Yesterday is the Shadow of Today

Julian Priester, Greg Ward & Art Hoyle I was flattered that Howard Reich, of the Chicago Tribune, chose me as a Chicagoan of the Year for Jazz. Although it’s nice to be selected out of many people, it’s not really about a person, but a collection of experiences through relationships that really make things possible. If anything, this really sets me up for a lot of pressure for 2009. Although I’m really looking forward into the light of tomorrow, I’ve collected some of the moments of the past year that MAYBE alludes to what my selection really is about.

These are SOME memmorable moments and are in no particular order:

1.    People Places & Things 8tet at Millennium Park - August 25, 2008
I was fortunate enough to have been commissioned to put together a special version of People, Places and Things. The regular working quartet was expanded into an octet adding our sublime colleague Jeb Bishop on trombone and featured Art Hoyle, Ira Sullivan and Julian Priester. I assume that if you’re reading this you know that the original concept for PPT was to re-invent music made in Chicago from 1954-1960. For this show we had come full circle, not only re-investigating the music, but creating essentially (and literally) new music with these three figure of the time period. Since I am neither married nor have children, this might be the most joyous moment that I was able to partially create in my adult life. I hope to have a cd, DVD and interviews with Art, Ira and Julian here soon.

*Special Thanks to Greg Ward, Michael Orlove and Lauren Deutsch

2.    Umbrella Tour April
Although it was not intended to be so, this essentially became an “Umbrella” tour if only because it incorporated so many of the key figures that perform at umbrella venues. My group Loose Assembly and The Rempis Percussion Quartet traveled through Europe and to some fantastic crowds. Being out on the road with that many friends whom you admire is no small feat or occurrence. It’s a great testament to all of musicians and presenters that had us.

*Special thanks to Danielle Oosterop, Alexandre Pierrepont, Artur Majewski and all the folks in Wroclaw.

3.    TAREAB – October 30, 2008
I had some fantastic gigs this past year, but for some reason this trio show with Craig Taborn, Josh Abrams and myself stood out in my mind. Maybe it's because it doesn’t happen enough, but regardless of why it was one of the most fun and exciting gigs I did this past year.

4.    Public Enemy – July 18, 2008
On NYE 1991 I saw Public Enemy perform at The Rosemont Horizon. It was quite surreal to have them Perform It takes a nation of Millions at the festival that I run.

5.    Isaac Hayes
I was driving to a Great Black Music Ensemble gig at the Velvet Lounge when I heard on the radio that Isaac Hayes had died. It really hit me hard not only because of the fact of that I was a fan of his music, but also because of how much he reminded me of my father. I saw Hayes in 2007 at SXSW. It must have been only a short time after his stroke and you could see the signs. His slow moving body and slurred speech resembled the physical attributes of my own father’s stroke affected body. I of course got my first dose of Isaac Hayes from my Dad, so maybe the connection triggered the deepened sense of loss.

*Special thanks to Isaac Hayes.

6.    Obama – November 4, 2008
Seeing the election results come in and watching Obama (and family) greet the world was one of the more emotional moments of the last year. I could go on and on, but there aren’t too many times that you can connect with the struggles of all those who came before you in a way that is about joy and not connected to empathy of past and present injustices.
7.    The Stabbing of Isaiah Stroud – December 19, 2008
The fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Isaiah Stroud marred Tuesday December 19. Stroud was found at 1532 W. Jarvis Ave., which are steps away from the CTA's Jarvis Red Line station. Stroud, of 4040 W. Roscoe St., was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was pronounced dead at 8:50 p.m.
I grew up in the southern part of Evanston and consider this part of Chicago my old stomping grounds. Murders in Chicago go hand and hand; in my life I have unfortunately known a decent amount of both victims and murderers. This episode however, struck a chord with me. As I watched the news and saw the boy’s photo it shook me to think why some don’t survive those years especially in a place that I never seem to be one of “those” parts if town. Of course anyone that’s been to Rogers Park, knows that’s not true.
*Special thanks to all of those trying to make a real difference.
8.    Sean Hayes – March 14, 2008
I first heard Sean Hayes when someone gave me a cd-r while on tour in 2002. I’ve kept up with his music, but had never gotten to actually see him perform. I’ve told people about how great he was ever since, but it wasn’t until March of 2008 that someone coincidentally introduced me to him at SXSW. I finally got to see him perform and he did not disappoint
*Special thanks to Mary Jones

9.    Jeff Mangum – October 21, 2008
In 1998 I fell in love with the band Neutral Milk Hotel when I first heard the album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. I had become buddies with the drummer Jeremy Barnes months before the record was made and was astonished at what he had gotten himself into with this band. My biggest mistake was not attending the NMH show at Lounge Ax when they passed through town on tour. I opted to go to a late rehearsal and told Jeremy I would see them next time. As many people know by now, next time didn’t happen and the band has not performed in years. Fortunately, in a surprise appearance, lead singer/songwriter Jeff Mangum performed the song Engine with fellow NMH member Julian Koester. I enjoyed every note.

*Special thanks to Jeff and Julian (and Anders for reminding me to go)

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