It’s been a long time since I posted on my blog! I admit, I had a bad case of social media burnout after my Indiegogo campaign. But I’m back, although this first post is mostly self-promotion.
A lot has happened since May. I finished my album and launched it with a small tour, I graduated from the MLIS program at McGill, I toured on the west coast for a couple weeks and then had a vacation – and, I had a kid!
I promise I will talk more about being a dad in the future. But in the meantime I’ll just say that I feel lucky to live in a place where paternity leave is available for a freelance musician, it makes an amazing difference. I just wish I could have more time!
But now after a spending an amazing month at home with baby Suki, it’s back to work – and I’m diving right in to a crazy first week (I hope my chops can handle it). Here’s this week’s schedule:
Friday: Vertige en 4 temps
Siach Hasadeh is the most spiritually rejuvenating group I play in. We take ancient Chassidic hymns and give them a modern interpretation, using various arranging techniques and a lot of improvisation. It’s very meditative and introspective music, but because of the element of improvisation, very expressive at the same time. Often, everyday life can be exhausting and spiritually draining. One of the reasons I play music is that a great musical experience will refresh me and uplift me. But some music does this more than others, and more consistently. Any time Siach Hasadeh performs, I feel revitalized – about music, life, and humanity in general.
The group is, at its core, a duo of myself on double bass and Yoni Kaston on clarinet. But we frequently collaborate with other musicians – and our collaboration with violinist Daniel Fuchs and cellist Gaël Huard has turned into another full-fledged iteration of the band, one where we have been working a lot with different improvisation exercises and techniques, searching for a larger vocabulary with which to interpret the melodies of the material we perform. We have also worked a lot with harmonica virtuoso Jason Rosenblatt and Turkish Oud player and maker Ismail Fencioglu, both on stage and in the studio. In the past we have also worked with Oud player Nicolas Royer-Artuso, cellist Jackie Fay, and percussionist Francois Landry.
I first met Yoni at KlezKanada, an annual Jewish culture and music retreat/camp in the Laurentian mountains just north of Montreal. We played a tune together at an open mic at about 4am, and the musical connection was immediately apparent. We discovered we both lived in Montreal, and the project developed from there.
This year we released our second album, Song of the Grasses. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Tiller, who was in the McGill sound recording program while I was doing my masters degree, so we worked together a lot then. He did an incredible job with the sound of this album, I’m very happy with it. Adam is now working as a sound designer at Ubisoft.
In March 2014, we did a small tour of the North-East US, playing in New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut. Because of that tour, we were recently included in some “Best of 2014” lists on the New York Music Daily blog. Our show at the Stephen Wise Synagogue on the Upper West Side was among the Best New York Concerts of 2014, Our album Song of the Grasses was among the 50 Best Albums of 2014, and the song Kumi Roni from the same album was among the 100 Best Songs of 2014.
I, for one, am excited to see where this group goes!!
Greetings from Bangor, Maine! It’s been a while since I posted anything; today’s been my first chance to write in a long time.
This semester has been crazy: 3 classes with heavier than usual workloads, a part time job, plus gigs and rehearsals most nights of the week. I made it through, but I feel like I could sleep for a week. I haven’t even had a chance to relax since the semester finished, because I left for tour with Shtreiml the day after my last assignment was handed in.
I only have one semester left in my MLIS degree, and even though I’ve enjoyed the program overall, and learned tons, I’m really looking forward to finishing, for many reasons. Here are a few:
Top 5 things I’m looking forward to after finishing my MLIS degree:
- No longer hemorrhaging money.
- Having time to write music and practice.
- Being able to socialize with friends.
- Getting a library job, allowing me to finally pay off some of the dauntingly large debt I’ve accumulated over the last few years.
- Getting active again and hopefully rid of some (or all) of the extra weight I’ve put on over the course of the degree.
Thinking a little more short term, I’m really looking forward to having a couple weeks off between this tour and the start of the next semester. I really want to spend some quiet time at home and with friends, relaxing, watching movies, reading, and cooking.
But first, there are a few dates left in my calendar, including this tour: tonight in Bangor, tomorrow in Boston, Monday off in NYC, and Tuesday night in NYC. After that, the Key-Lites are playing a Christmas party at the Calistoga Grill on the West Island on the 19th, and I’m playing with the Jason Rosenblatt Quartet at Upstairs on the 21st.