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April Showers – of great gigs & daunting disappointments


April Showers Really Do Bring May Flowers

Wait for it...

Now that my family folks are back on their feet, more or less, I can dive back in to professional activities with gusto.


So when the Metropolitan Community College in Omaha calls me out of the blue to perform at their International Fair with The French Connection - I say yes! I was headed out that way anyway for UNC's annual Jazz Festival, so it makes some sense to swing through Nebraska on the way there and back. Super pleased to reconnect with Tetsuya Nishiyama (guitar) and to discover bassist Henry Tomsu (thanks for the rec, Pete Madsen!).


You can catch the whole festival here


Young Audiences National Conference

But first - off to Chicago for a couple of days to meet the rest of my New Tribe (see February) at the annual conference for Young Audiences. I really want to meet some folks from Colorado in particular, since I plan to be out there for awhile. The arts gods are smiling, because from the very first session, I find myself seated right next to one of the key people from the Colorado Chapter's Think360 and the networking begins! The various activities and information sessions are also very inspiring throughout the conference, and I look forward to following up with my new brothers and sisters from various affiliates across the nation.




Midwest Express

Traveling westward by car is also a great excuse to swing through Saint Louis and Kansas City to touch base with friends, family, and colleagues there. Super cool to finally see the famous (infamous?) tandem of John Stafford and Justin Binek in action in their native habitat at KCKCC. And again, I'm sorry STL folks that I didn't have time to get out on the scene and see you all <3


Meanwhile, I'd Capitalized (pun intended) on the Nebraska opportunity to reach out to Capital Jazz Society in Lincoln and Hastings College in Hastings so that I could squeeze in a Big Band gig and a Masterclass, respectively. So glad I did! Felt good to swoop in and do my thang in each of those settings.




UNC - le retour

The UNC jazz fest got off to an incredible start with the Main Stage tribute to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross performed absolutely IMPECCABLY by Trist Curless (of Manhattan Transfer fame), Michael Mayo (torchbearer to Bobby McFerrin's legacy), and Genevieve Artadi (Annie Ross meets Bjork?). Along with the UNC Jazz Ensembles, both vocal and instrumental. They all just made a dream come true for us jazz nerds — finally geting to hear this music performed live with eloquence and perfection.


Bonus dinner break with my dear colleague and highly respected arranger & clinician - Mr. Matt Falker. So awesome to catch up! Sad we didn't get a photo thpthptht.




Denver/Aurora break

The first day of the festival was a doozy - and I had a 90 minute drive each way from Aurora where I was staying (and reunited with!) another childhood friend from Saudi Arabia days... My 3rd grade teacher's daughter Tanya Kramer-Lozano :-) So I took a day off to reconnect and reminisce about our favorite elementary music teacher, Ms. Huron, and pull out the old year books. Bonus trip to the local late-night Middle-Eastern restaurant for a taste of our childhood home.



Friday Night Faculty Gig & a Snowstorm to Boot

Did I say break? It turns out the entire UNC faculty is playing a bar gig on Friday night, so I decide to drive the 3hrs round trip, in a crazy freakish snowstorm to go check it out and connect with the various professors and local talent.


So cool to see and hear the excellent faculty & students, with a special bonus appearance of pianist Dawn Clement! If you don't know her music, you should check it out. She's amazing! So much soul & skill.



Saturday/Sunday... Then Monday Comes Around

I got to hang with a number of friends and family locally over the weekend, (including more bonus visits from old NU days). Then drove back to UNC Monday to have some sit down discussions with faculty regarding my doctoral project... Only to discover that their funding sources had completely dried up for the coming year. In other words - I was accepted, but there would be no financial support this season.


This was quite the shock and unpleasant blow. It means I'm gonna have to re-re-think my coming seasons' work cycle. Ugh.


As they say in my other home country...

"Ce n'est que partie remise..."

I was so excited to dive back into the scholastic environment and soak up all of those opportunities to learn, practice, write, record... BUT, if the universe wants me to keep roaming the countryside spreading the jazz gospel instead, I suppose that's just fine with me for the time being. The doctorate can wait a bit longer, but I can't wait to hit the road with more music making!




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