Logistics, Shmogistics

When I set out to become a musician I dreamed about performing. Singing my own materials and possibly other people's music, travelling, recording. I wanted to become as good a vocalist as I could be. I didn't set out to become the best tour manager I could be, to echo a sentiment I read in one of George Colligan's fabulous blogs on his jazztruth. And yet, here I find myself trying to squeeze gig/equipment/bread confirmations out of people half a globe away.

In a little under 2 weeks I'm picking up my band in Germany and we head to Egypt, to perform at the Alexandria Opera House, the Cairo Jazz Festival and a couple of jazz clubs - 4 gigs in three days. It sounds exciting - and it is! I am absolutely thrilled to be doing this. But I also find myself become anal about getting a "yes" on everything from the bass rental (we'll probably end up bringing our own) to the drum set (we finally have confirmation that there isn't one at the opera house. so...hmmm).

The people on the other end of the line are helpful, and they communicate well. But they ARE half a globe away. Experience - not only mine but that of my musician friends as well - has taught us that sometimes what we need and what is available for a successful performance aren't necessarily the same thing. That's what tech riders are for. For which we need confirmation from every single promoter.

And even then you might end up with a toy keyboard for your gig (as happened to a singer friend of mine in Mexico), or no keyboard at all, no drumset, no PA (as happened to my husband in Turkey). So in these instances, when we travel into uncharted territory (at least from our perspective) I believe specificity, paranoia and nagging become our friend.

Still, I'm looking forward to my adventure in Cairo, to sharing my music and performing - once the immensely long logistical rat tail that comes with it is taken care of and I can sit in front of the mirror, put my make-up on, warm up, get dressed and finally step on that stage, hopefully equipped with a PA, piano, drums and a backline.

Times, They Are A Changing

Back in the day we used a notebook and pen to take down test assignments. But that's so 2005. These days my students at the New School rely on the ever present smart phone for that.

A Life Well Lived

What is a life well lived? A rich life, one that allows me to look back and smile?
I've been feeling quite philosophical lately. Have looked at the restrictions that are laid upon us from the outside (religion, society, family), and limitations that we set for ourselves (I shouldn't be doing this because...). I find it very easy to give in to the dark pull of depression, to say, "what is the purpose of all this striving, achieving, goal setting, running towards said goal with blinders on? We can't take anything with us when we die." Nobody, not even the most enlightened being on this Earth can more than speculate on what actually happens beyond this life.

Not being religious myself I cannot escape into the comfort of dogma. Because I simply don't know. I have no clue what the purpose of my existence is. Surely one can see how quickly this train of thought can pull you into a dark hole that leads nowhere. Been there, done that.

But because I don't have the answers to the purpose of our existence, and because I simply don't know if there is a life after death I can give myself permission to look at THIS life, THIS day as intensely precious. There is tremendous freedom in letting go of outer and inner limitations. The less I allow myself to be guided by what I supposedly "can't" do the more I can feel a sense of creativity flow through every fiber of my being.

So what is a life well lived? I'm in the process of sorting that one out. Hopefully, with every day that I allow myself to BE as opposed to whipping myself into shape in order to fit into my own or someone else's idea of who or what I am "supposed" to be, I get closer to a sense of connection, a sense of participation in the grand creation that goes on all around us all the time. And hopefully there will be a whole lot of laughter, companionship, love and really good food along the way.

Hello, Silence, My Old Friend

Sometimes, when the studio is open, I sit in the soundproof live room, in the silence. It's what attracted me to the studio in the first place. I could actually, honest to god, hear the blood rush in my ears. And not much else.

I'm pretty used to noise. You've got to be when you live in New York City. And as a recording studio owner - forgetaboutit!

I am also married to a pianist who tends to practice in the morning when I am getting my writing done. I've gotten pretty good at phasing his practice out of my consciousness, but recently he started practicing licks in odd meters. Try writing to that!

So, in lieu of a silent room I have to escape into a room made of sound, out of necessity. But the sound room must not have any words, or rhythm, or discernible melodies, really. I find all of that distracting. No, the walls of my sound room tend to be made of dare-I-say new-agey stuff that consists of sound layers, maybe some ocean waves sprinkled in and not much else. It's the next best thing to sitting in the live room of my recording studio, the room within the room that allows me to breathe and NOT hear anything, so i don't have to listen.