Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Music This Sunday At Madison Hills Christian Church

I look forward to performing with two of my friends at Madison Hills Christian Church in Richmond on Sunday, April 30, 2006. We will be playing during the 9:30 and 10:45 morning worship services.

Cheryl Tolbert, Vocals

Kevin Moreland, Keyboards

We have decided not to prepare the music ahead of time, but to make it spontaneous on Sunday morning. Cheryl and Kevin are talented musicians and it should be fun. We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Wonderful Evening Of Big Band Jazz

Bob Mintzer

Chuck (no longer to be referred to as "Monkey"), Kim, Wayne, Bridge, Byron, and a near full house of jazz lovers heard Bob Mintzer, Rick Hirsch, Vince DiMartino, Professor Miles Osland and DOJO in a cooking concert last night at Comedy Off Broadway in Lexington. Mintzer signed my "Bob Mintzer Big Band Homage To Count Basie" cd as well as a photo previously taken of the two of us together. The signed photo is already in a frame and is hanging on my wall in my music studio. He is one of the very best sax players in the world.

Vince DiMartino and DOJO

Personnel on the gig was:
Sax: Miles Osland, Larry Nelson, Gordon Towell, Dave Anderson, Lisa Osland
Trombones: David Henderson, Jim Grubbs, Brad Kerns, Hap Burgois
Trumpets: Vince DiMartino, Greg Wing, Rich Byrd, Ricky Cook, David Hummel
Rhythm: Raleigh Daily, Danny Cecil, John Wilmarth
Guests of DOJO: Bob Mintzer, Rick Hirsch, Angie Ortega

My UK Jazz Ensemble instructor was the great Vince DiMartino. He was far and away the best college instructor that I had. He really made my night when he said some very nice things about my playing to Mintzer. Bob encouraged me to keep up the good work.

With Vince DiMartino

Saxophonist/Composer Rick Hirsch

The entire concert was a gas. I particularily enjoyed hearing saxophonist/composer Rick Hirsch's arrangements and compositions. He is a faculty member of the Penn State Music Department and is a prolific arranger of high school and college jazz ensemble music. Rick is an interesting fellow. I talked with him at length after the concert. During the earlier concert announcements he had mentioned that a composition and arranging idea had come to him while swimming. I asked him to tell me more about how that works with him. It was interesting listening as he explained how he hears arrangements in his head and how upon their completion, most of time they sound very close to way he had heard them in his head. I also found it interesting that he didn't really compose or arrange much until he had been in college for several years. On my drive home, I realized that, in reality, he had been composing ideas for years as he improvised as a jazz player, he just was not writing the ideas down on paper at that time. He is a talented musician with a wonderful ear. He performs with his trio and quartet, Alex Meixner-Rick Hirsch Jazztet, Valley Jazz Orchestra, and many other groups. Rick holds music degrees from Northern Illinois University (M.M.) and the University of Massachusetts (B.A. Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa). I googled Rick and found a blog by Helen Fontana Bechdel regarding one of Rick's compositions.

Mintzer and friends were at UK about ten years ago. I hope it is not another ten before they return.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

UK Wind Ensemble & Osland Sax Quartet Play Mintzer

The University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. John Cody Birdwell, joined with Professor Miles Osland's Saxophone Quartet for the world premier of Bob Mintzer's "Rhythm of the Americas" today at the Singletary Center for the Performing Arts. in addition, four Mintzer saxophone quartet pieces were played by UK sax students prior to the concert and at intermission. Saxophone master and composer Bob Mintzer was in the audience for the event.

Bob Mintzer and Me

I enjoyed meeting and talking with Mintzer. He signed my "Incredible Journey" cd (Bob Mintzer Big Band, 1984 DMP CD-451), one of the first all digital recordings I owned. Miles commented in his opening remarks to the audience on seeing me with the cd and how much he personally has enjoyed that disc through the years. He said that listening to Mintzer's music is like an incredible journey.

Mintzer leads his own big band, jazz quartet, and is a 15 year member of Yellowjackets. He has played with Buddy Rich, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Art Blakey, Sam Jones, Jaco Pastorius, GRP Big Band, Mike Manieri, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, and the New York Philharmonic. He has recorded with James Taylor, Queen, Steve Winwood, Aretha Franklin, and many others. He has been nominated for thirteen Grammy awards for his solo work, big band recordings, and work with the Yellowjackets. Homage to Count Basie won the Grammy in the best large ensemble category for the 44th Annual Grammy Awards, 2001. Bob's big band arrangements have become standard repertoire for big bands all over the world.

It's always nice to see lots of friends at concerts I attend. I saw Harold Sherman, Dick Domeck, Wayne & Shirley Miller, Mike, Audrey, and many others. Shane, a sax student I teach, and Melody went with me. We all enjoyed it very much. It was great talking with Osland Saxophone Quartet members Lisa Osland, Larry Nelson, Doug Drewek, and Miles.

Shirley and Wayne

I can't wait to hear the phenomenal Mintzer play tomorrow night with DOJO at Comedy Off Broadway. Little Kim, Monkey, Shirley, Wild Wayne and I all plan to be there. We are going to be sitting at the front table.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Remembering "The Fight Gig"

Some gigs that a musician plays don't really stand out in his/her memory. Other gigs become embedded in a musician's mind and he/she can remember every detail down to the odd key signature or crazy tempo that was played on a particular song, the picture or artwork on the wall, the wood engraving on the interior of the structure, the dancer possessing no sense of rhythm, even the layout of the parking lot. Sometimes it is hard to understand why the memories of one gig stand out so much more than others. One gig that I'll never forget is "The Fight Gig". It's easy to understand why I remember this one so well.

This occurred back in the late 70's or early 80's. Dad's band, The Bourbonaires, had a gig to play in Harlan, KY. Dad was leader/trombonist, Dean Gatwood blew trumpet, Edgar Allison played Hammond organ, Wayne Cablish was at the drums, and I played sax and clarinet. My sax setup was state of the art, and like Lexington sax legend and innovator Duke Madison, I had an electronic octave divider hooked up to my sax. (I remember hearing Duke play that thing and I just had to have one. Unfortunately, the equipment still didn't make me sound like Duke.)

Dean and I rode to the gig with Dad in the old Hurst Music Dodge cargo van. It only had two seats, so I would sit in a lawn chair in the back. I remember how cold it would get back there, as the heater blew out the front and never seemed to make it back to me. That old van had no carpet, no interior trim, no air conditioning, and only an am radio. It was okay though, as every musician has to pay his dues along the way!

On our trip to Harlan, Dad told us about the last time he had played there. It was twenty one years earlier, and he told us of that original "fight gig". As his story went, a couple of drunks at the party continued to argue about what song the band should play next. A fight broke out and the club manager sent everyone away. He told them "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here". The party broke up, the manager paid the band, and they went home two hours early.

As we arrived at the club on this infamous return engagement, I observed that the place looked classy. It was very clean and impressive facility, not one that you would think of as rough. It looked like a typical country club clubhouse. When the guests started arriving, it was apparent to me, by the way they dressed, that these were the most affluent folks of the community. It certainly did not look like the same place that Dad had described in "the fight gig" from twenty one years ago.

We got everything set up and played a couple of tunes. I think we started with "Satin Doll" and then Dad may have sung "King Of The Road". After the second tune, a fellow came up and asked for some country song...I can't remember the name of it now. At the same time another guy told us not to play the crappy song that was requested, but to play a different song. The fellow that had requested the first song did not appreciate the guy calling his song request "crappy". The two guys started wrestling and the club manager had to come out of his office to break up the scuffle. A few minutes later, everyone was gone. The club manager came up to Dad with a check and told us to go on home, that everyone had left to go downtown and watch the fight. Unbelievable! It was deja vu for Dad. Funny thing is, we didn't know either song request anyway.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Budweiser True Music Series

I enjoy working for Budweiser on some of their Budweiser True Music concert series events. Recently they sponsored me to perform in Frankfort where I met former All American UK football great Derrick Ramsey at break. I also met many members of the state legislature.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Another Trip To Great American Ball Park

Michelle, Matt, Barry, and I had so much fun last week at the Reds Sunday afternoon game that we decided to go back to Great American Ball Park for a Tuesday evening game this week. As usual, the Reds scored a lot of runs, but on this night not as many as their pitching staff gave up.

Fireworks are shot out of the center field smokestacks when a Reds player hits a home run. We enjoyed a couple of fireworks displays that evening.

We spent the last few innings exploring the stadium. We sat in the cheap seats, the prime seats, stood along the rail, and enjoyed every view. A bar/restaurant with an outside deck is located down the left field line. It was a lot of fun looking at all the pictures and memorabilia displayed inside the restaurant and then checking out the view of the game from the tables located on the deck. We had a great view of slugger Adam Dunn playing left field.

Barry took the photo shown above from across the river when we returned to our Redsmobile.

No doubt about it, Great American Ball Park is a great place to watch a game, especially a night game. It's a wonderful place to relax, take in a good baseball game, and enjoy the good company of family and friends. I think Barry hopes to take a certain special lady on a date to a future night game. He met her in an elevator and was truly impressed with her bubbly personality.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Melody Hall Selected As 2006 Governor's Scholar

In a letter received from Governor Ernie Fletcher, Melody was notified that she was selected from a very competitive field to be a 2006 Governor's Scholar. Governor's Scholars are selected for a variety of qualities and accomplishments, including academic performance, character, interests, talent and overall potential. Governor Fletcher wrote that he was extremely impressed with her achievements and would work with her to increase career opportunities within the Commonwealth.

Obviously, Sharon and I are very proud. My father says that when intelligence is passed down, it skips a generation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tenor Sax Great Bob Mintzer In Lexington

Bob Mintzer is one of the best tenor saxophone players in the world. He is also one of the leading composers and arrangers of contemporary music and is well known for his work with YellowJackets. In addition, he leads The Bob Mintzer Big Band.

Mintzer will be at UK later this week teaching and playing in various university ensembles. The rehearsals are free and open to the public.

Here is the schedule:

Saturday, 4/22, 1:00-3:00 P.M.: Master class/open rehearsal with UK Sax Quartets (Fine Arts Building, Room 22)

Saturday, 4/22, 3:00-5:00 P.M.: Rehearsal with Osland Saxophone Quartet & UK Wind Ensemble (Singletary Concert Hall)

Sunday, 4/23, 3:00 P.M.: Concert Featuring Bob Mintzer with the Osland Saxophone Quartet & UK Wind Ensemble, Singletary Concert Hall, FREE

Sunday, 4/23, 7:00-9:00 P.M.: Rehearsal with DOJO - DiMartino/Osland Jazz Orchestra (Fine Arts Building, Room 22)

Monday, 4/24, 8:00 P.M: Concert with Bob Mintzer & DOJO, Comedy Off Broadway at Lexington Green. $7.25 cover - reservations recommended: 271-JOKE

I plan to check out the Saturday masterclass before heading out to my gig at Caproni's, am hopeful of bringing my kids and a sax student or two to the free concert on Sunday, and certainly look forward to hearing Mintzer with DOJO on Monday night. Monkey and Tami Bob will be joining Sharon and I at that concert. It should be fun hearing Mintzer trading solos with Vince DiMartino, Miles Osland, and Ricky Cook. There will be some serious talent in that room.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Swingin' For The Gipper

I found this old picture buried in my photo box and felt it was one that just had to be posted.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Authentic Jersey Makes An Impression

I was scheduled to work Saturday night at Caproni's in Maysville. Since I was also booked to work their Sunday morning Easter brunch, I thought I would check out the motel room rates in Maysville, and if they weren't too expensive, I'd stay overnight instead of driving home.

At the motel's front desk I asked of the nice lady the cost of the least expensive room. She looked at me with a big smile and told me that she would be with me in just a moment, that she would like to talk with the manager first. I noticed that she was looking closely at the authentic Cincinnati Reds jersey I was wearing.

When she returned from speaking with the manager, she leaned forward and whispered, "You're with the Cincinnati Reds' organization, aren't you? You are one of the coaches." I winked at her and said "We normally get discounted corporate". She offered a 50% reduction of the room rate.

As I was leaving the front desk area she asked if I was the third base coach. I replied that I try to help wherever I'm needed and told her that I would be right back. I had some brand new baseballs in the gigmobile that I had bought to pitch to my son Matt. I pulled one of them out of the bag and brought it back inside to the front desk. In front of her I signed the ball "Best wishes from Coach Hall". She was so excited that you would think she had just won the lottery.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Old Van

My 95 Chevy Astro Conversion Van is the best vehicle I've ever owned. It now has over a quarter million miles and the engine still runs strong. Other than oil changes, brakes, and tires, I think I've spent less than $1000 on total maintenance over the years. Certain things don't always work now and I need to decide whether to spend some bucks to fix it or to pass the van on to someone else that is willing to do it.

My first inclination is to give the van to a mechanic friend of mine. He could do the repairs himself and then have a very functional van. My son Matthew is against that idea. He wants to turn the van into a full blown Bengals party van.

Matthew and I have season tickets to the Bengals where he has seen many awesome looking customized vans and old school buses. Many are painted with Bengal stripes, have the team logo painted on, and are customized for the ultimate tailgating experience. He has suggested that we paint our van orange with the black stripes, put a giant "B" on the hood, and paint the roof to look like a green football field complete with yard lines and goalposts. He wants to remove the back bumper and install four fold down stadium seats just like the ones from Paul Brown Stadium. He says we should mount external speakers on the van so that the Bengals fight song and Fear Da Tiger cd can be heard by everyone.

Last year we went to a road game against the Tennessee Titans. There were a lot of Bengals fans that made that trip. One customized Bengalmobile that I particularily liked is shown below.

Matthew with the van I like

Here's one that Matthew likes

We were invited by the folks that owned one party van to go with them to watch the Bengals play at Kansas City later in the season. I decided against it when they said that they would need to leave three or four days early in case they had to stop for auto service. They said "she runs a little hot sometimes".

I think many of the Bengalmobiles were like my old Chevy Astro...that is, old with lots of miles and the owners had to make a decision as to whether or not to keep the vehicles. The owners of these football party wagons obviously made the decisions to keep their vehicles and spend some money on expensive Bengals paint jobs and conversions. I'll probably keep my Astro and simply stick on a few Bengals magnets, window flags, and maybe a bumper sticker or two. Instead of installing external speakers, we will simply roll the windows down so that the fight song and Fear Da Tiger can be heard by everyone. (That is assuming the automatic windows are working on that particular day.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Brag Book

I keep a brag book full of nice letters and notes received from my customers. If I'm ever a little bit down, I spend a few minutes reading from the book and my spirits are picked up immediately. The following email was received this week from one of my great clients regarding music I played during dinner for some of UK's elite medical students. Letters like this will "put some air in your tires".



I want you to know how well received you were last night! Many, many of the students approached me about you. One of the student administrators called me today and said she will definitely be in touch with you in the future. Another person emailed me and said you were “simply brilliant”. You go boy! I’m emailing your contact information to KS right now. She’s in Admissions but has some outside activities that she’s interested in contacting you about!

Thank you for taking care of us…yet again!

- MB

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wednesday Night Fun At Giuseppe's

What could be more fun than spending a Wednesday evening at Giuseppe's?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fun At The Old Ball Yard

My fantasy baseball team, Saxman's Kings, is off to a really slow start. The Kings are seventh of ten teams in the standings after this first week of action. To take the sting off the slow start, I decided to go up to Great American Ball Park to watch the Reds and do some fantasy baseball scouting.

Sharon, Michelle, Matt, and I met friend Barry in Lexington this morning to head up to Cincy. Barry was going to ride with us in the Bengalmobile (converted today to the Redsmobile) and needed to leave his car parked somewhere in Lexington. I suggested that he leave the vehicle in a business parking lot, some store that he frequents and gives lot of business, one that wouldn't mind him leaving his vehicle there all day. He told me to meet him off Winchester Road at his favorite place. To my surprise he was parked in the Cracker Barrel lot, not the Hustler lot.

I purchased some inexpensive tickets Saturday afternoon from the Reds website and was pleasantly surprised at the awesome view our seats provided. They were eight rows up in the top level and directly behind the plate. We parked in Kentucky, enjoyed the walk across the bridge, rode the escalator to the top level, then walked up eight steps. That was it. I remember sitting up high at the old Riverfront Stadium and having to seemingly walk forever up those long ramps and steps. This was so easy, only eight steps. I took this photo from my seat. The photo looks pretty good, but in person the view was breathtaking.

On the way home we stopped at a rest area and grilled up some smokies and dogs on our trusty camp grill. A dog at the game goes for $4.50. We knew this, so instead of buying them at the game, we went to the grocery before the trip and spent $7.00. That bought us 8 jumbo franks, 8 smoked sausages, and 16 buns. The grill was smoking and everything tasted great.

I remember, as a kid, going with Dad to Crosley Field and later to Riverfront Stadium to watch the Reds play. Those are great, great memories. I hope my kids will remember their trips to the park as fondly as I remember mine. I think I'll end this blog entry now, as I'm going to put on my Field Of Dreams dvd and think about some of those great, great memories.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Official Weather Spotters

Michelle, Matthew and I are now official weather spotters. We have received our certificates recognizing our completion of the Skywarn Spotter Training classroom study from The National Weather Service in Louisville, KY. The program is certified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. As a result of our training, if we are ever hit by a tornado, we will know what it was.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Play Ball!

It's opening day for my favorite baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, baseball's oldest professional franchise. It is a special day, a time for optimism. Every team starts with the same record (0-0) and dreams of a great season. Fans are enthusiastic about the upcoming pennant races and look forward to enjoying the nice weather that is on the way.

The NCAA championship game is tonight and I am still expecting to win either a Hummer or a Mt. Dew tee shirt, as I picked Florida to win it all in my online bracket (see my 3/16/06 blog entry). As important as the contest prize is to me, I still plan to be watching the Reds-Cubs opener tonight as my primary game (recorded this afternoon on my dvr). I'll check in on the Gator basketball game at commercials.