I'm feeling more uplifted than ever after this year's JEN conference in Dallas, capped by an exciting opportunity for Vertical Voices to perform on the big stage in front of a wonderfully receptive audience! We released our debut CD, "Fourward" and sold a buncha copies, we had a super-fun after-hang with a who's whom of vocal jazz heavies in Frank DeMiero's hotel suite, and this was all after seeing the best set of vocal jazz solo and ensemble performances at a national conference that I've EVER seen, going back to mid-90s IAJE...seriously! High level stuff, including Groove For Thought, who were just stupendously good and highly entertaining, Christine Helferich Guter's CSU Long Beach "Pacific Standard Time" mainstage performance that just flat out sets the bar for all of us teaching at the college level, Curtis Gaesser's Folsom High School Jazz Choir who sang a crazy-challenging set and put on a fantastic show, Thomas Almli's Bellevue Celebration group who delivered wonderfully once again on some diverse literature, Kate Paradise's "Jazzmin" from Belmont who started things off with a really great set and Kate Prather Reid's "Extensions" from U-Miami, who utilized student charts in a great way and built on a strong tradition in Kate's first semester on the job.
Many things I'm sad to have missed, but I was able also have been there forRosana Eckert's killing solo set featuring her compositions and best-on-the-planet scatting and song styling, Justin Binek's solo set where he demonstrated excellence at his triple threat of writing/singing/jazz piano, and Roseanna Vitro, who was a total pro and excellent vocal artist in her eclectic set. Wonderful vocal jazz topic clinics from Greg Jasperse, Jennifer Barnes and Rosana Eckert. Paris Rutherford's new VJ music reading session was fun as always, and I'm grateful to have had two charts on the session.
AND...I'm so excited to have been able to spend time with and make music with my UNC friends/colleagues Dana Landry, Erik Applegate, Steve Kovalcheck, and to hang with Amy Murphy, Socrates Garcia, Rex Burchett and Kelsey Shiba. Steve Barnes isn't on Facebook, so he's not taggable, but he played the heck out of the drums on our concert and was otherwise heavily involved in the conference, which was a treat. I got to be a part of my two former students Gaw Vang and Ian Brekke's first conference experiences as professional jazz educators, and that's particularly meaningful.
And most importantly, by a longshot, I got to make lots of my favorite kind of music with and spend a lot of quality time with Julia Dollison in what was one of the most remarkable and important weekends of our lives so far. Truly a worthwhile and memorable past few days.