Dec 192009
 

There’s nothing better than flying for free on miles, except flying for free on miles to a remote location which usually would cost a ton of $$$ to get to…

I’m excited about the journey ahead and just hope that no bags get lost and all our connections and plans work out!

Dec 19
4.15 alarm for a 6.15 flight to snowy Minneapolis… what I’m really not looking forward to is the 14 hour flight to Tokyo followed by the 8 hour flight to Bangkok… we’ll get there eventually I guess… right about now,
for a 6’2″ guy like me, it seems so uncomfortable and far away in time… thank god for emergency exit seats!

Dec 192009
 

Luckily there are still musicians out there who care about “the sound” and are willing to experiment to get there. The incredibly talented Eyvind Kang is one of those and I was excited when he called me and told me he wanted to check out different mic positions and try something new and unusual. When I told my assistant to set up 5 mics he looked at me weird and thought it was overkill given it was just one instrument.
The sound we got was beautiful and rich!
The JZ Mic Black Hole was the close-mic of choice. I also had a stereo Rode NT 4 in front of the instrument, a few feet away, and then a Rode NT2000 and Fet 47 and a 414.
Recording one viola with 5 microphones on 6 channels was a new experience for me. Once I checked phase correlation, I mixed the signals and the result was impressing. Fascinating how different all the positions and mics sounded. Subtleties, richness and qualities of Eyvind’s unique instrument were beautifully captured in this way and when you complement that with his incredible playing the result was really stunning.
Look out for the one and only Eyvind Kang’s new record (produced by Jessika Kenney and himself) sometimes in 2010.

Dec 162009
 

I did sound at a benefit show tonight for the Brad Hampton justice fund. Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed AND their dog all performed, along with some very special guests like John Zorn, Skuli Sverisson and poets Bob Currie and Anne Carson. Of course Laurie totally amazed, mesmerized and entertained guests with her incredible violin/electronica/spoken word performance which included a new piece she wrote for Brad himself. And of course Lou dominated and rocked the stage with his legendary songs, signature voice and powerful guitar sound. And of course all the guests were great too. But I think everyone would agree that Lolabel (or Lolabelle?) totally stole the show playing notes with both paws, doing chord changes on one of those keyboards with accompaniments and even playing bells and barking on the cue of her trainer.
A good evening amongst friends with great music and a festive spirit.
Please check out Brad Hampton’s work (he’s a painter) and read about his fund (you may donate as well!). He’s been hit with an unjust court ruling in favor of a sub-tentant of his who decided to quit paying rent and start unlawfully squatting in Brad’s place. Lots of crazy people out there!

Dec 142009
 

I was fortunate to be invited to a special advance screening of a new movie called “Crazy Heart”, followed by a PGA-organized Q&A with the actors and director. The latter admitted that he wanted to do a movie on Merle Haggard but that it was too complicated and so he turned to this novel about a “richly comic, semi-tragic romantic anti-hero Bad Blake, who is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer with far too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times”. Bad Blake is a very well written character masterfully interpreted by the great Jeff Bridges. His co-star Maggie Gyllenhall is the younger journalist woman “who discovers the real man behind the musician” and falls for him “as he struggles down the road of redemption and learns the hard way just how tough life can be on one man’s crazy heart”.

Produced by Scott Cooper (who also directed), Robert Duvall (who also plays a part), Rob Carliner, Judy Cairo and the great T-Bone Burnett, this movie has a LOT of great AND original country music produced by T-Bone for the film and very well executed by Bridges himself (backed by the same great band who did the 5-time Grammy Winning Plant/Krauss rhyhm tracks)!

Great music film you should favor over other blockbusters this holiday season!

Dec 122009
 

Only in New York can you take your pick of Gamelan concerts and styles. This weekend not one but three Gamelan concerts took place.
Saturday at 3pm as part of the series titled “The Allure of Refinement: Music and Dance of Indonesia” the NY based Gamelan Kusuma Laras ensemble with Guest Artists from Cornell University’s Gamelan Ensemble and from Seattle’s Gamelan Pacifica ensemble performed half a dozen pieces at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts of Lincoln Center Plaza, New York. The space filled up quickly and at least 20-30 people got turned away. An equal number of people where on stage singing and playing Javanese Gamelan music. If your cup of tea is rather Balinese Gamelan then the Indonesian Consulate in New York presented an 8pm concert on Saturday and a 2pm concert on Sunday on just that. In addition to that Cornell music professor Christopher Miller also gave a talk on Javanese music and dance on Friday.

Over the weekend I was honored to get into the studio with the amazing incredible viola player/composer/improviser Eyvind Kang and work on his beautiul new solo album. His wife Jessika Kenney (an Gamelan Pacifica member) is in town too and she lent her beautiful voice to the Javanese Gamelan concert above and is also doing a workshop on vocal techniques in Brooklyn.

Also Zorn was playing at 4pm in an art gallery.

Definitely a NY-style busy weekend. I love this city.

Dec 102009
 

Although I haven’t yet had the pleasure to record Annie’s fine music, I did work with her in the studio recently (on Roger Kleier’s great upcoming instrumental rock record featuring Trevor Dunn and Chess Smith).

Not too long after that session she sent me a link to this article she wrote for the Times, which is one of the best reads on the subject. I commend her for tackling this burning question in such an original, complete, forward-thinking, organized, well thought out and experienced way and I hope many will find this useful.

The Score: Advice to Young Composers – Opinionator Blog – NYTimes.com.

Dec 092009
 

I went to see the great Lou and the the other surviving memebers of the Velvet Underground talk about their career at the NY Library on 5th and 42nd tonight.
Rolling Stone’s David Fricke was moderating/interviewing but was so nervously shaking and unusually unprepared that when faced with the fierce anti-press personality of the great Lou, barely managed to keep his head above. Lou attacked record labels execs and journalists alike and entertained the crowd like only he can do! Good times!

Dec 032009
 

6.30am. I’m sitting in a car service that’s taking me home from JFK airport, where I just landed after a long flight from Brazil. This was my first time there and the experience was equal part hell and paradise!
Paradise for the places I saw, the lagoon I kitesurfed in, SOME of the people I met.
Hell because on top of delayed flights with resulting missing connections, within 10 minutes (no joke!!!) of landing at the Brazilian airport I was surrounded by a large crowd (felt like mosh pit at CBGB’s!) who emptied my pockets, leaving me with no wallet (ie no money and no credit cards) and, worse, no IDs and no passport! The subsequent nightmare of consular agencies and embassies is too long to describe but I spent countless hours on phone and email (the iPhone saved my life!), countless money (which my travelling buddies lent me) on cab rides, car rentals, consulate fees, papers and other stuff and about 7 days waiting for an approval from the US consulate (which I was told was gonna take 2 days) and 5 hours in line at the US consulate.
Lesson I learned: always have ALL your IDs and documents scanned and available online for retrival and printing; always have money, IDs and travel documets in differet parts of your body and where you can feel them; never trust a cheering crowd in Brazil; never get robbed in a country where everything is slow and takes forever to happen; …and last but not least get yourself an amazing girlfriend like I have who can get on the horn, make things happen, scan documents, be internet savvy and do things for you (I’d probably still be stuck there if it wasn’t for her help)!

P.S.: oh, did I mention that I have a recording session in 4 hours at the studio?