New Music Festival Premiere (part 1 of 2)
9/8/2001 - Just got back from a weekend in Minneapolis where I participated in the new music “Festival Dancing in Your Head”. When I was first approached by my old classical music friend Phil Ford from Indiana U. (now a budding professor and musicologist at the U. of Minnesota) about doing the commission, I regarded it as a special challenge, to try and write something in the more specifically notated, classical idiom; we spoke of trying to add a jazzy/notated/classical piece to the new music canon, something which people even without jazz background could conceivably play. After I expressed interest, Anthony Gatto, the president of Headwater’s Music and the organizer of this year’s festival Phil co-founded with him, formally commissioned me to write a 15 minute work by late this past winter, and in my typical “I don’t need time! I need a deadline!” Duke Ellington-esque way, I put off thinking about the piece until a host of other more immediately pressing projects were out of the way. As it turned out, my latest CD, “Sigame” was completed by the end of July (it’s due out Oct. 9th), and so by the beginning of August I finally got around to really zeroing in on the piece.
I decided almost impulsively to focus on the variation form – namely to do 10 variations on a simple, Satie-inspired melody that I had had lingering in my head for some time. What I didn’t anticipate was how much of a mental block I would experience. Some of the stigmas against jazz composers – namely, the notion that they historically have lacked an ability to deal with coherent, larger scale form - started haunting me as I contemplated writing a piece which, by it’s very theme and variations structure, didn’t lend itself at all to over-arching form or large-scale development. In short, I was experiencing some serious Indiana University (where I received my B.Music in Classical Piano Performance in a suffocatingly close-minded atmosphere about jazz) flashbacks as I pondered what sort of piece I could legitimately present at not a jazz but a New Music Festival.
My way out of this dispair occurred quite quickly after I called the commissioner, Anthony Gatto, and found a much more open-minded attitude towards musical style than I had anticipated. Much had changed, it seems, since Indiana, and apparently today a New Music festival literally seemed to mean any new music which could on some level qualify as having legitimate artistic value, and to Anthony this seemed to mean stylistically almost anything under the sun. This meant that at the festival (on the same day as my 15 minute piece which was to be part of a huge music marathon running non-stop for 10 hours) the audience would be treated to artists as diverse as Tibetan Monks to various wacky pseudo-musical performance artists, to Steve Reich to “Hmong mouth organs” to the Bang on a Can All-Stars to electric trombone. There was even an actual jazz trio, a local band named “Happy Apple” that I very much enjoyed, that were being commissioned also.
Freed from my self-imposed constraints, I proceded to write a piece which instead of being merely 10 variations in the classical piece, I renamed 10 “Inspirations”, since they were, after, not only strictly notated, but in some cases also very much improvised depending upon my inspiration of the moment. The result, though rough around the edges, was well received (to hear the full MP3 of the performance, go here and click on “10 Inspirations on a Simple Theme”.)
feature download
Improvisations on Bach's Goldberg Variations (tribute to Glenn Gould)
From my recent concert at the Barrie Jazz Festival, presented as a part of a concert of "Canadian Inspirations", from Neil  Young to Alanis Morisette (stream the entire second set from the "Canadian Inspirations" concert  here (D.D. Jackson Radio)).
living jazz audio & video podcasts
Organ Nation demo
Audio - Demo recording of our new collective group featuring myself on Hammond B3 organ; Alex Harding on bari sax; Walter Szymanski on trumpet; and Brandon Lewis on drums. Recorded at Dubway Studios, Feb./09.
Organ Nation at Cornelia Street Cafe
Audio - Live recording of our collective group Organ Nation at our premiere gig this past Feb./08 at the Cornelia Street Cafe featuring myself: organ; Alex Harding - baritone sax; Walter Szymanski - trumpet; and Brandon Lewis - drums.
living jazz weblog
8/23/2012 - recent activity...
4/28/2011 - Billy Bang, R.I.P.
9/1/2010 - Freeplay music and
4/15/2010 - latest activities
10/10/2009 - Manhatpro
2/28/2009 - past few months update...
7/14/2008 - "Canadian Inspirations"
3/10/2008 - hear my solo piano performances at Alanis Morissette Tribute concert in Ottawa
12/24/2007 - R.I.P., Oscar Peterson
10/27/2007 - A chat with Andrew Dubber of New Music Strategies
10/4/2007 - James Carter recording, Moonfest, & other recent activities...
8/1/2007 - New Music Strategies plus MOMA concert
7/7/2007 - on Chicago City Limits and other "mini-successes" of the day...
7/1/2007 - I couldn't resist... and bought an iPhone!...
6/30/2007 - performance with Ahmed Abdullah at Sweet Rhythm
6/2/2007 - new Living Jazz Podcast is up...
12/19/2006 - gigs about town with Dean Bowman
11/29/2006 - appearance on CBC's "Fuse" program
10/14/2006 - Reflections on the birth of my new son Jarrett in Podcast #19
9/11/2006 - In Memory of 9/11
7/14/2006 - Trudeau opera news spreading fast
6/20/2006 - my Trudeau opera
6/6/2006 - John Hicks memorial
4/29/2006 - jazz opera Quebecite in New Brunswick
3/16/2006 - "Serenity Song" track from upcoming "Serenity Song" CD now available for free download
3/8/2006 - Thoughts on recent Bret Primack Seminar on Web Publicity
2/27/2006 - Chris Howes interview plus more updates
1/14/2006 - live from Cambodia: thoughts on my IAJE panel (1 of 2)
1/13/2006 - Live from Cambodia: thoughts on my IAJE panel (2 of 2)
12/6/2005 - My first Artistshare blog entry
7/5/2005 - a new Trudeau opera
3/25/2005 - Solo piano in Taiwan (part 1 of 2)
3/24/2005 - solo piano in Taiwan (part 2 of 2)
2/18/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 1 of 4)
2/18/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 2 of 4)
2/17/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 3 of 4)
2/16/2005 - Musician-in-Residence, St. John's College (Part 4 of 4)
1/4/2005 - New Year's Eve in Japan (part 1 of 2)
1/3/2005 - New Year's Eve in Japan (part 2 of 2)
9/15/2004 - JaraSum Jazz Festival, South Korea
8/14/2002 - Bluiett/Jackson/El'Zabar mini-west coast tour
3/4/2002 - Last Few Months Update (part 1 of 2)
3/4/2002 - Last Few Months Update (part 2 of 2)
3/3/2002 - Thoughts on 9/11
9/9/2001 - New Music Festival Premiere (part 1 of 2)
9/8/2001 - New Music Festival Premiere (part 2 of 2)
9/13/2000 - D.D. Jackson Group in Japan
7/1/2000 - A Canadian in New York (part 1 of 2)
6/30/2000 - A Canadian in New York (part 2 of 2)
5/20/2000 - Yukon adventure
3/13/2000 - Juno Awards
3/5/2000 - Tel Aviv
3/5/2000 - My New Columbus Band
2/1/2000 - Musings on Wynton after the Jazz at Lincoln Center (part 1 of 2)
1/31/2000 - Musings on Wynton after the Jazz at Lincoln Center (part 2 of 2)
9/10/1999 - My first RCA CD's
9/9/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 1 of 3)
9/8/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 2 of 3)
9/7/1999 - Re-addressing my classical past (part 3 of 3)
3/21/1999 - Thoughts on Fred Hopkins and Jaki Byard
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 1 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (Part 2 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 3 of 5)
11/28/1998 - African Journal (part 4 of 5)
11/27/1998 - African Journal (part 5 of 5)
10/31/1998 - "Effusion"
10/28/1998 - Hamiet Bluiett's Strange Second Set
9/18/1998 - Perilous Journey From Japan
9/18/1998 - Strange Duos with Kurt Elling
6/5/1998 - "Blood on the Keys"
2/22/1998 - Thomas Chapin
1/20/1998 - Duets with James Carter
11/13/1997 - "Ultimate" big band
7/1/1997 - 2 surreal gigs in Canada
5/26/1997 - First tour of Japan
5/5/1997 - Thoughts on James Carter
3/1/1997 - Thoughts on Don Pullen
2/20/1997 - "David Murray Week",. Columbus, Ohio
12/3/1996 - Duo Sessions
10/28/1996 - "Freedom" in East Germany
10/3/1996 - Tribute to Don Pullen session