GCIC Jazz Festival, Dena Blue and the Frontier Jazz Orchestra

posted in: Reflections | 0

I had a very long and busy week last week – beginning with a trip to College Station with a new band I hadn’t played with yet. Dena Blue put together an expanded ensemble which included Tom Borling on piano, Henry Darragh on trombone, Seth Paynter on tenor, Richard Cholakian on drums and Gerald Massoud on bass. It was a fun gig with food! Ha! Good bbq ribs sweetens almost any deal, right?

Frontier Jazz Orchestra

Last week I also rehearsed with the Frontier Jazz Orchestra, which is sort of a new band for me. I had rehearsed one time with them a while back, but I was a sub for that rehearsal. I’m actually STILL a sub. If you never heard the Frontier Jazz Orchestra, it’s worth checking out. Here is their website:


I will be recording with Jacqui and her band in a few weeks and will be performing with them at Houston’s International Festival on the 28th.

GCIC Jazz Festival

GCIC = Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium

On Saturday I had the honor of judging a junior college jazz festival and performing as the lead trumpeter for the “directors’ band” that same evening. It was fun hanging out with C. E. Askew (of the Airmen of Note fame!) and Bobby Guess as co-judges and listening to twelve different jazz bands performing. The evening concert was not very well attended and I feel bad for all of the people who missed out on a great performance. There are not a lot of places to hear that kind of music anymore. I’m glad I was a part of the event and I will make sure more people know about it next year, whether they ask me to do it again or not.

The most difficult part of the day for me was shifting gears from sitting all day listening to performing with a high intensity at night. It reminded me of the contradiction between being creative and critical. It is so important to step out of that critical role before you perform. I know that’s something a lot of people don’t understand. I actually teach my students to “not care” about mistakes and such in performance (does that shock you?). That kind of self criticism during a performance can be crippling. But to spend all day constructively criticizing other musicians, it’s not always so easy to just turn that off for my own performances.

I believe it is impossible to be creative and critical simultaneously. You must know when to be which. When it comes to performances, contests and competitions, we should let other people be the ones who judge us. We should not be our “own worst critics.” I know that’s a very controversial thing to write and I know it gives the wrong impression. Maybe some day I will write more about this. [Click here to read a blog post on this subject that I wrote much later.] But for now, I just wanted to point out how difficult it is to be creative in a performance when you have been paid to be critical all day long.

Looking Ahead

This week I’m teaching lots of makeup lessons so the week day schedule is pretty heavy. Then on Saturday I have a recording session with Ricky Diaz. I used to play in Ricky’s big band in the 90’s so I’m excited to be working with him again. Then on Saturday I have a church gig. So it’s another busy week again.

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