promises, promises …

always a better jazz mousetrap

Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (YouthJazz.us) recently finished our 2020 season. This was our second season, and like the 2019 debut season, it was again very successful – despite 2020 being contracted from our normal 4-months to 2-months, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic safety restrictions and protocols that continue at this writing.

2019 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz season recording
session set at BRC Audio Productions, Inc.
2019 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz season recording
session set at BRC Audio Productions, Inc.

Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (KCAYJ) is a private jazz education program that was conceived in 2010 to fill a void that existed in this arena back then, but for various reasons it was not formally launched until 2019. It’s a unique program in that KCAYJ is designed to be a “youth jazz artist experience” rather than a variation on the summer jazz camp model. See our story at this link, it’s pretty interesting how things came together.


lifelong jazz artist + jazz educator

Historic Photograph: The 2009 Kansas Bandmasters
Association Convention (Wichita) with Mr. Leon A. Brady.

Upon returning home to the Kansas City area to live, I connected with people on the scene here who became friends and mentors. Particularly, Ahmad Alaadeen as my last great applied jazz saxophone teacher and the legendary Leon A. Brady who invited me into his youth jazz program as the woodwind faculty in 2007. Mr. Brady founded Kansas City Youth Jazz in 2000 and it grew into five big bands comprised of over 100 students in grades 6th through 12th. His was a unique model in that we faculty would conduct sectional clinics before the bands rehearsed the music together as a full ensemble. Needless to say, doing this made for really tight ensemble work and the band directors could work at a more refined level than simply “fixing notes.”

Historic Photograph: 2011 shaking hands with Mr. Brady after
his final concert and retirement from his program.

I immediately noticed that the students could not improvise very well. It was likely so glaring because the ensemble work was so tight and sounded so good. I asked Mr. Brady for permission to start a combo lab after the Saturday morning rehearsals were finished at 11:30 and he approved. I started with one combo and that quickly grew into two combo labs – the 11:30 and 12:30 combos. A fellow faculty member, Jason Goudeau joined me and we taught the students basic song forms and how to deal theoretically with common chord progressions found in jazz music.

12:30 Combo performing at the Madrid Theater in Kansas City

The students began playing coherent improvised solos and the program thrived. So much so that I was invited to present the Kansas City Youth Jazz 12:30 Combo and give a clinic at the Kansas Bandmasters Association Convention (Wichita) with Mr. Brady in 2009.

11:30 Combo during a performance in Kansas City

This was a promising generation ago now. These young musicians are now adults. Several have gone on to graduate from top music schools and conservatories, become music educators, professional military musicians as well as scientists and business people. I have been successfully and effectively teaching music since the 1980s. In addition to my private studio practice, I have actually taught jazz at the college-level. I enjoy working with middle-level and secondary school music educators, but have never been a public school band director myself. They are indeed my musical heroes.


art is about doing good business

2020 FELLOWS (ARC) – digital album

In addition to all of the things the combo program taught youth jazz artists, Kansas City Area Youth Jazz teaches that art is about doing good business. Most of the act of doing good business happens away from your musical instrument and the stage. It is arts administration. It’s planning and developing programming. It’s customer service. It’s keeping promises to your art, your fans, your band members, and the people who believe in your ideas and dreams. Promises. Keep them.

2019 FELLOWS (ARC) – digital album and limited edition heavy vinyl LP album
2019 Kansas City Area Youth Jazz Fellows after their recording session in August 2019.

promises, promises …

We kept a big promise today to those wonderful people who supported the Kansas City Area Youth Jazz program during its very first season. Yes, even before we were an established entity with the successful track record we have established in two great seasons. Your vinyl LP albums are in the mail to you. They sound superb and Bill Crain took the time needed to ensure that the music on this album will genuinely merit repeated listens. You’ve got a “collectors’ item.” Thanks again! All the best, Mr. B

Spring Break Projects

spring = rebirth + renewal


PROJECT #1 – STUFF: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

My professional recording debut was in 1979 as a soloist with the Hof Symphony Orchestra in Germany.


Hof Symphoniker

Our Army band jazz ensemble performed Concerto for Jazzband and Symphony Orchestra, the 12-tone serial work by Rolf Liebermann, and I played the alto solo. I was still just 22 years old.


Hof Symphony Orchestra Rehearsal – US Army Public Affairs Office Photograph (1979)

In 1984 the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command put together an audio sampler for recruiting musicians. Our young family of four had moved back nearer to my home and lived in Missouri by then. So, I was playing lead alto and touring 8-states in the midwest USA with the 399th Army Band jazz ensemble. It was a very good band. Two of our “live recorded concert” selections were chosen to be included in “An Army Bands Sampler.”



We are in the beginning stages of some major spring cleaning and I came across the latter cassette in relatively pristine condition.


#familymuseum #cassette #analog


PROJECT #2 – DINO MASSA 2020 KC TOUR

Italian Jazz Pianist and Composer, Dino Massa

I met Dino Massa during my tour of duty with the NATO Band based at Naples, Italy. Dino was a masters student at the Naples Conservatory at the time and we used to play jazz gigs during my off-duty hours when the NATO Band was not touring. We reconnected via social media several years ago and resumed our musical collaboration with Dino traveling to Kansas City to perform concerts, master classes and record.



We released “Echoes of Europe” worldwide on the ARC label in 2017 to great reviews. It’s a very nice recording and special in that me and Terri (flute) are performing together again on most of the selections with Dino and several of my closest musical friends and colleagues on the KC scene. This year Dino is coming to perform a concert in Kansas City, teach a couple of master classes at a high school and college, then we’ll record another album for the ARC label.



We are recording original music and the theme for this recording project is inspired by the work of various impressionist artists


DINO MASSA 2020 KC TOUR GALLERY

MARCH 2020 IS WOMEN IN JAZZ MONTH IN KC

The 2020 Dino Massa KC Tour was a wonderful success. Maestro Dino conducted two master classes. Thanks to the Music Departments of USD 453 and KCKCC for having him interact with your students. Dino performed at Westport Coffeehouse Theatre with a quintet of KC artists and thanks to everyone who made it. And the recording session at BRC Audio Productions in Kansas City was very nice as well. We have another very fine album of original compositions for release on the ARC recording label.


LHS MASTER CLASS


KCKCC MASTER CLASS


WESTPORT KC CONCERT


BRC AUDIO PRODUCTIONS RECORDING


The featured photo is the Castel Nuovo, a.k.a. Maschio Angioino, a seat of medieval kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain

One Family + One Tribe


#BlackHistoryMonth 


Thanks to Nicole and Danae at the Dwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical Center‘s CPAC where Terri Anderson Burnett works for inviting me to speak for one of their “Black History Month” events.

I gave a talk and presentation centered on the topic African Americans and the Vote and enjoyed learning lots while doing the research for this opportunity.

A couple of years ago, I spoke at their “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” event. 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH


One Family

I enjoy discovering new facts while doing research to give talks, presentations, and even music clinics. What I learn each year during Martin Luther King, Jr. and African American recognition periods is always enlightening.

Having added “Papa” and “Nana” (grandfather and grandmother) to our monikers, we’ve now actually lived lots of significant and interesting “history” ourselves.

Ultimately, we’ve found that despite the inherent issues and myths within human society, the fact is that there is only one race – the human race. We are one family.


One Tribe

According to a Harvard study, music is indeed the “universal language.”

This and other contemporary studies reinforce my beliefs in this regard as well.

No matter where we’ve visited or lived in the world, we were able to communicate with others through the common bond of music. That’s cool.


VISION 20/20


#MissouriMusicEducatorsAssociation #Clinician


On January 24, 2020, I had the honor and privilege of sharing research and methods with my colleagues and peers at the annual Missouri Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop Conference. Sponsored by MMEA and Conn-Selmer, Inc.

T went with me and we had a pretty good time together as well.

MMXX

January 2020 marks several milestones.

Obviously, the start of a new year, but also the concluding of another decade.

The “roaring twenties” …


ELIZABETH TOWER

A.K.A. “Big Ben” – London, United Kingdom

2020 also marks 5 years since our family trip to London, UK.

It was cool and we went on several day trips with our adult children.

Many photographs in this post are from that winter vacation.

We love them and are so proud of each of our children.

They have not only grown into adults to emulate, but each one is a truly brilliant person who contributes greatly to society.

And, most importantly, they are good resilient souls.

They don’t quit or give up.

She’s looking at him …
He’s looking at her …

OUR NEXT DECADE TOGETHER

2020 also marks the year we will turn 65.

We actually don’t know what turning 65 is supposed to feel like yet because this year is our first time doing it.

But we collectively know we’re blessed with good health, the love of our family + dear friends, we still have our chops, and still play our instruments at a professional-level – so we are very thankful.


Music Is Life Is Music

Photo by our daughter

+ Recording

+ Performing

+ Teaching

+ Composing

+ Studying

Teaching + Community Wind Ensemble + Flute Choir

Happy MMXX to you and yours!

Time Flies indeed …

CHEERS!

Music + Books

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

WINTER VACATION BREAK

“PROJECT #45”

OUR OFFICE BOOKSHELF = “BEFORE”
OUR OFFICE BOOKSHELF = “AFTER”

“You can’t use up creativity.

The more you use, the more you have.”

– Maya Angelou

Every year since we have been together, we have had a “winter vacation break project.”You know this type project. Yours probably could even be one like our office bookshelf and office storage space morphed into. It’s something that you plan to get around to doing, but never do during the course of the year because you can find what you need in the immediate and are able to get done what you need to get done despite there being no organized system in place to facilitate efficiency and accountability.

BUT . . . WE TRULY ARE ORGANIZED PEOPLE . . . REALLY WE ARE . . .

We decided to use the old reliable BANKERS BOX®
as our primary storage and retrieval vehicle .

 “The greatest sign of success for a teacher . . . is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist’ . . .”

– Maria Montessori

Nonetheless, it never fails that we find a better system or more logical process to use somewhere in our day-to-day living that helps out tremendously.

And it seems that during the course of simply living, while continuing to learn and grow, we will periodically find that old systems and methods are no longer functionally useful.

THE LIBRARY OF A COUPLE OF ACTIVE PROFESSIONAL WOODWIND MUSICIANS

“The principle goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” 

– Jean Piaget

We use everything in our office bookshelf space as part of our business activities, woodwind studio teaching practices, and individual studies as professional musicians.

So, in our experiences, such resets are usually a good thing.

SOME HISTORIC ITEMS + JAMES R. FUCHS AND CHARLIE MOLINA

THIS IS THE ACTUAL KLOSE METHOD I PRACTICED AND STUDIED CLARINET FROM – COST: $7.50 VALUE: PRICELESS

“It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

I started playing a band instrument in the 9th grade, which is still late by most standards. In addition to the cursory learning to play some rudimentary form of the recorder, I studied the violin in the 4th grade growing up in Paola, Kansas. Yes, Paola, Kansas. However, I participated in private music programs at our church and had pretty good general music classes during grade school and junior high.

THIS WAS MY SOLDIER’S MANUAL AS 02Q4C1
WOODWIND GROUP LEADER WITH ARMY BANDS

“Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.”

– Chinese proverb

Mr. Jim Fuchs taught me clarinet and saxophone. I played clarinet initially and then essentially played the saxophone from the 10th grade onward. Paola had its own music store in town back then too. That’s how I first met Charlie Molina, who was one of the owners and a Conn Clinician. I auditioned and successfully passed auditions to qualify for the military music programs of both, the Army and Air Force. I chose the Army.

THESE COURSES WERE PART OF THE ARMY’S ONGOING
INDIVIDUAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

“I’m still learning.”

–Michelangelo

*The main photograph of this post is from our family trip to England during Christmas time – exactly 5 years ago on this date. All other photographs are during the work.