It was in the 80s today in Pittsburgh. This has been the first weekend where we’ve had spring-like weather for two days in a row. This provided us with great motivation to open the windows and do some spring cleaning. I vacuumed, swept and dusted for at least three hours.
Lot’s of performing opportunities coming up in the next few weeks. I have two dates with Batamba: opening for Mathew Tembo at Howler’s on April 24 and playing at the newly re-located Ava Lounge on May 3. I’ll also be playing with the Uptown Rhythm and Brass on the Northside at the Rochester Inn on April 25. And I have a gig with the Queen City Funk and Soul Band in Frostburg, MD on May 3.
So grateful for all the work.
I’m so lucky that I get to do what I love for living. Playing the drums – all kinds of drums – in all kinds of different settings. This work is so fulfilling.
I play the drum kit for jazz, Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian music groups. I also accompany dance classes for several hours each week.
Tomorrow morning I’ll be teaching students at a middle school about the history of steel drums from Trinidad.
Last week, I was playing the music of Ornette Coleman. Yesterday, I was playing in a duo with cellist for a contemporary dance class. Today, I’m playing for a master class led by Troy Powell director of Ailey II Dance company.
For me every day’s an adventure.
I’ll be performing the music of Ornette Coleman next Friday, January 31 at 8 p.m. At the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
I’ll be joining jazz studies doctoral candidate Nathan Frink-alto saxophone, John Bagnato-bass, Lee Martin-vocals, John Petrucelli-tenor saxophone and Joe Badaczewski-trumpet on selections from Coleman’s records issued between 1971-1973.
Listening to the great Ed Blackwell on these recordings has been a real education.
I recently had a new photo made of myself. It was the first time since college that I’d sat for a portrait. Many thanks to Andrea London who’s artistry made this happen. Her professionalism and attention to detail made this process so enjoyable.
For my music appreciation class at Point Park University
When my feet hit the ground it signals the start of a new day. Immediately I slip them into a pair of slippers, flip flops or my Birkenstocks. My feet usually hit the ground at the same time, not one foot and then the other. This way I’m ready to face squarely whatever’s in front of me. Each foot feels each foot, and they feel the ground. I’m connected to the ground, and I draw energy from the earth. When I do morning yoga I plug into the ground with my knees, my arms, my hands and my feet. I try and build each pose as I anchor into the ground. I push down with the palms of my hands, squeeze the muscles in my legs and strengthen my core as I twist and turn and reach for the full extension of every asana. In this way, I know my body and I can feel the alignment between my hips and shoulders–it helps me to balance. I turn my head in different directions; sometimes I just release it let it drop down. The key is to engage only the muscles that you need for a particular position—relax the rest of the body.
And then there’s the breath. The breath is everything. You have to breathe through each posture. You never stop breathing. Especially when it gets hard–don’t hold your breath.
I used to hold my breath all of the time. It was the only way I could maintain the intensity of the groove when I was playing the drums. It also happened when it was my time to shine. I would so excited, that I would take short stuttering breaths, and I’d let the air out the same way. I still do this sometimes, but nearly as much as I used to. I’m learning to breath again.
This whole approach: my feet feeling the ground, my body drawing energy from the earth and my breath, keeping it all all in rhythm has become everything for me. It’s an approach that allows me to meditate while I’m doing everything.