2013 Year in Review

Another year comes to a close. It came to a close a while ago. 10 days ago to be exact. This year, I worked hard to increase my web presence. The downside of that is that means way more sites to keep up with. Thus, here is my 2013 Year in Review. I know these are highly anticipated, so Im sorry to all of you (Matt) who were waiting patiently for this.

I have to say that 2013 was a great year. It wasnt as much a year of accomplishments, but a year of setting the table. I have a feeling that 2014 will be the Year of Staebell. Stay tuned…anyways, this past year…

JANUARY: I began the year wearing my “educator” hat. I listened to some young drummers play auditions for All County Jazz Ensemble in Erie County (Buffalo, where I grew up!). I followed that up with a presentation two weeks later at the Erie County Music Educators Conference, where I spoke on preparing drum set students for a NYSSMA audition.

FEBRUARY: I began the month by playing with the Dave Rivello Ensemble at the Village Rock. I love playing with this band when I have the chance. Dave is a brilliant composer and a great supporter of anything Im doing. Hes the man. A week later, I hit the road and played in the rhythm section for the Erie Philharmonic Pops concert in Erie PA. It was with some Frank Sinatra type singer. I honestly dont remember his name but it was a lot of fun! Also, I got to play with my dad, which I love. Finally, I played musical #1 of the year when i played South Pacific at Greece Odyssey Academy.

MARCH: I love when I get to see old friends. I reconnected with old Eastman pal Stephen Guerra when he came to Rochester to guest conduct the Monroe County Jazz Ensemble. Steve now leads the Studio Jazz Band at University of Miami, and I think he runs the Henry Mancini Institute. Either way, great composer, great guy. The following week, the Miami-Big Band love continued as I went to hear the best concert of my year. Nathan Parker Smith, Miami and Eastman grad, was guest composer with Dave Rivello’s New Jazz Ensemble at Eastman. This dude wrote some of the sickest big band charts Ive ever heard, and the band slayed them, ably guided by Joe Parker on drums. After that, I went to Disney World. (Really.) March ended with one of my only gigs of the year with my buddy Brownman. We played at Blue Monk in Buffalo and it was killing, as usual. I miss playing with Brown. I hope it happens more often in 2014.

APRIL: The best part of April (aside from my wifes birthday) was the debut of my new band, Normal People. Check out the PROJECTS page on this site for more info or to hear that band. New Normal People music will be hitting your ears very soon. We played at the Montage in Rochester with a new band led by Doug Stone (which I played in), and another appearance by the Dave Rivello Ensemble. That night was the best of April but it had some serious competition. I played musical #2 of the year, Beauty and the Beast at Greece Arcadia High School. Then on April 21, the UofRochster Percussion Ensemble, led by Matt Witten, played my piece Into the Strenuous Briefness. Its an older piece, but a cool one. This year, I hope to have a lot more of my percussion music played. Ill be opening a sheet music store soon on my website, and you can buy as much of my music as you can afford! Finally, I continued my long and fruitful relationship with composer Jennifer Bellor. She wrote a beautiful chamber opera called Christabel, using the text of a Samuel Coleridge poem. We played the world premiere on April 28. More about Jen later!

MAY: I turned 30. Also played musical #3 of the year, Funny Girl at the JCC. I was the drummer AND music director. #stressful

JUNE: The month started with one of my favorite traditions, the annual Central Pennsylvania Day of Percussion, otherwise known as May in PA (except it wasnt in May this time.) George Clements, one of my absolute best friends welcomed the rest of SCATTER PERCUSSION into his school and home. We spent 2 days giving clinics, master classes and performances for the percussion students of the Greater Harrisburg area. MUCH more excitement from Scatter Percussion in 2014. Upon returning home, I was fotunate enough to costar in Dave Rivello: the Movie! Really, we filmed a commercial for the Rochester Jazz Festival. It was a professional film crew doing the shoot, and it was very cool to be “behind the scenes”. That weekend, my beautiful wife Sarah Staebell took me to Turning Stone Casino to watch boxing! The fight was televised on Showtime, and it was an epic battle! We got to see Miguel Cotto like 3 feet from us, as he was a promoter for the fight. Sorry that part wasnt about music. I really like boxing. I didn’t do much for the rest of June. School ended. I played video games.

JULY: So much for the idea of ‘summer vacation’. It seems that the summers are always going to be relaxing and then they end up just as busy as the school year. I played a great concert with Jeff Campbell and Doug Stone at Eastman. It was the music of Jeff Campbell, and I got to play the role of my hero John Hollenbeck, who plays on Jeff’s albums. I had a great time on beautiful, clear, chordless trio music. Three days later, I hit the studio for one of the most exciting projects of 2013. Dave Chisholm is a freak. I played on his Eastman audition and from that moment, knew that we were musical soulmates. He is one of the most stimulating soloists to play with and knows more about music than most of us have forgotten. He writes beautiful, cinematic music for his group Calligraphy, of which I am honored to be a part. We recorded an album for said group on June 8. Oh and did I forget to mention that to accompany the album, he drew a 200-PAGE GRAPHIC NOVEL? AND ITS GORGEOUS? Yea. That all happened. Dave is a machine. Check out his work ASAP. Album and G-novel still to be released. The following wee I played musical #4 of the year, Legally Blonde at the JCC, for which I was again the music director and drummer. #almostcried. Finally, the educator hat came back out when I was the director of the newly-revamped Explorations in Jazz program at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. With the help of some awesome interns, I worked with two combos of young improvisers and we played some great music.

AUGUST: I spent the beginning of this month again at Hochstein working at the School of Rock camp, led by Ivan Trevino. I got some 13 year olds to play Queen and Radiohead. Anytime something like that happens, its a cool moment. I then travelled back to Central PA to work with George Clements and the Red Land Marching Band. We wrote some pretty cool music together, and the kids worked their booties off in 90 degree heat.

Then I took the epic RV trip of 2013. If you dont know about this, Im sure you will be able to purchase a book about it soon. My brother got married in Minnesota and it was beautiful. Getting there…not so much. No further comment on that. I cant relive it.

SEPTEMBER: Another school year began with very little fanfare. Thats a good thing, because I was very busy with the Rochester Fringe Festival. This year I felt like it would be a good idea to sign on to three seperate projects. I played musical #5 and musical #6 of the year, Rooms, produced by Sammi Cohen, and Waiting at the Crossroads Cafe, an original show by Robyn Fazio, Janine Mercandetti, Brian Clickner and Jack Haldoupis. For Rooms, I was music director and drummer. #whydoIdothis. Finally, the third event at Fringe was again with Jen Bellor. She put together a show that married composers (of which I was one) and dancers to create original compositions and choreography that used improvisation. All of the pieces were written for my band, Bending and Breaking. This was a truly fantastic evening. Everyone involved produced incredible work and it was well attended. Kudos to Jen for being such a visionary.

OCTOBER: I took it easy in October. Heard the music that I wrote for the Greece Marching Band. They sounded good. It was hard. I also judged the Guitar Center Drum Off for the Rochester store finals. The person who won played really fast. I played musical #7 of the year; Urinetown at Nazareth College, where I subbed for Matt Witten.

NOVEMBER: I made the sojurn to Indianapolis with my friends Mark Boseman and Ivan Trevino. We met up with George Clements and Sean Connors, and we had 5/7ths of Scatter Percussion in town for the Percussive Arts International Convention. We stayed at the illustrious Canterbury Hotel. We ate at the nationally rated St Elmo Steakhouse. It was delicious. We saw some cool percussion things. Two world premieres by Ivan. A good, old fashioned, Nick Cannoneqsue drumline battle. A mind blowing performance by Michael Burritt and the Eastman Percussion Ensemble. A good time was had by all. We will be back. November also featured musical #8 for the year, drums on Avenue Q at SUNY Brockport.

DECEMBER: The big event of December was another Jen Bellor-related event. Another world premiere, this time a piece written just for me and my band! Jen is amazing. The piece was performed by both the Nazareth and Eastman Wind Orchestras, and it featured Bending and Breaking. Its a great piece and I hope that we get to play it some more. Its called Electric Vortex and you can probably hear it on her website! I also wrote the greatest blog post of my life, about my experiences in high school. I was shocked as it went semi-viral (2000 views in three days!) I was proud that I could share that good experience and hope that it helped to inspire and encourage others. The year ended with a whimper, as I played a couple more shows of Crossroads Cafe. (It was a slighly different version, I guess I could call this musical #9…) Overall, it was a pretty fruitful year. The best part was that I sat down on New Years Day and made my “Big Goals for 2014” and they are going to be great.

I hope that I can share more as the months pass. For now, check out my latest project at aaronstaebell.tumblr.com, where I have been posting about 4 improvised drum solos per week. You can listen to them and catch a glimpse into my improvisational process. I will be in touch, friends! And if Im not then holller atcha boy!!! (Brown is shaking his head and weeping after reading that).

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