on Chicago City Limits and other "mini-successes" of the day...
7/6/2007 - A few little “mini-successes” today. Finished my article on Bosendorfer’s Ceuss piano for the Sept./07 Downbeat coming out mid-August (more on this in my latest Living Jazz Podcast #21), and just got back from a particularly successful night of Chicago City Limits. For those not aware, CCL is New York’s longest running comedy revue, but it goes well beyond that into the very daring world of theatrical improv. I’ve written about this before in my Downbeat magazine Living Jazz columns, but suffice to say that what has always appealed to me about this world are the remarkable parallels between what they do on the stage as improvising actors and what I try to do as a pianist. I remember back as a student at Indiana University watching an ad-hoc improv group playing a game called “Freeze”, where they would unfurl endless scenes made up on the spot; someone would yell “freeze”, enter the scene and take over from a now-frozen peer, and then the scene would continue, often in outlandishly different directions, a thorough exploration of the mind and of imagination. I remember being fascinated, and wishing that I could participate – who would have thought I could be involved in a profession, ultimately, that actually helps make people laugh? (on purpose, that is :-)…)

I first began doing CCL when my BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop writing partner Carl Kissin. (a longtime CCL veteran, now “retired” from active duty there but still going strong in the world of improv, having recently won the Monologue Slam this week here in NY) recommended me. At first I was a shy sub, but I eventually assumed the mantle of “Music Director” for the mainstage company here in town and now perform quite regularly (Thurs-Sat. at 8 pm, a 2nd show Sat. at 10 pm) when I’m not on the road.

The main stage cast has gone through changes these past few months but now consists of Annie Figenshu, Rob Schiffman, Stefan Schick, and Joe DeGise II. One of CCL founders, Paul Zuckerman, once said that the beauty of the show to an audience can often be that by everyone in the company bringing their own, individual talents to the table, the illusion is created for the audience that we know a little bit about every conceivable subject the audience might yell out over the course of a show, and this idea, I think, was no more evident that today’s show, as we went through our various improv forms that form the backbone of a CCL performance (a storytelling form called Byrone, improvised Jeapardy, a fully improvised musical based around the events of someone in the audience’s day, etc., etc.)…

In the end, it’s really hard to explain what makes a great show. Certainly, it was in front a smallest, but highly enthused, uninhibited and warm audience, and this fact can help, as the show is very much about feeding off of the wavelengths shooting back at us from the crowd. I think, ultimately, it’s something about chemistry – something about the fact that the cast truly likes and respects each other, and each really DOES have something to contribute, from Annie’s penchant towards musical hooks and characters always so grounded in reality, to Rob’s incredible musical chops mixed with a brilliant and quick mind, to Stefan’s ability to play “manic” with such controlled, gradually unfurling chaos, to Joe’s seasoned mastery of his characters (today assuming, in one scene, a particularly exaggeratedly-accented Scot), and often assuming the “straight man” to the mania that surrounds him. I don’t know what, exactly it is, but somehow today everything just clicked, and one leaves feeling that what we are doing really is enjoyable – and special.

My final “mini-success story” of the day was a copy of a recital program my brother Shaw just sent me of a former student of his named Vincent. In the program’s bio, it describes how hearing me play for Shaw’s class back when he was 7 years old inspired him to become a pianist, and he’s since gone on to win all sorts of awards and enter many competitions (some quite familiar to me as I also did such “rounds” when I was his age). It’s an amazing feeling to know that you can inspire someone so much.
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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 ddjacksoncomposer.com
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