In Dec. 2011 I was given the opportunity to write The Vox News column for The New York CIty Jazz Record. My first column appeared in Jan of 2012. Between all the creative projects I am working on, my teaching, and the NYCJR, I didn’t use this Blog actively. I hope to awaken this Blog in 2013, so, stay tuned. In the mean time you can go to my website, for updates on coaching, and jazz performances.
I love the bass. I love bass players. When I’m in my own band, or listening to other people’s bands, I feel as if I hear the bass, first, and in primary balance. Almost as the center of the sound more so than the melody, actually. And I love bass-driven projects. The pulsing sound is so elemental, and moves me, every time, especially when the bass players are really free, and passionate. Bass is a ride on a wild horse a ticking a sailboat at sunset a train clicking a speedboat on high seas a themepark ferris wheel a walk on a back road a candlelit dinner an earthquake a rich roast a mousse a grilled a sauteed slather the butter burnt onions it’s a kiss a beat; a heart beat.
Arturo O’Ferrill and his Quintet (Cornelia Street, New Year’s Eve) – all all allllll amazzzzing. Yes. But for this moment, may I please share my latest haunting? I’m reeling from the after-experience of Alex Blake‘s bass playing in my ears. He is drumming his bass IN my ear drums. This man is a completely extraordinary bass player. And that’s a superlative understatement. He is a channeler. He played with a hard-hitting percussive slapping, hands fluttering like birds’ wings flocking on his strings. He created a sort of welding with every note. Flame throwing hands. Hammering hands; nailing nailing nailing to construct sound, transforming the bass into a whole new instrument. A construction instrument. Nuance, yes yes there was nuance and there were soft dynamics, on a gentle waltz, but it was – ummm how can I put this — it was just sliced, sliced, yes, IN-to the moment; never retreating energetically for even a split second. And he was sweating in this sacred way. I was up really close. I saw the sweat, and it was streaming. Really beautiful. And what I loved maybe most, was, he sings as he plays. I love that. Sometimes he sings out fully, and other times the vocal notes slip out in pitch perfect groans along side his riffs, augmenting and layer the bass sounds. I just urge everyone to hear this player live any time soon.
Joe Fonda, who is my regular right hand bass-man in the KB Group Project/+we have the Bull-Fonda Duo, was introduced to me by Lou Grassi, the drummer whom I’ve known since I was a kid. He’s a whirling dervish energy. Then Joe introduced me to Michael Jefry Stevens, the piano player, who introduced me to Hillard Greene, whom I had also heard/saw at the Vision Festival. I asked for a referral to Hill, so I could extend an invitation. Hill has a giant redwood tree energy. I played with Cameron Brown, whom I met through his duo work with my mentor Sheila Jordan and that might be why I hear the voice in such a primary way – Sheila is the first and still the foremost voice-bass pioneer. He is like Fred Astaire, following and leading almost simultaneously, effortlessly/sensitivity. I’ve also played with Martin Wind, and Ben Allison, whom I met through drummer Matt Wilson (whom I’ve played & recorded with off and on since ’04, maybe ’03) and Jeff Lederer (my regular tenor player)/ those guys all play together as you probably know. Martin is so fascinating. He’s like a wildcat watching his surroundings – he has an ability to be melodic, or in the groove, or swinging, and yet – there is a stillness and simplicity. Ben bobs and bounces in a complex athletic trance-like energy. Josh Paris was introduced to me by my regular piano player Landon Knoblock (who was referred by my other regular piano player, Frank Kimbrough). His fusion and free form experiments with Landon drew me towards his playing. And then there was Jay Anderson, just once, for a festival. We had just one talk-down/no rehearsal, and yet, it felt like I had played with him a million times before, he was so tottttallly there, and entrained. I will never ever forget that night. I think Jay was also referred through Frank Kimbrough, and Jay plays with Kendra (Shank) the singer who shares my mentor Jay Clayton. (Jay referred Mat Wilson to me, originally). Last summer Sazao Machado got into my ears, and heart, as we played in a Duo at La Plata International Jazz Festival. My friend Marcelo (Coelho/tenor/Brazil) introduced us. During the Evolving Music Series Monday Nights at the Local 269, which spanned the last few years (they are now at the Clemente Soto Velez), I was exposed to new bass sounds, and became a fan of Francois Grillot, William Parker, and Albey Balgochian. I hope to improvise with them, some day but I love love love listening listening listening in the audience, just as much. I love being a bass groupie. Individual bass players are all veins in one larger bass “heart” of the jazz body, and it’s amazing to me to realize that these players have moved some blood through my Group Project, pulsing my band’s limb, in the moment.
Brazilian Trio Nilson Matta (bass), Helio Alves (piano), Duduka Da Fonseca (drums), joined with Roni Ben-Hur (guitar), and special guest the legend Brazilian vocalist Leny Andrade at Kitano jazz club, NYC. This band is a united pounding waterfall of entirely Entrained current; their rapids draw our listening chairs towards the cliff, and over the edge. We audience can’t help but be enveloped, and take the plunge, dropping down with them into the spray of their combined waves, sinking under their blankets of sound, bobbing back up as they kick it forward; sounds melting, and exotic. Between the veteran faster-than-light-speed-smokin’ riffs, the psychic hook-ups, and spontaneous unity, I was sure we were all witnessing the best of Humanity right there in the music. Then Leny stood up; Ms. Andrade. Rest assured; god is not dead…the god/ess is alive. Andrade has the sound of Time itself, from a long life lived and sung. I will never forget the seasoned amber sound in her voice, and the way she used her strong hand to stroke the air as she slowed the tempo for “Wave”. While undulating her spine she took us deep sea diving in a romantic Jobim ocean. A wonderfully fulfilling night of music. This club is beautifully intimate; a cozy, classy, “fine-wine” jazz club. And the food is truly excellent!
I just had a practice session on my own, in which I started playing at the piano, and then switched to a metronome, slowing “bouncy” or ” moderate” tempos down to a near halt as micro-slow as I could. I wanted to get Shirley Horne slow, if you know what I mean. And lo and behold; wow. The present moment in each phrase, arrived, like the seconds between the ticks on a clock. “Play the notes you don’t hear,” (Monk). Play the time between the time. Very centering practice.
This is not currently an inter-active blog, and one of the reasons, is, spam. So, thank you for reading this blog, if you are reading. And if you are spaming; you will be deleted. – Katie
Recently I was in the mountains, having driven upstate for the weekend. There is a rhythmical “silence” in nature, that is so fascinating. The frogs, crickets, waterfall, and rustling fall leaves, all create a polyrhythmic song, in the night air. The music I have been listening to in the city, within the last few weeks,has been the chanting at Occupy Wall Street. Due to the illegality of amplification at the gathering, the demonstrators must speak in waves of acoustic chanting, with concentric circles of spoken word reverberating outward from a central speaker, into the outer edges of large crowds. So there I was, on the mountain, looking up at the stars, and Jupiter – which I’ m told is prominent right now – receiving the “song” of the woods. And, with OWS in my ears, I heard the Greek Chorus of nature. All creatures, and earth elements, inter-mingle sound, in “concert”.
Tonight I am co-creating art inspired by the earth. “Water Rites” is a ritual form celebrating water; an improvisational meditation in movement, music, and spoken word, on themes of water clarity, corruption, and cleansing. All themes that matter to us as a planet in more ways than one: sustenance, sustainability, and healing. Yes, it’s the 9.11 weekend; what ever one might feel about what brought us to that horrible day – what ever “our” complicity might be in wrongs towards other cultures – a terrible moment of toxic rage spilled into many innocent people’s lives. I am dedicating my water meditation to innocent life, and towards a future that I envision can embody truth and clarity. Purity is not a lost ideal, or a pollyanna fantasy; it is a basic right, when speaking of the planet. Pure water is a birth right from our Mother Earth. Let us all drink from her, and give back. This is a site specific piece, at the Metro Baptist Church on W. 40th Street off 9th Ave in Manhattan. It has been co-created with Mark Lamb Dancers, and the Bull-Fonda Duo – myself and Joe Fonda, bassist. I am inspired by this process, as it is a channel for strong feelings about the water “cause” . I put the word cause in quotes because of the absurdity of labeling water safety in that Box. Water is coming toYour Tap, soon; let’s make it a drinkable “cause”.
I have been listening to veerrrryy ear opening music in the last few years, thanks to several musician and writer friends who have been carting me around and exposing me to new and expansive sounds at places like The Local 269, The Stone, The Downtown Jazz Gallery, The Brecht Forum, Barbes, The Vision Festival, The Winter Jazz Festival, and The UnDead Festival. I’ve been thinking a lot about what got me excited most recently, which was my experience of being a listener in the Evolving Music Series, (which I was also singing in pretty regularly). The sounds were so fresh, each night, and singers were on the same sets as instrumentalists. I heard players that might have “normally” been compartmentalized on instrumentalist nights in other venues/series. And they heard me. I really do feel as if I got an education, and also, I made some very dear friends whose playing is opening up my own vocabulary, and my heart. I think that I have the curators to thank, for conceiving of these events, and making these experiences possible. The curators are the DJs in a sense, and there are some sounds spinning, these days, that are way outside the Box. I will make a list of all these amazing people who curate and hence, educate, and post that next. Curators of the jazz world, thank you.
Innova is releasing Katie’s next album, “Freak Miracle”!
Street Date > June 28th, 2011
Digital Release Date > June 7th, 2011
To purchase this album go to www.innova.mu