MJJO: First Gig of the New Year

Music is a gut thing. You’re working in a medium which is more in touch with
the primal than the modern. A gig is a ritual. There’s a congregation.
~ Siobhan Fahey

Ah yes, the first gig after a long break. I try to take November and December off as it is family time for my band. When we convene again, there is often personnel changes. So it was as we went into our first gig for 2016. Two subs sitting in, a new lead alto who was basically sight reading 80% of our charts, and a very loud venue. This can be very stressful.

But I didn’t let it get to me. My fav photographer was in house and taking some incredible pictures. This one came quite by accident as he went back stage to hid his gear and bags. It is my favorite picture of the set.


Look at all those dancers, I think West Side Swing Dance was in attendance too.

Posted in Big Band, Dancing, MJJO, My World | 1 Comment

Doctors, Medicine, and Health … oh no!

I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself. ~ Johnny Carson

I am constantly surprised to find otherwise smart people in my life who don’t have good doctors. I have two quick stories to tell to illustrate the point that you should work hard to find the best doctor you can afford.

doctorStory 1: My mom felt poorly and went to her carefully researched doctor just to find that the doctor was on sabbatical. The “replacement” doctor checked mom out and determined that she had cancer. He scheduled some follow up appointment and mom went about informing her family and friends. The test provided nothing conclusive but mom’s regular doctor returned, looked at the test results and said mom had pneumonia. After a good dose of antibiotics mom was fine and is with us 10+ years later.

Story 2: A coworker and highly respected writer, manager, and friend experienced some kind of sinusitis for all the years I knew him. He missed work, was miserable, and constantly sniffling and clearing his throat. Kleenex was on him at all times. So he finally decided that he was going to have to quit, he couldn’t concentrate on work any more. I asked him if he had the best doctor he could find and he asked, “How the Hell would you know?” I told him story 1 (above) and a year later he came back as a contractor. He was cured, totally. He had a new lease on life and went back to school just because he wanted to. Turned out he had some polyps is his nose and a better doctor correctly diagnosed and corrected the problem.

nurseMy wife (the neo-natal nurse) is a bit of a genius. She goes through life questioning everything. When I got blepharitis it caused stinging eyes, tearing, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for the pain. It would happen two or three times a week. This started in my mid-fifties. My eye doctor told me what it was and recommended that I take a Qtip and scrub under my eyelashes twice a day for the rest of my life. WTH!

Suzy did some research and found out that a common remedy for this is to take a flaxseed supplement once a day. Bam! I was fixed and maybe still have an attack or two a year instead of weekly. When I told the doctor about this cure, he said, “Oh yeah, I heard about that before.” Sigh … what a pathetic excuse for a doctor.

Do yourself a favor and research your doctor using online rating services, word of mouth, and advice from professionals. Maybe, just maybe, it could save your life.

Posted in Health and wellness, Medical, My World, Tips and Tricks | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Big Band Book System ~ Take 4.5

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~ Paul Hawken

Books2Today I was spending another two hours putting the solo tenor book together for the new candidates for that position and discovered that I was unable to put in a full inch-thick stack of new charts that had not been filed. With 230 charts for any given year from our library (of over 5,000 charts), this has been an ongoing challenge. I have spent hours cleaning up the books for people in the sax section who just don’t take the time to keep their books up to date. Imagine a 4 hour session of pulling old charts out, adding new charts, and cleaning up the last concert-order charts.

That’s just crazy. I can’t use my favorite music stand because our book is too big, too heavy. So I am trying a new system. I updated the music master list and labeled each song as A or B.


The A book is our concert book for the year, has about 100 charts, and has maybe 95% of what we will play in any concert. The B book is that year’s library book. I am using the existing huge binder as the library book and the smaller binder as the concert binder.

imageAlso, all my charts have been placed in the binder so that they can be read without removing the music from the books. This means I DON’T have to pull charts from the book, shuffle through that stack and book if our director calls an audible during the concert, and then put the music back in the book after the concert. I have now reduced hours of filing time from my practice regiment.

Turning to the chart is my biggest challenge but after two or three concerts, I can do it almost as fast as others turn to the next chart from a stack of charts.

This solution makes it easier for me to hand my book to a sub. I can’t count how many times I’ve been handed our binder for a sub and there are three stacks to sort through if you are playing the chair:

  • The numbered stack
  • The new stack
  • The last concert stack

This *always* creates a stressful situation for the sub, the section, and the director.

Trumpets2I have never been in a band with as much music to draw from as this band. Most bands have file folders that you pull the music from and the place back in the binder. This takes more time than I’m willing to do for any of my bands. And if the director of these other bands call and audible (a chart not on the play list), it takes the band 3 to 5 minutes to pull their chart. That’s a lot of down time for a band.

It will be interesting to me to see if this system works for us. Now to setup my book with this new method. And then another hour to add the new charts to the master music list. The life of a band manager is not for the faint of heart.

Posted in Band, Band Management, Big Band, Books, Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra, MJJO, Tips and Tricks | Leave a comment

From a Soldier’s Perspective …


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

12 Rules of Practice: Wynton Marsalis

Sound the Trumpet: How to Blow Your Own Horn

Wynton Marsalis knows how to practice. As a younger man, he was equally at home in front of a symphony orchestra playing the Haydn concerto, or laying down some serious jazz with Art Blakey. Check out Wynton’s discography for more evidence of his skill and artistry. That’s what tens of thousands of hours of practice sounds like. Check out his 12 Rules of Practice after the video.

Subscribe to live concert video/audio feeds from Jazz at Lincoln Center, where you’ll hear the world’s best jazz musicians doing their thing in real time (meet the artists). On the LiveStream site you can check out other feeds, too. Knowing it’s happening live is pretty cool. Here’s a concert from Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra highlighting the music of jazz titans Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus. Great stuff!

Here are 12 practice suggestions from Master…

View original post 778 more words

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege

“I am white. So I have not experienced racial privilege from the “under” side firsthand. But my children (and a lot of other people I love) are not white. And so I care about privilege and what it means for racial justice in our country.”

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

View original post 1,649 more words

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

My first New Year Gig

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

RobinI am so jazzed about tonight’s gig with my wife Suzy on alto and me on bari sax. So many of my friends and Neil, my long-time instructor are sittin’ in with the Microsoft Jumpin’ Jive Orchestra. I have never done a New Year gig because I didn’t want to be up that late, driving home with so many drunks out there. But this seemed like a good compromise.

This year, I decided all musicians should do a New Year’s gig at least once. So I plucked it off my bucket list and booked the band at a plush senior center, with a crowd of over 300 anticipated. We will be playing from 7 to 10 PM with the NYC ball dropping at midnight which is 9 PM pst our time. Our director Bill Sheehan made up a special medley for the occasion and Robin Hilt will bring in the New Year crooning softly into the mic.


Every musician (21 piece band) gets a $75 check which is peanuts but helps buys some reeds, bore oil and the like for next year. Parking is free which never happens at our Seattle gigs. There is a in house sound and lights crew, a green room, and easy access to the stage.

JaAGlogoSo I’m going over my pack out list, lights, fronts, instruments, music, seat cushion, hat, and this year a back up sound system. I’ve redone the set list at least three times so far after our director spent a week setting it up. Did I mention our book is too large? <smile>

When we get there two hours early to set up, I will stress about the little things like placement of the monitors, lights, and fronts. As we near the sound check, I will wonder if that fellow musician who is always late will be there on time. As the crowd shuffles in, I will be softly tuning my instruments, going through the set list again, and then … then the magic moment when we play our opener, Microsoft Jumps!

Happy New Year!

Posted in Band Management, Big Band, Holiday, MJJO, Music, My World | Tagged | 4 Comments