Michael Mull Octet

Michael Mull Octet

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Guest Post: Alex Pinto on Improving Your Scene

This is the first "guest post" I've done on this blog; seems like something I could run with to help spread some ideas and outlooks from my fellow musicians. I met guitarist Alex Pinto during my first year at CalArts, and he is currently studying in India on a Fullbright scholarship. Here he writes some clear, practical suggestions for ways that both artists and fans can help improve their jazz scene. 
- MM

Jazz is in a great place. I’ll love it forever, kind of like Metallica. I don’t care what people say - the noodling IS where it’s at, getting lost in a free form is invigorating and the the music has produced some of the greatest composers and improvisers from the past 100 years.
Can it improve or change? Sure! Some gentle suggestions:
1) Have opening acts
I can’t remember the last time I went to see a jazz show at a hall or festival where there was an opening act. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen. Having opening acts would be a great way to introduce that next wave of talent that people lament doesn’t exist. It’s a way for younger acts to interact with the mega stars of today and is a simple way to infuse some energy into the community. This is a tried and true format in pretty much every other genre of music. Jazz can try it too.
2) Skew younger
Young people are inspired by other young people doing cool things. Lots of people get into playing in band because they saw their friends playing in a band or people like them playing in a band. It wouldn’t hurt to have younger acts get more exposure at the big festivals (maybe opening for them - see point 1) and inspire a new generation of musicians and listeners. Let young people have some ownership in where the music is going too, by getting them involved in its programming.
3) Can it be cheaper?
Lots of shows are pretty expensive. How about some cheaper alternatives?
4) Go local
There is jazz happening outside of NYC. It seems daunting at times to be a jazz artist not living there. Reviews will at times even suggest that such and such band is the best NYC sounding band in such and such town. Every town can have its own sound. There is great music being made in Seattle, LA, Montreal, Delhi and beyond. There are writers and photographers and blogs that can support and document the great music made in those places. Audiences will have a more earnest and easier time connecting with talent that is from their area. Food is local, art is local. Jazz can go local too.
5) More video
Youtube is, for better or for worse, where music discover is happening. Let’s get some more cool videos out there! Remember this (embedded below) -http://vimeo.com/46040485 THAT WAS AWESOME. Let’s have more. Even though that was on vimeo, it still used video to promote the music and get listeners excited.
Bashing jazz is an easy way out. Having constructive solutions and following through on them is the hard part. But these little adjustments, and what other come up with, can make a huge difference.

MEHLIANA featuring Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana 06.06.12 Stone, NYC from Brad Mehldau on Vimeo. Video by Alex Chaloff.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

LAJC Summer Fest 8/23-8/24

As the summer burns past in multiple ways, I realize that a highly-anticipated event is coming our way in a matter of weeks. I'm pleased and excited to announce that I will be performing in the Los Angeles Jazz Collective Summer Festival at the Blue Whale. The festival is taking place on Saturday 8/23 and Sunday 8/24, including multiple projects each night. See below for the full lineup (click to enlarge):

As you can see, the Michael Mull Octet will be closing out the festival on Sunday night, 8/24. I am working on a brand new arrangement to debut for this performance. As you can't see, I'm going to also be playing Saturday night, joining the Matt Otto Group for a set of his original music. I have been a huge fan of Matt since I first heard him, not long after I moved to LA, and I am honored to play in his group, which will also include Gary Fukushima, Steve Cotter, Darek Oles and Mark Ferber - what a band! Matt has been living in Kansas City, MO for a while now, so this will be a relatively rare chance to hear him.

Hope to see many of you there at the Whale!