Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On The Sea

I blame you Jack Kerouac. Just when I think I’ve begun to regain my sense or sarcasm and snark on my now month-old trek, you point me back into the direction of romanticism and stupor. Or, perhaps it has been the unexpected days off which have given me the pause to stand back and take in everything that excites me about my current situation. Either way, I have spent the past two days now enjoying life in two different countries, while spending my evening quietly reading On The Road. It is an odd thing feeling a bit romantic about life on a cruise ship. Yet, for all the waste and largesse, the plastic molding, and – worst of all – the daily line dancing and karaoke, there are moments that still make me step back and feel a sense of living. On the other side of things, I can easily find a quiet place on the deck where I may not see anyone else for an hour at a time, and spend time reading and drinking coffee while the wind whips around. I still find myself constantly shifting between the overriding need to feel busy and productive at each moment and the desire to use my generally abundant free time to spend time contemplating larger questions that perhaps get pushed aside at other times. Although, having just written the previous sentence, that sounds much more convoluted than I really mean it. I guess I could just say that for all the projects I said I would and probably should be working on while on this ship, I have found myself spending more time standing on the bow or the top deck at night reading or just watching the sea go by while I enjoy the feeling of being outside in an expanse that gives me a sense of something greater than myself. Simply, perhaps being from Iowa and unfortunately keeping a fairly strong aversion to the cold, I still savor I night where I can stand outside comfortably. More than that though, I love noticing how the weather changes each night we are away depending on where in the world we are, and going out on a clear night to see the sky riddled with stars, many of which I have probably never seen before and may never see again. Even more simply, I enjoy just watching the little dot of our ship on my T.V. screen, showing me where I am in the world, constantly careening forward it seems. Last night, I took a pause from my aforementioned read and stared straight up at the Big Dipper and thought about how I could probably see the same arrangement in the sky as all my loved ones that I’ve temporarily left behind. Tonight we are sailing north along the Central American coast, returning to the United States in a few days; and, thinking about little things like this on the way home makes me feel more connected with those I miss, even if foolishly so.

Moreover, I believe that on of the greatest joys of working in this type of profession is meeting and talking with interesting people from, literally, around the world. There is certainly something to be said for the convenience of being able to simply sit around and talk with people at length over a beer or seven. Last night we had a crew party; and, before I even realized it, I had easily passed four hours just sitting and conversing with a rotating crowd while we all took advantage of the open bar.

So, while I perhaps meant to write something a bit longer, I feel that perhaps that is enough schmultz from me for one evening. So, as I sit once again in my tiny cabin and feel this ship rock back and forth while the water slaps the sides of the hull just a few feet from me, I will end things here and get back to Kerouac. Perhaps in time I will be able to recount my travels in a way even half as good as he – this would make me pleased. So, to steal a line from a dear friend: yes, there is some cheese here as well, but honestly made…

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And, I'm Out...

All right - leaving on Sunday for two months. Crazy. Hopefully I will be diligent about keeping everything up to date while I'm gone. I know I'll have the time, just not the best internet. Hoping everything works out!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Comes In Bunches

Again I find myself at a crossroads waiting for a call back about possibly leaving on a cruise gig. Again it is about three days before I would have to go; and, I need to know as soon as possible to find a replacement for another possible thing I would have in Iowa this weekend. Not to mention that stuff I would have to go out and buy before then (like a tenor case that won't collapse if I have to check it, as well as possibly fixing my tenor so it isn't being made functional with masking tape...). So we'll see - this would be a two-month gig on Holland America, a length that is attractive to me as I don't like to be away for too much more than that. I really could use the money at this point as I have been freaking out a bit about my finances. Basically, while I can live rent free (and largely bill-free) until June, the gravy train comes to an abrupt halt at that point. This way I could go out and come back on much more stable footing while having time to hang out, do some projects, and mobilize the sax section for Celebration Iowa once again while getting a chance to work with good friends.

On the lighter side, I finally got a call today asking me to sub (apparently they just got my background check the other day. Apparently I also don't have any new violations to worry about...) while I also got a call from a guy at a restaurant in Cedar Falls that I had applied to on a whim in one of my moments of panic about my future. Seems like they only call when you (maybe) don't need them anymore...

So, assured that I won't get a call at 5:45 in the morning asking me to a school in the morning, I am going to undertake my nightly ritual of which I have become fond - wine and a book (who knows when in my life I'll have time to do that after this stretch!)

Wow, I really use a lot of parenthesis.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If You Like Jazz...

You very well might like this. If not, well, life changes might be in order.

With the extra time that I have right now, I’ve decided to start doing some transcription projects and writing them down. Right now I’m undecided whether to focus on a few individuals or just put together some kind of bari sax compilation. Either way I began with Serge Chaloff’s recording of “All The Things You Are” from his album Blue Serge. I might take some of these down eventually if I get any kind of publishing deal worked out for them; but, for the foreseeable future please feel free to download them and use them at your discretion. I think the biggest thing I took away from doing this transcription was noticing how largely diatonic this solo is, and how he uses the entire range of the instrument (low Bb to altissimo G). Also, the I tried to cop the articulation the best I could and notate it as such; if you have the opportunity to listen to this track (or really any of Chaloff’s solos), you will notice how he has a tendency to tongue much more than most players, every note in many places, with unconventional patterns in other places as well (slurring from the downbeat to the upbeat). This reminded me of Dexter Gordon, who tends to tongue every note often as well, while still somehow swinging it beautifully. So yeah, enjoy and let me know what you think!

(This is in .bmp for now – hopefully get .pdf’s going soon!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Holy Alliteration

The previous post title would probably better apply here. Today was a dank day all around - a persistent rain throughout. And, for something much better than this, check out Spiral Aurora under the links on the right...

A rare February rain
slips down silos
soothing salt from
the snows before

Seeping into soil
showering the sparrows
with promises
that better days lie ahead.

Thoughts From a February Thunderstorm

A while back (let’s just not say how long), I declared that it was my goal to have “the equivalent of a full-time job by the first of March”. Well guess what folks? Sunday marks this annual “lion or lamb” cliché; and, this whole job-train will have left the proverbial station (speaking of clichés…)

The problem has been several-fold:

  1. I don’t really want to do anything right now that I could have done before I graduated. I think this comes from the fact that this event happened so recently; and, I subsequently feel that it should be worth something even though I know it really isn’t most times.
  1. I’ve applied for different positions in different parts of the country, all of which seem to have a decision point around early-March, meaning there has been a lot of waiting as I don’t want to take a job just to leave and do something somewhere else.

Granted, I have some things going, like my completed application to substitute teach at my old high school, which could either be curiously interesting or god-awful – we’ll see. Moreover, this really makes me want to check out this “Eastbound and Down” show on HBO as it perfectly reflects my current situation I believe. I might also start teaching at a local music and dance studio that seems to really have its stuff together. Again, the lack of activity getting out to make things happen results from the constant uncertainty of my geographic location in the near future. On the plus side, I made some business cards the other night to prepare for the eventuality. This is also the first time in my life I have ever felt the need to have a business card, which at least might say something? Still, it is a pretty ridiculous card as I don’t really have a business to speak of really. They might just as well read:

Evan Smith
“I like to play music but will probably do pretty much anything for which you hire me”
Call me.

Complicating the matter is that during the past month I have been at least somewhat focused on finding agreeable employment, at least to the point where I have spent enough time on my computer to feel like an internet addict. This also manifests itself in making myself check my e-mail every ten minutes to see if my current situation has improved. However, over the weekend I had the extreme pleasure of seeing both Josh Roseman perform with UNI Jazz Band One, as well as Ben Allison and his band, Man Size Safe, play back to back nights in Cedar Falls and Iowa City (as well as at a clinic in between). Subsequently, it has provided me at least some quantity of new motivation; and, I have begun to think that maybe I would be better suited just to take advantage of the three remaining months I can spend living rent-free by working on a couple of large projects. I figure that I have the most time available that I will (although, as my friend Rachel and I discussed, this doesn’t always lead to more productivity; in fact, often the opposite). I have the idea right now to try to transcribe some important players that don’t really have anything out on the market to see if I can get a little collection published. I started on this today; and, it has made me realize I really don’t have any idea how to go about doing this after the actual transcribing is done. But, having a project made infinitely more productive anyway.

So, we’ll see how it goes. I think perhaps the fear of failure and the complete lack of money it would mean might kick my ass into doing something that will take some time and effort to complete.

I have also decided to write a book.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Quick Thought

Be swift on your feet
young rabbit,
for the eager fox waits
at every turn.