Table For One: Evan Ziporyn

Table For One: Evan Ziporyn

One of my absolute favorite clarinetists and bass clarinetists is Evan Ziporyn.  While this a long piece, it's so worth listening to all of the sounds Evan is able to get out of the instrument - especially his ability to make chords on the bass clarinet... enjoy.

Read More

2017-2018 - All-State Jazz Results

2017-2018 - All-State Jazz Results

I'm very happy to congratulate one of my students, Andrew Kreitner, on being chosen as lead tenor sax for Georgia's All-State Jazz Band.  Andrew has constantly surprised me with his earnestness and sincerity.  Good job to Andrew for this much deserved achievement.

Read More

I Can Do Something You Can't Do... (kind of)

I Can Do Something You Can't Do... (kind of)

I hate Apple.  Everyone that knows me, knows this.  Like with most things, I'm pretty vocal about it.  And so, I use a Surface Pro as my main device.  I use it as a tablet for gigging and rehearsing, for writing manuscript on Finale, for recording or live production with Ableton, for running live effects with Guitar Rig. 

Read More

How Much Do You Charge for a Gig?

How Much Do You Charge for a Gig?

This has come up, fortunately or unfortunately, a lot in the last few months.  Talking money usually freaks people out, especially if you're setting your own prices.  I've had my good and bad moments dealing with club owners, restaurant owners, wedding planners, etc., but what I've learned is that if you're upfront with people, guidelines are clear, numbers are concrete, deposits paid, and signatures signed, you'll feel much better after a gig and have very little keeping you up at night (like what happened to me recently)...

Read More

Nick Sanborn: A Love Story

Nick Sanborn: A Love Story

I. Love. Sylvan Esso.

And, in true hipster fashion, I've loved them before they were popular.  Before "Radio".  Before they were playing major festivals EV-RY-WHERE.  I love them.  Now, not to ignore Amelia and her amazing voice, lyrics, and dance moves, Nick Sanborn's production is absolutely incredible.  He makes electronic 'instruments' (programming) sound natural and human.  I want to pick up a tiny version of him and place him in my brain so that when I write, he can actually write the tunes.  So, here's my Nick Sanborn research so far...

Read More

How I Use the Surface Pro (and Windows 10) for Music

How I Use the Surface Pro (and Windows 10) for Music

I've seen this question on social media here and there.  There are musicians that are tempted to move to a tablet, but are torn as to which to purchase or are unsure if a full OS vs a mobile OS will work for music/regular gigging.  Here's a rundown of what equipment and software I use with my Surface for running live effects, composing, manuscript, PDF reading and editing, etc.  

Read More

Artimus on WREK 91.1FM

This is last week's Facebook live of our Artimus show on WREK 91.1FM.  Check it out and I hope you enjoy what you hear.  If you do, follow the group here and here. Check out our instagram, twitter, bandcamp, and soon to be designed website (one website at a time...).

Care & Repair #1: Cork Grease

There are always things about practicing, equipment, playing a tune, etc. where you go "Ah! I wish I knew that sooner!"  I've been playing saxophone for 24 years now and I just found this out a couple years ago: Don't Use Petroleum Based Cork Grease.  

This is most "premium" or "special formula" cork grease that you find in the Chapstick-like tube.  The reason is that all of these are petroleum based.  Petroleum is fine for your cork (kind of); it lubricates and protects it from too much moisture.  Petroleum is NOT fine for the glue that keeps the cork on your neck.  Anyone who has ever had to have the cork on your neck replaced has, at one point, watched perfectly good cork just fall off the neck with little to no sign of wear.  The petroleum in the Chapstick-cork grease seeps into the cork and dissolves the glue.  

It's important to remember that cork is a natural product that comes from trees.  It needs some moisture to stay resilient, but not too much or it will break down.  These are the ones I have used so far that seem to work really well:

Note that everyone will have to replace their cork at one time or another.  I prefer using shellac to attach the cork vs rubber cement.  I like the sound and I believe the shellac holds up against moisture better than rubber cement.  I'd love to hear anyone's comments or experiences on this.

How to Survive Marching Band - For Your Equipment At Least...

It's that season again.  Kids all over America are putting their hard-earned instruments in LIT-RALLY the worst conditions possible.  Every week, one of my students comes in with a huge maintenance problem on their horn generated by some sort of crazy mishap on the marching band field.  Students have had their instruments stepped on, kicked, thrown, rained on, etc. and to my dismay, most of this can be avoided by spending a little bit of money in smart ways.  Here are the things you should be using to avoid hundreds of dollars of damage to your horn (if not more) - and all you really need to spend is about $50 on 3 items: a stand, a mouthpiece cap, and key clamps.

  • A Saxophone Stand: I know some marching routines involve setting the instrument down on the field and even if your band isn't doing this, laying your instrument down on the bleachers is probably not helping either - especially if people are setting it down on the wrong side.... which usually they are*.  Look for an in-bell stand.  This is an instrument stand that goes from propping up your instrument to in a few short moves folds up in your bell.  You're welcome :-).
    • K&M Jazz Stands - my personal stands, but pricey
    • K&M Midge - not as streamlined, but affordable and durable
    • Hercules Travlite - Hercules is not my favorite brand.  I use their Travlite flute stand, but have retired most other stands I've used of theirs for different reasons.  That being said, this one does technically exist.

*You are suppose to lay your horn down on the side with key guards.  This means, in fact, it should be laid down on the side that has the majority of the keys.  People balk at this all the time.  The problem with laying it down on the side that doesn't contain many keys is this: those are some of the most delicate keys (especially pinky keys) and there ARE NO KEY GUARDS.  I don't know why people fight this as much as they do, but they do.  "I'm changing minds; I'm changing minds all over." - Emily Mortimer

  • A Mouthpiece Cap: This is the easiest and most protective $1 you will ever spend.  People always go "Well, nothing's happened to my instrum..." and then that sentence is cut off by the sound of their saxophone flying down three stories across metal bleachers.  Most of the metal can be bent back into shape or replaced, but your mouthpiece is either plastic or hard rubber.  A mouthpiece cap keeps your hundred dollar mouthpiece from shattering when it impacts someone's foot or with any other hard surface that continues to baffle me that an instrument would ever come in contact.  Some ligatures require a special mouthpiece cap, some use a standard size available at most music stores.
  • Pad Clamps:  Ok, this one is a little more complicated and if you google you'll see the debate 'rage' in the saxophone world, because ya know,  the internet.  You can decide for yourself if you want to use these all the time or not as long as you set them up properly.  This use is really more related to instances of rain.  If you get rained on, meaning you AND your horn, your pads are at risk (never mind pivot screws, rods, and rollers that can rust).  Any time moisture goes into the pads, they swell.  This happens during normal playing as well, but there's not nearly as much moisture compared to your instrument getting rained on.  When they dry out, they need to dry out evenly in order to not cause leaks.  This is where your pad clamps come in.  If you get rained on 1) question the importance of and enjoyment that you're getting out of this activity 2) Revisit question #1 3) Get to a dry place, swab your instrument, put on the key clamps, and leave it out on your instrument stand to dry overnight.  The clamps ensure that your pads dry evenly and without creating any raised portions that don't fit the tone hole.  I've used/use all of these - and yes, I use pad clamps everyday.  I set them up properly and notice no added wear or indentation on my pads

The stand will run you $20-$70.  The mouthpiece cap should've come provided with your mouthpiece or horn.  If not, it's $5-$15.  Clamps will run $30-$80.  SO, for a minimum of $55, your horn will be much more protected than it was before and this will hopefully save you from things like: a complete repad, a new mouthpiece, or trips to the repair shop.  And, what's more, you should have almost all of these things ANYWAY! 

I hope this helps.

Show Announcement - Last Chance at the Velvet Note

Hi Everyone! WHB has a show coming up at one of our favorite haunts, the Velvet Note in Alpharetta, Saturday, September 14th.  Playing this club is always a joy and we hope you can come out to see our LAST performance at this venue for the year (I know, now the pressure's on).  Details on the show and tickets can be found below, on the Calendar, on the Velvet Note site, or you can RSVP via Facebook.

A note that this is a more intimate venue and the last two times that we've performed here we've sold out or oversold both sets, so BOOK YOUR TICKETS ASAP.

  • WHB @ the Velvet Note 4075 Old Milton Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005
  • Saturday, September 14th
  • 7:30 & 9:30
  • $20 Cover
  • All Ages
  • Click for Tickets

Featuring: Trey Wright, Keenan Meadows, Dave Worley, & Jared Lanham

New York Pt. 1

For those of you that didn't know, I took a trip to New York for 5 days last week.  While I'll go in depth as to the why's, who's, and how's in later posts, I wanted to quickly share one of my experiences that I had and won't forget.  Before going out, I contacted as many friends and colleagues as I could.  One of those is a great friend and guitarist with whom I did my undergrad.  One of the things that makes this so memorable for me is that it was fairly unexpected.  He called me up to say "Hey, some friends and I are going to see Bobby McFerrin in Central Park for FREE." Shwhat!?...  I replied, "Awesome, see you there," and got ready to meet him.  A little admission here: I have never liked Bobby McFerrin.  Gasp! I know, right.  How dare I?  A jazz musician NOT enjoy the work of another jazz musician?  A response to that question will be handled in a later post.  But, I figured it would be a great way to hang out and see some good music (I said I didn't like, not that he wasn't good). The event series is called the Summer Stage.  It presents free music on a first-come-first-serve basis in the middle of Central Park.  There's beer, wine, over-priced food, tourists, New York hipsters, what's not to love?  ONE catch: in order to get in, we got there about 2 and a half hours early, but we had our choice of seats and got to watch some Central Park LARPERS in the process.  Music started and I was really enjoying the concert, the company, and the overall hang.  Then, this happened:

This is a duet between Bobby and his daughter Madison titled "Mere Words", written by Bobby, and originally from his album Bang! Zoom (which I now own).  It was one of those moments in music where your brain just stops.  Everything stops.  All the people around me faded away, I forgot that my butt hurt so bad from sitting on metal bleachers; it was transcendent.

I have to say that I'm now a huge Bobby McFerrin fan and this will become a treasured memory of this trip.