Sunday, June 2, 2019

What's New in 2019

Each year, as the stark chill of winter chokes out the final radiant leaves of autumn, I relish the stillness as an invitation to reflect, research, and set my intentions for the year to come. 

Regarding music, I have settled on ONE New Year’s resolution this year:


I am concentrating my efforts in 2019 - striking at the root of inspiration which provoked my initial pursuit of my musical path. The goal is to communicate with wholeheartedness & urgency in each musical utterance - both in performance and instruction. 

Questions arise: Who am I? Who are WE? What are we doing here? Can we cooperatively accomplish our goals? There are many more…they all eventually lead to the same place, and are best answered through the nonverbal process of performing with other folks - often, and in rapt attention. 


The wholehearted expression of music has the potential to uplift the spirit and heal our hearts. These 12 concerts are representative of a creative continuum which is designed to challenge convention & elude classification. I’ve stationed my tenor saxophone at the axis of a distinctive array of ensembles, putting full trust in improvisation as a potent unifying force across musical boundaries. The mission is to deliver music of substance - embracing the community, while affirming the exceptionally personal nature of creative process for the improvising musician.

I will unveil three concerts at a time, beginning with the winter season. 

January featured  “Hot Air & Horse Hair” - an improvised chamber music ensemble, comprised of improvisers from Baltimore, MD and Brooklyn, NY. While this ensemble had never yet performed in this configuration, there were deep musical bonds across the group which served as fertile creative soil. While each performer is a compelling instrumentalist in their own right, the strength in each of these musicians is in their varied, supple, and compelling interjections - both as soloists and accompanists.

February features “ADULT CONTENT (for hopeless romantics)” - a personalized repertoire of songs from the Great American Songbook, this is an unapologetic celebration of romance and tenderness in the Millennial Age, and a Valentine’s Day tribute to the expressive beauty of the tenor saxophone throughout its history in jazz. To evolve this tradition into the 21st century, the rhythm section must play an equal role in the expression of the music. Reaching beyond the storied “soloist with rhythm section” paradigm allows the classic saxophone/piano quartet formation to bloom into an improvised chamber ensemble of impressive dynamic capacity.

March Features “Trio Xolo” - a telepathic improvising unit, based in Baltimore & Brooklyn. This performance will follow our first recording session at Big Orange Sheep Studio, for projected release later in 2019. Zach Swanson is my longest musical collaborator, boasting a huge tone & personal language that spans the diverse landscape of improvised music. Dalius Naujo is a dynamic, creative, and virtuosic drummer, in a league of his own.

(I design all my own fliers, using “enlight” and “Canva”)


(Documenting Our Music in the “Post Recording Industry” Era)

My whole adult life, I've been an analog man in a digital world. Now in my 30’s, however, I feel an urgency to get my music out to folks by any means necessary... The internet is over saturated with millions of videos & recordings, this is old news. Musicians are all hoping to gain attention for their work, many hoping for a “break”. At this point in my own career, I have learned to be patient and deliberate. Attention comes in its own time, and the music does not require attention from anyone other than those who are HERE, NOW (where & when the music is happening). With that stated, I enjoy watching videos of my favorite musicians, and I truly love listening to studio recordings, which would seem to affirm that both of those mediums are still relevant to the art form. So, I’ve decided to dip a toe in the pool…

I made a "Millennial" purchase, that I put into use for the first time in January for Episode 1 of Derrick Michaels Presents: “Hot Air & Horse Hair”, at An Die Musik. This camera is called the Zoom Q2n4k - it’s Zoom's newest model, and offers the video quality of a Gopro with the audio quality that Zoom is famous for. Despite having overlooked the appropriate audio gain settings (clipping a few times due to the projection of the saxophone at the mics), I am pleased with my maiden voyage with this new little tool. 

I will be pleased to share more in the way of performance videos, sessions at home, and PERHAPS some videos in an educational vein. Till then - here’s set 1 of “Hot Air & Horse Hair”:


As promised, I am catching up on some backlogged recordings from last year.

 I have decided to start a Bandcamp page to share recordings of music that would otherwise not be released, but was well worth "rolling the tape" for. This month I am happy to share two of these recordings. 

Recorded by Anthony Staiti in February of 2018 in the beautiful Griswold Hall at Peabody Conservatory. This was the first day I had my new Theo Wanne Ambika 2 tenor mouthpiece, and I was very excited to resonate in this huge space, and to blend with the sounds of these “orchestral” instruments. The band is myself on tenor, John Dierker-bass clarinet, Zack Branch-cello, Derek Wiegmann-bass. The performance is entirely improvised.

Here’s a track: 

Recorded in November of 2018 at the gallery in Function Coworking Community in Baltimore as a part of a show I put together in a mini tour with bassist Zach Swanson. The tour involved a megabus trip to New York, a quartet show at the Bushwick Improvised Music Series in Brooklyn, a 7am drive down to Baltimore for a two-day-long recording session at the Peabody Recording Studio, helping the advanced recording arts students, and then this wonderful double bill (Zach and myself along with Chris Pumphrey’s “Music for Quiet Spaces”) sandwiched between.

This performance was captured by John Cook - a devoted listener of the music, who comes up to Baltimore from DC quite often to catch the creative shows in town, for this I am very grateful. John has captured several of my concerts in the last year or two, so I’ll be reviewing these, and considering sharing some more of them, in due time. Thanks again, John!

Here’s a track from that recording:


I’ll keep you all apprised as new performance and recording ventures unfold. 

One more reminder, interested students, please visit my website's TEACHING PAGE to see what lessons are about. join my mailing list, and I’ll send you a free PDF of some of the work we will do together.


Go make some noise… 

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