Friday, May 27, 2011

Bachelor's Degree

It's been a while since my last update, so I have a lot to write about.  The last couple of months has been spent finishing up my Bachelor's degree at the New School, and has been filled with great gigs and concerts.  I played several gigs with Dillon Baiocchi's group, all of which were a blast. The music is really refreshing and the band members are awesome players and friends. I also had a chance to sub in "Sammy Miller and the Congregation" at Fat Cat which was a lot of fun. Other gigs included Andrew Mancilla's band at the Bitter End, Bud Rice's band at Grumpy's Bar in Montreal (as well as a surprisingly fun cocktail gig with my brother on bass and Rick Rosato on drums. Rick is the most badass bassist. Period. He also happens to swing really hard on drums, although no one knows this...)  I was asked to play with the big band at "The University of the Streets" in Alphabet City (my hood!!!) for a New School series curated by Chris Stover, who is a new addition to the NS staff, and he's already made himself one of the most valuable.  The gig went over well, although I have to admit that I'm not used to playing "concert" style shows with this band.  I like it when people are free to move around and yell at the band a little if they want. I had more trumpets than usual, due to a new addition to the NY band, Ari Bragi Karason.  Ari recently won the "Best Upcoming Artist" at the Iceland Music awards (yes, he's Icelandic) and is a wonderfully unique musician and human being.  Here's a snapshot of the evening:

Two days later was my Senior Recital at the New School.  My amazing family drove down from Montreal to come celebrate, and the turnout for the recital was better than I could have imagined.  It made me realize how many great friends I've made in my little time in NY.  I had the whole band + special guests play most of the large ensemble music that I've written in the last year or so.  The band was:
Rhythm Section: Me(!) - guitar Arthur Hnatek - drums, Matt Rousseau - bass, Dominic Mekky - piano.
Trumpets: Ari Bragi Karason, Cody Rowlands, Sam Neufeld, Linton Smith, Francesco Fratini, Derek Ganong
Trombones: Alfredo Marques, Kurtis Muller, Matthew Hartnett, Andy Sharkey, Erik Saras
Woodwinds: Ilia Skibiinsky, Dillon Baiocchi, Yacine Boulares, Levon Henry, Sarah Safaie
Special guests: Marc Beland - drums, Dan Ellis-Ferris - voice, Dean Buck - conductor

We had Blake Martin on lead trumpet, Freddy Gonzalez on trombone, Michael Valeanu on guitar, and JJ Wright on piano at the UOTS gig, but unfortunately they couldn't make the senior recital.

Couple of notes: I had never played my own guitar parts with the band before which was both exhilarating and kind of strange.  I was really fortunate to have Dean come in as a conductor for the rehearsals and the concert. I have to admit that my conducting skills are completely undeveloped. Dean is the man. If anyone needs a conductor, contact DEAN BUCK! I had to have Marc play drums with us, as I've made tons of music with him in the last couple of years, and watched/talked about too many Habs games to not have him on board.  He's a total badass as well, in my humble opinion.  I've been writing "songs" for the big band, and Dan was my guinea pig.  I'm loving the process, and the result so far is spot on to what I'm imagining it will turn out to be.  Dan is one of the few vocalists that I've ever met that can reproduce exactly what I ask of him.  (I know this entry is just me speaking really highly of everyone so far, but I'm just being honest...)

Aside from the big band performances, I've been rehearsing for and playing on the recitals of 3 great friends and singers at school. I've already played on Emma Love's recital, and Eleanor Howe's recital, and am looking forward to playing Talia Billig's.  I find the most joy in guitar playing accompanying singers than in anything else... Here's a shot from Emma's recital.

That's it for now...