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Edition #37 – Javon Jackson answers 7 questions

1. Why are you a musician?

My parents have a lot to do with it. I always heard music in the house. We ate food with music, we cleaned the house with music…..and the music was largely jazz music.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

My many musical inspirations are in the hundreds….seriously! My early inspirations include Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins (in that order).

3. What is your practice routine?

Every day…two hours in the morning (at the least).

4. Why did you make this album?

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni
By Javon Jackson, Nikki Giovanni

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni was an extreme pleasure! I was honored to collaborate with Nikki. She selected the music in our shared desire to recognize spirituals and the unknown composers.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this music?

Recording during the pandemic didn’t allow Nikki to come to the studio during the recording. So, the engineer and myself went to her home city and overdubbed her involvement on the album in a local studio. Nikki sang on “Night Song” and killed it on the first and only take!

6. Who is featured on the album?

  • Javon Jackson – Tenor Saxophone
  • Jeremy Manasia – Piano
  • David Williams – Bass
  • McClenty Hunter – Drums
  • Nikki Giovanni – Vocalist on “Night Song”
  • Christina Greer – poem interpretation on “Wade in the Water”
  • Edwin Livingston – Bass
  • Christian – Drums

7. Where may we find you online?

“Fandango at the Wall in New York” earns Grammy nomination – My personal reflections

🎉 Viva el fandango!

I’m over-the-moon excited that Fandango at the Wall in New York is #Grammy nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album.

🥹 I had to take a few days to collect my thoughts.

Because this project is likely the most meaningful one that I’ve ever produced.

And certainly, the most work! 💪🏾

🌎 You know that saying, “It takes a village?”

Yeah, that applies here.

This morning I sent a congrats email to the Fandango (or as we call it, FATW) team and counted 328 people in the BCC field.

In 2007, retired librarian Jorge Francisco Castillo was cleaning up the beaches in Tijuana.

He thought it would be a great place for a fandango (jam session) with son jarocho musicians from Veracruz, Mexico.

The next year (& every year since) he organized the “Fandango Fronterizo” festival at the US-Mexico border.

🥗 In 2016, Arturo O’Farrill & I were having dinner (Moroccan or was it Indian?) & we discussed a NYTimes article that profiled Jorge.

I called Jorge to see if he wanted to partner on a project.

😎 He said yes.

In 2018, we brought 50+ artists to the US-Mexico border and recorded the event.

Over the last five years, we’ve been busy:

🎥 We made a HBO feature documentary

📚 Wrote a book

💿💿 Recorded 2 albums

The latest of which is nominated.

We’ve performed fandangos across the US, Mexico, Cuba, France, & beyond.

I want to thank the VILLAGE that has made this project a reality.

And of course, the son jarocho musicians who have inspired us all.

Fandango at the Wall is a project borne of peace, love, and harmony.

😠 All too often we hear about the challenges between countries.

But there are no lines when it comes to music.

❤️ There is only love.

With gratitude,
Kabir

Edition #36 – John Beasley answers 7 questions

1. Why are you a musician?

I am a third generation musician. Music was everywhere in my house. I was carted to rehearsals, concerts and lessons from the time I can remember. So, I fell in love with making music at an early age!

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

My parents, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Bach, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Chucho Valdes, Monk.

3. What is your practice routine?

I try to get it in during the morning before I start writing or producing. If I start writing then I’m in it for the long haul. I usually start with playing free and allowing my hands to do what they want, then gradually work in technique, classical etudes and material I have to learn for a gig.

4. Why did you make this album?

Holidaze
By John Beasley

I always enjoyed holiday music. I’ve long wanted to make an album with these familiar songs.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this music?

Finding time to arrange the material. For jazz projects finding funds is always a challenge. I look at challenges as a way to be creative. In this case we did the whole record in 3 hours, even live mixes…just like our heroes recorded back in the day.

6. Who is featured on the album?

Its a trio record, no overdubs.

  • Edwin Livingston – Bass
  • Christian – Drums- Drums

7. Where may we find you online?

Edition #35 – Nadia Shpachenko answers 7 questions

1. Why are you a musician?

Music has always given my life joy and purpose. I feel very fortunate to be a musician – to be able to do what I love every day and to make a living doing it. Especially now, during such difficult times, music lets me express my emotions by channeling my grief from what’s happening in my home country of Ukraine.

It also helps me stay hopeful and to keep going. I think everyone needs to have music and other forms of art in their life, it’s what makes us human!

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

I am most inspired by classical music and jazz. I love to discover newly-written and beautifully performed music of all genres. My early inspirations, as a girl growing up in Soviet Ukraine, were pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Emil Gilels and Sviatoslav Richter.

I also discovered jazz very early and used to improvise and listen to Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, and also to The Beatles. These days I am inspired by contemporary classical composers, especially hundreds of composers I have worked with over the years.

3. What is your practice routine?

Between the ages of 14-25 or so I used to practice 8 hours every day. These days I practice whenever I can, but not nearly as much. I am a full time professor of music and an active performer and recording artist. I often have to learn a new program every week or two. During those periods I practice as much as possible, but rarely more than 3-4 hours per day.

4. Why did you make this album?

Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine
By Nadia Shpachenko (piano), Lewis Spratlan (composer)

Invasion: Music and Art for Ukraine is a very personal album, it was made in response to the horrific war in Ukraine. I was already planning to collaborate with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan on an album, and when the war started we decided to dedicate this album to Ukraine. He wrote the solo piano pieces 6 Rags, 3 Sonatas and Piano Suite No. 1 for me during and before the pandemic, and on February 24 (my birthday and the first day of full scale Russian invasion) he immediately started writing the title piece “Invasion,” a sextet for piano, saxophone, horn, trombone, percussion, and mandolin.

I commissioned numerous Ukrainian artists to make paintings about each musical piece. 100% of proceeds from this album go to Ukraine humanitarian aid. We are now raising funds for generators and power banks, as Russia is currently destroying Ukrainian power grids and millions of people are in danger of having no power or heat this winter.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this music?

This album had to be made in record time because of the urgency of this war and my desire to start helping as soon as possible. I had to learn all the solo pieces within a period of a few months, find collaborators for “Invasion” piece, line up a great recording venue (Silent Zoo Studios in Glendale), and juggle everyone’s very busy schedules to make the recording happen. There was literally only one day in May when everyone was available to record the “Invasion” piece and if anyone got sick or anything else went wrong, we would not have made the July deadline for a September release.

Also, finding and connecting with great visual artists who currently live in Ukraine and experience this war first-hand took time, but I am so proud to have the opportunity to promote their beautiful and powerful work! To make this happen I had to go on 2-3 hours of sleep for many months, I overcame these challenges because I felt I had to complete this project to show my support and solidarity with Ukraine.

6. Who is featured on the album?

All the music on this album was composed by Pulitzer prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan.

My collaborators for “Invasion” piece are the great conductor Anthony Parnther, and superb musicians Pat Posey on saxophone, Aija Mattson-Jovel on horn, Phil Keen on trombone, Yuri Inoo, on timpani and snare drum, and Joti Rockwell on mandolin.

The Ukrainian artists who made art for this project include Yurii Nagulko, Lesia Babliak, Kati Prusenko, Olena Papka, and children studying with Mykola Kolomiyets at the Aza Nizi Maza Art Studio in Kharkiv, Ukraine (who made art while hiding from the bombs by living in the subway).

7. Where may we find you online?

Edition #34 – Joe McCarthy answers 7 questions

1. Why are you a musician?

Music has been my lifelong mission. It is who I am.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

My inspirations come in many forms, primarily from forward thinkers who strive to create outside of the box with success, people who are honest and sincere with their intent and purpose and the groove of everyday life that pushes me to be better.

3. What is your practice routine?

I practice everyday, depending on my schedule, usually between 2-6 hours.

4. Why did you make this album?

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
By Joe McCarthy’s New York Afro Bob Alliance Big Band

I feel our adaptation of this iconic masterwork was worth documenting and sharing. It was a labor of love to work as a team to create a composition that would transport the listener to a completely different place through a very different lens.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this music?

Scheduling, time and money. Large ensemble projects have so many moving parts, but in the end everything came together so beautifully because everyone involved gave the music exactly what it needed.

6. Who is featured on the album?

The New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band. A stellar cast of A list NYC musicians featured prominently through great writing, interpretation and improvisation.

7. Where may we find you online?

How Judy Whitmore Handles 3+ Careers (Vocalist, Therapist, Jet Pilot)

How Judy Whitmore Handles 3+ Careers (Vocalist, Therapist, Jet Pilot)

Meet Judy Whitmore. She is a multi-careerist based in California. I first knew her as an acclaimed artist whose new album Isn’t It Romantic? is remarkable. And then I learned about her many fascinating journey.

Judy’s careers:

  • Theater Producer
  • Jet Pilot
  • Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Writer
  • Vocalist

On her motivations for having many careers

My curiosity and sense of adventure have always been driving forces in my life. With each career change, I would imagine myself in a new role, weigh the pros and cons, and then “jump in.” I love the excitement of new experiences. My personality is not suited to one long-term career.

Advice to aspiring multi-careerists

Each career (except writing and singing) lasted around eight to ten years, but not in succession. While a theater producer, I developed a passion for aviation and became a licensed Learjet Captain. By that time my interest in producing had waned, so I went back to graduate school for a degree in clinical psychology. I gave up my ten-year private practice, along with flying, to become a writer. Ten years ago I returned to my first love, singing…so now I am a writer and a singer.

Advice to aspiring multi careerists

Juggling two or more careers demands focus and dedication to each. This is difficult to do if you are not truly organized — make lists, keep your calendar up to date, keep your desk free from clutter. Manage your time well. Don’t accept a lunch date if your current project has a deadline!

 

On overcoming obstacles

The biggest issue I have had to deal with is a current one. My singing career takes up so much of my time, the book I have been working on for the last several years is still not finished. I have decided to postpone working on my new album until this Spring and, instead, to dedicate the next several months to completing my new book.

On how multiple careers are beneficial

My experiences as a jet pilot were vitally important to the plot of my best-selling novel Come Fly With Me. The degree in Clinical Psychology has been helpful in all my endeavors because it has enabled me to communicate more effectively with people.

On personal time

I’m busy and my husband and children are busy…but on Sunday night, everyone comes home for family dinner. Quality family time is more important than quantity time!

On what she wishes she had learned earlier

Although it would not have stopped me, I wish I had known and been prepared for the negative perception some people would have of this choice.

What to read

My two favorite books related to creativity are Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

Although these books address careers in the arts, I suspect the wisdom and suggestions these books offer would be applicable to a person engaging in a portfolio career.

On the stigma of having many careers

Having more than one career invites people to brand you as a novice, a “wannabe,” or a dilettante. Years ago I was asked to introduce myself at a new writing group. I mentioned I had been a theater producer, a pilot, a therapist, a singer and a writer. One of the men in the group chimed in, “What a showoff.” As part of my path to success, I had to learn to ignore these people.

On what to share with others

I’m always careful about sharing information with anyone I don’t know well.

On sublimating ego

Since I have always worked for myself, and since I’m my biggest critic, I’m not allowed to have an ego at my day job!

A Day in the Life

  • 7:30am – Wake up, make tea, read newspaper
  • 9:30am – Drive to L.A. for voice lesson, or sit down at my computer and start answering emails, handle personal business affairs, pay bills, make phone calls, do research for new book, an hour a week spent on Pacific Symphony business.
  • 1:30 – Lunch
  • Afternoon – More computer time: work on upcoming and current projects, calendar scheduling. Writing time, rehearse a few songs.
  • 5:30 – Work out at Gym
  • 7:00 Dinner
  • 8:30 – Answer more emails
  • 9:00-10:00 Watch TV
  • 10:00 Do New York Times Wordle

Where to find Judy

***

Kabir Sehgal is a Multi Grammy & Latin Grammy Award winner, as well as New York Times bestselling author.

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