Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Essentially Ellington 2017 - NYC

I just returned from New York with the Edmonds-Woodway High School Jazz Ensemble I. We were 1 of 15 finalists in the Essentially Ellington Jazz Competition held at Jazz @ Lincoln Center at Columbus Circle.

Here's a shot of our seniors for 2016-17.

We had a great time a learned much. Students got to meet and play with many other great players from around the US and Cuba!  I recommend participating in this festival for any band director that would enjoy the challenge. 2017 was our 5th time attending and it's always very well run.

Here's a link to the video of our band's performance ... I'm not sure how long this will remain on the internet but hopefully for a bit.

This is the playlist including student soloist names.

Here's a photo slideshow of some of the rest of the trip.  We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, attended "Bandstand" musical at the Jacobs Theater, jam session in the Appel room at Jazz@Lincoln Center, performance and Q & A with Wynton Marsalis in the Rose Ballroom, toured the city with Rick Bennett and visited Mezzrow and the Village Vanguard jazz clubs to hear Bill Cunliffe trio and the Vijah Ayer trio.

Photo slideshow of trip activities ...

Big thanks to all of these folks for helping make this trip a success.


Todd Williams and Ted Nash
Host Dan Quigley


Booster community
Leigh-Ann Hafford - trip coordinator

Bonnie fryzlewicz
Candy Gaul
Robin Blahous
Pete Bennett
Dan Chappelle
Gordon Tibbits
Katie Tibbits


Edmonds School District (public school) 

Kate Labiak - College Place Middle School 
Matt Edwards - Madrona K-8 School
Angela Zumbo - Brier Terrace Middle School

Assistant Band Directors with Jazz 2 and 3
Alex Dugdale
Dan Greenblatt

Private coaches
Garey Williams
Steve Treseler
Mark Taylor
Jeff Hay
Barb Hudak

Mr. Bergevin's school band directors 
Gary Evans - Rose Hill Jr. High and Lake Washington High School
John Moawad - Central Washington University

Family - Christina, Elijah and Jordan Bergevin and my Mom Susan Malinosky

Thursday, May 4, 2017

EE17 - gearing up for NYC and Essentially Ellington Festival

It's already been a very busy spring.  After returning from Cuba, Edmonds-Woodway High School hosted Todd Williams of the Wynton Marsalis septet as our clinician for the Essentially Ellington Festival. April 15th was our annual Big Band Dance with guest musicians for the neighboring middle schools and loads of happy dancers. Now we are getting close to departure for NYC.  Expecting to have fun and learn a lot too.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cuban Adventure with American Music Students

Spring break 2017, I traveled to Cuba to experience the culture including art, food, music and dance. The 10 students ranged in age from 14 to 18 and were not a part of the same performing ensemble but were all music students with an interest in travel. Although we were primarily listeners, I did bring a cornet so I could play during downtime and interact with the cuban musicians I met which were many. There was live music at nearly every meal and I got the chance to play every day.

Here's a slide show of many of the events including photos taken by me:

Here is a list of some of the interesting Cultural Social Projects we visited.  Many of these are supported by the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

April 3, 2017

April 4

Canon Ceremony - recreation of 400 year old tradition when canons announced the closing of the walls of Havana warning inhabitants to stay inside their homes - 

April 5
Las Terrazas Community - Unesco Site -

San Juan River - San Juan by the River 

April 6
Korimakao Community Project - founded by Manuel Porto - art, music and dance school for people over age 18

Playa Giron Museum - Bay of Pigs invasion 

Zapata Swamp Natural Reserve and Las Salinas Wildlife Sanctuary 

April 7
Beny More Art School 

Santander Pottery Ceramics Studio

April 8
Botanical Garden Tour - founded by Edward Arkin

Cienfuegos String Orchestra 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Brian Lynch Guest Artist Concert

Super fun and engaging day with Trumpet Master Brian Lynch.
- Transcription
- Scale practice
- Breathing
- Entertaining concert and more
photo credit for this first shot goes to Mike Henderson ... Music Booster and Concert Producer!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Centrum Educator Track 2016 Part 2 - learning tunes by ear, bass basics, trumpet masterclass, blues with Smulyan, Matt Wilson drum setup

This photo of Dan Balmer helping a student encapsulates the love of Centrum Jazz PT

Randy Halberstadt - improv session

Teach your student melodies by ear. "My Ideal". Require them to sing it!

When learning melodic phrases chunk and combine slowly! Especially the first time you're learning it.

Have your students pick out melodies by ear! Rat in a maze metaphor. 

Improvise with chord tones!!
Stay in the box. Slowly!

2-5 repeat 
Experiment with major scales

Then work on repetition games worksheet!

Repetition is the opposite of boring. 
Good example is Joe morello on take 5

Swing! Legato rules
Don't end lines on a downbeat

Upbeat accentuation is more important than triplets

High notes sometimes act as accents when playing very fast - not like Itzak Pearlman

Jon Hamar - Bass basics

Educators in attendance: David Fowler and Emily 
We’ll start with the fundamentals ….

The role of the bass in music:

  1. Underlying harmonic structure
  2. To keep time and help the band stay together

There are many potential pitfalls:

  1. Wrong size of bass for the player
  2. Poorly set up instrument

Steps for success:

  1. Stand on the right 
  2. 45 degree angle 
  3. Bottom of peg box at eye level
  4. Back corner of the bass touches the belly
  5. Hold feet in an athletic stance with toes apart and feet under shoulders

Jennifer Leighton plays left handed.

John Pattatuci is left handed but plays right handed.

Right Hand Basics:

  1. anchor thumb on the side of the finger board
  2. pull to the next string and stop/rest on the next string but when on the bottom string try not to let your thumb leave the fingerboard

Left Hand Basics:
(It took me 4-5 years of private lessons to get both hands on the right track)

  1. Thumb in the back of the neck
  2. Keep forearm straight and the thumb rounded (circular thumb)
  3. Play with first, second and fourth fingers so theres a half note between 1 and 2 and a half step between 2 and 4
  4. Always add fingers so the weaker pinky gets support

Then beginning bassists came up for lessons .. Emily and Vecinda got some great advice.
John and Gerald Clayton duet during Faculty Presents session

Trumpet Masterclass - Wednesday

Jay Thomas, Terrell Stafford, Sean Jones

Mouthpiece buzzing - complete resonance - if you get the mouthpiece to completely buzz then you’ll get the horn to completely resonance.

Resonate like a duck … the one outside my window this morning at 5 AM.

Miles Davis understood tone so well that he didn’t have to play too much to leave a big impact. 

Jay T said yeah like Coltrane on “I want to talk about you” or “say it over and over again”

Terrell said to sing everything before you play.  Sing, air, buzz, play.

One student says I appreciate hearing a new method where I don’t need more books.

Sean J said, “I’m kind of a geek … I like books”  One of my students really benefits from Brandt and Top Tones but not Charlier.

The nature of good practice requires some serious honesty.  Brenda Womack said when you’re into good practice habits you’re like a storm chaser … work on something nobody else wants to tackle. 

Sean learned “What’s New” in Db by accident.

Jay T “My Ideal” - Kenny Dorham (Key of D)

How to play fast - 

TS - Clark Terry said to play fast like you Carnival of Venice
Low volume when playing fast 
Work on all your exercises more ….
Slow is the mother of fast

How do I get more feeling in my solos?

Study other solos that have much feeling.
Darn that Dream - Art Farmer
You’re My Everything - Freddie Hubbard

Fux - audition the bass line

Jerry Bergonzi - look into his approach on how to practice

His way of talking about scales and intervals which is helpful. 
Jay T gave an example of breaking a pentatonic scale into new exercises.

Sean Jones with Dena DeRose trio - Joe LaBarbara and Chuck Deardorf

Smulyan - Blues Class

Taryn on Drums, Daniel on bass, Igor on piano

F blues with substitutions

F     | Eb7              | Db 7     | B7        |

Bb7 |  Bb m 7 Eb7 | A-7 D7 | Abm7 Eb7 |

Gm7     |  C7       |   F7      |    %   |

Bird Blues (Chi Chi)

F Maj 7  |  Em7 A7   |  Dm7  G7  |  Cm7  F7   |

Bb7 |  Bb m 7    Eb7 | A-7   D7 | Abm7 Eb7 |

Gm7   |  C7       |    F7   Dm7  |  Gm7  C7  |

Cannonball ? - with Sergio Mendez??

F Maj 7  |  Em7 A7   |  Dm7  G7  |  Cm7  F7   |

Bb7 |  Bb m 7    Eb7 | Abmaj7 | Abm7 Eb7 |

Gbmaj7  |  Gm7  C7       |    F7   Dm7  |  Gm7  C7  |

First four bars is like Weaver of Dream, Another You, Confirmation

Some Other Blues - Coltrane

F7    |  Eb7      |  F7     |  F7     |

Bb 7      |   Eb7    |  Ab 7   |  Db  7   |

C7        |   Bb 7     |  F7     |   F7     |

West Coast Blues ?

Another Type - No name??

Ebm7  Ab7  |  Dm7  G7  |  C#m7  F# 7  |  Cm7  F7 |

Bm7 E7   |  Bbm7  Eb7  |  A m7  D7  |  Abm7 Db7  |

Gm7          |  C7             |    F7    |  Em7  A7  |

Smulyan’s option

Ebm7  Ab7  |  Dm7  G7  |  C#m7  F# 7  |  Cm7  F7 |

Bm7 E7   |  Bbm7  Eb7  |  A m7  D7  |  Abm7 Db7  |

Gm7 C7 |  F# m7 B7  |  Fm7  Bb7  |  Em7  A7  ||

Tritone option - ascending

Bm7 E 7  |  Cm7  F7  |  C#m7  F# 7  | Dm7  G7  |

Ebm7  Ab7  |  Em7  A7  |  Fm7  Bb7  |  F#m7  B7  |

Gm7  C |  Abm7 Db7  |  Am 7  D7 |  Bbm7 D7 ||

2-5s up in 4ths is also cool  beginning on 2

Look up Coltrane plays the Blues and Locomotion from Blue Trane


West Coast Blues - Louis Armstrong

Matt Wilson - drums

The number one hangup is the physical setup and posture.  

But first lets talk about necessary materials.

Power toms may have caused the weird tilt affect.  Keep your drums flat - parallel to the floor.

Catholic school story about Ferraris all over the drums and there was tape on it too.  Tape covered a license plate that said “hot sex”.  

Consider these brands … Yamaha, Pearl, Remo and avoid the Gretch Catalina because the hardware is poor, tom mount will break and the snares don’t sound too good etc.  DW makes great stuff especially 

I recommend a 20 inch bass drum. 14 “ snare … 12 “ tom then 13 (if necessary), 14 floor tom.

Buy extra 14” snare heads.

I don’t like the single 10” tom.

Get good hardware .. easily adjustable throne.

Charlie Persip “Best thing you can buy is a good seat”.

I don’t recommend the bicycle seat. I only sit on the front.

Make the drummer responsible for their own washers and felts.
Fiberskin Diplomat is what Jeff uses.
Ambassadors are great… Evans are great.

You can temper the tone with a felt strip or 

Make the students make choices.  Buy T rods for the bass drum so kids can tune it.  Carry a wash cloth which can be placed between the bottom of the pedal and the drum.

14 x 20 
or 14 x 18 so you can feel the font head

Felt beater … not big furry thing.

Don t use a suspended bass drum.  Beater should hit near the edge not right in the center.

3 cymbals are plenty - 20 with 2 rivets

Matt likes an “airy” sound.  Hi-hats should be flexible.  Pick out three cymbals - two tops sounds nice … add a heavier bottom to produce more “chick”.

Zildjan new beats hi-hats.

Check the sound with sticks.  Maple are lighter … hickory are denser. 

Plastic brushes!!! Fat Cat

Vic Firth in the right hand, regal in the left (wire brushes)

medieval torture museum of ruined brushes

Use the word big not loud.

Avoid charts with slashes … learn the song!  Know the form!  Slashes are not very informative … play them the recording.

Thigpen said that the drummer is the only person who has a throne. 

School of rock - Jack Black is the son in law of Charlie Haden.  He plays them a video of Blakey and Buddy Rich.

Art Taylor!!

Put the drummer in the middle of the bone section with a ride cymbal …

Use a couple of charts that are very simple so they can play them from memory and it opens their ears!

Use some of the community resources to enrich all of the musician’s experiences … invite in some bluegrass or country artists.

When setting up your hi-hat, don’t over tighten the nuts on the top cymbal. Also make sure there’s ample room between the cymbals. 

Dizzy carried his own China boy with him for his drummers to play.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Centrum Educator Track 2016 - Part 1

George Cables plays during the inaugural Jam

I'm collecting different vantage from our participants and posting feedback to serve 2 main purposes:

1) Jog our memories during the school year when we have lost our way in the weeds
2) Help future prospective students/teachers consider attending the Jazz Port Townsend Workshop

Randy Halberstadt at the piano with Jeff Clayton listens to "Ow" by Dizzy Gillespie

Thanks to the educator track participants for contributions as time permits. The following is a stream of consciousness entries by myself and other participants.

DAY 1 - Here you go! 

First day of camp! And what a day it was! After our morning meeting our crew attended Kelby MacNayr's incredibly engaging seminar on waking up your body to play. He started off strong by leading the group in the brain dance and I was right at home. It felt like being in elementary music and not having to teach it, hah! I really enjoyed the next layering exercise that we built up together as well as the exploration of different counting methods and would love to try teaching them to my own students.

After lunch I hopped into the drum master class. While I played a kit a bit as a student I never felt the drive to pursue it and after this class I feel a bit of regret that I gave up on it so easily. Listening to 4 amazing musicians talk about something as specific as ride cymbal patterns for 45 min made me want to pull my own kit out of storage and just explore.

I then wandered over to the vocal master class which I heard had been rearranged a bit to make better use of the time (lucky me, I snuck right in.... And only interrupted a little...). Not only was I blown away by the talent of the singers but also the warmth and clarity with which Ms. Daniels expressed her observations. She described how you want to convey a story to the audience and how by imaging that imagery in your own head you can better communicate and evoke reminiscence from the audience. I feel like this can apply to instrumental improvisation as well, it's just more abstract. I also noticed a lot of parallels between the vocal and drum master classes, specifically the discussion of intent and choice. You must make the choice to play or sing a specific way, you can't allow limitations or habit make that choice for you. Simple and yet so important. After finishing up with these lovely ladies and gentlemen I dashed over to Wheeler for a killer concert then off to dinner.

After dinner I was back in 204 for Teaching Improvisation. I don't have a very firm grasp on improvisation so I feel that right now this class is much more for my benefit than my future students. lt gave me some great tools I can work with to begin building my skills.... Which I put to use for the next 2 hours! I ran back to the dorm, grabbed my sax and sat in on what looked like a low key jam. I feel like I learned as much in those 2 hours as I did all day. I got to practice my sight reading, improvising and transposing.... My theory brain hurts a bit... It hasn't work this hard in a while now.... But I am eager to try it again tomorrow. 
See you tomorrow


Bass Masterclass - Monday
John Clayton - JC
Harish Ragahavan - HR
Jon Hamar - JH
Christoph Luty - CL
Chuck Deardorf - CDJohn Clayton - JC

JC  -Ray Brown …. “if the bass is kicking you in the &$%, we are gonna have a problem”

Ask questions as many will be facing the similar issues.

Let’s play a number first.

Sings and shows finger signs … Christoph you start on a B and go down chromatically ..

ba ga doo dah …. 6 x then bomb

Then “In a Mello tone in G” I’ll play the first half, you play the second half …..

How to deal with a blister .. John Clayton said - sterilize a needle and then drain it yourself. If you choose to wear a bandaid, take it off at night.

Ron Carter’s bass book has a great right hand exercise which I do every day. (Harish)

Add to what we already do … there is no wrong way (unless it’s physically painful).

Henry volunteered to play first… came up and asked for anyone who wants to play “you are my sunshine” - Ben volunteered and played a great solo and bass line too with much authority!!

JC took notes on his Mac laptop and gave feedback from his notes after each demonstration.

“Watch the masters right hands to get more control”

Make sure you play in a musical fashion by not overwhelming your partner.

Clamp down the left hand to create big tone … Chuck Deardorf

JC … always double check your posture … I’m not saying you were or weren’t … demonstrated the leaning of the bass to ease posture in upper register.  Get your thumb behind the neck … “choking the chicken” police :) It’s actually less work to play with proper technique with the thumb in the back of the neck.

Sing and play what you sing … the music is in us … the bass just happens to be the best instrument on the planet :)

Everyone in the room does something better than someone else …. JC told the story about Ray Brown telling the story about Art Tatum riding across town to hear a pianist who played only 1 finger solos … support each other no matter what they have to say at this point in time.

Never feel insecure about your level …

Luis Ross and Kenneth Jimenez … Nardis

JC - be more deliberate when soloing and play around more with the vibe of the melody.  Ken you start to go that way by making more space … guys hand your trading off … make it a natural tendency to share it … play more melodies and harmonies in life.

Christoph - ditto about the groove - it was there throughout.  Remember that your solos need to demonstrate that you’re playing with other people .. offer your solo to the other person.
E can get a little muddy because the high octave is so challenging up there … maybe experiment in some other more bass friendly keys.  All the Things or Misty are typically called in many keys but some tunes seem to always be a bit sacred … challenge that.

CD - couple of things … Ken during Luis’ solo I felt it was a bit too busy and distracted a bit from what Luis was doing … Luis try to keep your top knuckles in line with the edge of the fingerboard.

Learn the melody and don’t be afraid to steal more vocabulary from other soloists.

JC always told me to create my own exercises! Just because you learn this tune it’s doesn’t mean it’s not going to apply in another instance on a different tune.

JH - the most intense part of some solos is when someone is not playing.  Create intensity by not playing… space makes your phrase more meaningful.

JC - connect yourself to the silence … breath, then play.

CD - I don’t have a ton to say. It was great! I also think your time was really enjoyable even though you’re not tapping your foot.  Even though its a rental, it sounds great.  The sound is in you …

Harish said … your intro was so great. It really drew me in … I would say use this as a vehicle to explore all the chords…
Steal some stuff from Bobby Timmons live at the vanguard.

JH - Your left heel is off the ground.  Stand with equal weight. Great great sound and pulse in the melody was super clear.

Christoph - the clarity of the performance was evident. Think carefully about how you approach the harmony. Check out Israel Crosby and open up things a little more harmonically … demonstrates. Think about the bass line having a shape much like a melody does. Anything from 1958 - 60 with Ahmad Jamal.

JC - Beautiful performance man.  That was killin’!

There’s no room for shy when you touch music. It’s okay to reflect the groove in other parts of your body. Lovely right arm… you give us the intensity without too much effort. Loved that you soloed first and then walked.  Experiment with your posture …

Here are some highlights from Randy Halberstadt's Educator Track session on Improv on Monday night in Room 10.

Teach your student melodies by ear. "My Ideal". Require them to sing it!

When learning melodic phrases chunk and combine slowly! Especially the first time you're learning it.

Have your students pick out melodies by ear! Ray in a maze metaphor. 

Improvise with chord tones!!
Stay in the box. Slowly!

2-5 repeat 
Experiment with major scales

Then work on repetition games worksheet!

Repetition is the opposite of boring. 
Good example is Joe morello on take 5

Swing! Legato rules
Don't end lines on a downbeat

Upbeat accentuation is more important than triplets

High notes sometimes act as accents when playing very fast - not like Itzak Pearlman

Day 2:
I took a fairly long break from jazz, not necessarily by choice but perhaps by failure to pursue it in my own time regardless of what my schedule could accommodate. That being said, the music has never left my head. It just never got to my fingers. I'd like to imagine that I can absorb things through osmosis without dedicating the hours of practice but we all know that's just not true. The first two days of camp have given me a kick start back into my own playing and feeling of belonging in the music world (and maybe even the jazz world). I think it's the community element that I have been missing for so long. It's also exciting to be challenged by some of the ideas we've been discussing. I understand the theory and get how to apply it to my instrument, I just need to get my fingers to believe me, hah! Then play it again and again and again and again... But when do we have the time?!?