Music, music, music…

I’m looking forward to a great week of music with my group the New World Jazz Composers Octet. It’s such a privilege to perform this book of music with the finest musicians there are.  Felipe Salles, Walter Platt, Tony D’Aveni, Tim Ray, Mark Walker, Keala and Fernando, Bertram and Ernesto.. these guys are as good as it gets. Thankful that we were able to reschedule our Berklee Performance Center concert after being snowed out! Hoping (praying) for a good turnout. Such a challenge getting an audience nowadays. Too many options, too many distractions for people to navigate anymore. Change is inevitable I suppose, but often not easy. We head to St. Michaels College in St. Albans, VT on Thursday for a concert and master class, thanks to the efforts, vision and dedication put forth by Linda Little and Brian McCarthy. Can’t wait to bring this band and our music to my favorite state in the world. (it’s supposed to snow on Thursday I just heard… Mother Nature, please be gentle…)

Had an amazing concert with my Latin Side Of Billy Strayhorn concert (also at Berklee) 2 weeks ago. I must say we had a great crowd which was inspiring and so encouraging! In spite of the inevitability of change hope springs eternal as they say.

I’m musically and personally so rich performing with the people I do. Truly fortunate. I’ve struggled with my own demons of insecurity for a long time. It often keeps me from pursuing opportunities that I dream of but am too frightened to pursue. Recent struggles with nerve damage in my neck haven’t made things any easier. But in spite of all the obstacles, I’ve had a good wake up call as of late. The musical riches I’m surrounded by are humbling and have me walking on cloud nine… Playing with my octet, with my collective in the Strayhorn project, with Fernando Brandao’s group, with my dear friend and amazing writer/bandleader Pablo and many other things on the horizon I realize that my efforts are not for naught. My students at Berklee inspire me and challenge me every day and keep me striving to be a better musician, better teacher, better person…  so much to be thankful for.

In preparation for the recent Strayhorn concert I dug up a quote by Edward Kennedy Ellington I remembered reading years ago about Billy Strayhorn and Freedom that I wanted to post again. I quoted these at the concert that night and it was very moving for me. I often say that with freedom comes responsibility and firmly believe this (and it’s easy to forget living in our contemporary society.) May we all live with Freedom and may we all aspire to be honest and true in all our endeavors:

Ellington said that Billy Strayhorn lived by four basic Freedoms in his life.

Freedom from Hate…Unconditionally

Freedom from Self-Pity

Freedom from the fear of possibly doing something that may help someone else more than it will him…

Freedom from the kind of Pride that could make a man feel he’s better than his brother

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