Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The richest kid on the block

A jazz enthusiast came up to a seasoned veteran piano player after her gig and asked her why she chose jazz as her life's focus...the pianist replied "I don't like crowds"

I thought I'd start my blog today with some humor about my career, but as I was trying to remember musician jokes I was thinking about how the jokes that make us laugh the hardest do so because they're based on truth.

A band leader calls out a tune to the vocalist on the gig:  "I Remember April" the first 6 bars in Ab, bar 7 modulate down to the key of F, bar 12 change to 7/8, modulate back to Ab to end the head"
The singer looks concerned and says "Oh I couldn't possibly do that!"
Band leader: "You did it that way last night!"

I tell this joke to my voice students. It's an effective way to say "don't do that!"

Humor beautifully magnifies life's absurdities and makes us laugh at ourselves instead of the painful alternative.

What's the difference between a dead squirrel on the side of the road and a dead trombone player?
The squirrel was on his way to a gig.

How did the jazz musician end up with a million dollars?
He started with 2 million.

Actually I've always been a bit proud of the fact that I chose this esoteric path knowing it more than likely would not be a lucrative path. That approach to life must be in my DNA. My grandfather was in Vaudeville and along with grandmother Grace raised 4 children and had a rich life full of travel, culture, music, theatre and most importantly humor. My father found a way to be a jazz musician and support a family with 4 children giving us everything we needed and much more. I never felt like I lacked for a thing...quite the opposite...I felt like the lucky kid on the block. Our house was the house that everyone wanted to play at. My mother encouraged spontaneous living room plays,  performances, parades down Sterling Avenue and always there was music.
My childhood was like a Judy Garland /Micky Rooney film "Hey Andy! There's costumes out in old mister Greens barn!"
     Well, not quite...we didn't have a barn...but we were constantly singing and dancing and dressing up and performing with the assistance of my creative parents. Memories of my childhood were pretty close to idyllic. Music was part of every single day in our home and that was...is still...priceless.

So what's the difference between a large pizza and a jazz guitarist?
The pizza can feed a family of four.

Might be true...but truth be told I feel very rich.

My parents...

Mother on tour in the early 40's

My uncle Don and my grandfather Thomas in their Vaudeville Act

My father...

Mother pregnant with me! My earliest press shot :-)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Long Time No See!

Hello Music Lovers,
I've been off of the computer and away from my blog site for so long that I almost forgot how to log in!
Well, hello again! Here's what's up: I have been busy the past two years co-producing a wonderful music festival here in Austin. The concept is "Women led bands" not that all the collaborations are made solely with women but women are in the leadership role in each ensemble...playing their own music, with a woman's vision, leading their own bands...all styles of music...not just jazz but improvisation is definitely at the heart of each set. It is so inspiring to see women like trumpeter Ingrid Jensen at the helm performing her amazing compositions...and the extraordinary jazz pianist Helen Sung who were two of our featured artists at last years festival.

We also have an entire day of clinics in improvisation and ensemble work for aspiring young musicians, culminating in a master class to experience having that ultimate spontaneous musical conversation with a professional rhythm section.  In 2019 we hope to get enough funding to extend the festival to a longer weekend with more educational opportunities.

This year has a broad and varied offering of musical styles from Texas singer song writers Emily Gimble and LeeAnn Atherton to the astounding jazz drummer Allison Miller and grammy nominated Jazz violinist Sara Caswell to jazz pianist and festival artistic director Peggy Stern (no relation!)  and I'm thrilled to have the chance to showcase some new compositions that I wrote for the occasion to be premiered with my group which will also be featured at Lulufest this year.

If you're in the Austin area I hope you can make it to the concerts which begin at 5:00 and go until 10:00 PM in the beautiful newly renovated Jones Hall at Saint Edwards University. more details, like location, directions, tickets to purchase etc. at:  www.lulu-fest.com

Happy spring to all of you...Happy Easter...Happy Passover....happy whatever you celebrate to announce the coming of spring!  We had the sweetest seder with friends and family around the table discussing the green of spring...the renewal of life and hope that it brings and how precious freedom is.

Hope to see you on the 14th and thank you for reading my blog!
Much Love,

Saturday April 14th
St. Edwards University
3001 South Congress
Ragsdale Center, Jones Auditorium

The Suzi Stern Group
George Oldziey piano, Paul Unger bass, Joey Colarusso woodwinds, 
Javier Chaparro violin and David Sierra Drums

Directions, tickets and all the information you need at: http://lulu-fest.com/index/

I’ll be premiering several new compositions!  Hope to see you there!
Musically Yours,