Owning Trump!

Time Trump Hitler

Start here;

Own the history of what actually took place in order to bring this nation, and you and I to where we are at this very day.

If some things make you feel pride then embrace it. Likewise, if other things make you feel shame, then embrace this too. Know and explore your history absent agenda.

True history cannot actually be denied or modified, and knowing where we are headed today, requires a knowledge and a keen understanding of where we have been.

If there is one skill which has helped us all, as humans, succeed in the domination of our natural habitat, it is our ability to learn from the past and modify our behavior accordingly. Primary focus on real education is a thing of paramount importance to any nation.

Acknowledging this leads to the notion that, with all things considered, as we move forward through history, given an accurate accounting of past events, and the education and intelligence to analyze our past, we should more often than not move in the rough direction of progress.

The phrase “Never again” only takes on its true meaning once we know of and can identify the despicable ideology, which led an entire nation of rational people to accept mass genocide as a legitimate means for dealing with their immigrants. Unlike countries such as Germany and Japan, by not making a concerted effort to pass such lessons on to future generations, we open ourselves up to the possibility of repeating the same behavior.

The Nazis, KKK, Aryan Nation, National Front, Alt-Right, UKIP, the Afrikaner Weestandbewegin, the Australia First Party, and many others alike are all organizations that have one main thing in common. They are all hate organizations, meaning that the primary thing which unifies their communities around their principles and ideology is hate. They all ascribe to a twisted theory of white-supremacy which in turn is based on their strong belief that a person’s race (genetically) determines their level of humanity.

For these groups humanity is a spectrum which ranges from human to beast, with Aryans at one end and Africans and “Aborigines” at the other. They believe that a person’s tendency to embody particular positive or negative traits such as intelligence, a good work ethic, organization and leadership skills, being family oriented, nation building vs theft, drug abuse, laziness, a propensity to commit crime, rape, etc are linked to racial origin. These beliefs are supported by equally twisted religious beliefs, which are usually some sort of perversion of Christianity.

Because their beliefs are primarily faith based, they cannot be disproven by science, reason, logic, or for that matter by anybody, except God, which is pretty convenient for them.

These groups also hold the central belief that their “pure” Aryan genetic line and “white way of life” are in danger of extinction, due to the threat of “racial-mixing” (intermarriage), which in turn is being driven by globalization and immigration.

The Alt-Right and their Make America Great Again slogan is actually code for some of the above beliefs. The same is true of all the other hate groups mentioned.

Now, the average Tea Partier or Trumpesk Joe (or Jill) may not consciously ascribe to the entire ideology above (which is extreme), but many are certainly sympathetic to the parts of this ideology which they believe will help them and their families do better, based on their national identity, which is also white. This group were the recipients of well organized and funded propaganda efforts which were strategically run by the Alt-Right, in order to attract right leaning Tea Partiers and and “Centrist Whites” to the far right fringes of legitimate politics, where the Alt-Right and other extremist groups reside.

In the U.S the KKK exchanged their laundry capes and eye holed pillow case hoods for respectable business attire and a new Alt-Right moniker in an attempt to convince the white public that they are less fanatic than they actually are. Don’t be fooled. Instead of burning crosses they plan to make sweeping changes to our system of government, that will in effect end its association with democracy.

The inevitable election of Trump on Dec 19th will be a tremendous victory for these groups. His message of Making America Great Again was received loud and clear. The rise in hate crimes that followed the Trump “win” was not a coincidence. Neither are the picks for his cabinet and chief advisors.

What does this all this mean?

Well, it means that the time for anybody standing on the sidelines is over. We the sane and worldly, must all come together to oppose the Hateful, Divisive,
Anti-tolerance, Xenophobic, Racist, anti-Semitic, Sexist, anti-LGBT and anti-Poor despicable borderline plutocracy that Trump is assembling around himself.

Therefore, if you identify as being white, but do no ascribe to the above white-supremacist ideology, then you need to speak up, educate, resist, call your friends and family out, and do battle with all who promote this ignorant insane ideology, along with all the organizations which unite around it.

Don’t wait for somebody else to do this for you. Don’t sit in silence for the sake of keeping the peace. These people need to hear from those that are around them, and those they love, that they are dead wrong and their reasoning is deeply flawed. They need to hear this today and often.

If not, it is quite possible that, like the Germans and Nazi Party of old, these people may make you accomplice to a similarly atrocious outcome while you are asleep at the wheel.

The Center City Jazz Fest.

CC Jazz Fest 2014

Now in it’s third year, this past April’s Center City Jazz Festival took hold like never before! A vibrant line up of artists from throughout the country, including many native Philadelphians, came together to bring the spirit of jazz to the masses. And, when I say masses, I am talking about enormous numbers of people of every color, creed, age, and gender, who crowded the six venues involved in this festival, both inside and out. And, when I say, inside and out, I am talking wall to wall people inside and 50 to 60 people waiting patiently in a long long line outside of each and every venue, hoping to get into any one of the 16 or so completely sold out shows.

The festivals creator, Ernest Stuart, prior to this event was like any other young jazz musician in Philadelphia. An unlikely festival promoter, and graduate of U-Arts, he had helped to put together and also performed regularly at a well known jam session, which happened at Time every Monday. The reasons for this jam session’s eventual/eventful demise should be left as material for another long story written at some later date, but suffice it to say, the scene at Time during and after the Center City Jazz Festival’s after-party/ jam session was something that no Philadelphian has witnessed in that venue, or any other, in quite some Time.

While attending a convening of Philadelphia “jazz”promoters, organized by Homer Jackson and David Haas of The Philadelphia Jazz Project, others and I on this panel learned from a somewhat quiet, but heated Ernest that his reason for creating the Center City Jazz Fest. was his inescapable seething disgust, concerning “the gradual marginalization that jazz is suffering at the hands of some promoters, who claim to be promoters of “jazz”festivals, but have few jazz headliners on their roster! The pop artists they book don’t even try to play anything related to jazz! They just play whatever they would at any other pop festival”. I am paraphrasing here, but you get the point. There were quite a few agreeing head nods (mine among them), followed by a couple of heated exchanges, but in Ernest’s defense, he did warn us all, prior to breaking his silence, that his reasons may offend some of the people in the room……

As well as this, he also disliked the fact that many “jazz”headliners at festivals were chosen based solely on record sales, or “crowd pull”, as opposed to their musical contributions. Ernest wanted to create a jazz festival, which was “like a shot in the arm for the city. A festival where a mass of jazz artists would descend on the city within a single day, and tight radius”.

Another great feature of the Center City Jazz Festival is that it includes many venues, which rarely present jazz, as well as those who do so regularly. It also does not include some others, who do so regularly. At present all the venues who participate in the Center City Jazz Festival do so on a voluntary basis, rather than for reasons of financial stimuli.

I performed at Milk Boy, playing bass as part of Steve Coleman & The Five Elements. Now, I’m not one to “toot our own horn”, but just being frank, this band has performed all of over the world, headlining almost every major jazz festival over the last 30 years at least three to four times, but the Center City Jazz Festival 2014 was the very first time that this band had ever been invited to perform at ANY jazz festival in Philadelphia!

When I arrived at the venue, just in time to catch the end of Justin Faulkner’s set, featuring Mike Boone, and John Swana, it was a task to make it through the huge crowd waiting to get in on the steps. While they were on stage literally killin’it, getting anywhere near the stage was impossible. We also had a large, great and very enthusiastic crowd, as did every other band in the festival. The Kimmel Center Creative Music Program, the only non-professional teenaged ensemble to perform the festival, had a line which started at Chris’and stretched to Broad St.

Simply put, those who have claimed that they are no longer promoting jazz events in the city, or say that “this is an unsustainable model”, due to unenthusiastic audience attendance, are doing quite a few things wrong! This is not rocket science. It’s not the music. It’s not the musicians. It’s not the spaces. It’s not the audience. It’s them! They are part of “The Curatorial Drought”that has swept this city over the last 20 years, where people who know little to nothing of the rich jazz tradition still expect to promote jazz events successfully…….

The thing that makes “jazz”cool, is the fact that it’s alive! Jazz, or whatever you want to call it, is no different than any other living, creative music done well, whether this be Rock, Blues, Pop, Hip-Hop, Techno, Rap, Country, Gospel, Jungle, or whatever based. Without a vibrant community who have the capacity to both respect and support it’s best efforts and exponents, there can be no “scene”, and without an active scene, there can be no living music!

Whatever Ernest Stuart is doing, it’s working!

#tiddster.com @antiddote


There is no, there is no

There is no, there is no

There is no, there is no” was a spectacular tribute paid to one of the realest that we all shall ever know, Richard Nichols#dixpop, big papa and founder of “the camp”, teacher of many, the perpetual Back Watcher, feared sound-man, A&R supreme, father, son, husband, artists, brother, the glue, the fierce conceptualists, the linchpin, the grand-trickster, the right-on-brother, jazz radio DJ extraordinaire, marketing genius, and good friend.

A couple hundred people, all of whom had been touched by the gargantuan personality that was Rich, gathered yesterday at Union Transfer for his memorial, which was of course curated by him. In grand Rich style, it was a night to remember, where all the pieces came to together to present this night filled with amazing music and performances, laughter, reflection, and a few tears. Like Rich himself, this night will be legendary….

If the tribute paid can be considered a measure of the life lived, then Rich Nichols lived a very very amazing life!

#dixpop #theroots #thereisnothereisno

To Jam or Karaoke….That is the question

To Jam or not to jam
So…..yesterday’s Sittin’ In with Ursula Rucker was fantastic! We had a great crowd of wonderful people, and a phenomenal show! Ursula Rucker really killed it! I didn’t really like emceeing too much, but….what’s new?
Now, about the jam session portion….. Well, let me be diplomatic and say that people need to learn the difference between Karaoke, an Open mic, and a Jam session. They are NOT the same.
Karaoke requires the least amount of skill, and is intended for amateurs, occasional singers and sometimes professionals. There’s no band and the music sounds pretty close to the original, so you can literally request to sing any song you like and do as bad or as good a job as you please. You don’t even have to remember the words to the song because they’re on the screen.Karaoke covers just about every genre…..So if you want to sing 80s pop, no problem! You don’t have to ask permission to get up and you can get up 50 times in one night if you have it in you. There’s zero emphasis on originality or “bringing yourself” to the song. You can actually completely ignore the audience!
The Open Mic is similar to Karaoke, meaning anybody can get up, but the similarities end there. Since you are now dealing with real musicians and an audience this involves a higher level of skill. You need to ask permission before getting on stage. The band is there to back you, but you need to be courtious. You should know the song well, and the audience will now expect somewhat of a performance and not just somebody getting their rocks off by singing, “The Greatest Love of All” for the umpteenth time”.
Audiences want to see what YOU can bring to the song and will likely frown on you for singing all the same riffs as the original. Also, you can make requests, but you need to be prepared for the band saying, “No”, “I don’t know that”, or “We can only play it in Ab”.
There’s also a certain amount of improvising or making stuff up on the spot required. If you get up and suck, you will probably never be allowed on that stage again, unless you wear a disguise.
The Jam Session requires the highest amount of skill. You should never approach the stage without permission. You need to pay close attention to who is in charge, so you can make friends. You need to have the flexibility to create on the fly (otherwise known as improvising) so that if you enter something that is already occurring you can asses the vibe and fit in! You should be very familiar with working with singers or musicians, depending on who you are joining on the stage.
Musicians and singers have EQUAL footing, so the singer cannot expect to come up on stage and disrupt the flow of what is already happening! This is arrogant and will likely get you banned. Regardless of whether you are a singer or musician you should NOT hog the sonic space. Do not sing shoobeedoobedoos behind somebody else’s solo! You are expected to participate as a part of the whole. It is NOT about you, but it IS about how the entire ensemble sounds interacts and sounds.
You should be able to draw from a wide repertoire, which you have memorized and know well. You should have, or at least should aspire towards having your own unique voice. You need to be your own editor and think of the music as a whole, so if you don’t have anything to say in that 3rd or 4th chorus of your solo TAKE THE DAMN HORN OUT OF YOUR MOUTH and exit the stage (you know who I’m talking to). Jam session audiences are the harshest. If you suck, they will be happy to let you know.
Lastly, you should be aware of whether you are dealing with Karaoke, an Open mic, or Jam session……
Rant over….

Meet the Masters, An interview with Steve Coleman


Prelude: Throughout the majority of the time that we have existed on this planet, we have utilized the process of mentoring as our primary means for the intergenerational transfer of information, otherwise known as education.  Long before, and even after books, schools, colleges and universities came into being, the most efficient and complete means of transferring information, experiences, knowledge, customs and even culture itself was via direct contact.  For those customs which involve a high level of intuition (which I actually consider to be a high form of sub-conscious logic) direct contact, or osmosis is still the most efficient method.

Today if we find two groups, communities, cultures or even entire civilizations that share similar customs and traditions, beyond those which are just the results of “human nature”, it is wholly because, at some point in history, these peoples either spent time together, or they had a common ancestry.

Naturally, parents are the first teachers of any student.  The relationships of Parent-Child, Mentor-Mentee, and Master-Apprentice are all based on this most ancient form of education, through which the essence of any culture is passed down  from one generation to the next.  Without this process the development and rise of advanced civilizations would not be possible.

Unfortunately, in many of today’s societies all of the above processes are in decline. Formal education is now preferred over apprenticeship, mentorship and sometimes even parenting!  The focus is now on standardized testing and education, where millions are taught and evaluated in exactly the same manner, with an ever increasing narrow focus on “specialization” as they advance within their area of expertise.  First hand experience is no longer required in order to teach.

In my opinion, writing, books, audio-video recordings, etc are great tools, and these tools all have their individual and appropriate uses, but within any discipline, where humans have achieved an extremely high level of sophistication, there can be no substitute for meeting and spending time with those who have mastered said discipline.  All other forms are incomplete and fall short.

Music is no different!  Each new generation of master musicians build on the contributions of the previous.  These contributions are most effectively taught via some sort of exposure to the masters themselves.  The efficiency of this method is directly related to the degrees of separation between master and student.

I have been lucky enough to meet a few great masters throughout my musical education.  Knowing first hand the value of these experiences, I thought it would be a great idea to interview one such great master, recent Guggenheim recipient, and modern day compositional/saxophone genius, Steve Coleman.

The following is an edited transcript of a conversation that I had with Steve around a month ago.  As you will see, I spend most of my time listening, as all students should.

I asked this “Jazz Master” six questions, which I’ll be publishing here as six separate articles over the coming weeks.  Here is the first;

Tidd: Steve, it’s no secret that you have been a major musical influence on me since a very young age.  I was first introduced to your music at age 14 by a good friend of mine, Steve Williamson, in London.

Williamson, who was the most prominent saxophonist in London at the time complete with; major record deal, cellphone (it was the first I had ever seen), brand new white convertible VW Golf, impeccable attire and all manner of gadgets, was like a God to 14 year old me…..

As I boarded the red double-decker number 276 bus to Hackney to meet him at a local jazz club, to say I was nervous would be a major understatement.  My manager at the time, Mike Joseph, had set up the meeting.

That meeting with Steve Williamson was the first time that I would ever get to speak to a professional “jazz” musician.  I had never heard of Bird, Rollins, Von Freedman, Sam Rivers, Henry Threadgill or Steve Coleman.  My personal knowledge of so called “jazz”was pretty sparse, to say the least, but surprisingly I still considered myself a “jazz”musician…..

The meeting was simple.  We meet at a smokey crowded Jamaican jazz club/restaurant in Hackney town that I was too young to be in, but they let me in anyway.

Williamson’s first words to me were, “Yo, so I hear you are the man on bass?  Have you ever checked out symmetry? You know….M-Base!  Steve Coleman and the Five Elements!  I looked at him as though he were speaking Swahili.

He reached into his designer leather backpack and pulled out one of his gadgets and placed it on the table next to his tiny (at the time) N.E.C cellphone.  The gadget was a CD Walkman.  I had never seen a CD, let alone something portable capable of playing one!  He handed me the headphones and pressed play.

To say the next three minutes were an enlightenment would be a gross understatement.  There are those rare moments in life where one can be completely captivated and incapacitated by music, where the music is all that matters in the world at that moment, and where all the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  This was one of them!

Williamson played song after song from the “Black Science”album, as I sat there with my mouth open….occasionally muttering swear words under my breath….

I was on such a high that I walked the 5 Miles back to my house (I missed the last bus home) trying to decrypt the music and conversation that I had just heard.  In truth I had understood nothing, but that meeting would define and shape my pursuits over the next year.

Steve, what was your first experience of meeting a professional musician like?

Steve: There were many musicians that I met coming up. I thought they were professional at the time, but I realized later that some of them maybe weren’t quite professional….Depends on what you mean by professional.  When you’re younger and people are better than you, then everybody impresses you!

The first cat who I met, where I realized that I was listening to a musician somewhere near the top, was Sonny Stitt.  There were cats that shocked me before that…..simply because I was sad, so there’re a lot of shocks in store for a sad cat (laughs), but when I met Sonny Stitt, it almost seemed unreachable!  It seemed like that was really the top!

By this time I was listening to records, so I knew what guys like Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and guys like that sounded like.  When I met Sonny he sounded like them, but in person!  So that was a shock!

I had never met anybody who sounded like a record, just….you know….getting up outta bed! (laughs)  The cats I knew sounded good, but they didn’t sound like the records, and he was the first cat, to me, that sounded like the recordings….that sounded like guys who were dead!

I viewed Charlie Parker n’them as the top of the mountain, so to meet somebody who sounded like that, (later on I met other guys, Rollins, and different cats), and to talk to him, and hang around him, and see what he was like…..and, he didn’t just sound like them, he knew all of them!  He loaned his horn to bird, he made records with Rollins, he knew ‘Trane, so…..that was like a shock!

Hearing him with a band was one thing.… I had this idea that when guys played with bands, they were only that good because they were playing with a band.  I don’t know what made me think this.  But, one day I went to his Hotel room.  It was called Robert’s Motel, which is where he use to always stay on the south-side when he came to Chicago.

I went to his room early, and you know, musicians sleep late….as I do now (laughs)….and so I woke him up.  He was a cat that drank a lot, and so he had all this Vodka on his breath.  He woke up, looked at me and said, “Gimme your horn boy!”.  I was like, ah man (I was squeamish even back then).  This cat’s waking up, vodka breath, didn’t even brush his teeth, and he just wants to get up outta bed and play MY HORN, with MYMOUTHPIECE, and MY REED?!  I was like, ah man that’s really out!  But I was who I was, and he was who he was, so it wasn’t like I was gonna say, “No!…….Mr. Stitt” (or somethin’ like that).  So, I gave him my horn.  I was cringing all the way!

He took the horn, and he started playing.  It was a bad horn!  Bad setup, student mouthpiece, student reed, student horn…you know…just bad all ‘round!  He played it, and to my ears he sounded just like Sonny Stitt.  Now I’m sure to him it was horrible, but to my ears he sounded just like Stitt.  Not only that, I heard the whole band when he was playing (he was improvising).  I heard the melody, even though he wasn’t playing it.  I heard what tune he was playing.  It was like I could hear the bass, the drums, everything, ‘cause he was playing so strong, it was like the whole band was there with him!  It was really really solid!  Time was solid, you could hear the different harmonic and melodic paths he was going down….everything!  I didn’t even know what all that stuff was back then, but I could hear it all….you know?  I knew what he was playing.  I was like, Damn!

Then he gave the horn back to me.  I looked at the horn, and the first thing I thought was, “Well….Clearly that’s not the problem!”(laughs), because he just played the same horn and it sounded great!  Then when he gave it back to me it went back to sounding like it normally sounded…So, I was like, okay I can’t use the instrument as an excuse, I can’t use the band as an excuse, I can’t even use waking up as an excuse!  This cat just woke up out of a stupor, probably half drunk, and he sounded great!  So , all of those things to me just became excuses, because I just saw a guy go through all of that….you know…with a KNIFE (laughs), and play and sound great!

And so, I realized then, that’s the goal!  To be that solid.  To be able to play by yourself, and have all the rhythm, and the harmony, and the melody inside of you.

Later on I met Von Freedman, and I would hear him “stroll”(which means to play by yourself).  He’d tell the band to “lay out”(Von would holler ‘stroll’to the band, or in other words, ‘go take a walk’) and start strollingon a song like ‘Ain’t misbehaving’, ‘Cherokee’or whatever, and it was the same thing.  He was just playing by himself and sounding really solid!  I’ve heard other cats do it.  I got a tape of ‘Trane playing by himself.  Same thing!  Really really strong, really really solid!  Bird, same thing!  Since then I’ve heard tapes of other cats playing by themselves, and there was always this same thing.  Really strong, really solid!

There’s a record of Sonny Rollins playing with Sonny Stitt, and on one of the songs (this songcalled ‘I Know that You Know’, Rollins is playing “stop time”(the band play these stabs every two bars and he’s playing in between), and it’s really fast!  Man…..You gotta hear this!  You talking ‘bout SOLID! (laughs)  Because….you know…there’s no band playing really.  They’re just playing these stabs, and he’s playing everything in between!

Pshhh!  I heard that, and I was like, I’ve got a looooooong way to go!  This cat was doing this, and he was doing it at 27 (years old)!  Man, unbelievable!  Just killin’!  And then Stitt came in with the band afterwards.  He wasn’t doing the “stop time”, but he could’ve!

That’s when I realized what level this stuff was on.  I’m just talking about the players…the improvisors.  I’m not even talking about the music, the environment, the innovating and all.  I’m just talking about playing.  Period!  You know what I’m saying?

I know professional cats today who can do that, who are not particularly creative, but who have that kind of strength, because this is a separate thing than the creativity.  The thing about Bird and ‘Trane and those cats was that they could do it…AND it’s creative!  So it’s liketriply(three times as) hard, because you have to have a concept to do it with!

But, there are quite a few cats on the planet who can do it, and Sonny Stitt was one of them.  He was the first one I ran into.  I wouldn’t say that Sonny Stitt was the most creative cat.  He pretty much played the same way his whole life, but he had it DOWN (laughs)!

That’s the level that cats were on when they were at the top.  Certain cats in the past had that kind of strength, Clifford Brown….I’m talking about cats who played rhythm….who knew how to play in time (that’s the first thing), but also who knew how to play rhythm!

Not everybody today plays rhythm.  Without mentioning names, there are a lot of guys who are out here playing, whose styles don’t involve rhythm, or playing in time, or playing rhythmically.  I’m not just talking about “8th note flow”, I’m talking about playing in time, and that could be anything from Maceo Parker to Sonny Stitt.  But, not a lot of cats can play in time….well…there are a lot of cats who can’t…let’s put it that way……

The original audio recording of this segment can be found on the M-Base Ways website at, www.m-base.net.

#thetiddster.com @antiddote


Where are we going?


After spending (some would say wasting) seven years working in the music industry as a music producer for a variety of well-known artists and record labels, I reached a breaking point.  The years of I – IV – V triadic harmony, the hundreds of hours spent correcting vocals (by singers who could not sing) in Pro Tools via Auto-Tune, Melodyne and Vocalign, and the endless studio days spent demoing songs for A&R’s (who could not hear) had taken their toll. Music was dead for me. I was not alone in this depressing epiphany. There were many other music producers (friends of mine who shall remain anonymous) who felt the same way.

Though some of us had made a lot of money producing pop (more were owed money), over time we developed a phobia, which has made it extremely painful to even participate in the creation of the songs/drivel that we were then expected to produce for record companies. Additionally, music had also reached a plateau of simplicity, which allowed a moderately talented 15-year-old child to produce the same results. This meant that we were now competing with a few hundred 15-year-olds who would sign any contract and produce any song for $1,000!

I remember talking with my friend, who is a well-known producer, at great length concerning the direction that things were headed and deciding that something had to be done. Like the Titanic, the industry desperately needed a change in direction.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) shortly after this conversation the entire music industry imploded, which made the choice of finding an alternative much easier. Many blamed this implosion on mp3s and song sharing, but I to this day hold the incessant pedaling of an inferior product to the public responsible. You can only tell somebody that the turd in their hand is actually gold for so long…

Sometime later, perhaps out of frustration, I sat down at home and started working on a solution.  Unusually, my departure was to create a music education program that would focus on creativity.  During my previous talks with other musicians, producers, industry veterans and listeners, we had often come to the consensus that creativity was the important missing element rarely present in modern music.  We thought that if we could find some way to “re-inject” this into the music scene or the next generation of artists and musicians, that all would be put right.

While working on the concept of this program I borrowed many ideas from past experiences.  Looking back I had toured the world as a jazz musician for 12 years and spent much of this time assisting and observing Steve Coleman teach master-classes to students from all over the world.  I had spent months with Steve while he was the director of jazz at U.C Berkley.  I had worked on a number of large-scale teaching and workshop projects with Eugene Skeef and the London Philharmonic, where we taught all over England, South Africa, and Eastern Europe.  I had setup and ran a music tech. department for a school for girls in London. Ultimately I had experienced many different approaches to teaching in many different environments.

The program that I proposed was called The Creative Music Program.  It focused on stimulating the creativity of the student by promoting individual self-expression using improvisation as the vehicle.  The jazz tradition provided an excellent framework for this, and also allowed me to build a curriculum centered around a collection of universal disciplines, which I had been taught and thought were essential to great musicianship.

They are the following:

  • Creativity
  • Rhythm
  • Melody & Voice-leading
  • Harmony
  • Vocabulary, Historic context & Tradition
  • Improvisation & Composition
  • Transcription
  • Technique
  • Reading skills
  • Identity/Originality

I stressed that all tutors should be respected working musicians on the scene, who also compose and arrange for various sized ensembles.  I wasn’t seeking the pure academics who came by their teaching careers via school.  I wanted tutors who taught from their real life experiences and not from the usual textbooks.  To me this approach was closer to the original apprenticeship tradition that “jazz” was founded upon.  Since “jazz” is an aural tradition, the majority of its content is found “off the page” and the majority (if not all) of it’s great masters honed their craft via orature, whether in person or via recordings.  “Jazz” is an art that requires close proximity to a master, at some point.

Most importantly I wanted to immerse the students in an environment where constant creativity was always happening around them. All concerts were to feature original compositions written by the tutors or students under their supervision.  This reinforced the philosophy that although “jazz” was the past it is also now!  For the masters it was always about the expression of this moment, the present.  It was about honing a skill set which allowed the musician to spontaneously compose and re-invent in the moment.  It was about being fluent in a common language within their tradition, which held self-expression, integrity and originality as its highest pursuits.

It required constant reinvention. The jazz musician looked back while constantly moving forward. For those in the know, this has not changed.

The proposal was completed in a couple of weeks.  As if by divine providence, around the same time I got a phone call from my good friend Homer Jackson, who had recently read my proposal. Homer talked me into taking this now 30 page document/manifesto into a job interview with his friend Julia Lopez, the then director of education at the Kimmel Center, who was frantically seeking a replacement to run their music department.

The concept of interviewing for a job was strange to me, mostly because I had never interviewed for a job before.  People either liked what you did or they didn’t. I had never needed to prepare a resume, or list the past 5 years of my employment.  For a semi-successful producer/musician this could literally mean 500 plus engagements, made up of gigs, tours, recording dates, album productions, movie scores, etc.  To a corporate type, you might seem like a liar!

Anyway, astonishingly I was hired and the The Kimmel Center Creative Music Program shortly after became a reality.  I was given the breadth and freedom to really experiment, creating the best program possible within the given resources.

Since then there have been many improvements and refinements made.  I was lucky enough to retain my now assistant director, Stephen Tirpak, who assists me in running all aspects of the program. We have three separate ensembles of varying levels, the most advanced of which is a full big band, populated with the most talented students I have ever encountered.

We augmented the program by adding a series of celebrity master-classes called Meet the Masters, which features stellar artists such as Steve Coleman, Rudresh Mahathappa, Dafnis Prieto, Sumi Tanooka, Vijay Iyer, Wayne Krantz, Ralph Alessi, Ciro Batista, Jonathan Finlayson, Ari Hoenig, Wycliffe Gordon, Danilo Perez, and the list goes on.

After four years as director, I am absolutely certain that music programs such as these play a vital role in the lives of not only young developing artists, but also those students who may choose not to pursue a professional career in music, but who may likely go on to become the Benjamin Banneker’s, Einstein’s, Kepler’s, MLKs, or Chomsky’s of future generations.  Programs such as these are places where young gifted students can meet their contemporaries, ask questions of living legends, and become further inspired to reach new heights of achievement.

Since the youth of today will undoubtedly become the artists, managers, producers, A&R’s, publishers, marketers, entertainment lawyers, record company execs, audiences, promoters, venue owners and maybe even the Cyrus’s and Thicke’s of tomorrow, investing in their cultivation today must be analogous to investing in the type of future that we would like to experience tomorrow.  In the absence of strategic education a child will ape whatever their environment presents them with.  As the present custodians of all culture, we owe it to the next generation to see that this present content-void, lowest common denominator, prison-pipeline and by default mis-education is replaced with a content rich, creative, and empowering real one!


What brought us here?


I previously stated that good music holds a great deal of value for all. Although this is true, nowadays music alone is never enough and artists too often find themselves paying more attention to showbiz and marketing than the facets of their art. Good music’s hard to come by. It’s also more difficult for new artists to retain any kind of integrity or depth, to tell their story, or to be themselves musically. One could say that the power of music no longer rests with the artist. But why? Here’s one of the many reasons……

Long ago the rewards of music were intrinsically linked to its performers. Before the advent of the phonograph, before radio & TV, and before the iPod if you wanted to listen to music you had to be in the presence of an artist, preferably a good one! Music was a communal activity and audiences went to concerts, operas, musicals, and listened to local street musicians, etc to get their musical fix. Within this world it paid to master your craft. It paid to be a virtuoso, and this virtuoso, his/her manager and promoter reigned supreme!

At home for recreation a popular song might be performed by a friend, a family member, or sometimes even oneself. Many households owned pianos, string or band instruments on which one might play the popular “ditties” of the day. Sheet music vendors noted that certain “ditties” sold a lot more than others and based their stock on this. Taking note, publishers sought to acquire the exclusive rights to reproduce the most popular songs from writers in return for an advance against future sales. They often signed this writer before he or she became well known, which allowed them to obtain these rights for a pittance. Publishers also hired their own in-house writers charged with reproducing more of whatever was popular at the moment. A sizable repertoire of “show tunes” emerged, which popular artists, bands and shows of the day would “cover”, each adding their own twist to their version. The publisher would earn a royalty on each and every new version performed. Thus the modern publishing industry came into being.

The emerging phonograph industry further established the abstract concept that their product, music was now a tangible commodity with pre-determined value (The price of a record), and that this industry was now driven by supply and demand! In contrast, earlier artists used records as promotional tools, which aided in selling out concerts, the product. By the mid 60’s this relationship had reversed. Concerts were promotional tools, which aided in the selling of the recording. Record labels such as Motown and Columbia now signed artists to convoluted recording contracts heavily biased in the label’s favor. They developed entire genres of groundbreaking artists, introducing them to genius songwriters and producers, who together in the future would shape the very sound of pop for new and previously unchartered audiences. Publishing deals could now last for life, including everything that an artist had ever written or ever would write. The reigns of popular music were now firmly in the hands of the record label.

By the mid 80’s record labels and publishers had profited so much from new sales and back catalogue that they were now able to invest millions of dollars in marketing their roster. Following corporate structure, not unlike the auto industry, major labels set up lavish offices in multiple cities and hired hundreds of employees to retain, develop, administer, and market this roster. They now had entire subsidiaries for each genre. Through payola radio became a mere marketing tool for the largest labels, completely under their control. The largest labels subverted the music charts, which were originally set up to gauge the popularity of artist’s albums and singles. Major labels possessed the power to make or break entire careers with the stroke of a pen, and thus controlled which records the public had access to. These labels, previously in the business of giving the public what they wanted, now used Bernaysian marketing techniques to influence their patrons to buy whatever they released. Pop music was no longer directed by supply and demand. It was a “pushers” game!

By the mid 90’s many people had repurchased their entire record collection on CD, placing yet more astronomical profits into the pockets of the recording industry. Budgets grew, and large major labels further consolidated into giant multinational entities, which ran everything. Influenced by their British subsidiaries, major label’s corporate departments now oversaw every aspect affecting each artist’s career. In production-line fashion, 4 to 5 main producers were now creating 80% of all top 20 hit singles. These producers, who represented only 1% of those competing, supplied almost all new material, with every album released featuring 4 to 5 singles created by the same 4 to 5 producers. This was not a great recipe for variety or sustainability and brought about the rise of million dollar super-producers such as Pharrell, Timberland, Scott Storch and Will I Am, who in order to meet demand eventually began formulaically producing the same single over and over again. At the same time proven mega-stars such as Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson witnessed their own ability to self-determine their sounds and careers slip away. There were four, then three, then two majors left, who now via a new 360 artist deal structure controlled everything (Record sales, live tours, video, TV, print, publishing, merchandising, etc). This was the turn of the century music industry that most of us became familiar with.

Four questions for the fan of popular culture


Where is this going?

The VMAs last month left everybody and their mother writing disgusted posts, rehashing the sordid details concerning the train wreck performance given by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. Thicke got off lightly, despite his very suspect vocal performance! There are those who have suffered far worse consequences after getting caught up in a ‘twerking moment that they weren’t equipped or prepared for. Just ask Caitlyn Heller, the singed poster of The Worst ‘Twerking Fail Ever. One shudders to think what may have happened if Jimmy Kimmel was not conveniently in the next room with a fire extinguisher!

At the VMAs the captivated public’s focus was instead directed towards Miley’s penchant for twerk culture. The word ‘twerk derives from the combination of to twist and to jerk. She seemed to have an urgent desire to initiate Mr. Thicke (a.k.a Beetlejuice) into “her” newly discovered world. To achieve this end she enlisted a giant teddybear, a detachable teddybear flesh colored leotard, one blue foam giant finger, and the assistance of six very healthy looking black ladies, who also donned teddybear hoodies, with actual teddybears on the back. Besides the really bad ‘twerking/poor taste, there was also a certain amount of implied pedophilia, as well as at least a few ‘isms….for those paying attention. And then there was her tongue!

For good reason Miley’s performance shocked America. Now, one could go down the road much travelled, which explores the reasons why Disney’s adolescent great white hope, who literally has everything, decided it would be “cool” to ape the subculture of a somewhat unrelated social group, who for the most part, literally have nothing. We could also ask how she convinced herself that this would be perceived as anything but inauthentic. It wasn’t like ‘twerkers all over the world were suddenly going to unite behind Miley Cyrus! Surely there were producers, managers or lowly minions along the way, who could have pointed out the extreme likelihood of this becoming the biggest VMA/‘Twerking fail of all time (soon to be upstaged by Caitlyn Heller and Jimmy Kimmel). More shocking still, Cyrus & Thicke rehearsed this performance on numerous occasions. Maybe those with sense in Thicke’s camp were preoccupied with preemptively suing the Gaye’s and so unfortunately couldn’t make any rehearsals? Meanwhile, Miley’s camp were obviously otherwise occupied…..

Rather than exploring Miley’s dilemma, that being an obvious lack of good sense and career advice, I thought it would be far more interesting to look at a much more common problem, which many artists are experiencing; This being, a total lack of content. Commercial artists habitually inhabit a creative and content void.

Though this issue is common throughout pop culture, for the purpose of expedience we will confine our parameters to commercial music.

Where is the Music?

Why do we humans “do” music? What is the point? What purpose does this serve? Where is this journey leading us? These are lofty questions, which have perplexed far greater minds than mine throughout history.

Music is part of the human psyche. It’s a phenomenon, which has been common to every known culture. The great cultures of days past, were deemed great, in no small part based upon others later observing the sophistication of their great works; Arts, Literature, Sciences & Architectural wonders. All is art and science when done well and taken to its natural conclusion. As humans we are often burdened with an inherent desire to excel at whatever we set our minds to. The music of Purandara Dasa, Bach, Bartok, Bird, Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, Hendrix, Fela, Radio Head, and Dilla, though from different cultures, reveal the workings of the great minds, which created them.

Music is a living language, like English, French, Ebo or Mandarin. Though not a literal language, its notes, rhythms, dynamics and feel convey the musician’s message in an altogether different way, related more to the type of language that a mother might share with her newborn baby. Music exploits a direct link to our emotions, our bodies, our sub-conscious, and some might even say our souls, when utilized masterfully. The world’s greatest musicians to ever live were acutely aware of this.

So, if music is an essential part of who we are as humans (not unlike our need for intellectual, emotional, or sensory stimulation) is there really any debate regarding the importance of music in our present regiment of education? Is it possible for a young child to develop “normally” sans music education? Education could be a parent being strategic in choosing the palette of music they expose their child to, or a child being involved in some sort of music program where they learn the nuts and bolts of music.

Would either of these approaches lead to children more capable of problem solving, critical thought, appreciation of cultures other than their own, self expression, a higher level of intuition, a higher level of learning, longer attention spans, longer lasting brain plasticity, and establishment of the useful precept that hard work and regimental practice almost always result in success? Over the years all sorts of research has established beyond any doubt that certain musics can act as a catalyst to positively transform the lives of those that play and listen to them.

Has our recent relegation of music to the role of “soundtrack for visuals” already affected the development of an entire generation of children? Is it possible to incessantly consume junk food, with little to no nutritional content, and still enjoy a healthy life? Supersize me made the case that it is certainly not! It’s no secret, as evidenced by the recent VMA’s, that pop music has reached a base depth where one can only in the most abstract of senses still be regard it to be music. Much like a McDonald’s beef patty can only in the most abstract of senses be regarded to be beef, or for that matter food!

Whether we wish to acknowledge it or not, kids (and many adults) are shaped by their constant exposure to popular culture, as delivered via TV, The Internet, Radio, Mp3‘s, etc. The content that we populate these delivery mechanisms with today, influences the culture that we will find ourselves immersed in tomorrow. Therefore if a society desires a certain level of depth and sophistication from its constituents, it must provide for a certain level of depth and sophistication within this content.

Some would make the argument that such a stance smacks of elitism. “Some people just like their music “dumbed down”. What’s wrong with that? It’s just music!”, or something like that… I accept this argument, but I would point once again to the above statement;

“Therefore if a society desires a certain level of depth and sophistication from its constituents, it must provide for a certain level of depth and sophistication within this content. In other words, there’s enough room for an awful lot of variety out there. Music need not all be “high brow” or all “knuckle dragging”.

The fact is, as with many other things in today’s society, a certain amount of homogenization has taken place. There were once many types of music, each suited towards a particular social activity. Music for religious ceremonies, music for dancing, music for reflection, music in the pursuit of virtuosity, music for romance, music for meditation, music for the Blues, music for celebration, as well as various combinations, etc. Over many years, the music industry oversaw the homogenization of music, through its aggressive promotion of certain types of “commercial” music over other less “commercial” forms. Smooth Jazz over real jazz, Gangsta rap over Backpack rap, R&B over Soul, Boy Bands over real bands, etc. We eventually arrived at the point where one could no longer easily find certain types of music, or easily escape others. Cookie cutter Pop music now dominates all markets, cultures, budgets, and genres. Country and Rap now go together like burgers and fries, and in terms of content, this burger consists of 99% bun, .99% lettuce/tomato, and .01% G.M.O beef!

This is not to say that all music suffers from this alarming lack of musicality. I don’t want to paint a picture of musical gloom and doom. This world is a vast place, much of which escapes the daily influence of pop culture. Even within our culture there are many musicians out there who are creating incredible music, which I enjoy. However, if we were to look at commercial music as a whole over the last thirty years, I believe the content/creativity trend line, if drawn, would be in a near free fall nosedive presently! Lack of musicality is self propagating, since the less exposure one has to detailed music, the less one will be equipped to enjoy its inherent beauty, and thus the less the demand for such types of music in the future.

The Young, the Old, & the Hustling

Anthony Tidd Bass by Dimitri Louis

Photo by Dimitri Louis

Thirty days & seven gigs in the life of a hustling “jazz” musician……

After pondering exactly what I should write for this, my inaugural post for my new column, Brilliant Corners, I settled on giving the reader a brief glimpse into the absolute madness that is my life, A.K.A seven of the gigs that I’ve been a part of in the last thirty days…..I figured that this would be an excellent way for me to introduce myself to those who don’t already know my work.

First, let’s get the formalities out of the way;

Name:             Anthony Tidd.

Occupation:    I consider myself to be a creative musician, but due to the nature of most to over label, many would like to further classify me by adding the word “jazz” (whatever that means). I will write more on over-labeling in the future, but for now interpret as you see fit.

I am the Director of the Creative Music Program (a school year music education program for teens), and the Curator of a monthly music event, Sittin’ In (the Kimmel Center is home to both).

I play bass in Steve Coleman’s band, the Five Elements. I’m the Band leader of my own newly formed Big band, PACT (Performing Artists for Creative Transformation). I’m a member of the advisory panel for the Philadelphia Jazz Project. And now, I am apparently the sometimes writer and curator for this new column Brilliant Corners.

Origin:              My parents are from Trinidad; I hail from the U.K, but now reside in Philly….

Mission:          To clarify, Brilliant Corners will be a place where I write about some of the things that I consider to be important/inspiring (creative music, politics, upcoming shows, local goings on, etc), but as well as these, I wish Brilliant Corners to be a place which regularly features contributions by many of the wonderful, important and brilliant artists (some famous /some not) that I have come to call my friends. In other words, this is going to be my new Face Book page (sans friend requests)! I’m also an Instagram fanatic, who after twelve years of touring the world and not taking a single picture, has decided to take pictures of everything….as you will see!

Okay on to this post. This is a selection of seven of the most memorable gigs that I have been a part of in the last 30 days:

Gig #1

Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, and I @ Chris’ Jazz Cafe.

I am a huge fan of Wayne Krantz (who isn’t). This is a strange complement, but to me his playing is so un-guitaristic (yes I make up my own words when needed). What I mean to say is that his instrument rarely gets in the way of what he needs to express.

Much of the time musicians tend to play what’s “under their fingers” (typical stuff based on the physics of their instrument, styles, or basic theory). Wayne does not! He plays what’s in his head! As well as this, he has incredible rhythm, and pocket far beyond the average Joe….so….when I first got the call to play with Wayne back in 2010, I was both excited and frightened.

This time I was just as excited, but a little less frightened, because I kind of knew what to expect. Wayne is very big into open improvisation. I intentionally did not use the label “free improvisation”, because this implies that there is little to no structure present. Wayne is very intro structure, but open structure.

Great gig! Okay turn out….Ten days following the show; Random person, “Hey aren’t you playing with Wayne soon at Chris’ ?”. Me, “That was last week”. Random person “What??? I didn’t know….” (More on this issue in the future).

Gig #2

Sittin’ In – Jump & Funk Live feat. The Afro Beatles + Rich Medina @ The Kimmel.

This should be it’s own post, but I’ll give you the synopsis;

The Kimmel’s Innovation studio (black box theater) Rich Medina’s long running Afro-Beat party, a live band (playing Fela instrumentals) me (bass), Kevin Hanson (guitar), Doc. Gibbs (percussion), James Rouse (Drums), Mark Allen (Bari Sax), Leon Jordan (trumpet), and Tal Stuhl (tenor). Rich Medina plays original Beatles instrumentals over the live band playing Fela instrumentals, against a backdrop of Fela/Beatles video projections which are being edited live by Mark Hines.

This night was so dope that my mere words couldn’t do it justice. The house was packed with people of all ages (12 – 60) dancing non-stop. There were even a couple of breakdance battles! I think this get’s the best ever Sittin’ In award…..We are definitely taking this one on tour soon!

More on Sittin’ In later.

Photo by Anthony Tidd

Photo by Anthony Tidd

Gig #3

The Munich Art Collective & The Five Elements @ The Munich Academy of Fine Arts

These were among two of the most enjoyable gigs that I have done in a couple of years. We flew out to Munich, and got to spend a couple of days just hanging out in the city with no real agenda! Now, in the life of a touring musician, this is super rare! We are used to seeing the airport, the hotel and the stage! On this trip I got to walk around Munich and take in the sights for 3 days in the middle of summer! It was almost vacation-like.

We were in Munich to collaborate with this incredible art collective affiliated with the Munich Academy of Fine Arts. The concept was that we, the band, and four painters would perform a completely improvised concert. Nothing was pre-written.

The painters started out with four blank canvases. By the end of the show we had collectively improvised four pieces of new music with four corresponding new paintings. The key was that we did this by interacting with each other…just as we would if it were just the band.

To prepare we spend a couple of days hanging out with the artists, visiting their art studio, having long conversations on a variety of subjects (which included their approach to collective improvisation on canvas), cooking and eating together, drinking, etc. I would like to say that we had become friends by the end of the trip.

The setup for the concert was a little different, owing to the nature of the performance. The audience sat behind us, which was a first. The artists stood at the front of the space with their canvases facing us so we could interact with them as they painted. The show took place in one of Munich’s giant art expo. spaces. As we started to improvise, the artists took turns, walking up to the canvas and adding their contribution to the piece. As I said, they had a system to guide them as they collectively “improvised”.

I have to say that the four resulting pieces were pretty amazing! Of course, this is definitely one of those situations where the more you do it, the deeper the interaction becomes, but we definitely made a great start. We are due to do another of these art/music concerts in China sometime soon.

Cats at North Sea Jazz Fest

Gig #4

Steve Coleman at The North Sea Jazz Fest.

After leaving Munich we flew to Rotterdam for the North Sea Jazz Fest. This has to be the biggest “jazz” festival in the world. The sheer number of fans gathered to appreciate jazz and the organization that enables this festival to run so smoothly year after year are both pretty astounding. They really do have the jazz festival down to a science that I have yet to witness duplicated anywhere else! They should offer a consultancy service…..

This year NSJF gave Steve Coleman his own room to curate for an entire day! Steve featured Jonathan Finlayson’s new band (who were incredible), Doug Hammond’s band (which was a thorough thorough education), Five Elements (the band I played in), and Jean- Paul Bourelly’s band (which I loved).

I have said this and will repeat it, “This shit would never happen in the US!”. An audience of 900 rotating people (a third standing) filled that hall for an entire 7 to 8 hour period! And, this was just one of around 20 rooms at the festival, and this room was also mid sized when compared to the others!!!

The best part of any festival for the musicians performing is the hang. Getting to hang out with your peers, the younger generation of musicians, and the older masters. There’s nothing like it! It’s funny because many of us live in the same cities, but rarely ever play in the US, and usually hang out with each other even less.

On this occasion I hung a little with Matt Mitchell, Terrence Blanchard, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Mcbee, Roy Hargrove, Randy Brecker, Billy Hart, Billy Harper, Ed Henderson, Doug Hammond, Jean-Paul Bourelly, and many others…..I love hanging with the older cats and listening to them tell stories about when they were younger. There was a great conversation about Booker Little, stories about Coltrane and a host of others.

Wayne Krantz

Photo by Anthony Tidd

Gig #5

The Kimmel Center Jazz Camp of Philadelphia

This could also be it’s own post, but I will keep it brief here……

I’ve been directing the Kimmel Center’s annual Jazz camp for the past 4 years (It has been running since 2002). It has always been a great camp, but this year we decided to rename the camp and expand it into something which could compare to the best of the jazz camps out there, since jazz is becoming more and more of a focus at the Kimmel. As the director I tried to incorporate elements, which I had experienced at some of the great camps that I had taught or assisted at over the years.

This year’s camp featured 59 tutors who taught everything from master classes to instrument lessons, workshops and even played during the nightly jam sessions! We presented 165 individual lessons, and averaged 18 hours of tuition per day! Here are just a few of the musicians who taught; Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman, Dafnis Prieto, Wayne Krantz, Wycliffe Gordon, Cyro Batista, Ralph Alessi, Orin Evans, Sean Rickman, Mike Boone, Anwar Marshall, Steve Tirpak, Jonathan Finlayson, Paul Arbogast, Josh Lawrence, Korey Riker, Ben O’neil, Wayne Moore, Chris Stevens, Kevin Hanson, Craig Mciver, Dai Miyazaki,Tom Lawton, Dennis Guevara, Luke O’reilly and the list goes on…..

In short, this camp took a sampling of the greatest musicians in NYC and Philly and brought them to Kimmel (I also feel like pulling all this together took a huge chunk out of my life…but that’s another story). I say this jokingly, but if the general public were invited, this could have been called a jazz festival! It was a unique gathering of excellent musicians from every generation.

We also had one of the most incredible collections of students to date. Allot of new talented kids! The age range was 13 to 20, but in some cases if you closed your eyes and listened, you would have imagined that you were listening to a seasoned professional!

Over the years, my working with young people has done as much for me as I imagine it has done for them. It has deepened my understanding of many things, which I thought I understood, and things, which I had never really thought about, became the basis of entirely new ideas. I highly recommend teaching! It’s a responsibility we have toward the next generation…

Part of this camp’s mission was that the final concert consist mainly of new compositions created during camp (This is based on the Creative Music Program). The purpose of this is to instill the idea in the student that jazz, though based on an ongoing tradition, is also Now!

On this basis I sought out band directors who were skilled in composition and arranging. I brought back Steve Tirpak, CMP’s assistant director who also happens to be an amazing arranger and trombonist, and added Dennis Guevara, an excellent pianist and arranger.

By the end of camp (10 days), between the three of us, we had written 9 original compositions and arranged these for the various sized ensembles, one of which was a full big band! I should mention that we did this in addition to running the camp, and teaching lessons. Needless to say, we were pretty beat down post the final performance in Perlman Theater. I personally had been waking up at 5am and going to bed at 1am for 10 days straight, and had been dealing with the administrative side of camp for the last 3 months!

Still it was rewarding. There really is nothing like seeing/hearing a collection of talented dedicated kids play complexed compositions (far beyond their years), which didn’t even exist a week prior. For me, this achievement is always the highlight of camp for both the kids and myself. If camp teaches anything, it’s that dedication, hard work and practice pays off. Whether you intend to become a pro or not, this is an invaluable lesson in life (Philly school district take note).

Brother from Another Planet flyer.

Gig #6

The Brother from Another Planet – Re-contextualized – Feat. King Britt, Damon Bennet, Marlo Renolds and Jason Senk @ Johnny Brenda’s

So, I should start by saying that both this and the jazz camp concert at the Kimmel actually happened on the same day! After the kids got through performing, I grabbed some food, ran home, picked up my bass and headed to Johnny Brenda’s for sound check.

This was an event for Maori Holmes’ Black Star Film Fest. which was put together by my friend King Britt. Essentially, we re-scored The Brother from Another Planet (I had randomly just watched this movie a week before I got the call from King to do the gig), which is already pretty out there…in the hippest possible way….but…. in addition to us re-scoring the music live….Jason Senk was also remixing the movie on the fly!

This was some wild shit…Maybe at the time my deliriously tired state added to this, but it was still some wild shit nevertheless…

There were some extremely cool moments, where everything came together! We were definitely pushing the envelope pretty hard, but the crowd loved it! I have to say that this show (as well as the others) renewed my faith in the music listening public (which I admit had been running on fumes as of late). Great gig and great turnout!

Photo by Anthony Tidd

Gig #7

The Newport Jazz Festival

So the following morning I wake up at 5am, so I can pack and be ready for my early flight to Providence, RI, which is a short drive away from the Newport Jazz Fest. Since I am on the advisory panel for the Philadelphia Jazz Project (an initiative funded by David Haas of the William Penn. foundation) for the past two years I have gone to the Newport Jazz Fest. in order to attend meetings and strategic planning sessions. Also on PJP’s panel are David Haas, Homer Jackson (The Director/Creator), Tayyib Smith, Steve Roland, Roger Lemay, Mark Chrisman, and Feather Houston.

Some great new ideas were born and some older ones were further refined. Steve Coleman, who attended one meeting jokingly said, “You guys are like the illuminati of Philly!”…..Funny! We also got to see some incredible music, namely Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, and then Wayne and his band!!! Wayne was celebrating his 80th birthday. Needless to say, they were stunning! Wayne Shorter, John Patitucci, Brian Blade, and Danilo Perez killed it dead! This was a once in a lifetime performance! Such a high level of musicianship! I could go on…..

Now, I should also mention that George Wein, who is now 88 years old, started this festival when he was 29…..59 years ago! As is tradition, we went to the gala/fundraiser thrown by George, as the guests of David Haas. Esperanza Spalding and her pianist (sorry I can’t remember his name) performed a song written by him and killed it! This impromptu performance clearly revealed that Esperanza has great ears! She also did a duo with Herbie, which further illustrated the point. I wish she would do more of this…

Herbie and Wayne also played another duet, which Wayne decided to end with the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (on the fly). Steve Coleman asked afterwards, “Hey Wayne, was that the theme from Close Encounters?”, Wayne simply pointed up to the sky and we all laughed! Wayne is a joker.

Finally the next day, I performed the Newport jazz fest. with Steve Coleman and The Five Elements. This year Steve did a special project funded by the festival, which featured the Talea Ensemble (an experimental chamber orchestra based in NYC). Steve composed a new 20 minute piece for Talea which also featured, Dafnis Prieto, Jonathan Finlayson and himself. 14 musicians in all! This was followed by a Duet with David Bryant (a great new young Pianist out of NYC), and eventually ended up merging into a Five Elements show, featuring Steve, myself, Jonathan, and Marcus Gilmore (who killed it). This was different because we all came on stage one at a time and joined whatever was already happening. The audience were great and very appreciative!

The following morning we (myself, Homer and Tayyib) arrived at Providence airport to fly back to Philly. For some strange reason, our flight back to Philly was on a two engine prop plane (you know the ones with the propellers), with had unusually small luggage bins (we are talking minuscule).

As you can probably guess, the flight attendant tried to get me to check my bass ($12,000, two trips to London and a year wait to replace) under the plane with the other bags. This bass is two months old and the gracious gift of Martin Peterson of Saie Bass in London, who make my instruments custom.

I of course told her there was No Way that was happening! She got an attitude, but long story and a whole crazy scene later, she allowed me to strap my bass into the seat next to me…..I was fully prepared to get off the plane and catch a later “normally sized” aircraft (I told her this).

To conclude, looking back over this busy month there were some great experiences. I met a number of great people from all walks of life. Young, old, and hustling…Such is the musician’s life. I hope this month will be as fun!

Up Next:

On 8/14/13 I will have the immense pleasure of bringing my fellow Londoner and longtime friend Julie Dexter to my event, Sittin’ In at the Kimmel. I’ll be putting together a special band which will include Eric Wortham (piano), Christopher Steven’s (trumpet), Steve Mckie (drums) and myself on Bass.

We will also be welcoming our band new Mistress of Ceremonies Liaya StClaire, and our resident turntablist DJ Phsh. #whoissittinin

In September we will be having fall auditions for the Creative Music Program, which will resume in October.

You can find out more information on both of these events at;


Stay tuned!

#tiddster.com @antiddote