Anyone who has been keeping track of my shows calendar has noticed that it has recently exploded with an abundance of Beast gigs. I’m thrilled about this, it’s great to watch that band really get off the ground, but I certainly miss the weeks where one night I played jazz at a club, another was an improv comedy show: the variety of artistic experience was really rewarding.
This week, a project near and dear to my heart returns for the first time in years: a modern jazz ensemble that plays my own compositions. Back in 2005-2006 you might have remembered a group called PrimeraJazz. It was led by percussionist (and great friend) Brevan Hampden and featured a rotating cast of fiery young jazz cats playing moody, out-there, bacchic latin jazz. We held down Thursday nights at Tallulas in Chapel Hill for awhile, the vibe was fantastic. Well, this week that group returns with much of its original lineup in tact: myself on piano, Pete Kimosh on bass, Stephen Coffman on drums, Brevan Hampden on percussion, and Al Strong on trumpet. Rehearsals have been a lot of fun: most of us have only gotten to play jazz in damped-down restaurant and wedding settings lately, so here is a chance to really let go. We’ll be performing this Friday at the North Carolina Museum of Art as part of their Art in the Evenings series. There will be Cuban food and Latin American wines, and the galleries will be open for late viewing. It should be a great hang. I even get to play on a real grand piano (don’t get me started on what a luxury this is for the contemporary gigging jazz pianist)! This will more than likely be our only appearance in 2008: here’s hoping we can find some more venues and become a Triangle mainstay in 2009 (which is fast approaching!).
In other news, The Beast travels to New York City this weekend for the final round of auditions for Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, which is something of a jazz ambassadors international tour hosted by the US State Department and Jazz at the Lincoln Center. Wish us luck!
Sylvia blogs about this event here.