Thursday, April 23, 2009

Watch out Intraweb...

... Kyle Saulnier is blogging!

Who is Kyle you ask? To start with, an amazing composer of large ensemble cacophony who thrives on confusing you by having two bari saxes featured on one tune and an oboe on the next. In addition to leading the Awakening Orchestra, he also co-leads the self-described "elastic.hybrid.chamber.pop" ensemble Alice. Both bands, and his blog can be checked out at his new site Awaken The Music.

I met Kyle the day I auditioned for the Manhattan School of Music and when I found out he was currently living in Fredericksburg, VA, the same town I am from, I honestly thought it was some weird joke and went into my audition slightly dazed and confused. I later learned this was not an abnormal reaction to Kyle. Talking to him is like watching an Elseworld's adaptation of Gilmore Girls if written by Frank Miller- the dialog is quick, witty, uber-dark and peppered with obscure cultural references that I rarely understand leaving you feeling slightly dizzy and for some reason craving strong, dark coffee. Which is why I can't wait to read his blog!

Check him out at


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

42nd Street Pan Flutist

Apparently someone didn't get the memo!

(as seen this past weekend by me in the 42nd Street subway)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Boston Marathon!

Good luck to all runners participating in today's Boston Marathon!

As most of you probably know, the running of the Boston Marathon is pretty much the highest honor most non-professional runners can have. With qualifying times starting at 3 hours 10 minutes for men, 3 hours 40 minutes for women, the trend of back-of-the-pack runners (like myself) are ineligible to compete in Boston. Hardcore runners have to prove their eligibility by completing another marathon within the qualifying time for their age group, within the past year and a half. Because of these high standards, running this race becomes a goal for those fast enough not to have their goal be to just finish (like myself!).

I have mad respect for these runners. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is something I will never be capable of. And that's fine with me- I actually really enjoy having an interest in which I have no desire or pressure to excel at (beyond minor time and race location goals). It also adds a huge awe factor to all those who do have the desire to excel at marathon running, at least as far as finishing times go.

I may not be able to qualify for Boston, but I could still run it. Every year thousands of unregistered runners jump into the course as "bandits." These are the slower runners who could not qualify but want to run this fabled race. explains:

Though they are cheered on as much as registered runners, sneered at by purists and nearly ignored nowadays by race officials, Boston’s “bandits”—or unregistered runners—are as much a part of Boston Marathon history as John Kelley or the Kenyans.


There may be more bandits this year than usual, according to Dave McGillivray, the Boston Marathon race director. In late January, race directors cut off registration when they reached 25,000—several weeks earlier than in most years.

“People are saying all those qualifiers who didn't get in will increase the number of bandits,” McGillivray said. “My sense is that although they're disappointed they didn't get in, they have their own standards and they don't want to run this race that way.”

McGillivray “bandited” Boston himself in his teens and is less adamant about pulling bandits from the starting line on race morning in Hopkinton.

“The BAA’s position is that we certainly don't encourage unofficial runners from running,” McGillivray said, “but we recognize that it's part of the tradition that a certain number of them will show up.”

“Right or wrong,” McGillivray said, “we factor them in, too. When we order port-a-johns and water, we actually say there’s 29,000 in the race, not 26,000”—the number of registered runners. “It's a conundrum for sure. On the one hand you feel like you’re accommodating them, but it’s safety too.”

Read the whole thing for more info on how the bandit movement got started.

Bandits are also know to dress up in crazy costumes, a trend that has spread to most major marathons these days. I actually have a friend who ran Boston many years ago with his tuba! Crazy! It would take a lot for me to consider running Boston as a bandit. The training process is so long and arduous, that I honestly don't know if I could run one with out the promise of a finisher's medal!

For more info on today's race, coverage, and links, visit the Races in Places website.

Good luck runners!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Morning Cup: Cannonball's Battle Hymn

Speaking of David Carradine... (*sort of) I give you everyone's favorite Cannonball Adderley video. Okay, so maybe it's not everyone's favorite, but it's certainly a goodie!

And now I can't decide if I want to put on Mercy, Mercy, Mercy or Kill Bill... Perhaps just another cup of coffee would be best.

*yesterday I posted a video of Zamfir playing the soundtrack to Kill Bill, who of course, is played by David Carradine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In case you were wondering...

Ouch! Sorry pan flautists!

I got this in an email awhile back via ks and thought it was pretty funny. Though really, I think it would have been funnier, and more apt speaking as a composer who is hated by many alto sax players, if the flow chart referred to alto flute instead of pan flute!

While most would be wise to follow this chart's advise, here is one person who can safely rebel:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Morning Cup: Spontaneous Train Station Dancing?

Not quite... but still pretty cool!


VTM, a television station in Belgium, recently used a flash mob dance stunt to announce their newest reality television program “Op zoek naar Maria”. The promotion, similar to T-Mobile’s ad set in Liverpool St Station In London, is promoting the program’s search for an an actress to play the leading role in the The Sound of Music.

On Monday morning, March 23, commuters were introduced to the recording of Julie Andrews singing the song, “Do Re Mi”, as recorded for the 1965 musical, Sound of Music. 200 dancers strategically placed in the crowd began to dance as a remix of the track came through the speakers.

Would this stunt have worked at NYC's Grand Central Station? Or would disgruntled commuters pushed their way through the cheerful dancers? Either way, if this idea gets repeated here, I hope I'm present to witness it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sweet Home Carolina

photo by Richard Barlow, used with permission

North Carolina was my home for a total of 8 years.

The first three were late middle, early high school, and I lived in Swansboro, NC (pictured above).

The other five were during college at UNCG in Greensboro. While I
did a attend a UNC school, it was not the famed UNC-Chapel Hill who won the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship last night. But that didn't stop me for cheering them on or explaining to the BF that their jersey color is "Carolina Blue" not "powder blue."

While living in NC was fine, I don't have any grand desires to relocate there. I do, however, get yearly yearnings to visit, drive through the back roads, and sample some tasty NC BBQ, my favorite! And that yearning got a little deeper when I came across an old NC high school friend who now does incredible photography. I couldn't believe it, but his pictures made me actually
miss North Carolina! My favorite out of the bunch is above, but these are just as good:

Go check out more of his amazing work at

Friday, April 3, 2009

Races In Places Reboot!

Races In Places has moved!

Find them at with a new format and new updates including a recent review of the Ukrop's 10k by Richmond jazzer Dean Christesen.

Races in Places is a community of runners, fast and slow, who have a passion for exploring the world, one race at a time!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Father, who Art Blakey

Garrett Lang (bs),Chelsea Baratz (t. sx), Tatum Greenblatt (trp),
Valery Ponomarev (trp), Jason Marshall (b. sx), Stafford Hunter (tbn)

The night started a bit rocky. The room at Sweet Rhythm felt ominous with only a few tables occupied and half the band missing when the downbeat fell at 8:10 this past Monday night. Then everyone but Tatum missed the horn entrance to the opening tune, "Bitter Dose". I was not surprised, the chorus of written bass line out front is deceptive- beat 3 feels like 1 so unless you're counting, you're gonna miss your entrance. My stomach dropped as I felt sympathetic anxiety for being in front of a band that is completely falling apart and resisting the urge to cut everyone off and start again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Joseph's horn snap to his mouth as he jumped into the horn line from the side line and got everyone back in place. Phew - that was close. And it only got better from there.

As the tables filled, the energy of the players rose and I began to realize I was witnessing something magical. For the second time this month, at coincidentally the same venue, I was truly enjoying the music I was hearing and did not suffer my usual listener's ADD, and did not want the set to end. (The first time this month I had the same feeling, the first in a while, was also at Sweet Rhythm when I heard Jason Marshall's Tribute to the Ray Charles's Hornline, an absolutely soul lifting experience, back on March 13.) The songs were all extended, allowing everyone who wanted to solo (a practice I'm typically not fond of but really worked here), and while the expertise of each player was varied, the simultaneous energy of the band coupled with a chill but respectful attitude toward the night kept my interest throughout the set.

Much of the entertaining aspect of the night I credit to Valery Ponomarev (from whom I stole this blog's title). A former Messenger back in the 1970s, Valery provides a direct link to Art Blakey and his music. Besides still having great trumpet chops, Valery has an incredible stage presence and is simply a lot of fun to watch on stage. He runs his own Art Blakey Tribute Big Band that plays regularly at the Garage and Iridium and carries the same high energy that Valery brought to the night. Check him out talking about playing with Blakey in this unedited video:

The rest of the band was made up of current New School students and alumni. I was really impressed with the trio of students that made up the rhythm section and successfully carried the bulk of the load that night. Pianist Glenn Zaleski played some great solos that managed to keep the current modern aesthetic without disrespecting the artistry of Blakey's hard bop language. With bassist Garrett Lang and drummer Dustin Kaufman the trio really maintained the battery for the night and when guest drummers Carmen Intorre and E.J. Strickland stepped up, Zaleski and Lang were able to keep up and meet the noticeable energy that the pros brought to the ensemble.

In addition to Ponomarev, who was featured on "A Night in Tunisia," the horn line was made of New School student Chelsea Baratz who enriched the ensemble with a nice, strong tenor sound, Jason Marshall on baritone sax and Stafford Hunter on trombone filled out the bottom end of the group and treated the audience to some killin' solos, and doubling Ponomarev on the trumpet part was Tatum Greenblatt, who brought some tasty high notes and 8vas to the music. Organizer Joseph Perez jumped in at times with his tenor to lead backgrounds and took a few solos himself including a ballad feature on "I Waited for You." Keeping with the spirit of the music, the group welcomed many musicians to sit in with them including New School Alum and pianist Ben Healy, the great trumpet player Fabio Morgera, and the aforementioned Carmen Intorre on "Blues March."

The highlight of the first set was with out a doubt the closing tune which featured brothers E.J. and Marcus Strickland on Blakey's "The Core." This tune absolutely burned! E.J. brought so much energy and volume to the group, it almost felt like the place was just going to explode! It was really a shame the two couldn't stick around for the second set because they definitely brought something to the ensemble that took the whole evening to a new level.

The second set was a bit more chill, starting with "Moanin'" and continuing through tunes including "Nica's Dream" and "Thermo" before closing the night as Blakey so often did with "The Theme." Unfortunately the audience was a bit thinner for the second set and the energy of the players definitely dropped a notch or two. But overall, the evening provided an incredible two hours of music.

Art Blakey passed back in 1990 and so I never had the opportunity to hear the Jazz Messengers live. But I really feel that the spirit of the music was fully embodied in last Monday's show. It was shame that Charles Tolliver, who the evening was dedicated to, could not be there. I think he would have been proud of his former students who proved themselves to modern messengers of the legacy of Art Blakey.

April Fool's Day

I'm a pretty gullible person, so I generally dread April Fools Day. I even fell for this video, via Last Kiss Comics, on April 1!

Why all the embarrassment on a day that should be beautiful, warm and full of early spring?

Blame it on the calendar. Museum of Hoaxes explains:

The most popular theory about the origin of April Fool’s Day involves the French calendar reform of the sixteenth century.

The theory goes like this: In 1564 France reformed its calendar, moving the start of the year from the end of March to January 1. Those who failed to keep up with the change, who stubbornly clung to the old calendar system and continued to celebrate the New Year during the week that fell between March 25th and April 1st, had jokes played on them. Pranksters would surreptitiously stick paper fish to their backs. The victims of this prank were thus called Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish—which, to this day, remains the French term for April Fools—and so the tradition was born.

The calendar-change hypothesis seems, on the surface, like a logical explanation for the origin of April Fools. However, the hypothesis becomes less plausible if we examine the history of calendar reform in more detail.

The article goes on to counter the above theory and is actually pretty interesting if you, like me, love history. I see all the holes in calendar theories, but it is pretty coincidental that April 1 was the previous start of the year. This explanation makes perfect sense to me! Then again, I am admittedly gullible...

For a great list of April Fool's Pranks (as well as further origin speculation), see Wikipedia here.

My favorite?

Left Handed Whoppers: In 1998, Burger King ran an ad in USA Today, saying that people could get a Whopper for left-handed people whose condiments were designed to drip out of the right side.[7] Not only did customers order the new burgers, but some specifically requested the "old", right-handed burger.