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I got to hang with Curtis Fuller during Betty Carter Jazz Ahead last month. I just found this picture, and it reminds me of how amazing he truly is. A huge inspiration and an incredible person. This is backstage before the last concert. Thanks for the photos Stephanie!

Springtime in DC. Nats losing, allergy-inducing cherry blossoms and hordes of elevator-standing tourists.

What is my personal sign of spring? Jazz Appreciation Month. That’s right. Appreciate me. There are so many great events going on this month it’s overwhelming. Check out some examples on my new favorite blog
My dear Diev and I were out today at legendary Bucky Pizzarelli’s masterclass and were thrilled to get to meet him in person after the show. What an amazing guitarist, and a cheerful guy to be around. I think he smiled through the whole set with bassist Tommy Cecil.

As for my own contributions to appreciating jazz this month, I will be performing tonight with the Howard University Jazz Ensemble at Westminster Church in SW DC. We will also be performing Sunday at the Anacostia Community Museum.

I am thrilled that my composition and arrangement “Lightning” will be performed by HU’s (Downbeat Award-Winning!) Afro-Blue, together with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra on April 24th at 5pm in the Sylvan Theatre on the National Mall for the closing weekend of JAM activities. Many thanks to fabulous arranger and donut-bringer Scott Silbert for his tips on the arrangement!

Please, if you can, appreciate some real live jazz this month.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing pianist Eric Lewis perform solo piano for a free masterclass at THEARC in southeast. He is a kind and thoughtful person, listening to the young students of the Levine School play their solo pieces and giving them insightful commentary before stepping up to the piano himself.

What did the Monk-Competition-winning-Wynton-Marsalis-recording-jazz-musician’s-musician play?
Green Chimneys? Take the A-Train? 26-2?

Try Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”. He has completely re-branded himself as a rock pianist, insisting he created a new genre of “rockjazz” where he performs while standing with legs triangle-pose askew and sporting a sparkling bit of wrist armor. Somehow it’s cynical and great at the same time.

I can’t deny that I enjoyed his raucous rendition of Human Nature, all though I was living for the more Cecil Taylor-esque moments of disconcerting hammer attack. It’s interesting that it isn’t enough for him to be at the top of the heap in the jazz world, financially or personally. He is clearly an incredible musician, and he was very vocal about his choices that have lead him to this point. Rock tunes by Jazz Pianists. It’s been done before, but I didn’t expect from him.

Great guy, crazy (like a fox?) approach to the music world.