Category Archives: Jazz

New Pup Video — please stop yelling at me!

Right, right, right.  I’ve had pathetic video malfunctions of late.  I’m not doing this on purpose.  I promise.  I find videos.  I share videos.  Videos disappear from Internet and make me look like a douche.  I am aware, and seeking to remedy the situation.

In the meantime, please to enjoy this BRAND SPANKING NEW Snarky Puppy video courtesy of my Google Alert.  I will continue my endeavor to properly post the “Quarter Master” video from the Jefferson Center.  Then you can stop calling me a tease and we can all have a nice listen.

I’ll be reporting from New Orleans this weekend — home at last after two solid months in Denton (God help me).  I’ll be spending a good chunk of July there, until we’re all covered in oil.  Then I’ll bounce between DFW and New York for the fall.  Lots to talk about, more to listen to.

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I thank you god for YouTube, Bill Laurance, and most this amazing day

Bill Laurance and Michael League

This afternoon I was in the throes of the usual Monday flurry and flutter, zapping out emails, texts, and Tweets, when I was suddenly disrupted by a wave of nostalgia.  While putting together a show proposal, I ran across this video I took a year ago at the Boiler Room. Suddenly instead of thinking of all the things I have to get done, I was overwhelmed with a reminder of why I do any of it in the first place.

Of the many blessings I count in my life, musicians hold an empowering majority. Working with those who inspire me beyond reason and allowing that impact to take hold has turned my world on its ear. For years I just considered myself a fan with no real understanding of the importance of that role within the musical community — I was frankly surprised no one had issued a restraining order against me and my megaphone.  It was Bill Laurance of Snarky Puppy who first brought this dynamic to my attention — that my steadfast love and support was not only appreciated, but necessary to the development and direction of musicians. Soon after I devoted myself to music. I plucked up my nomadic laundry baskets and moved back to Denton where I could put all that sonically-driven energy to good use.

That was when everything went right side up.

I would not have the beautifully eccentric life I have today had I not been so compelled by my friendship with Bill. His music reaches a part of my spirit like no other — from the vibrant “34 Klezma” (off Bring Us the Bright) to the heart-pumping “Good Man Delivers and the Best is Blessed” and the slightly gut-wrenching “Ready Wednesday” from Tell Your Friends. He is just the sort of charming genius Michael League is always parading into my life. My number one live music experience is presently a tie between Roger Waters doing Dark Side v. Leaguers and Billy at the piano last Mother’s Day.

Running across this video brought this all back today, it’s a wonder to see how much can happen in just one year.  Keith Anderson can be seen shattering minds with his band, Full of Soul and sassing Bobby Sparks on HDNet’s Ray Johnston Road Diaries.  Mike and Bill are enjoying a “chill” Pup summer on either side of the Atlantic.  Steve Pruitt and I have been cohorting on Chris Ward’s upcoming Texas tour (hitting North Texas next week), while Mark Lettieri and I verbally abuse each other over Black and Blues gigs.  It’s hard to imagine what life was like before these jazzholes took over — and it’s much more fun to imagine what’s ahead.

Pup Culture: More MTL Love from Pork Pie Jazz

True to Montreal’s general awesomeness, Jenn Hardy from Pork Pie Jazz recently asked me to write a guest post for her oh-so-savvy music blog (they really know how to do it in the QC).  Since Montreal has played a critical role in my road life with Snarky Puppy, I figured I would air out some thoughts presently making their way into my book, Pup Culture.  I’d like to share an excerpt of this article with you (read the full story here).  I read it, and it’s not too bad.  Please help me flesh out these thoughts with your questions and musings — and for the love of god, help me make sure this book is as useful and informative as it is entertaining.

The most beautiful part of living in our hyper-connected, always-on world is that we can now connect with each other in ways that were virtually impossible even a few short years ago.  As musicians and fans have learned to find each other through tools like Facebook and Twitter, new practices have emerged for artists to put down stakes in cities they do not live in—and in some cases, have never been to. Whenever anyone asks me what Twitter, I tell them my favorite matchmaking story of Snarky Puppy and Montreal.

Last year, Denton/Brooklyn-based band, Snarky Puppy was planning out their Spring Tour crawling from our North Texas home base through the Deep South and up the East Coast.  Ready to expand through Canada, bandleader Michael League arranged for the Pups to teach a clinic to the savvy Vanier students en route to their usual gig at the Rex in Toronto.  This was all coming together right about the time I had met a few key Quebecoise Tweeps that I felt would appreciate Snarky’s particular brand of cerebral dance music (your brain will dance, that’s just what happens, and it’s certainly not for everyone).  I offered to procure a stage for the Pups by way of my Twitter contacts – namely Anthony Imperioli, Joey Vescio, and the fine folks over at Filter Box Media.  Within an hour a modest army of tech-savvy music fiends assembled to help me secure the right venue and alert the proper authorities that Montreal’s favorite new band is rolling through town.

By zeroing in on cats I knew would dig Pups, I saved weeks worth of blind inquiries to clubs and built on the critical foundation of music students and sharp ears inherent to Snarky’s core following.  The culmination of the University crowd and the budding following online snowballed with each trip the band has made – a challenge testament to the infectious nature of this music.  When finding the fans online, one must consider personality and cultural nuance specific to the city in question.  You can’t just blindly flier the streets and hope that the right ears will happen along.  Perhaps especially those with the nameless styles that you have to hear and experience live to really appreciate the massive level of talent and energy Snarky Puppy generates.

Continue on Pork Pie

Your comments are welcome, let’s pick each other’s brains.

-Crisman

Whatcha Gohn Do With All Them Gigs?

Forgive my elusive blog routine, it’s been mad around here the past two weeks.  We lost my primary jazz stage in Denton when Cold Fusion “unexpectedly” shut down, leaving me with over a month’s worth of orphaned gigs.  I had handled the booking the first three weeks the club was open last summer before taking the Pegasus gig, and it was one of my first stops when I later left Peg — the club owner was notoriously difficult to work with, and I wanted to ensure the only jazz stage in Denton not go to waste.

Oddly enough, a business cannot run solely based on what’s happening on stage.  Even Bernard Wright, Ambrose, and Taylor Eigsti couldn’t save that joint.  Oh well, on to the next!

My incredible assistant, Diane, and I immediately set to make the most of this situation.  I have to say, Denton has served me well by stepping up and letting me play with our best clubs.  Hailey’s, Boiler Room, and the Harvest House have opened up their schedules enough to take in a little more jazz.  Herding cats has never been more fun!  Now instead of one cave-like club (that no one wants to hang out in anyway), we get to infest everyone’s favorite spots.  Behold the onward progression of sound — muahahah!

I am particularly excited about what Hailey’s and I are up to.  They are letting me have my way with their bad ass stage most every Wednesday night for the Nica Presents Lounge Series — and the timing couldn’t be better.  Considering Riprocks has shut down their live music on account of young families moving to Fry Street and complaining about the noise level.  This is a bummer, as Sol Kitchen and Bastard Sons of Skoalfield always put on a great show perfect for Denton’s hardcore mid-week hang.  Wednesdays are our Fridays.  We go hard.

To prove to you that I’m not jerking around with this Wednesday business, I offer up Hatch and Sweatervescence on a well-lit silver platter.  The evening will also serve as  Hatch’s CD release party , so you know we’ll  have oh-so-many albums to get into your psycho-funk lovin paws.

Kicking off the night is a little project I found whilst trolling senior recitals at UNT.  I was impressed with Sweaters’ bandleader Tyler Mire’s compositions — anyone willing to write a song called “Nord Storm” is basically guaranteed my ears for at least five minutes.  They’re green as a band, but not as musicians.  With school winding down this week, you can rest assured everyone will be ready to listen to music and drink heavily.

God bless Denton’s Hump Day.

Come play with us, New York

Ganglin' through the streets of New York (you know how I do). Photo by Michal Garcia

Tuesday is going to be a very big day for me.

My not-so-quiet small town, Denton, will play host to two extraordinary young artists setting fire to the New York jazz scene.  You can’t get much hotter than Ambrose Akinmusire, as far as I’m concerned.  Since discovering him at the NYC Winter Jazz Fest this year, I find myself listening in on the space inherent to breath and brass and hearing so much more than I have before.  Taylor Eigsti, from what I gather, is some sort of piano angel.  I missed his set with Nick Peyton, but still had a few chance sightings, most notably when he played with Gretchen Parlato.  I was fascinated by the chemistry of the band, especially the apparently elated pianist.  He was having a great time!  So we all joined in.

You can imagine my anticipation, then, to be welcoming these two firecrackers to my lil ole club, Cold Fusion.  This is all the doing of one Brian Girley —  a self-driven bandleader, talented saxophonist and UNT alum.  Brian invited the guys down to play two nights with a slew of North Texas’ emerging musicians — this includes Yuka Tadano, quite possibly the hottest chick bass player in existence; and Jason “JT” Thomas who has played with everyone from Roy Hargrove to Marcus Miller and has the smoothest voice of any drummer I’ve seen (he is likewise responsible for my introduction to D’Angelo and I therefore owe him a drink).  This dynamic quintet will be performing a very special two night engagement in Denton — if you are so compelled to hear the bleeding edge of living jazz, I do hope you can join us.

Wednesday night’s show at Hailey’s will feature sets by two young acts just starting to make waves through the North Texas jazz scene.  Tatiana Mayfield— our very own Josephine Baker, as saucy as she is talented — will have her Quintet on hand.  They’ve been gathering a steady following from Fort Worth’s underground scene with regular gigs at Scat Jazz Lounge and Buttons, while Tatiana has picked up notable mentions from Downbeat and All About Jazz.

Here she is in full recital regalia:

Wednesday’s show will also include Roberto Verastegui‘s group — the Grammy nominated One O’Clocker has been touring the globe (while going through the North Texas Jazz program, no less) with his inventive styling and decidedly personal inflection.  I must say, his playing reminds me very much of Bill Laurance (maybe it’s the Nord face, maybe the kicky knees, you decide).

Here’s Roberto with yet another hot bass player, Linda Oh.

Needless to say, I am just beside myself about these shows.  I will try my best to keep my Jazz Geek fits to a minimum (I held my own when we were all playing pool with Lyle Mays a couple months ago, but just barely).  The good thing is that since the shows are in Denton, there will almost always be someone jazz geekier than me somewhere nearby (though that may be up for debate at this point).

See you Tuesday!

Cookie Pants Interview: Ian Rapien

Behold the scrappy video production of my interview with the highly educated Tenor Sax man, Ian Rapien!  The newly-hazed Pup is in Denton this week soaking in the culture, including a gig tonight at Cold Fusion featuring the Jazz Wizard himself, Fred Hamilton (guitar), Steve Pruitt (drums), and Grammy-nominated Ryan Hagler (bass).

You can nab Een’s tunes for your very own diabolical playlist with his album, Spectrums, and hear him full-Snarky on Tell Your Friends (available at Recycled Books in Denton and online beginning April 11).

Special thanks to Roni Gan for leaving her front window unlocked so we could break into her house and turn it into a make shift talk show studio.