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Americana the Beautiful

Notable LA Americana sightings in the last few days: Steve Martin and Edie Brikell blew everyone away with their tune on Conan last week. Steve drove the tune with a cool repeating lick on banjo–the rest of his touring band was there, plus a string quartet, and plus myself on piano and my Conan band mate Michael Merritt on bass. This Steve and Edie show were also headlining at the Hollywood Bowl later in the week. Then on Friday I went to the Bowl to hear Lyle Lovett and his Large Band…holy crap what a great band–four horns, lots of geetars,…

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Downbeat Magazine – March, 2013 Wow! An profile article in Downbeat. I’ve been reading this mag since I was 14, I remember the transcribed solos in the back (“Spain” by Chick Corea from Light as a Feather, Zawinul’s “Euridice” from Weather Report), and of course all the feature articles and record reviews. I’m honored and frankly blown away. Writer Shaun Brady hits all the points, and took my hour-long, typically rambling interview and made it somehow work and make sense. Click for original article… Coastal Composer by Shaun Brady Conan O’Brien’s very public firing from “The Tonight Show” in 2010 not…

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Jazz Times: Northern Light— Scott Healy-Glenn Alexander Quartet Click for original article… The appealing music on this newly released CD was actually recorded in December of 1991 when pianist Scott Healy and guitarist Glenn Alexander went into a New York studio with bassist Kermit Driscoll and drummer Jeff Hirshfield and created these six tracks covering an economical 38 minutes. Unfortunately, both Healy and Alexander quickly got busy on other projects, with the pianist landing a full-time gig with the new Late Night with Conan O’Brien show, and the master tapes were shelved for over 20 years. In 2012 Alexander found…

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The first time I listened to “Hudson City Suite“, the latest recording from pianist/composer Scott Healy, the music blew me away.  Haven’t changed my opinion in the 4+ months the CD has been in rotation but am not sure why this review has taken so long (the word “laziness” comes to mind.)  Healy, who worked in Conan O’Brien’s “show” band when he started at NBC and his subsequent move to TBS, admits to being greatly influenced by Duke Ellington.  There are moments on the 9 tracks that make up the “..Suite” where one can notice that influence but what is…

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“Jazz Arranging for Keyboardists”, from Keyboard Magazine April, 2013

We do so much work with computers – we might forget how to write for real instruments. Jazz arranging, while it will never become a lost art, might loose some of the subtleties that the masters have taught us. I’ve been writing for Keyboard Magazine for almost ten years, and I’ve seen it go through many changes, many new formats, writers and editors. The current incarnation with Stephen Fortner as editor is, as Moe Green says, “bigger and swankier than any of the rub joints in Vegas”.  They recently brought back full, notated, lessons covering everything from basic technique to…

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So much for hating music theory. I did just finish a blog post at Professorscosco where I go on and on about linear harmony. Check it out! It’s got some cool graphics, like this: I don’t know (or care) if it’s the correct term, but what I call linear harmony involves forgetting what you know about chord “progression” and instead thinking about broader and less defined tonal movement. Tension and resolution happen (though not necessarily where you expect it)…and perhaps there is never a cadence, a ii-V, or even a tonic key center. Linear motion can imply sharp harmonic movement,…

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