Sunday, May 1, 2016


OPEK is making a all-too-rare appearance at Pittonkatonk this coming Saturday.

What is Pittonkatonk? It's an all-day picnic/party/brass band festival held at the Vietnam Veteran's Pavilion at Schenley Park. It's a super-fun event, and a covered dish; bring something.

What is OPEK: if you're reading, do you not know? There's rather a long story as to the origins, but OPEK is my reduced-sized big band, inspired by Sun Ra. Our first gig was maybe all-Ra, but that quickly changed as I started arranging some Miles, Mingus, Monk, other obscurities, and even writing a few originals.

We had a fairly regular gig at the Club Café, not to mention the old Quiet Storm, but that has fallen to the wayside.

Our last gig was at the Frick Museum/Clayton House, playing a program of Strayhorn; prior to that, at the Washington County Wine and Jazz Festival in Canonsburg. Plus, OPEK was the core of the ensemble for the performances of my Concerto for Orkestra.

There hasn't been an unhinged OPEK show since Canonsburg last year. It's a similar situation at Pittonkatonk, we'll play what we choose for 40 minutes or so. I'll pack it in however I can.

Our usual opener, which you can expect on Saturday:

PS. I miss Chuck.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Tomorrow is the last regularly scheduled Space Exchange show. The Thunderbird Cafe is closing for renovations some time in May. Colter Harper is playing with Ghana musician Osei Korankye, Jeff Berman, and others.

Throck and I will be hunting for a new space, and/or we hope the series will continue once the TBird reopens.

I've made this statement on our Facebook group, and I reiterate: I have been determined to be positive from day one. If it only lasted a year, then it would have been a great thing for a year. It's been four and a third years. That's pretty amazing.

Some of the theme nights we've staged: music of The Band, Paul Motian, Anthony Braxton, James Bond films, Thelonious Monk, David Lynch films. Presented Dylan Ryan, Lina Allemano, Reb Beach, Tony Grey, Sean Jones.

You should probably attend Tuesday, and we hope to see you in the future.

Some examples:

Friday, April 1, 2016

Concerto for Orkestra, movement by movement

Concerto for Orkestra is a ten movement suite for creative music orchestra. The movements, in order:

1. Processional
2. Fiat
3. Gyrodyne
4. Pram
5. Incline
6. Bumper Car
7. Dirigible
8. Monorail
9. Dromedary
10. Recessional

Movements 2-9 are named for some mode of transportation (and even movements 1 and 10 suggest movement by foot). Notes on each:

1. Processional. This is one of two movements actually performed prior to the composing of this work as a whole. The minor third opening in the bass underlies many elements of the piece as a whole. The movement is very Sun Ra-like, unapologetically, an additive structure to open the suite.

2. Fiat. Fiat is a sporty Italian car, or an edict. The opening in particular had a taste of Ennio Morricone's '60s/'70s crime drama films.

3. Gyrodyne. The opening eighth-note pulses are another important element to the work as a whole. The 12/8 rhythm suggested a helicopter motion to me.

4. Pram. The word Pram has multiple meanings; most pertinent, a pram is both a old-styled baby buggy, or a simple dinghy. This movement is generally aqueous, ebbing and flowing. I referred to it as "fake Takemitsu", and I stand by that. Nizan considered it to be an improvisation captured on page, and I won't argue that.

5. Incline. A bittersweet love poem dedicated to my adopted city. Anyone in Pittsburgh knows what an inline is. 

6. Bumper Car. The other movement performed (once) prior to the composing of CFO. Its original title was Action Figures, and in that form was dedicated to Willem Breuker. The melody has a Vivaldi feel.

7. Dirigible. The working title for this was "dirge-like", which transposed to "Dirigible" pretty easily. Nizan mentioned something about Lalo Schifrin, and I can't deny it, I would add David Shire.

8. Monorail. Is it too obvious to name a largely monophonic melody "Monorail"? I don't know. This was the last movement started, though I consider it very important for the flow of the piece as a whole. This one rings of Messiaen, at least some of the simpler, more relaxed movements from his orcheatral works.

9. Dromedary. This refers to camels crossing the deserts, moving on when nothing else will. It's also a reference to dromedary-class warships. What better way to align with that than a mutated military march.

10. Recessional. This is inspired by another piece that I won't mention. All I can say is, write a closing theme that leaves them wanting more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Space Exchange March 2016

Pretty great lineup of concerts if you ask me.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Space Exchange February 2016

Space Exchange keeps rolling along in 2016. I'm on two of these days. Of course, SE stalwarts Thoth Trio are on the 9th. On the 23rd, the Throckmorton 4 is the improvisation group with David Throckmorton (drums), Paul Thompson (electric and possibly acoustic bass), me (laptop, saxophones and electronics) with John Shannon filling the guitar seat this time. Both funky and abstract, we've had some great performances in the past and look forward to working with John.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016