What I am is what I am. Are you what you are, or what?
Those of you who’ve known me for a long time may still think of me as a jazzy guitarist who has played a lot of instrumental music and only recently started singing and writing songs. Newer friends and fans may think of me as a singer/songwriter who occasionally shuts up and plays his guitar. In my own mind, I’m both of those guys, though I’m relating more to the playerly side at this particular moment—for whatever reason—and it sure is fun.
I spent most of last week rehearsing with Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors chamber-jazz band. Todd was recently commissioned to write a 70-minute suite. The band spent a few days getting into his gorgeous new score, then played a couple of live gigs—at Freight & Salvage in Berkeley and Blue Whale in Los Angeles. We also performed the entire piece live on KPFA radio. We’re in the recording phase now, spending the next three days at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. Look for a release later this year, called Bear Proof.
And, in case you haven’t heard, I released an all-instrumental album last week, called Town & Country. The format for T&C is guitar, organ, and drums—that’s an “organ trio” in jazz parlance. (This is not my first organ-trio session. I released Buttermilk Channel in 2001, and Humdinger in 2006.) We tracked T&C at Fairfax Recordings—the fantastic studio that lives on in the space where Sound City used to be. No overdubs, no fixes. Just good music, made honestly.
Next month will see the release of Worry Later—a collection of Thelonious Monk tunes, interpreted by clarinetist Ben Goldberg, drummer Smith Dobson V, and myself.
No, I haven’t retired from singing or songwriting! I’m just enjoying giving one side of my musicality a little rest while I take the other out for a few jogs around the block. Dig it if you please.