Friday, December 6, 2013

50 essential fusion albums

Thanks to George Lamie for including me in his list of 50 essential fusion albums:

50 Essential Fusion Albums

50 truly essential jazz fusion records. Not the only ones, but essential for sure. Limit 2 per artist
How many have you heard?
1 - Mahavishnu Orchestra     18 - Bunny Brunel Momentum     35 - Tetsuo Sakurai Gentle Hearts     
2 - Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire     19 - Chick Corea Elektric Band inside Out     36 - Hellborg Lane Sipe Personae     
3 - Return to Forever Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy     20 - Chick Corea Elektric Band beneath the Mask     37 - Kick the Cat Scramble     
4 - Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior     21 - Tribal Tech     38 - John Mclaughlin Industrial Zen     
5 - Billy Cobham - Spectrum     22 - Brecker Brothers Collection Vol. 2     39 - Hiromi Time Control     
6 - Tony Williams Lifetime Believe It     23 - Shawn Lane Powers of Ten     40 - Hiromi Spiral     
7 - Alphonse Mouzon Mind Transplant     24 - Shawn Lane the Tri Tone Fascination     41 - Garaj Mahal WOOt     
8 - Stanley Clarke School Days     25 - Kazumi Watanabe Pandora     42 - Panzerballett Starke Stucke     
9 - The Stanley Clarke Band     26 - Brand X Xcommunication     43 - Panzerballett Tank Goodness     
10 - Jean Luc Ponty Enigmatic Ocean     27 - Alain Caron Play     44 - TRI-Offensive     
11 - Al Dimeola Elegant Gypsy     28 - Lost Tribe     45 - Neural Code     
12 - Al Dimeola Casino     29 - Jens Johansson Heavy Machinery     46 - David Hines Inner Duality     
13 - Iceberg Sentiments     30 - Cab Cab     47 - Gergo Borlai Mmm     
14 - Bill Bruford One of a Kind     31 - Cab 4     48 - Mike Prigodich a Stitch in Time     
15 - Caldera Dreamer     32 - Fragile 5     49 - Art Schloemer Transfusion     
16 - Dixie Dregs Unsung Heroes     33 - Fragile Phantom     50 - Chick Corea the Vigil     
17 - Michel Camilo Why Not     34 - Uncle Moe's Space Ranch     

YouTube Performance of 2013 -- Jazz Journalist Association "Best Of 2013" list

I'm honored to be included in this list:

2013 JJA 'Best of'

Jazz Favorites of 2013
Travis Rogers, Jr.

"YouTube Performance of 2013"
Mike Prigodich & MPEG - “Lucy Goose” Live @ Jimmy Mak’s 8/26/2013
Prigodich is a masterful composer/pianist and is joined by the the best of the best in Damian Erskine (bass) and the amazing Reinhardt Melz (drums). Watch the bass solo. It sounds like flamenco on bass.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thoughts on Chick's teaching style

In response to someone who doesn't "get" Chick's master class / workshop approach, Chick is obviously not a traditional "teacher". But he is offering a glimpse into his approach and way of thinking when it comes to being a self-taught musician. Most of the legends of jazz had no formal training in jazz. They have their life experience and various apprenticeship models. I learned a lot by being able to play my own composition with him. I learned a lot by watching him navigate through new pieces -- live rehearsals, his approach to the music business, all sorts of things. Read back through my 12-part blog series and you'll find a ton of great knowledge about being a real-world musician, artist, composer, improviser, and band leader. Being a largely self-taught musician myself, and being a fan of Chick's music for decades, to be able to spend any time with him at all and have him share his ideas and insights about things was very valuable and eye-opening for me. I learned a ton from the workshop. It was pivotal and life-changing for me. My playing has improved as a result of replaying that experience in my mind and going back over my notes from the workshop repeatedly to let things sink in and take root. People have noticed my playing and writing has improved since that workshop and I attribute it largely to the confidence I gained from that workshop. Chick's mantra "Think For Yourself" is the key to finding your own voice as an artist. I am more relaxed when I play now. I listen better. I stop worrying about what other people think about my playing while I'm playing. My communication with my bandmates on stage has improved. All of that I attribute to the practical application of the things Chick described and demonstrated for us at the workshop.

So, while some people may not understand his teaching style, I certainly learned a ton and he supplied me with a lifetime of useful tips about improving as a musician and artist. There are many ways of teaching and learning. The academic approach is just one of many ways. Chick is not academic. Neither am I. I had so many "aha" moments during the workshop. Things just clicked. I gained a lot of new understanding.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Today is the 5th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis

Today is the 5th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis and surgery. I'll have my final scan and chest x-ray in late December at which point I'll be officially cancer-free if all goes well. After that checkup, I think I'll just have an annual blood test. A lot has happened in my life during those five years. Over all, that cancer diagnosis is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I owe my new music career to that diagnosis. My band, compositions, albums, gigs, etc. would not have happened without that life-changing motivation. Even though Lance Armstrong turned out to be a fraud in the cycling world, his cancer story and his Livestrong organization inspired me to do something positive in response to my disease. Thanks to my family, friends, fans, and God for giving me this second chance on life. Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going instead of sliding back into the everyday rut I was in prior to the diagnosis.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A hand injury during college almost ended my piano career

I had a hand injury during my freshman year of college and couldn't play piano at all for a couple years. BTW, the injury happened *while* playing piano due to bad self-taught technique! Then for over a decade I only played with three fingers on my right hand, eventually able to add my 4th and 5th fingers held together for strength. Only in the last few years have I been able to play octaves and have independent movement of my 4th and 5th fingers when playing piano. Ligament and tendon stabilizer injuries take a LONG time to heal or learn to compensate for using muscle support instead.

Back in the late 80's / early 90's, a hand surgeon wanted to do three surgeries to fuse bones in my right hand to form a false arch to make up for the damage, but said it only had a 20% chance of improving things and 20% chance it would make things worse. I decided against the surgery. So far, so good

I still have a collapsed arch in my right hand. I have to be very careful and pay attention to any slight pain while playing and stop whatever I'm doing immediately to avoid re-injuring it. My pinky has never felt normal since the initial injury. I'm still constantly aware that something doesn't feel right inside of my hand. Oh well. That's life.

Oh, the song I was playing when my ligaments snapped? David Foster's "Winter Games". There are a lot of parallel sixths in that tune and I was pounding way too hard. I've been trying to learn better technique for many years now. Still learning.