I always loved December because of all the little celebrations. Growing up we would celebrate Advent every Sunday with candles, oranges, tea and cookies with friends, family and pumpkin pie. It took my mind off the damp, cold and dark December nights to have these little celebrations to look forward to.
My favorite December holiday is Lucia. It celebrates the ancient mythical character of Lucia, the catholic patron saint of the blind and also bringer of light. It is a celebration to spread light in dark places with candles and music. You can find more information on her here.
The way Lucia worked when I was a child was that I spent the day singing these traditional songs with various choirs throughout the day in churches, concert halls, old age homes, hospitals, schools and so on. This year, I am playing arrangements of these songs at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 2, on December 12th at 7 pm. With everything that is going on in the world right now I think it is important to spread some light in the darkness. I have mixed in music from Syria, Brazil, South Africa, Bulgaria and Brazil with Jazz and the traditional melodies sung on this celebration. I will also be bringing enough Pepparkakor (swedish ginger bread cookies) for everyone.
I enjoy setting silly goals for myself. When I’m biking home from teaching I will race bus B48 if it’s right behind me. I will not allow myself to take a break until I’ve finished the exercise I’m working on, or my cup of tea. When I practice I will limit myself to only playing certain notes when improvising and it feels like trying to have a conversation without using the letter “e”. I love setting these musical challenges for myself as it takes me out of my comfort zone and allows me to approach things in a different way.
One of these challenges I set for myself was writing music with improvised sections for flute quartet and today Far Cry Flutes released our first video! It is a piece I wrote for the group entitled “Radar Working”. I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling it is to have the sounds inside my head become music played by these world class flutists. Please head over to www.facebook.com/FarCryFlutes, like our page and check out the video! There are more to come, and I would love to hear your thoughts.
Tonight at 9 pm I am playing with the amazing Eleanor Dubinsky at The Bitter End with some absolutely fabulous musicians! I will be playing all three of my flutes and singing some backup vocals, Wesley Amorim will play guitar, Fernando Saci Percussion and Drums and Special Guest Tim Ries (from the Rolling Stones horn section) will be joining on Saxophone and Hungarian Folk Flute. Seriously, you gotta come out and hear this!
This month has some other very exciting shows as well. On November 22nd at 10.30 pm the collective that had our first show at Rockwood stage 1 last month will be returning to play a set at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 3. We will play some new music and some old, and hope you can join us for the continued development of this exciting project. The evening will feature music by myself, Jon Cowherd (piano), Marcos Varela (bass) and Mareike Wiening (drums).
The night after, November 23rd at 10 pm, Scando Jazz has its debut show downstairs at Bowery Electric. This group is the joint brainchild of myself, Oskar Stenmark (trumpet, Sweden), Odd Albrigtsen (guitar, Norway), Lars Ekman (bass, Sweden) and Mareike Wiening (drums Norway/Germany). We play arrangements of Scandinavian music with jazz flavors. Guaranteed good times, and very different from my usual approach to arranging scandinavian music. Tickets are $10 at the door or $8 of you get them in advance here: http://tinyurl.com/ScandoJazzBowery
There are so many things I love about music. I love how no matter how I feel, if I raise to flute to my face, I’m transformed. I love the feeling of freedom when improvising by myself. I love sitting up with my friends late into the night and listening to records and nerding out about music. But most of all, I love the real human connections that grow out of the relationships I have that are based around music. These last few weeks at the Aero, Copenhagen and Aarhus Jazz Festivals have been full of that. The feeling when you meet someone new and you just know you are going to be friends and create beautiful music together. That first time you play with someone and everything just clicks. These moments are why I keep going in music even in the moments when it is tough, and I won’t sugar coat it- there are quite a few of those as well.
Music to me is about communication. It’s about connection. Both between the musicians and the audience. It feels strange to be writing this on a computer, the least human mode of communication, but if you are reading this I want you to know that my biggest goal with every note I play is to connect to you.
Let’s greet the challenges we face together with open hearts. The journey is more fun if we go together.
Every chance I get to share music with you is such a treat, but this Saturday’s showgoes a step beyond. I will be performing arrangements of Jimi Hendrix’s music with the incredible Jon Cowherd on June 13th at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 3, 7 pm, as well as some original music by both Jon and myself.
When I told a dear friend about this show she expressed surprise that I was so into Hendrix’s music. “It just doesn’t seem like you” she said. I wanted to share the story of how I got introduced to this music and why I love it so.
When I was a teenager visiting California with my family I would always take time to visit my friends up in Humboldt and Mendocino. I used to take the greyhound bus up from San Francisco, and most visits my godfather John Norris would give me a ride back down. We used to talk about art, music and life and he showed me all sorts of music I had never heard before in these five hour drives. Honestly, it was one of my favorite parts of the visits up north. On one trip John asked if I’d heard Jimi’s music. I was 16 years old and had not. John only had “Axis: Bold as Love” in the car and we listened to it over and over for the whole drive. I fell in love. “Little Wing” was my favorite. This was the year I got my hummingbird tattoo on my back, and at that time only the wing was completed. John called me “Little Wing” from then on.
These talks with John are a big reason why I became a musician. I remember one conversation especially vividly where we discussed the human spirit. John said that everybody’s spirit hides inside a shell. Sometimes, when we don’t expect it, they peek out through our eyes. That’s why we can have instant connections with strangers when we haven’t said a word to each other and eyes lock. Our spirits just happened to peek out at the same time and connect and that is beautiful, even if we never speak. John suggested that art has the ability to bring people’s spirits to the surface and coax them out of hiding for a moment. I agree with this. As a musician (and a teacher), I make it my mission to hang myself out there and be vulnerable in hopes that you can connect. I won’t lie, it can be terrifying. But I find that every great musician does it, no matter what style, and that is what allows me to connect to their music.
Jimi Hendrix was one of the first artists that I felt that way about. It has been such a treat to pour over his music and pick tunes to play with Jon, and I can’t wait to share them with you.
I hope you join us for this very special evening of music. Advance tickets can be purchased here: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/782123
The first time I played a Trevor James Alto flute was in high school. It just fit. It was one of those love at first note moments. When I moved to Seattle I got one for my own and have played it every day since. I am exceedingly thrilled to announce that today I have been officially added to the Trevor James Flute family. Check out their Facebook Post!
Also for your enjoyment, here is a video of my band and I playing Gläns Över sjö och Strand form the EP “Växer”. Sign up for the email list to get a free download of the whole EP!
Spring is in the air. I can’t wait! It’s making me want to play all the spring music I know again. Such as my stack of Brazilian choro music and “Vårvindar Friska” from “Already There Yet”. This winter has been rough for everybody, and I am ready to not have to bike in snow covered bike lanes any longer. I love seeing the beginning of things growing. Seeing greenery breaking out into the world after being covered in snow and ice gives me hope. There is something about the resilience of seeds that inspire me to keep growing.
For me, sharing my music with you is not unlike watching a seed grow. It is immensely rewarding, but its also not an exaggeration to say I spend hours on every detail of the process. Over the last few months I have been working on an EP of 5 of my favorite songs to play with my band. We recorded them in December, and now they are ready to share with you. Two of the songs are originals and three are Swedish traditionals I arranged. Two of the songs have vocals. The band poured their thoughtful ideas into this as well and this resulted in a recording I am very happy with and oh so excited to share with you!
The EP will be released this Saturday, March 14th. It will be available for sale on CD Baby- keep an eye on Facebook for the link. More to the point, we are doing a release party at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 2. Everyone who comes will receive a free download of the EP. The party is on at 7 pm, March 14th. I hope to see you there!