A letter I wrote to my friend Bernie Senensky of Canada. (July 22, 2003) A great pianist and lover of jazz music. He has five albums out which is pretty good I think. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org If you can support his music.
Hi Greg, I assume you are referring to the Quintet CD. The trumpet player is Eddie Henderson from New York- all the others are in Toronto: Jerry Fuller on drums (sorry to say he just died last year), Neil Swainson on bass & Kirk MacDonald on Sax. I guess you could say that this type of music is, to some extent, indicative of the Toronto & Canadian Jazz scene, although there is really quite a diversity.
It would be impossible to categorize it. You would have to be here, I guess, to really get a true idea of the many different kinds of creative music being performed. Also, there are so-o-o-o many great musicians here, and so many of them are teaching at the many Colleges & Universities that have Jazz programs, so, consequently, there are so many young musicians coming up that can really play. It's a pretty healthy musical atmosphere.
Hi Greg. I assume you went to the Bowfire web site. What can I say? It's not jazz, but there's a wide variety of music, and it's well rehearsed, and well played, and it's a challenge, and it pays pretty good when we tour, so I'm very pleased to be doing it.
Hopefully you'll get a chance to see the show in China at some point, and you'll see what I mean. Aside from the possibility of coming to China in Sept. (which I doubt will happen) we have a 2 week tour in Nov. of California , Arizona & Texas, and a 3 week tour in March of the Central & Eastern part of the U.S.(Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, S. Carolina & Florida). Not too bad. Http://bowfire.com
No, I don't work with my wife anymore - she doesn't really sing any more, maybe once a year if that. Later, Bernie ON ANOTHER NOTE: Last fall, I was fortunate enough to have a steady 1-day a week gig at a club here in Toronto playing Hammond B-3 organ ( I say fortunate, because I've always loved the instrument, but never had much of a chance to play it with enough regularity to feel comfortable on it).I used a different guitarist & drummer every week.
One week the guitarist (Joey Goldstein) taped it, and put a track from the tape (Ornette Coleman's blues "Turnaround") on his web site. So, if you want to hear me playing organ (left hand bass-not the pedals-that's way too hard!) click on:
http://www.soundclick.com/bands/8/joeygoldstein2music.htm Talk to you later Bernie
My reply to Bernie: China: I do not know if it is a hard time I just want to be creative if I can and it seems that being creative is too difficult and I gave up commercial jobs in NYC so why should I have to play them here is my question. But your right, I have not been here long enough to let my views really be known. Anyway I wrote ten charts for the band here and about 1/2 are originals but somewhat very traditional because the band very limited in the jazz area just a show band really.
They do not know how to make head charts into arrangements so I started to write some simple arrangements for them. Anyway they said they would pay me for them too which they did not because of the change in policy by the director of the company not the band. I spent all day yesterday changing the harmony of some of the parts.
One song, Solitude, I just wrote out sixteen bars and made a 64 bar arrangement. I'll never do that again. It was so much trouble getting it right. Plus they do not play in tune all the time so it is hard to tell how the parts really sound. Also the harmony from the Real Book is question able too. O K maybe for piano but not sure for an arrangement. I ended up writing a lot of non-harmonic tones, not a lot but some. It is easier sometimes if one writes out the score in more detail.
But since I had the ten piece man I would sketch a score and write out the parts, but it doesn't always work and then one does not have a score just parts which is not good either. It just was quicker for me that way. Anyway, Mark Twain, said, "to do something that no one else did is the real joy of life." This is what I am trying to do.
If you run into Dave McMurdo tell him I will always remember him telling me that I can play traditional music in the correct style if I want to. He was always a happy guy and drove me to work at the Hook and Ladder Club. And I'll never forget his red little Japanese car station wagon.
You know that is what NYC did for me was to get me into traditional music more because being creative in NYC was much more difficult than in Toronto. There were so many different kinds of club work: Latin, Dixie, swing bands, dance bands, fake bands, rock bands, society bands, jazz bands, ethnic bands, (the only band I could not do really was the Greek Music), Studio scene, Broadway and the Classical scene.
At one time or another I performed in it all, but because I was trying to be creative it made it even more difficult to have a real career. It seemed I was bouncing around all the time. But after about 25 years I finally decided I was not a performer. I often wonder why I have to always be creative cannot I just work and be an average guy. It has been such a burden to me. But there have been a few rewards too that live with me everyday.
I was just a composer with no work. You know I lived in NYC for 23 years and never really liked it. Anyway, it was and adventure and I am glad it is over with. Now what to do is the question if anything? Maybe my career in music is over I think!
It is great to talk to you Bernie and bring back all those memories. Because when in Toronto I also studied yoga with my teacher, Fred, and his wife and they really helped me to have the courage to be creative. Http://yogayogayoga.org
When I lived in Toronto it was my most original music period in my life. Now I just repeat all the things I discovered there because I learned the limitation of being creative there. Plus I composed more original music in Toronto.
So many big bands that is great I hope they can find some work. At least there would be a lot of rehearsal bands to play in if I were in Toronto. But I gave up playing in big bands though. I think I have too many opinions, but what can I do I am looking to have standards.
A concert pianist just gave up his career because he learned to hate performing for the rich. He said he wanted to be a person again. He threw is piano into a lake to show his hatred. Anyway, every once in awhile I study Chinese. I have been working on the first chapter in this book for three months. Anyway, that is it for this message sorry it is so long. Always Greg
You can read another e-mail I sent called China My Life.