Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DBQ Tour #2

I'm sitting in a condo in Santa Cruz, having just finished all of the “Dillon Baiocchi Quintet” gigs. It was another great California experience, despite the WORST weather in my California history.

Alcatraz in horrible California weather

The band was/is:
Dillon Baiocchi – alto sax/compositions
Samuel Bronowski – tenor sax
Douglas Marriner – drums
Matt Rousseau – bass
Me - guitar

Here's a quick overview of what happened:

We arrived from NY to San Francisco on March 9th and drove to Santa Cruz. The weather was perfect and we beached it up. Little did we know this would be the only time in 10 days...

The following morning we rehearsed in a studio owned by a local drummer to get ready for a radio show on KSCO. Although Santa Cruz is known to be a very liberal county, they have this really right-wing radio station somehow affiliated with Rush Limbaugh. We had played there before, but with a different host. I managed to mess up at least one section to every piece, including the first chords of the entire show. Pure radio gold. In between performances either Dillon would get interviewed or the host would take a few minutes to share his opinions to the panel of women he had as “guests”. He told a joke that was completely irrelevant to his “program”, which was tasteless and insulting, leaving the band silent in response...  He asked me if I could get him great Yankee tickets with my "connections" (I have zero baseball tickets connections, just for the record) in exchange for booze. Not my kind of guy. We grabbed a quick bite and headed over to play a house party, hosted by Nikki Mokover, who we found out was a friend of some of our musician friends in NY. We were originally supposed to share the bill with “Sammy Miller and the Congregation” but Sammy had to take a later flight than planned (he had an audition for the Jazz Drumming Master's program at Juilliard). We decided to improvise groove music as opposed to playing Dillon's music for the sake of keeping the vibe of the party, which was a packed room of attentive dancing college students. I don't know what it is about east coast folk that make them more likely to ignore music at parties... The people in Santa Cruz are incredibly welcoming, generous, helpful, and caring, which are attributes I don't usually give to New Yorkers (and Montreal some of the time). Nikki's hip-hop band “Joomanji” played their set after us, which was a lot of fun (I sat in for a tune). They were followed by a great young electronic artist from LA called “Juj”.

Molly and Sami at the East Village Coffee House in Monterey

The next day we had another rehearsal with Dillon's band, then met with Sammy and Molly Miller who had driven up from LA to play a couple of gigs with us. We headed over to “The Crepe Place” in downtown Santa Cruz to play that night's gig. I was confronted with the noisiest amp buzz I've ever heard in my life (horrible downside to my Tele), which made the gig really uncomfortable. Dillon's band played first; not our finest performance. Sammy then went up, played a couple of tunes duo with Molly, then we joined them for the rest of their set. The following day we went to Monterey to play at “The East Village Coffee House”. Monterey is oddly known for it's jazz festival, military schools, and it's aquarium. We played our sets to a small audience, and I struck up a conversation with a local who told me that Monterey has never been so musically stagnant...

Nikki at work

The Millers returned home the day after. We met with Nikki at KZSC at the top of the UC Santa Cruz campus where he hosts a radio show called “The Next Step” every Tuesday from 2-4pm. He had told us to bring some music, and upon arriving we learned that we would be featured guests for the 2 hour show. Sami felt compelled to tell the listeners that although Vijay Ayer is one of Doug's favourite musicians, he hates his music and that it does nothing for him... This is the kind of back and forth that made up most of the dialogue between the Englishman and the Frenchman for the entire trip. I shared a rough mix of the 1st movement of “Hope”, as well as Tigran Hamasyan's “Vardavar” off of his newest release, “Ep #1” (to be checked out ASAP by everyone...)

Inside KZSC with Bronowski

During a couple of days off we listened back to the performances and attempted to adjust certain things about the music. We got to take a day trip to San Francisco to meet with our friend Sara and Doug's family friend Anita, the funniest 72 year old woman I've ever met. Anita took us around San Francisco from her perspective (she's been there for 30 years).

Doug on the Golden Gate

The next couple of days were spent at Cabrillo college for the “Santa Cruz Jazz Festival”, the major gigs of our trip. We gave two performances and two masterclasses over two days, one about “The Future of Jazz” and the other about composition. We tried to speak broadly with our musical terms, assuming that most of the high school students in attendance listened to very little jazz. Apparently we were wrong... Kids who like jazz = rare.

At Cabrillo College

I got invited to sit in with Nikki's group at “The Abbey” in downtown Santa Cruz which was a blast, a really great turnout and cool music. I played with members of “Joomanji” James Levine on drums, Kevin Cameron on bass, and Robert Finucane on rhodes. Nikki's band for the night was Tobin Chodos on keys, Kevin Cameron on bass, and Evan Williams on drums.

I'm now back in NY, about to play a few gigs and senior recitals in the coming weeks. My partner in crime Arthur Hnatek has managed to book a gig at the “Fête de la musique 2012 à Genève” in Switzerland, which is one of about 5 gigs in June that I'm trying to put together with the help of my European friends.

Music that I've listened to recently:

Darius Milhaud – La Creation Du Monde
Imogen Heap – Speak for Yourself  (I don't know why it's taken me this long to hear this...)
Tigran Hamasyan – EP #1
Adam Guettel – A Light In The Piazza (Original Cast Recording)
Stephen Sondheim – A Little Night Music (2009 Broadway Cast)
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now (Vince Mendoza is king)

Mixes of my recordings are still being worked on, still shooting for a mid-April release!