Occasional host for Mondo Jazz on Radio Free Brooklyn
I'm a freelance writer and full-time jazz nerd. Occasionally I host a jazz program on Radio Free Brooklyn. My favorite NYC music venues are Le Possion Rouge, Barbes, and the Stone.
My Jazz Story
Published on: 2018-05-24
I love jazz because it rewards careful listening. Jazz can be as deep and complicated as classical music, but with a sense of modernity and FUN. It swings!
My parents listened to jazz a little bit. Then in high school I got a crush on my best friend's older brother, who was a huge jazz fan. He turned me on to Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" (which was also the first album I ever bought) and the rest is history. I've met many musicians. It's a joy to live in NYC where there is such a vital community and lots of interaction between players and audience.
The best show I ever attended was... God, there have been so many great ones. My absolute favorite might be the John Lurie tribute concert at the Town Hall. Was it 2013 or 2014? I've been a huge Lounge Lizards fan since the '90s, and many of my favorite local musicians are graduates of that band. It was a joy to see so many of them come out and show their love for John Lurie. Even though he doesn't play sax anymore, he is still a presence. There was so much LOVE in that show. And since the Lounge Lizards don't perform anymore, it was a treat to hear their music live again.
My advice to new listeners... JUST KEEP LISTENING. If you're used to repetition and easy hooks of rock or pop music, you might find it challenging at first to float along with the unpredictability of jazz. But the rewards are worth it! You will learn to listen actively, not passively, and as you tune your mind into every note, texture, and harmony, you'll begin to listen to music in a new and different way. At the best live shows, it's almost a meditative experience for me. My mind just trips out on the music. It's pure bliss, even if the music is abrasive or
Also, don't be afraid to LISTEN TO ARTISTS YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE. The greats, like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, etc. ,are famous for a reason. Their music stands the test of time. But there are so many young artist pushing the boundaries and creating their individual style. You might not love every show or album you listen to, but you'll discover so much. Jazz is not a museum pieceit's a living, breathing art form with almost infinite possibilities.
Finally, if you love the music, PARTICIPATE IN THE ECONOMY. Buy some new CDs instead of streaming everything. Go to live shows and pay the ticket price. Even if it's donation only and you can sneak in for free, remember that most of these artists have years of training and have devoted themselves to an obscure art form out of pure love. Playing music is their job. You get paid for your job, and musicians deserve to get paid too.
My House Concert Story
I am very lucky to have a close friend who has been running NYC's best underground house concert series for almost a decade. I've been to dozens, and they are a special part of my musical world. I hosted one recently with the singer Krystle Warren, and it was a joyous experience to share her music with my friends and family in an intimate setting (and also to provide such a fine artist with a well-paid gig I made sure that my guests PAID for the experience). I like a lot of experimental and progressive music, which I wouldn't invite my friends to unless they happen
to be jazz lovers. But Krystle's music is extremely accessible while also being virtuosic and full of artistry. Everyone loved her. I was dizzy with happiness.