Swing Dance, this is why …

There are many kinds of dances, but all those requiring the participation of the two sexes have two characteristics in common: they are conspicuously innocent, and warmly loved by the vicious. ~ Ambrose Bierce

We, and my we I mean my swing band, love our dancers. When they show up, the gig seems that much more worthy. Every eye is upon them, celebrating the skill and sensuous nature of their moves.


These two showed up for a charity gig that we were playing for. It’s our annual Jumpin’ Jive to Thrive event and boy howdy can these folks dance.


Note the Zoot suit, you heard me … a ZOOT SUIT RIOT! Photo credit to our band photographer and former lead alto sax Mark Gladding. Enjoy.

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Little Free Library Arsonist ~ March 2018

LittleFreeLibraryFireTravis: Some fucking hooligans torched the community library box. The tree looks damaged too.

David: Call the Sheriff’s Office. Arson is a felony.

Sally: Oh no!!

Lacresha: What a bunch of degenerates

Mike: Did they get caught? I saw the Sheriff there.

Star: I just walked over what a mess! Here’s hoping you can get them–arson is a scary deal. The punks that did this need to be locked up grr!!! I am so angry, hope Jim had a camera on the side of his house…

Simi: This just makes me sad!

Travis: FYI, we saw it coming home. It looked like it had been lit not more than 15-20 minuets before we arrived. I called 911 and stayed to talk with FD. Gave my info in case they had questions.

Star: Thank you so much Travis.

LibraryBurntDown2018Jim: Wow, and I was at a charity gig for kid programs tonight. Suzy will be sad too. I will clean it up tomorrow.

Jim: It will take me some time to see if my cameras saw anything.

This video is of two fellows who walked by our house ~2 minutes before the fire was started and then walked by again after the fire department and crowds dispersed. Anyone recognize them? The walk might be distinctive to those who know them? Please do not share these pictures until we get more info.

Facebook will not allow me to share the vid … here’s a picture. If you think you know them, the picture is much clearing on my screen and you can view the video for walking style.Manage

Image may contain: night and indoor

Travis: That’s me and my friend.

Jim: You got there just before the big light flash. Thanks for letting us know. That’s why I didn’t want to put this out there before we figured out what’s goin on. I didn’t get any other people by my house, so they went the other way.

(Travis was dressed up for ComCon.)

Jim: All cleaned up.

Image may contain: tree, plant, grass, outdoor and nature

Michelle: This is horrible!

Sally: Thank you for doing this.
We were out of town all day at a memorial service in SF ( Marin County) We flew down for the day and just got home. We would like to help in any way we can.

Jim: One of the neighbors said that if we don’t rebuild, the bad guys win?


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Frank Ticheli ~ An American Elegy

From Frank’s FB page: When I composed An American Elegy in response to the Columbine Shooting tragedy, I thought it would be a singular episode, or at least a rare one, in our nation’s history. Sadly, I am constantly reminded how wrong I was.

image(click link to hear song behind your read) Nothing will improve until more lawmakers find the humility to admit that the Constitution was not inspired by God, but written by mere mortals doing the best they could without benefit of a crystal ball. Those same mortals saw this themselves, thereby permitting amendments to the Constitution. In other words, they possessed a humility and wisdom that many current lawmakers seem to lack.

Current lawmakers also need to let go of the fear that tighter gun legislation equals removal of all guns. (I am from the rural south and grew up with guns; got my first rifle at age 10, owned several, went hunting all through my childhood.) In fact, common sense gun legislation may very well save the second amendment.

Finally, our lawmakers need to find the strength to compromise and the courage to act, even if it means losing their NRA donations and their seats in Congress. This may not happen in my lifetime. But I have hope that my children’s generation will show more wisdom than my small-minded generation of lawmakers has managed to muster.
An American Elegy has been performed frequently in response to mass shootings occurring since Columbine. I had no idea that could ever happen. I am sad about a cultural situation that makes it so.

#MassShootings #FireThePoliticians #ProtectOurChildren

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Project Band ~ People Turnover

Jazz is about being in the moment. ~ Herbie Hancock

Every year my band has turnover. People move, get new, harder jobs, get divorced, … you name it there are so many good reasons for leaving a good band. Some let you know at the end of a season. Other, through bad luck or poor planning let you know days before the first practice of the new season.

SaxPeepsThen comes the ‘not so fun’ part of managing a band. How to find a suitable replacement who is also a good team fit personality wise. And if the outgoing band member is a key soloist, that really is hard to fill. In some cases that case would require a change in the music program for the year, even if you find a decent soloist to fill the loss.

Then there is the interesting phenomenon of not being able to find some one till the last moment and then suddenly you have two qualified candidates. That happened twice this year in my band with the pianist and the director. I guess it’s better to have too many candidates. But sussing out which one is better for the band can be a real challenge.

Auditioning them is relatively easy. Make sure you throw something challenging at them to see how they do. I hafta say that after having stellar trombones for a number of years, suddenly it’s become difficult to find any candidates to fill those shoes.

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The Music World: Should I, Could I Be a Part of It?

“I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.” ~ J.S. Bach

DSC00387Friend: Hey Jim.  Based in large part on your enthusiasm, I plan to drive over to Spokane on Thursday to horse trade for a like new Yamaha pro 62 II Alto.  Guy there would like to have one of my Yamaha wind synths (WX-5), so I’m working a partial trade.  I’ll also likely pick up an Otto Link to go with the Alto, assuming I do the deal at all.

Before I drive 600 miles and spend a lot of money, I really should ask – do you still feel there is a need for another Alto player in our area?  You feel good Altos are more in short supply than good Baris, for example?  I’d hate to spend a lot of money on a horn and then not find an opportunity to play it.  As you know, my interest would be to play with a group like EMJO or MJJO with a more challenging and up-tempo book, as opposed to what I’ve been hearing from some of the other bands in our area. ~ Gary

Me: I firstly want to say, that making money is not in the equation for most of us. It might be for you, as you are a pro or semi-pro player (depending upon your definition). So other than resale value, and that instrument you have selected is good for that, it’s all about the value you get from playing. I know you probably know that, but I just wanted to make that clear.

PGSQ2017PracticeThe guys who have played at your caliber and whom I know, tend to own sop, alto, tenor, and bari saxes. They also have a clarinet and/or a flute. There are so many that are my close friends and they have *way* too many playing opportunities. For example, one joined DoctorfunK, two play with the Jazz Police, and so on. These are paying gigs, but not enough I suspect to cover your home utilities costs.

It you like playing lead alto and *can*, you should have an alto sax. If you love playing bari sax, then we need more of them on the Eastside. However, if you are ~3 years from retiring from music performance, maybe you would not get the benefit from these additional instruments. 

I can’t promise you will find a home with the 30+ big bands in the Seattle area. But I suspect if you network, cover some free gigs to meet the many band owners and players, and if you are are willing/available to sub, then you would be able to find that perfect band or two that you’d want to be a part of. And there are over 20+ theater houses doing musicals on and off throughout the year. So there are those jobs.

Me, I thought the pit jobs took too much time and didn’t pay well enough for a hobbyist like me. I did two shows with the Second Story Rep in Redmond and then decided it wasn’t for me. But the experience was worth the time and effort of slogging 3 to 5 instruments to the pit for 5 to 7 shows plus a two month of practice sessions.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my musician friends, and there are so many, are the bestest. Lovely people, they are very talented and hard working. These are people I would have never met had I not returned to music after a ~30 year break. I adore these people and they make my life fuller and better.


Here’s what I ended up doing. I created my own jazz combo (4-horn), big band, sax choir, clarinet choir and sax quartets. I also help three other big bands get up and running, two of which are still playing. I also had many community band projects including a summer band and ten years on a community band board. After a whirlwind ~10 years, about three years ago I downsized to playing in these select groups, my favs: WCB, MJJO, and the Professor Gadget Sax Quartet. I sub 10 to 20 times a year with other bands/groups. AND, I’m not half the player you are.

So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it. Good luck.

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10 Essential Qualities of Great Band Leadership

As the founder of a number of music ensembles I have always meant to write an article like this. Christiana does it better. Pictures from my collection by various photographers, some of which I know.

10 Essential Qualities of Great Band Leadership
Features, leadership, Marketing & Promotion, Booking Gigs & Touring
Jun 30, 2014 05:32 PM
by Christiana Usenza

A band is a unique and complex relationship, and with so many different personalities and goals among band members, things can sometimes get tricky. Some people are direct, some are passive, some are more organized than others. “Musicians are sensitive and odd creatures,” says songwriter/guitarist Paul Hansen of indie folk band The Grownup Noise. “So inevitably, it will be a dysfunctional, but hopefully loving, family.”


When you’re creating, performing, traveling and practicing with the same people for hours on end, there’s no question that leadership within the band is essential to get everyone on the same page, manage expectations and create camaraderie. “There’s no ambition without leadership,” says Brooklyn-based multi-instrumentalist Jeff Tobias. “Bands that function as total democracies can frequently be sluggish and often unsatisfying. In any case, someone needs to be steering the ship.”

Roger2013Leadership can come in various forms. Some have one appointed leader, whereas others have many leaders, acting more democratically. “If it’s a benevolent dictatorship where one person is in charge but they make it engaging and fun, that can be great,” explains Jeff. “If the band has more of a collaborative dynamic, then the leadership role can rotate when appropriate – for example, one person can lead on booking, the other person can lead on artwork, etc.”

No matter what your band’s unique culture is, these 10 essential leadership qualities will help you navigate just about any situation you encounter with your bandmates.

1. Professionalism
Musicians are sometimes stereotyped as partiers or just downright unprofessional people, but any band with aspirations of making it big knows just how important it is to prove that wrong. As we all know, music is an incredibly challenging career that requires a ton of knowledge, years of practice, discipline, creativity and organization. The hard work behind it all can be taken for granted. One way to set the precedent for being respected and get the results you want is to maintain high standards of professionalism.

This includes scheduling rehearsals and shows in advance, being on time, being totally prepared for rehearsals, promoting your shows in advance replying to emails and phone calls in a timely fashion. Professionalism helps present the band in a positive light to the outside world while also setting an example for internal expectations.

Someone might be a brilliant songwriter and have lots of great ideas, but a good band member becomes an amazing band member if he or she is also on time, respectful, organized and prepared.

2. Patience
BandOneIt’s going to take a lot of time to get to where you want your group to be, so enjoy the journey. If you’re too eager, you might shoot yourself in the foot. Gather the right people for the genre and instrumentation you’re looking for, and then practice, practice, practice before performing or recording. Make sure band members are comfortable with the material, and if they need extra practice, schedule time for it before booking your first gig or studio session. The right things will line up if you’re patient, positive and humble.

3. Respectfulness
Just like in a relationship, each person’s expectations and needs should be discussed. Remember that each musician brings his or her own expertise, talents, ideas, personal goals and passions, so let that flourish. If someone feels taken for granted, unappreciated or overworked, resentment might build up and affect the music and performances. On the other hand, if members feel valued and appreciated as individuals, they will be amped up to bring positive energy and ideas to the group.

“If someone’s going to grab the reins, they should appreciate the support of other musicians and behave accordingly,” Jeff Tobias says. “A good bandleader should inspire confidence and interest in the other musicians, making their time and efforts feel worthwhile.”

When someone does something well, give positive feedback – it’ll motivate them to perform at their absolute best more often.

4. An Open Mind
The creative process is a vulnerable experience. When you’re working as a group to create new material or learn new songs, there will inevitably be moments of imperfection. Since learning styles and creative vision will vary from person to person, it’s important to stay open-minded throughout the whole process. Have a brainstorm session, let the creative juices flow, and allow people to contribute and play around with ideas. This will happen more freely if the leaders create a supportive atmosphere. When the leader(s) make final decisions, band members are more likely to support it they were able to contribute their own creativity in the process.

5. Big Picture View
DSC04159-1Even though many aspects of a band can change and develop over time, it’s good to at least have a sense of what you’re creating and the direction it’s heading. This requires some preparation and thought ahead of time. It’s important to be able to see the big picture as well as all the little details. Ultimately, it’s up to the leader(s) to visualize, communicate the concepts and determine what needs to be done to materialize that vision.

6. Ability to Delegate
Sometimes, it’s just too much responsibility for one person to handle all the details. “In my own experience, it seems best to have two leaders in the band,” says Paul Hansen. “That way, the one leader won’t be overwhelmed and alone, but also there won’t be too many cooks in the kitchen.”

If you have too much on your plate, delegate – and be clear about it. No one wants to be the one loading all the equipment at the end of the show while the others socialize, or the one marketing the band while others aren’t taking it seriously. If multiple members of the band have responsibilities beyond learning their parts, it’ll become more equal and enjoyable for everyone.

7. Strong Communication
It’s super helpful for the other band members if the leader(s) express their ideas, goals and vision. This can be anything from genre to frequency of gigs to long-term vision. It’s also important to lay down the logistical expectations: everyone coming prepared to practices, being on time, making their availability known so you can schedule gigs, etc.

“The most high-functioning bands that I’ve been in benefited from well-defined roles and reasonable expectations,” Jeff adds. It’s up to the leader(s) to set expectations and to hold the band members accountable for it. Even if you’re the passive type, you’ll learn fast that the best thing to do is be direct and open when something is bothering you. Otherwise, it may spill into other aspects of the band and affect the enjoyment of collaborating and making music. Although it may feel a little awkward, it’s perfectly okay to call someone out if he or she is not living up to the band’s expectations. No one wants to put up with that person who never practices and slows the rest of the group down, so it’ll actually ease the tension in the long run.

8. Decisiveness
Good bandleaders have to be able to think quickly and be confident in their decisions. For example, if it turns out that there’s only time for one more song instead of two at your show, everyone in the band should automatically know who will choose the final song. Discussing it for several minutes on stage just looks unprofessional, and you lose valuable playing time in the process.

9. Self-Awareness
MollySop3It’s okay to give guidance, but you also need to give people some control. A strong leader is able to catch himself/herself before micromanagement rears its head. Even if you don’t fully agree with your bandmates’ opinions, at least support them by acknowledging that their opinions matter so they don’t feel like just a cog in the machine. They’ll be more invested in the long run. Self-awareness means treating your band members, engineers, publicist, techs, venue staff (and pretty much anyone you’re working/collaborating with) as you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed. Really, it’s a pretty good life rule.

10. Motivator
You’ll get 100% from your bandmates if everyone is having fun and feels motivated. Recognize that your band members are carving out time in their busy lives to learn the songs – possibly for not a whole lot of money – when they could be doing other things. Make it an enjoyable and stimulating experience for everyone involved.

Found here: http://blog.sonicbids.com/10-essential-qualities-of-great-band-leadership

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Twitter 2017

“Twitter provides us with a wonderful platform to discuss/confront societal problems. We trend Justin Bieber instead.” ~ Lauren Leto

Back in the mid 2000s I created a twitter account for work. I stayed on topic for CRM, an industry that I was part of, and some hobbies like music. I didn’t really think the platform would go anywhere, but it took off and in so many ways. The business oriented used it to talk to their customers, musicians used it to get their music out there, and the movie industry … etc.


Speed ahead ten years and as I retired from the corporate world, I get picked up to do some social media for a friend. Hey it covers utilities at casa du Glassa. Part of the reason I was hired was because of my contacts on Facebook, G+, and yes, Twitter. Now a daze I use the platform for my band, my quartet, and my part-time job.

twitter-vintageAn average Joe, I am constantly amazed that I get as many followers as I have, but maybe they are for the most part reciprocating to me for following them. I use social media mostly for myself, to follow the kind of news I’m interested, mostly about my hobbies and as a reference for key times in my life. 

I take no offense at people who despise Twitter and other social media venues. I was told by one of my brothers that Facebook, for example, is all about bragging about one’s self. My response was, if that’s how you use it then that’s true. (Shrug) Not everyone uses it that way. Personally, I take great pleasure in seeing a video performance from way back, pictures of family and friends, some of whom are now gone. It works for me. I wish I’d had it in my youth, pictures were so much more expensive then. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

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