Archive by Author

My fancy new firewall and brunch

Hello! It’s safe to come to my website now. Thanks to the good people at SiteLock, I now have encryption and a fancy new firewall to boot. SiteLock also gives me the weekly stats on how many bots they block from my site, which is usually in the thousands. Can you imagine what a wonderful world we would live in if hackers spent their time doing good things like solving global warming and eliminating poverty instead of wasting their time wreaking havoc online? Food for thought to be sure.

Speaking of food, I’m playing brunch at Bella Via again this week, and my good friend Mike Baggetta will be joining me. Mike’s an amazing guitarist, and we always have a really good time together. And Bella Via is such a welcoming place and the food is delicious…hope to see you there.

Bella Via – 47-46 Vernon Blvd, LIC NY 11101
Sunday, 2 July 2017 – 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Hack Hack Hack

Even the word is abrasive, isn’t it? So I got hacked. Why hack a jazz guitarist’s web site? There are plenty of other people who have way more interesting dirt than I do. But it happened. Hours of tech support later, we’re back up and running.

And my new CD is still available for purchase! Visit the Posi-Tone Records website, or download it from iTunes, and enjoy!

The look on my face during all this was similar to this blizzard selfie from a few years back. 

Pre-Order Glitter Today!

It’s Here!!!!!

 

Be the first one on your block to own Glitter! I’ll mail you an autographed copy. Click HERE to purchase. CDs are $15 including shipping. Please make sure you give me your address!

We just got our first sparkly review from Dan Bilwanksy at All About Jazz. You can read all about it HERE.

NEW CD OUT NOW!

It’s here! My new CD on Posi-Tone Records, Glitter, is available exclusively from me until its official release date of April 21. Order now and get your autographed copy! Simply click HERE and you will be directed to the Convergence Arts website. CDs are $15 and use promo code GLITTER in the notes section.

I’m super excited about this CD as it’s my first outing with this new group. Featuring Lauren Sevian on baritone saxophone, Gary Versace on Hammond Organ, and Matt Wilson on drums, it’s a bunch of new compositions of mine and a few standards. We had a blast making this music and we hope you enjoy it!

New CD coming in April

Great news! In mid-April my CD for Posi-Tone will be released. It’s called Glitter and it features Lauren Sevian on baritone saxophone, Gary Versace on organ, and Matt Wilson on drums. Very excited! We had so much fun making this CD and can’t wait to share it with you.

 

 

My First Artist’s Residency

Earlier this year, along with my colleague Freddie Bryant, I applied for the Chalk Hill Artists’ Residency. Located on the 270-acre Warnecke Ranch in Healdsburg, CA, the residency offered lodging in a quaint, quirky house (formerly a saloon, relocated to the ranch many years ago) and a silence so wonderful that pouring seltzer into a glass was a loud sound. The best part? No Wi-Fi. My computer stayed in NYC, and I was off social media for a solid week. Heaven!

We began the trip on Sunday, May 7. Freddie and I flew to San Francisco, rented a car and drove to Healdsburg. The drive was lovely, with beautiful views of the city and a jaunt over the Golden Gate Bridge:

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When we arrived we were stunned at the beauty around us. We were greeted by Margo, who runs the residency, and she brought us to our house so we could settle in. We unpacked, went grocery shopping, and came back to get to work. We only had a week, so time was of the essence.

The next morning we were given a tour of the property in an old pickup truck by Margo’s brother, Fred. We drove on paths one wouldn’t even consider able to traverse, and saw more incredible vistas.

Freddie and I settled into a routine almost immediately: mornings for Tai Chi and practicing, afternoons for more practicing, composing, and studying. We were responsible for our own meal preparation, and often had big breakfasts of steel cut oats and hearty vegetarian dinners with just a banana in the middle of the day for a little pick-me-up.

We had some fun afternoon walks, too, and took some pictures of our surroundings for posterity:

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Having a week to focus on music and nothing else was life-changing in so many ways. For starters, I was able to clear my head of outside distractions and worries (having made sure I took care of everything that needed my attention before leaving town). Another realization was that it is possible to make room for everything, which was something I had doubted before then. I also discovered that I have been letting my music take a back seat, which I never intended on allowing to happen but did with all of the administrative duties that fall on being a freelance musician running a small non-profit and trying to present concerts and fundraise so that said concerts can be produced.

At the end of the week, Freddie and I gave a short concert at Chalk Hill’s open house. Freddie performed selections from a solo guitar piece he is writing, I performed my chord melody arrangement of “Darn That Dream” and together we played a Prelude by Gershwin and a Charlie Parker tune called “Yardbird Suite”.

I returned home the following week feeling rejuvenated and much calmer. Many thanks to Berklee College of Music’s Office of Faculty Development for this opportunity and to Margo and Kris at Chalk Hill who provided a space for artists to work!

The biggest challenge has been to keep this momentum going. It’s tough, but every day I work on it. What helps is the fact that I have a new recording of original compositions inspired by the Pirkei Avot, and I am eager to share it with you. I also have other music that I would love to play for you. So I’m going to stop typing now and get to it.

My Milt Jackson Story

At tonight’s clinic at Flushing Town Hall in Queens I’ll be talking about Milt Jackson, the great vibraphonist and founding member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. Since I haven’t posted anything in ages on my blog I figured it was time, so here’s my story about how I met Milt Jackson:

It was a beautiful summer day and I was standing outside my building in Harlem talking to my upstairs neighbor (baritone saxophonist Ray Franks) when a mini-van drove by slowly. Ray exclaimed, “hey, that was Milt Jackson!” then yells to the car, “HEY! MR. JACKSON!”

The van came to a screeching halt; we ran over and spoke with the great Mr. Jackson. His daughter was driving him somewhere and was kind enough to pull over to let us have a few moments with this great jazz legend. (It probably helped that my upstairs neighbor happened to be in Lionel Hampton’s band, and had met Milt before. I had never met him, and for me it was super cool.)

To this day, I still can’t believe that Milt Jackson’s daughter stopped the car when Ray yelled his name down the street.

So if you are so inclined to hear me tell that story in person and also play some cool recordings of Milt Jackson later on, here’s where you’ll find me:

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4  – QJOG JAM SESSION AT FLUSHING TOWN HALL

6-7 p.m. – Clinic
7-10 p.m. – Jam Session (free for participating musicians and members, $10 general admission

Mika Mimura – vibraphone
AM – guitar
Peter Brendler – bass
Brian Woodruff – drums

FLUSHING TOWN HALL
137-35 Northern Blvd
Flushing NY 11354
www.flushingtownhall.org
www.queensjazz.org

 

Gratitude: Musings on the QJOG Spring Jazz Fest 2015

April 26, 2015

Yesterday was the Queens Jazz OverGround’s Third Annual Spring Jazz Fest at Flushing Town Hall. It’s something that I, along with my partners-in-crime Josh Deutsch and Brian Woodruff, work on for most of the year. It’s a lot of planning that ends in one 14-hour fireworks display of master classes for the general public, working with student ensembles from Queens public schools, and performances by professional Queens-based jazz groups.

I have called Queens home since 2004, when my then-fiancé-now-husband Andrey and I moved to Long Island City to a railroad apartment with exposed brick walls and mice that our cat, Gretta, loved to hunt and kill, their tiny corpses left for us as a gift. At the time the neighborhood had one high rise and another on the way; eleven years later we have dozens of new skyscrapers and apartment buildings, all billed as “luxury” and almost more expensive than Manhattan.

But I digress. Borough President Melinda Katz has championed Queens as a destination for the arts – her mother founded the Queens Foundation of the Arts, her father the Queens Symphony – and Josh, Brian and I embrace that statement with enthusiasm and vigor. All three of us being jazz musicians and jazz educators, we are dedicated to bringing as much jazz to the people of Queens as possible.

Yesterday started pretty early. Convergence Arts board member Ana met me at my place, and Andrey helped us pack the (tiny) car full of amps, guitars, and concessions for purchase. Tucked in nicely, we began the trek to Flushing Town Hall on an empty Long Island Expressway, where our conversation became so intense I took the wrong exit (but corrected our direction pretty quickly).

We arrived at Flushing Town Hall at 10:40, which meant we were able to load in with plenty of time to spare. Everyone else pretty much showed up on time at 11, with Josh bringing delicious tarts from a local Chinese bakery, as well as his super cool parents who were visiting from Seattle and wanted to volunteer for the event. Brian’s mother and sister were also there (as they are every year) and together we were ready to go in no time. Tina Seligman (who runs these amazing jazz collage workshops) set up in the Gallery, ready to work with budding collage artists of all ages. (Did you know that Louis Armstrong was a collage artist in his spare time? He made thousands of them.)

Jazz Cups SJF15

Sadly, our first middle school jazz band had to cancel, which meant that things were a little slow for the first hour or so. But our first middle-school band was swingin’ – and clinicians Javier and Tom were there to work with them on specifics. It’s always so inspiring to hear these kids playing through the jazz repertoire and really giving it everything; it’s this sense that you’re passing the music on to the next generation and they’re owning it, making it personal…

As the day progressed, we moved on to high school bands such as the Frank Sinatra big band (unbelievably mature and together!) and gave some master classes (brass, woodwinds and rhythm section) before moving on to the professional bands. We had such a great mix this year, from George Gee’s swing quintet to Thana Alexa’s modern vocal jazz. Martin Kelly’s Affinity Trio rocked the Gallery; Josh Deutsch’s Pannonia gave us folk songs from an imaginary land. Brian Woodruff’s sextet featured a vocalist this year for a powerful, uplifting performance.

I was fortunate to be sharing the stage with trombonist Joe Fiedler and bassist Sean Conly. We call ourselves “MoFiCo” and play music from the classic 1968 record Zo Ko Ma (Attila Zoller, Lee Konitz, Albert Mangelsdorff) as well as some Jimmy Giuffre. Playing with Joe and Sean is always so easy; we have this trust that propels the music to the highest of levels.

The evening ended on a super high with our Guest of Honor, bassist/composer Rufus Reid. Rufus was my teacher/mentor at William Paterson College where I finished my undergraduate degree in 1996. He was the Director of Jazz Studies at the college and he ran a program that was focused on the music and on everyone respecting each other, something I never forgot. Rufus played a set with alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, Josh, Brian and me. It could not have been more amazing. I hadn’t played with Rufus since college, and that alone was quite profound.

The entire day left me feeling very grateful. I love sharing the music with students and audiences alike; I love playing the music with people I consider friends and mentors for whom I hold the highest regard.

 

 

Groundhog Day, or my Snow Days in Boston

Have you ever seen the movie “Groundhog Day”? Bill Murray plays a journalist who wakes up day after day only to find that it’s still the same day: Groundhog Day. It’s a frustrating, hilarious scenario and a great movie.

The past three weeks have been a “Groundhog Day” of sorts for me. I keep traveling up to Boston from New York City only to find that school has been canceled due to snow. I spend my days indoors, sleeping late and catching up on work. (The fact that this is my second blog post in 2015 and it’s only February says something given my past record of posting.) This week was even crazier: not only did both days of school get canceled because of the snow, but my Sunday night gig with Colin Stack at the Lily Pad in Cambridge was also postponed to a future date. I drove up Saturday night to avoid the snow (which, incidentally, began falling the moment I hit the Massachusetts border – I am not making this up) only to find out on Sunday that there was no gig, followed by there being no school.

The craziest part of this is that there are still students I haven’t met. Yesterday I finally got on Google Hangouts and taught two of these three students their first guitar lesson of the semester. They’re great kids and I think that once we can get into a groove (once it stops snowing!) things will be fantastic.

Boston received a record snowfall for a two-week span of time, an amount of snow bigger than the famous Blizzard of ’78 (which is saying something because that was EPIC). Out of eight days of teaching this semester I’ve taught only two-and-a-half days due to the weather. It’s truly insane, the amount of snow and what it looks like out there:

 

 

This is a LOT. OF. SNOW.

This is a LOT. OF. SNOW.

Boston Snow at night!

Boston Snow at night!

It’s been great catching up on things, but I really miss teaching. Next week is supposed to be clear on the days I’m teaching, so hopefully we can finally get started on the semester. I love snow, but this is too much.