Strive to be Happy, Volume 3 (No. 11-15)

11) Things are great. Hope you can say the same for yourself. Bending and Breaking has played two gigs recently at Javas here in Rochester. Both nights the coffeeshop was full of supporting fans and other humans. The band is getting tight, and from my perspective, the guys are really starting to “get” the music. To me, this is the key component in getting my message across. This makes me very happy.

 

I had a great time in Toronto on October 15th as Brownman invited me to play in his 5 Weeks to Miles tribute concerts. Alongside Mark Cashion, Ryan Oliver, Dave Restivo and my good buddy Brown, we came close to sounding like the Miles quintet of the mid 1960s. My Tony Williams right hand chops had some work to do, but I hung in…great times, thanks again Toronto!

 

Thirdly, we are but two weeks away from Tony Malaby’s arrival and subsequent concerts. On paper, this will be one of the most important and best sounding gigs I have ever played. I am hoping hard that it becomes a reality. Please consider coming to one or both of the performances if you are local:

 

November 14th

2pm @ Smith Opera House in Geneva NY ($15)

8pm @ ROCO in Rochester NY ($10)

Tickets available from Ben@BenThomasMusic.com

 

I am working on starting a KICKSTARTER page so that people can help to contribute to the process of making a record if you want. I am brainstorming cool ways to help you get your money’s worth, so if you have any ideas, email me!

 

B&B plays at SUNY Geneseo at a JAMFEST concert on November 20th starting at 11pm. Please check it out if you are nearby!

 

Some good things to check out if you want to get happy:

 

The new record from “BLACK DUB” featuring Brian Blade on drums, Trixie Whitley on vocals and the work of genius producer Daniel Lanois (Joshua Tree, many more). R&B/Soul/Groove record comes out on Tuesday November 2nd.

 

The Exorcist (the movie)–I just was this for the first time last night and its good.

 

http://www.bradmehldau.com–Brad has a couple of cool sections on his website to go along with his newest record, “Highway Rider”. He has a movie that has a cool animation of the score to one of the tunes as the music plays. In another section, he plays little clips of each tune while you can read parts of the narrative telling the story of the music on the record.

 

Jeremy Siskind’s “Simple Songs (for When the World Seems Strange)”. This record has Jeremy (former Eastman buddy) along with greats Chris Lightcap and Ted Poor, with Jo Lawry on some tracks as well. I was lucky enough to play on the Rochester CD release event, and the music is wonderful (as is Jeremy). iTunes, CDBaby, eMusic, etc…

 

John Hollenbeck with the Orchestre National de Jazz, “Shut Up and Dance” (eMusic at least…). My musical hero comes out with yet ANOTHER amazing set of compositions for a big band in France. He crushes. Many tunes, and you stay engaged for the whole record. Happy to say I semi-premiered one of these pieces, as he expanded upon the idea he used for the Bob Brookmeyer birthday piece we played at Eastman last year.

 

Stephen Hawking “The Grand Design”. Ok now before I seem really pretentious, let me say i listened to this BOOK ON TAPE, and secondly, its written so that you can understand it. It will go into really extreme detail and then if you still dont get it, it clarifies the section with a REALLY simple analogy, so you can be like “oh yes of course”. Worth checking out if you like to know about how things work/have been discovered in the universe.

 

MORE SOON, check back often for updates.

 

12) Some great things about 2011 so far:

1. I am getting married on June 12 to a wonderful woman.

2. The Bending and Breaking record is recorded and will release sometime soon.

3. Related to #2, our Kickstarter goal was met, and therefore we have a great budget to work with for the album and its subsequent promotion.

 

Some awesome things about 2010:

1. Played lots of great music including a day of concerts with Tony Malaby and a 4 night residency in Toronto with Brownman, on my and Dave Chisholm’s music.

2. Great times with friends and family.

3. Things are progressing with the ole career.

4. I got engaged! (See #1 above)

 

The album is recorded, you can hope to hear it by April 21 I think. That is a loose deadline, but its as good a guess as any right now. I will post updates of the process here as we go, and hopefully you will want to check that out!

 

Other things that are great:

1. The movies “Black Swan” (new) and “Brokeback Mountain” (old). Watched both in the past month and they are firmly planted in the top 5 of my favorite movies. Brokeback was already there but helped to secure its place.

2. My new “Terre by Hermes” cologne. Smells really good.

3. Angry Birds for Mac=freaking sweet. Crashing my hard drive once while trying to download the app store=less sweet. Having solid backups of my files=somewhat lessened the blow.

4. Hannah Chisholm’s chocolate chip cookies

5. Playing Mario Kart using the Wii nunchuck instead of the steering wheel.

6. Chris Ziemba’s moderate mastery of the Line 6 Loop Station and his simultaneous conquering of his fear of said Loop Station.

7. Ben Thomas’ bass sound when he slides between notes.

 

I hope that everyone’s 2011 is off to a great start. Heres to much more of the same goodness, or an immediate switch to goodness! Be good!

 

13) No I did not die. I know if you were just looking at the website, it might appear that way. And lord knows I am rarely, if ever, seen in public. But fear not, gentle reader, as I am alive and well! Things are going as good as I could expect them to go (minus the flat tire last night).

 

The album is progressing. Editing is finished and it is currently being mixed by Mr Ryan Ferreira of New York City, temporarily living in Taos, NM as part of an artist’s residency. Ryans’s awesome. I have also been in works with the honorable Jeffery Marini on the album design, and its going to look as good as it sounds, for sure.

 

I am excited for some great upcoming events (check the ITINERARY page for more info) including a presentation at the Central New York Day of Percussion, playing in the pit for the musicals “the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “The Who’s TOMMY”, and releasing the Bending and Breaking record! On April 21st, B+B will open for the awesome jazz terrors MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING, and hope to have the CD ready for purchase by then. People who are expecting other goodies via Kickstarter, have no fear, as that stuff is currently in the works as well. Its going to be wonderful.

 

Some things I have enjoyed lately and recommend checking out:

 

1. Big Love (HBO). Started Season 1 on DVD from Netflix a while ago, and can not get enough. We watched the entire Season 2 during the last week. Fantastic.

 

2. My good friend Bryan Murphy’s new side project, Deathhand Murphowski. Check out the bandcamp page: http://deathhand.bandcamp.com/   Worth a listen or 12.

 

3. The book, UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN by John Krakauer. Inspired by my watching of Big Love, I was determined to find out more about Mormons and Polygamy (not converting to either, just intrigued at this very different way of life and set of beliefs). The book is interesting, a good balance of the history of the Mormon faith and an equally compelling story about 2 men who took it a bit too far.

 

4. A steak on the grill

 

5. “To live a creative life, we must loose our fear of being wrong.”–Joseph Pearce

 

Keep striving to be happy. Things are great, despite things around us being pretty insane. Keep doing your best to make things awesome.

 

14) Sooo much to be happy about these days for me. Sorry for the long hiatus, there has been a lot going on.

 

First, the album is ready. You can buy it now. Like right now, you can click a few clicks and you will have the album. iTunes, CDBaby, eMusic, Amazon mp3, the trunk of my car….its everywhere. Im so proud of it, and cant wait for people to hear it. We are planning a CD release party in late September in Rochester, so stay tuned for more information. Kickstarter rewards will be mailed out very soon, and then youll have it too. Until then, get online and check this album out, I am pretty sure you will love it.

 

Secondly, I got married! On June 12, I got married to my wife Sarah. It was one of the greatest days of my whole life. Everything was absolutely perfect. My friends all came with their instruments and played some incredible music while everyone dined on gourmet burgers and cupcakes. The weather was perfect at the beach, and having so many family and friends all together really made it a day we will never forget.

 

Some things to check out to get more happy:

1. Bending and Breaking, the album. (duh)

2. James Blake’s self titled album. Lovely.

3. Dave Chisholm’s website (www.davechisholmmusic.com) to hear clips of HIS new album which I am playing on, called Calligraphy. Beautiful writing from Dave.

4. Cultured almond milk. Like yogurt but better. Paired with some granola, you cant go wrong.

5. The book “Seal Team Six” by Howard Wasdin. I get pretty stoked about stuff like this every once in a while. It was a good read, a good story about this dudes life.

6. Summer. Check out summer, its nice out there.

 

Please get a copy of the album and love it with all your heart. I am so thankful for everyone’s support and hope that things only grow from here. Thanks for reading, STRIVE to be happy, its really the only way to go through life.

 

“Smile with your whole being.” –Thich Nhat Hahn

 

15) Welcome to November. It has been a good few months since I last wrote. September always ends up being an interesting time around here. I start my teaching job back up, a new influx of (sometimes) excited young jazz students begin their studies at nearby Eastman and while that and other things are new, some stuff is still the same.

 

New news is that my album got reviewed on Allaboutjazz.com (see attached link). It was a really positive review so hopefully we can turn that into more of them.

 

We had an incredibly fun and successful CD release night at the Bug Jar on September 3rd, with Quintopus and Wooden Cities. It was packed and all bands sounded great.

 

Noah Berman has joined the band on guitar and he is a unique voice with a strong sense for color and shape in his playing. The music will be a lot different with him, and while missing Chris (off to Juilliard!), Noah will fit in just fine.

 

Dave Chisholm, fellow Bender-and-Breaker and Cornell Street-neighbor, will be releasing his album CALLIGRAPHY within the next couple of weeks, which I play on. Check out some samples at http://www.davechisholmmusic.com for now, and get the album when it comes out. IT IS SWEET!

 

I was the judge for Rochester’s chapter of the Guitar Center Drum Off. That was a hilarious experience. “first do no harm” they say…

 

I was a guest speaker at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance’s “School of Rock” camp, run by my good friend Ivan Trevino. I presented on professionalism in music, self-marketing, and image on day one and then continued on day 2 with a game-show format to see what these kids really knew about rock music!

 

I will be presenting at the NYSSMA Conference on December 3rd with two presentations: “Breaking Barriers in Listening in the General Music Class” and “Preparing Your Student for an All State Drumset Solo”. Thrilling news from the world of education!

 

My buddy Ivan (mentioned above) and I have been doing some composing together and will hopefully be premiering a new percussion duo project sometime in the future. Stay tuned.

 

THINGS TO CHECK OUT:

MUSIC:

Led Bib (B+B was compared to this band in the recent review and im flattered!)

James Hirschfeld’s TWO MEDICINE (full respect to this album)

Claudia Quintet’s WHAT IS THE BEAUTIFUL? (You are, John. You are.)

Efterklang’s TRIPPER (randomly heard on NPR and is sweet)

Dave Chisholm’s CALLIGRAPHY (mentioned above. get some.)

 

BOXING. Man if you like boxing like I do, its been a good couple of months and an even better month ahead! Wow boxing is awesome.

 

STARBUCKS Salted Caramel Mocha. The only problem with the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (and i do mean ONLY) was that it was not coffee-based. Problem solved. Thank you Mr Starbuck.

 

Until next time, check out my album if you havent, and be in touch! be back soon…

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