This week I am in middle of shooting a pilot, or sizzle," as it is referred to in the show biz vernacular. The show is called The Best You've Never Heard," and it focusses on exposing the talents of musicians around the country that truly have something to express, but for whatever reason are not getting the kind of attention they deserve.
I will travel around the country in my 1971 VW camper (sort of my sidekick), hitting clubs in cities across the nation, finding these hidden gems (clubs and musicians). The show is a fusion of travel, reality TV, and performance.
Our first stop was the great jazz club Cecil's, in West Orange, NJ. This club is owned and run by the great jazz drummer Cecil Brooks III. Cecil has a lot to say about music, the jazz scene, politics, and running a club for nine years. He was reluctant to speak on camera, but I am hoping he will allow us to let him express his ideas when we return.
Once the sizzle is completed we will present it to sponsors and TV channels. I am so glad to be working with director Douglas Chang, and co-producer Ivette Dumeng. It's a great team. I worked with Doug last summer for the shooting of his movie Chaography: Variations on the Theme of Freedom" in which I play a free-jazz alto player based loosely on Ornette Coleman. The film is clever and edgy, and gives a lot of room to let the musicians do their thing.Valaida Snow
I've begun to write music for a Broadway show based on the life of Valaida Snow. Valaida was an African American entertainer who got her start during the jazz age, a sort of cross between Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong. In fact, they sometimes called her Little Louie.
Candace Allen, who wrote the novel Valaida" based on Valaida's life, approached me last year to write the music for a Broadway musical based on her life. I was hesitant at first, because, although I have a lot of writing experience, this genre is very specific. But after writing the first two songs (and getting my feet wet), I feel this is going to be a very gratifying and important project, and I'm excited to be involved.
Candace was very fortunate in acquiring the talents of the lyricist Susan Birkenhead, whose work on previous Broadway productions (Jelly's Last Jam, Working, High Society) has earned her Tony and Grammy nominations.
One of the challenges for this production will be finding the actress/musician to play the lead role. She will need to sing, dance a little, and play the trumpet. We are going to start putting the word out to find this special person. If you know of anyone...New CD and Tour
Things are moving forward with my new release, The Creep." After much thought and discussions with my manager and producer, we have decided to release this ourselves. I believe It's an exciting step forward in the the new market we are in. The CD features mostly new, original music. It's bluesy, loose, and melodic. I believe this may be the most personal statement I have made to date, and I am very excited about it.
I have hired a wonderful illustrator, Jonathan Arthur Ashley to do the cover, which (also a departure for me) will be a bit wildlike a Marvel-style comic book cover. I'm a bit tired of the of the stereotypical serious coverthe pensive look, holding the horn, or some misty landscape. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just that this CD is different, and I want the cover to express that.
After the release, which is slated for March 27th, we will be hitting the road in early April, playing clubs and concerts on The West Coast. Our first stop will be Anthology in San Diego on April 2nd.