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Category Archives: Trumpet Face

Adam Meckler’s Posts

Here is a vid from our last Honey gig. We’ve got a hit tomorrow night (7/1/10) at Acadia Cafe. You should come. We won’t do this little number though, so you better listen to it here before you come by.

Im So Lonesome I Could Cry, with a little standup (sit-down?) comedy up front by non other than yours truly.

Also, we have updated the tracks on our myspace to mostly the recording from the show we played at Lawrence University, so if you missed it, you should go have a listen. The rest of the second set will be posted shortly. There’s new music up there now like Andrew Rowan‘s Dorothy, and Human Feel’s Allegiance. CHECK IT OUT HERE!

~Master of all things brass that are small with three keys and shaped like a trumpet. exactly like a trumpet.

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Big thanks to everyone who came out to the show at the Carleton Place last night. We had a blast playing some music for you, and drinking lots and lots of beer. Lisa Brimmer was a huge hit. We just finished working up a couple new tunes with Lisa that we premiered last night, and will be playing again at future shows.

Come check us out with the Black Herald’s Quartet at our regular spot the Acadia Cafe this Thursday (7/1/10). We hit it at 10p. The BHQ hits at 8p.

Just posted a new calendar page so you can just come to one place for all your Lulu’s news. Check it out.

~the bigger guy

After a nice week on tour with the pop/rock band Fatbook (www.fatbookmusic.wordpress.com), I’ve been thinking a lot about life and music. Though this isn’t necessarily a post that logically fits on our Playblog, I thought I’d post here anyway. I’ve been faced with some interesting dilemmas dealing with music, its place in society, and being away from home and on the road.

I suppose there is a certain mentality that is needed to be a successful road musician, a certain life-style. Now, I’m married. No kids yet, but I love kids, and am looking forward to the time when my wife and I will be ready to go down that road. Being apart is the hard part. I miss her while Im gone, and she misses me, but I miss the road as well. traveling with a group of musicians, playing one-nighters and rehearsing on the days off, its a really wonderful way for musicians to get in to each-others’ heads. We play together, we write together, we go for runs/bike rides in the morning, we eat and drink together. There is really no substitute for being close friends with your bands mates, and living at close proximity. Although Im specifically talking about being on the road here, its actually the same connection that I have with the dudes in Lulu’s Playground, and its why it will be such a devistating blow to the band, when our good friend and accordionist moves away to Boston this fall, with a baby of his own on the way.

It may be hard for our non-musician readers to understand why it makes such a musical difference when a band spends non-musical time together, but its actually very simple. A person’s personality comes out in his/her music. Its as simple as that. When I find out that Evan really likes comic books and Japanese, or that Greg loves Cuban music, or that Cory loves Avacado, I also learn something about their musical intuition, and it helps me to understand the musical decisions they make on the band stand, which in turn informs the way I react to those decisions. Its a beautiful thing. Its the difference between a good band, and a great one. And its a big difference.

So, being on the road with the same group of people for weeks or months at a time basically speeds up that process. Before I started the tour with Fatbook, I had played several shows with them. Each show, I began to know the music a little better, and understand my role a little better, but it wasn’t until the road that I was able to play without a book in front of me. It wasn’t until the road that I was really able to understand their music, and the process they go through writing it. It makes playing music with them so much more satisfying, and makes me want to stay out on the road with them, regardless of my obligations at home.

But its complicated. Its not as simple as saying yes or no to a tour that stretches over an extended period of time. I wish it were. I also want to be home, I also want to be with my wife and dog, enjoying the serenity of sleeping in the same bed for more than one night at a time, and waking up next to someone you know will never judge you, someone who will always love you, no matter what. You can see how hard this is. Luckily for me, my wife is an unbelievable jazz singer (www.janajazz.com) and we have a band on a tour of our own that stretches over the whole month of July (of which Evan has been a long time member as well). I suppose other musicians in my shoes aren’t so lucky.

And I guess thats where I leave it. I’m lucky to have these types of dilemmas at my doorstep. I have the opportunity, if I so desire, to tour with the two time downbeat award winning Fatbook, or stay home and enjoy being with my wife (i’ll have you know, I’ve chosen to do both). I also have the opportunity to tour with my wife, and get to know her on an even deeper level. My only hope is that our readers are lucky enough to be faced with the same problems.

-Adam

ps Lulu’s Playground just got our awesome tshirts and bumper stickers in. So, you know…buy them!

Watch out, your foot will be cold too.

So, after a short break from writing blogs for this site like eeery day, we are back in action. The tune we are going to discuss today was written by a personal hero of mine, composer and trumpeter Dave Douglas. The tune is titled Gumshoe. Here is a link of the video of us playing this tune in the rehearsal room in which we usually rehearse. Check it out now and come back and read. Or, read first. Do what ever you want, GEEZ.

The reason the guys thought I should be the one to blog about this is because I had the opportunity to hang around Dave Douglas for a few days in mid April this year (2010). I sort of just followed him around like a creepy stalker. Where he was eating, drinking, giving master classes, rehearsing, playing shows, I was there. It was kind of super awesome. Its a really weird experience when you get to hang around the person you’ve been idolizing in music for just short of a decade. Dave is truly (in case you haven’t been paying attention) the most prolific jazz trumpeter/composer of our time. (no, that is not arguable, it is fact). He’s just that amazing.*

Anyways, Dave and I got to talk a bit (well, actually I just listened and drooled a little) during the many lunches and dinners we had together and much of what he talked about was music I did not know. He was talking about artists and composers I had never even heard of. The guy’s knowledge of music outside of jazz is absolutely stunning, and is part of the reason why I believe a piece like Gumshoe happened in the first place. And what I mean by that is, I think because of his knowledge of other musics and his familiarity with “classical” instruments, he has the incite and motivation to create unique sounding jazz that is at once a chamber ensemble and a jazz group; a tux wearing nose-in-the-air classical ensemble, and a NYC living moose the mooch listening jazz combo. Brilliant.

Dave composed this piece for a record called Mountain Passages. If you don’t have it, get it. We do a couple of tunes from this record actually, because the music was originally written for a band with a less conventional instrumentation (similar to Lulu’s Playground). It was written for Trumpet, Cello, Reeds (clarinet/bass clarinet/alto sax all played by same guy), Tuba, and Drum Set. As I am sure you can imagine, it transferred nicely to our instrumentation.

We arranged the tune as a band. The first statement of the melody is done loosely in unison between the accordion and trumpet. The cello and guitar are playing the bass line, and there are no chords being played. The second time through the tune we switch things up and the accordion takes the bass line, Cello plays the melody pizz (plucking the strings) and I improvise. I think Evan is making some ambient noise as well. Evan joins accordion when the melody line splits near then end of the form.

Now, the third time we state the melody is, in my opinion, the coolest time. The tune is in 2/4 time, but on the third statement of the melody, we change the feel in to 6/8. We do this by embellishing the bass line and making them triplets (one two three, one two three) over the 2/4, which ends up sounding like 6/8. (stay with me here). Evan then changes the way the melody is played so it fits in to a 6/8 feel and greg plays some crazy stuff dividing the 6/8 in to groups of two and doing a slower “one two three.” You can hear this change at 2:36 in the video. WOE, RIGHT!?

Anyways. We end the tune by stating the second half of the melody in a very emotional climax, and then continuing on in our emo fashion we play the entire beginning to the melody completely in unison. I personally love the sound of us all playing in unison because we have to really be in tune with each other and be able to feel the internal time/groove that is going on so we can all play together in perfect time. The same approach a brass quintet or string quartet would take when playing chamber classical music.

Here’s the vid again.

That is all.

*Sorry for yet another crazy stalker fan boy moment.

This week’s new music sundae includes a little of everything we’ve been talking about on this blog. Some free improvisation, groove, formal improvisation, and composed original music. The title of the track is 2 Worlds, and it is the first movement of a three movement suite that I composed for my mom on mother’s day in 2007. Go ahead and get it up now so you can listen while you read.

The original instrumentation was much different, and included a percussionist, so re-writing the piece for our instrumentation was a  bit challenging. The original instrumentation was melodica (played by me when I wasn’t playing the trumpet, which transfers very nicely to accordion), trumpet, bass clarinet, acoustic bass, and percussion. I had the percussion part centered around the cajon in order to maintain a more chamber-like sound, rather than drum set.

As you can hear in the second section of the piece, at around 1:34, I had Evan, Cory, and Greg make percussive sounds on their instruments to fill in some of the missing compositional stuff that included a beat. Otherwise, I think the piece transferred nicely to a percussion-less ensemble.

When I was originally composing the piece (it was written as a final project for my jazz comp class in undergrad) I was going for a maria schneider-like section at 1:34, a sort of quasi-tango hinted in much of maria’s music. I was also trying to capture the way Dave Douglas integrates free improvisation in to his compositions. Specifically how he blurs the lines between what is written and what is improvised. It is certainly a more through-composed way of thinking. When I was re-writing the suite, I wanted make sure that I was still able to capture these qualities. I have recently adopted the slogan, “No more D.S.s!” as a part of my compositional personality. This piece definitely falls right in line with that mindset.

The free improvisation section that starts at about 2:40 is used as a transition to new melodic material that starts at 5:15. I wanted this section to include me (the trumpet) for the first bit, but for the majority of the improvisation to be between the guitar, accordion, and cello. I chose that partly because I think those instruments sound better leading in to my new melodic material, but mostly because those guys are so good I just love to listen to them play while I sit back and relax.

The new melodic material at 5:15 starts out with each measure being “on cue,” cued by the trumpet’s 2 eighth notes before each measure, and serves as an open blowing platform for the bowed cello. all over B minor. It slowly slips in to a groove and moves in to a completely composed section of only dotted half notes. There is no real melody that should stick out, the melody is more in the chord progression than anything else. Almost in a Charlie Haden’s “Silence” sort of way.

That then ties in to the original melodic material from the beginning of the tune that serves as a blowing platform for, well, me.

I actually had to go back and change the chord changes that were originally written during this final section because they were just plain wrong. Its amazing how long it has taken the mathematical part of my brain to catch up with my creative compositional side, but I think its almost there.

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think about the piece. I want to know if you love it, and I want to know if you hate it. Be honest, but be gentle. I may be a large man, but im oh so fragile. oooooooooh so fragile. Here is the link again in case you missed it: 2 Worlds

~Adam