December 19, 2011, I embarked on a new direction musically with a performance at Barter Theatre (Abingdon, VA) entitled “Tidings of Comfort and Jazz”. While I’ve certainly played jazz in lots of contexts before, this was the first time I had ever attempted to present myself as a jazz artist. I put together a stellar quartet which included (in addition to myself on keys, of course) Andy Page on guitar, Brandon Miller on bass, and Jerry Greene on drums. On a few tunes, we also were fortunate to have the vocal stylings of Sean Campos with whom I work at Barter (he is an actor in the resident company there), but who also has great jazz vocal chops!
After about 45 minutes performing as a quartet, we took an intermission. For the second half of the program, I came out by myself and after a few brief words of introduction, sat down at the keyboard and proceeded to play about a half-hour of uninterrupted improvisation on many Christmas songs, reflective of the style of my “Christmas Solitude” CD. The band and Sean joined me on stage for one final song before concluding the night, which seemed to be an enjoyable evening for all who attended.
We were able to record the program to multitrack, and I hope that we’ll be able to use those tracks to mix and produce some sort of EP or full-length recording to release for Christmas 2012. In the meantime, I have put together some very, very rough mixes (I mean VERY rough!) of some of the songs from that program that you can enjoy.
I would love to update this blog more frequently as a means of keeping in touch with people following my musical career. It seems hard sometimes to keep up with blogging when life keeps moving so fast.
This week has been a long and tiring week teching and opening Barter Theatre’s production of “Annie”. This classic musical is a lot of fun, and I’m very pleased with our production of it.
This is my second opportunity to music direct a show on Barter’s mainstage (last fall, I md’d “Forever Plaid”) and my first musical as Resident Musical Director. I’ve also music directed several shows in the past at Barter’s Stage II (a smaller thrust stage theatre).
“Annie” is a large production, involving a large cast, lots of kids (we actually wrote two more orphans into the play than are called for in the script since we had so many girls audition for the show), lots of music, large set, etc., etc., etc. To prepare for this production, we actually added an extra eight hours of tech which made this week seem even longer and more exhausting! Eight hours of tech on Tuesday, two “10 out of 12” tech days on Wednesday and Thursday, and another 5 1/2 hours of tech on Friday before our first live audience showed up Friday night.
So far, we’ve done three performances (one last night and two today) and have two again tomorrow followed by an eight-show week. Once we complete next week’s full schedule of shows, we’ll move into a rep schedule with the next mainstage show that is scheduled to tech and open, “Blue Sky Boys”.
I’m also currently in rehearsals for “Violet” which techs in a couple of weeks. It’s non-stop in this theatre, but I’m loving just about every minute of it! If you are in the southwest Virginia area anytime between now and mid-August, come by and see “Annie”. You’ll enjoy it, I’m sure!