thought about the link between Paul Motian and the music made by Black, Speed and their contemporaries, but it really made sense to me after this show.
This weekend I saw a duo concert by accordionists Guy Klucesvek and Alan Bern. I wasn't familiar with the several records they have out on Winter and Winter, but the show was really enjoyable. It was mostly composed music, very melodic and quirky.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"The softest bullet ever shot..."

I've been having a great time watching a new documentary on Pitchfork about the Flaming Lips masterpiece album The Soft Bulletin. The album came out in 1999, and at the time my musical world revolved around rock music a lot more than it does now. Seeing these videos brought back the excitement and sense of wonder I felt hearing the music for the first time. I was lucky enough to see the Flaming Lips on the Soft Bulletin tour at a small-ish club in New Haven called Toad's Place. This concert is still one of the best of all time for me. I was totally blown away by the surreal spectacle of their show, which featured psychedelic video projection, theremin, gongs, and copious amounts of confetti thrown by Wayne Coyne.
The making of the album is a pretty interesting story. The band was about to get dropped by Warner Bros after failing to live up to the commercial hype of their hit "She Don't Use Jelly", and somehow they managed to stay on the label and make two incredibly experimental leaps into the unknown. First by recording "Zaireeka", a 4-disc concept album intended to be played on 4 separate sound sources simultaneously. Then, in the same session, recording the music on the Soft Bulletin which embraced lush MIDI orchestration instead of the Lips' trademark distorted guitar onslaught.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I'm very excited to be performing with electronic sound artist Michael Clemow this Saturday at I Beam. We're going to do a set of structured improvisations with Mike sampling and processing the sound of the piano in real time. The rehearsals have been great, and the unique format has pushed me into new places with my piano playing. Full details about the show are below. Also performing is the composer and pianist Eleonor Sandresky. This concert is presented by Michael Clemow's arts organization Abbatoir Projects.



Saturday, Jan. 7 - 8:30pm (doors at 8:15pm)
$10 suggested donation

168 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(F or R trains to 4th Ave & 9th Street)

The Mary Oliver Songs Bk 1: The Return
Based on a poem by Pulitzer prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, The Return, the creation of the piece initially took the poem as a point of departure, although through the process of making this piece, I was increasingly drawn into the story of the slaying of the Minotaur, or, as Ms. Oliver's title implies, the slayer's return after the slaying. The material for the music was taken from a reading of the poem that was recorded and then processed. This yielded certain pitch and rhythmic material that recurs throughout the movements. The titles of the movements, of which there are seven, refer to the text of the poem, although not necessarily in the order that they appear.

Structured Improvisations for Piano and DSP
In this performance we will create a musical structure by joining two distinctly different instruments (an acoustic piano and digital processing) in an improvisational dialogue. The sound of the piano is sampled and transformed in real time, setting in motion a dynamic musical framework where even the smallest sounds can become woven into a complex musical web. As we listen and respond to each other, a world of surprising new sonic textures emerges and evolves from moment to moment.

Abattoir Projects is a not-for-profit arts organization whose goal is to provide a platform for hybrid and difficult-to-classify artists to contextualize their own work. We believe in documentation practices that are adequate for hybrid artists. Standardized methods and curatorial contexts are not always appropriate. Using a model that is itself a hybrid — part archivist, part promoter, part publisher — Abattoir Projects seeks to fund and produce documentation of these artists's work in order to preserve their intentions while their practices and ideas are still new.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years Rulin's

Settling back into things post-holidays. I always feel very motivated at the beginning of the New Year, I'm a believer in New Year's resolutions. Apparently so was Woody Guthrie. These are great and worthy goals, and nice illustrations too.
A funny highlight from my time in New Hampshire over the holidays was getting my picture in the local paper while shopping at Turn It Up, our local music store. The accompanying article was about how people are still shopping a lot even after Christmas!