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Edition #5 – Manu Manzo Answers 7 Questions

Edition #5 – Manu Manzo Answers 7 Questions

1. Why are you a musician?

It’s the only thing that truly moves me. A form of expression that has basically saved me in many moments of my life. It’s my form of self therapy and the want to create and go for my career is a calling that comes beyond me. I don’t think I was put on this earth to do anything else that doesn’t involve music to a certain extent.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

Amy Winehouse. Alejandro Sanz. Celia Cruz. Bjork. Nicki Minaj & artists such a Salvador Dali also inspire me immensely through their visual art.

3. What is your practice routine?

I sing every single day. To be honest, I haven’t been taking my proper voice lessons but I try to avoid any foods that give me acid reflux & and I run 2 miles a day to work on my breath. I will also do vocal work outs in the shower every so often but mostly when I have a recording session.

4. Why did you make this album?

SacaLaCamara
By Manu Manzo

After finishing my contract with Universal, my grandmother dying and breaking off my long term relationship (all during quarantine may I add) I had a lot of things to say and genuinely needed to escape. I did that by going to the studio non stop every single day for about 5 months straight.

I’ve always took comfort in finding the silver lining of things so the album touches on duality, contradicting sides that blend together beautifully. Ying yang. I had never wanted to works on an album because I didn’t think I was ready to work on a lengthy project & at that moment my gut told me otherwise, so I listened. It’s not quite finished yet but conceptually it’s all there. But I will probably make changes and adjustments till the last minute.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album? How did you overcome?

I honestly went through it with the best intentions and best foot forward. And thankfully everything ran quite smoothly. I guess the biggest obstacle, if you can even call it that, was at the beginning where I was making a ton of music and they were all very different, so making all the songs feel cohesive and start making songs that matched the vibe, that kept changing all through out, was kind of the hardest thing. Staying on track.

6. Who is featured on the album?

Uff. I have so many collaborators. Many songwriters, a lot of women at that. I have a song that was co-written and produced by Kuinvi. I have a song w a great female artist named Sessi. There’s a track with producer Maffio & his artist Calacote who is so talented. I have a track with my friend and one of my fav artists LateNightJiggy though I’m still deciding if the song will go on album or not…..

7. Where may we find you online?

**
Note: Kabir Sehgal helped produce the project.

Edition #4 – Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Answers 7 Questions

Edition #4 – Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Answers 7 Questions

1. Why are you a musician?

My father is a saxophonist and my mom was always singing around the house, so I grew up with music. I started gigging a few nights a week by the time I was 12, playing with a local legend and jazz drummer, George Reed, so from a young age music became a way of life for me.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Johnny Griffin

3. What is your practice routine?

Between touring and my digital publishing company, Jazz Lesson Videos, I don’t have much time to practice these days, but I always make sure to get in 30-60 minutes. I believe strongly that a routine (practicing in the same way, and through the same material) every day can actually be counter-productive, since the musician can get stuck on the same material and lose focus. With that in mind, I’m always practicing different material each day, and considering different approaches in order to keep myself engaged, while of course using techniques that will continue to strengthen the core fundamentals to musicianship and improvisation.

4. Why did you make this album?

Open World
By Chad Lefkowitz-Brown & the Global Big Band

I’ve always been inspired by how jazz has become a universal language that musicians around the globe have learned, regardless of their background or upbringing. We recorded “Open World” with 30 musicians from 23 different countries of origin, so embarking on this project created the opportunity for a global collaboration during a time when we all felt disconnected in so many ways from the effects of the pandemic. I hope this project brings a spirit of positivity during a difficult time, embracing the miracle of the digital age and how it has allowed us all to stay connected in creative ways throughout this global health crisis.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album? How did you overcome?

Recording so much music remotely was tremendously difficult, but the positive attitude from all the musicians involved truly pulled us through any logistical issues that we faced along the way.

6. Who is featured on the album?

“Open World” features many special guests:

  • Arturo Sandoval
  • Randy Brecker
  • Lionel Loueke
  • Melissa Aldana
  • Miguel Zenon
  • Etienne Charles
  • Makoto Ozone
  • Bria Skonberg

The Global Big Band features many outstanding musicians from around the globe including Sidmar Vieira (Brazil), Russell Hall (Jamaica), Bryan Davis (England), Siya Charles (South Africa) and Holger Marjamaa (Estonia).

7. Where may we find you online?

**
Note: Kabir Sehgal helped produce the project.

How Sam Hope Manages 3 Careers (Analyst, Firefighter, Knifemaker)

How Sam Hope Manages 3 Careers (Analyst, Firefighter, Knifemaker)

Meet Sam Hope. He’s a talented multi-careerist who is also a hero. We venerate those who keep us safe, and Sam is one of these individuals. He’s a firefighter who recently also started a job in the private sector. We struck up a conversation on LinkedIn, and I’m so glad that we did. You’ll find his commentary below insightful and instructional.

Sam’s Careers

Previously

  • Parole Officer
  • Auxiliary Firefighter (Retained or part time in other areas)
  • Knifemaker

Currently

  • Business Continuity analyst
  • Auxiliary Firefighter
  • Knifemaker

On his motivations for many careers

As a parole officer, there came a point where I hated my job and my mental health deteriorated because I had attached my personal value to my contribution to public safety but did not feel that I was achieving anything. Firefighting satiates that need. When I transitioned to business continuity and risk management it allowed me to maintain that link to direct public safety outcomes whilst working in a more conceptual and intangible space.

Knifemaking on the opposite end of the spectrum, provides a creative outlet and a form of mindfulness.

Advice to aspiring multi careerists

Seek dissimilar careers. The biggest challenge with managing multiple careers is having the energy for them. My work fire fighting is adrenalin fueled, outcome oriented and highly tangible. This is compared to my contemplative, relationship driven and conceptual work in BCM and RM. These careers tax me in different ways, different energy pools if you will. So after a 10 hour day in the office, attending a road crash rescue doesn’t feel like a continuation of that work.

On overcoming obstacles

One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered is my primary employer being concerned about my work as a firefighter impacting my ability to perform in my role. This gets easier to manage as time goes on. With my more recent employers I’ve been able to reference how I’ve successfully managed this in previous roles.

On how multiple careers are mutually beneficial

For a long while, I was trapped in a position as a parole officer that I loathed. But a degree in criminology and my narrow experience made transitioning to a new field rather difficult.

At a certain point I made the decision that I had to make a change. I started monitoring the internal recruiting that happened within the fire service that I work for and was able to leverage my experience to land a position in the Risk Management Unit. Since then, I’ve landed further work in the field in the private sector that has secured my transition into Business Continuity Management.

My work as a fire fighter has also given me a breadth of skillsets that leaves me with something to fall back on. Earlier this year my contract came to an end, and for a few months I was able to support myself whilst looking for my next corporate role, as a truck driver leveraging the the skillsets I’d developed as a fire fighter.

On balancing personal life

In all honesty, this hasn’t presented as a challenge that really required me to manage it.

On what he wished he had learned earlier

That it was possible. I actually had the opportunity to join the fire and rescue service 4 years earlier. If I had done that, I’d have been exposed to some amazing experiences and people a lot sooner.

Recommended learning

Find out how other people are doing it. Anywhere you see a volunteer, casual/part time worker with a specialist skillset or military reservist, they’re likely balancing multiple careers. If you open your eyes, you ‘ll see your world is full of people wearing multiple hats.

On overcoming the stigma of two careers

I’m fortunate in that my secondary career is one that comes with a level of respect and admiration. It’s pretty hard for someone to disparage a fire fighter.

A Day in the Life

For me? there is no structure. I work an 8 hour office day and am simultaneously on call 24/7. I do however have flexibility on whether or not I attend each emergency. So when my paging app goes off, I consider what is on my plate for the rest of the day, and make a decision “Do I attend this call or not?”

If I leave work during the day, I make up the hours within the week.

***

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

Follow Kabir on LinkedInInstagramFacebookTwitterSpotifyYouTube.

Edition #3 – Lori Henriques Answers 7 Questions

Edition #3 – Lori Henriques Answers 7 Questions

1. Why are you a musician?

First, I’m a musician thanks to a childhood with my mom who found good piano teachers, took me to weekly lessons, and insisted I practice until I got into it enough to be self-motivated. Thank you, Mom! ❤️ I continue to be a musician because I love the experience of putting in the work and feeling that rush of the result of the work. Both the connection it gives with other humans and the connection within to something beyond.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

  • Nina Simone
  • Lili Boulanger
  • Nadia Boulanger
  • Maria João Pires
  • Joe Raposo
  • Miles Davis
  • Maurice
  • Ravel J.S. Bach

3. What is your practice routine?

My practice routine is simple: Sit on the bench and do the work. I love finding topics to write about that pique my curiosity. My favorite thing is when the process brings me to tears. Then I know I’ve found something real and moving and good. I also love the process of arranging. Both with writing and arranging, it feels like it exists somewhere in another world, and I just need to listen in to find it.

4. Why did you make this album?

Legion of Peace: Songs Inspired by Nobel Peace Laureates
By Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander with Muhammad Yunus

I made this album because I wanted the challenge and fascination of researching the lives and philosophies of people I deeply admire. Spending hours learning more about what drove these eight Nobel Peace laureates to their phenomenal life accomplishments was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever committed to. Collaborating with the soulful, highly-skilled musicians on this album was the icing on the cake.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album? How did you overcome?

The biggest obstacle was getting all the tracks ready to release within the time frame we chose. The way I overcame it, putting in a LOT of hours and sleeping very little. Was it worth it? YES. Some projects happen only because we decide we absolutely must push forward and trust that everything will fall into place. I’m so grateful to have written and arranged these songs, made possible by the immediate goal of recording them.

6. Who is featured on the album?

  • Quintet Joey Alexander – piano
  • Eddie Barbash – saxophone
  • Joe Saylor – drums
  • Kabir Sehgal – bass
  • Lori Henriques – vocals

    Guests

  • Oran Etkin – bass clarinet
  • Pedrito Martinez – percussion
  • Jana Herzen – percussion

    Mixed by Oscar Autie

7. Where may we find you online?

**
Kabir Sehgal helped produce the project.

Why and How I Started Making Pop Music

Why and How I Started Making Pop Music

I’m making pop music now. Why did I make this turn?

In a word, growth.

I went to a Taylor Swift concert in Dallas, Texas in 2018. And I was blown away. The music, the lights, the drama. I was taken by the scale of production on every level. I was lucky to be invited by Tayor’s team, so it didn’t hurt that I had great seats and all-access roaming.

The day after the concert, she made a political statement, endorsing a candidate for senate in Tennessee. If you know anything about me, I like to mix music with a message. My first book was on the nexus of jazz & democracy. I watched as Swift’s comments made waves, and I started to understand her impact on the political and social conversation.

I grew up playing jazz music in elementary school. I joined the high school jazz program, and I played in the college jazz band. My passion was jazz and my orbit became jazz musicians. I got so absorbed with music, I unfortunately lost sight of other forms. There was indeed a period when I admittedly thought that jazz was  “more sophisticated” music than many other forms. I was too arrogant to appreciate the talent and skill that it takes to make pop music.

My foray into pop began in 2018. I left my corporate job and finally had unfettered time to create. I was blessed to spend my summer in Italy at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. It’s a retreat where you can work on anything you want in a beautiful setting. I had time and space to think without having to run to another meeting. I pumped out projects. That year I produced 10+ albums and published 4 books. It was one of the most productive & meaningful periods of my life.

I realized that I wanted to get more involved, more tactile with the music I was making. In jazz, much of the music is made during the recording session. You perform the song a few times and decide the best take to use. Maybe you blend together or create a composite or “comp” of the best solos. To be sure, there’s more to making a great record, and I’m oversimplifying it. But I knew that I wanted to have more say over the actual sounds being made.

I challenged myself to make more commercial music. I got Ableton, a digital audio workstation. I watched hundreds of YouTube videos and took courses on Udemy. I joined Facebook groups to ask others technical questions and talked to pop producers who I knew. I made a beat every day and shared them online to get feedback. I layered in my performances on the keyboard, bass, guitar into various tracks. I was obsessed. I still am.

Last week, I released Threshold my debut pop EP.

When I saw producers like The Chainsmokers and Zedd releasing music featuring singers, I was like – why can’t I do that?

I partnered with Greer Baxter, a talented songwriter who is a hit machine. She sent me songs, and I started to produce the tracks, from the bass line to the synths and effects. When it came to finding singers, I reached out to some folks who I knew from the jazz world like Thana Alexa. The rapper Caliph was featured on one of my jazz productions, and he was keen to collaborate. I love Emilio Solla‘s song “Llegara, Llegara, Llegara” which is on a jazz album that I helped to produce, and I remixed it with vocals that feature Manu Manzo and Danay Suarez.

Yes, I still have a long way to go. My release isn’t charting anywhere, at least not yet. And big pop stars aren’t clamoring to work with me. But Threshold is a start. And I’m excited to see how this new journey takes shape.

Here’s a bit more about Threshold:

Multi-GRAMMY Award & Latin GRAMMY Award-winning producer/artist Kabir Sehgal collaborates with leading BIPOC and women artists on his latest EP, Threshold, set for release on Tiger Turn. An Indian American producer with more than 70 album credits to his name, Kabir Sehgal releases Threshold with each song showcasing the complexities of finding love and discovering one’s individual identity.

 

Threshold features pop sensation Sonna Rele (vocalist on “Strong” in Disney’s motion picture, Cinderella) on the first single, “Somewhere Between Fifth and Madison.” Alyssa Raghu a Top 8 contestant on ABC’s American Idol (2018, 2019) and who Katy Perry touted about, “She’s got that sauce!” teams up with U.S. immigrant and DACA recipient Caliph on “Wasted Pages.” Sehgal remixes Emilio Solla’s “Llegara, Llegara, Llegara” from the Latin GRAMMY-winning album Puertos with special guest vocalists Manu Manzo and Danay Suarez. Threshold closes with a Pop/EDM track “What’s Your Name?” highlighting GRAMMY Award-nominated singer Thana Alexa.

Track Listing:

  1. Somewhere Between Fifth and Madison
  2. Wasted Pages
  3. Llegara – Remix
  4. What’s Your Name?

 

Edition #2 – Carlos Henriquez Answers 7 Questions

Edition #2 – Carlos Henriquez Answers 7 Questions

1. Why are you a musician?

I am a musician because as a child I remembered the feeling I got after hearing live music. It was an experience that I couldn’t explain then or now. Spiritual in every way and also up-lifting to the point of wanting to try a musical instrument at a young age. To be able to touch someone else with sound is holy in every way.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

My musical inspirations are both my parents who were also involved with the arts during their young days. My mother was a dance choreographer and my father played trombone during his college days. Both wanted me to be an Artist of some sort and music was the key. I was introduced too many great musicians that worked in the Board of Education of New York City, which allowed me to pick up quickly on my instrument and learn about latin and jazz music. Here are a couple others that inspired me : Victor Venegas, Andy Gonzalez, Ruben Rodriguez, Connie Grossman, Wynton Marsalis, Tito Nieves, Joe Santiago just to name a few.

3. What is your practice routine?

Frequency, is key to a healthy sound and stable posture.

4. Why did you make this album?

The South Bronx Story
By Carlos Henriquez

I made this album because I wanted to talk about The South Bronx in a musical fashion. I have many fond memories as a child and wanted to add music to those visions. Plus, I needed to stand-up for my neighborhoods that enriched me with so much history and musical culture.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this album? How did you overcome?

The biggest obstacles making this project was COVID 19. After I was given the green light to go into the studio and lay down all the tracks, mastering was in the horizons right around the end of March 2020, of Course, COVID 19 put a halt to that and the world. It took me months and constant check-ups to see if everyone was safe and healthy first before seeing if we could resume. The pieces were slowly put together and with the grace of GOD we were able to have our project set and ready by Feb-March 2021.

6. Who is featured on the album?

  • Jeremy Bosch – Vocals & Flute
  • Melissa Aldana – Tenor Sax
  • Michael Rodriguez – Trumpet
  • Marshall Gilkes – Trombone
  • Terell Stafford – Trumpet
  • Robert Rodriguez – Piano & Fender Rhodes
  • Anthony Almonte – Coro & Congas
  • Obed Calvaire – Drums

7. Where may we find you online?