On January 1st a friend of our insisted I bring my trombone to her brunch, so I did. I played several standards and some of my own stuff. I have been called upon to perform solo a few times in my life. It is a tough gig for a melody instrument, and, I feel, much better suited for piano, guitar or accordion. But I did my best and was blessed with a 96-year-old former instrumental music teacher as an audience for the first several songs. She was appreciative and at the end gave me a piece of invaluable advice.
“You have a sweet sound when you play softly,” she said.
Of course I thanked her, and I will remember this advice in my endeavors to come.
On January 12, 2016, I will sing three or more of my original songs at the Boston Singers Showcase open mic at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. If you live in the area and would like to go, here is a link to more information:
This “fifteen minutes of fame” will be my most ambitious vocal performance to date. My stuff is a little different, I think, than the tunes people usually sing there. I am thinking this will be an advantage. I may get a video out of the deal; if I do I’ll surely let you know.
Prior to that I will be recording my new song, “Fancy Hat” at Little Dog Studio in Malden. I am picking up the pieces here from my defunct studio date that was supposed to have taken place in December but was torpedoed by the drummer’s defection three days before. I have not found a replacement for my former drummer at this time, so will be working with a cajon player. I like him and his sound, and it will have the advantage of sounding a little different. “A little different.” I’m sensing a them here. :)
I will be taking the name, “Fancy Hat”, for my 2016 project, The Fancy Hat Concert. I am currently seeking a venue and funding. I’ll keep you posted as to how I do. I produced my first concert at The Lilypad in Cambridge on a shoestring but I am looking to accomplish something grander this time around.
I think that one can arrive at the end of hope, yet usually I find myself drifting into that warm mixture of fantasy and desire: “hope.” While pleasant and for the most part harmless, it is important to remember that hope looks to the future. While we can to some extent influence the future, we cannot truly control outcomes. They will happen as they will, and not, perhaps, as we envisioned them in our hopes. Hence the statement, “His hopes were dashed.” We know this does not mean hyphenated; it means dashed to pieces like a ship on the rocks. So, logically, no hopes, no dashing.
Because hopes focus on the future, while we are hoping we are missing the present. Since one’s life can only occur now, this is a loss. When one spends time hoping they sacrifice moments of their life. They are not here/now, they are there/then in some place that is not yet and may never be.
My teacher tells me that trust is better than hope and I agree. “Trust the outcome” is the saying. It is closely akin to the saying, “The Lord will provide.” Both express the belief in a benevolent Higher Power, whether one calls that power “God”, “Allah”, “Jesus” or “The Universe.” I have observed that people who express this belief usually find that their trust becomes truth – that the future that arrives is the best possible outcome, and exactly what the individual needs at the time.
In trusting the outcome we put aside our concern for it and waste no more of the precious present moment thinking of it. Trust that the best will be and leave it to unfold on its own.
How does that work when we are making something happen? We schedule the tasks that will lead us to our goal and do them in order, step by step, concentrating on each step as we take it. Fully present and unburdened of our fear that our efforts will be in vain, the steps themselves become accomplishments and stand alone in our memory as individual and significant successes. Then in the end, if the outcome is something other than you intended, you may be disappointed, but you still have all of these successes behind you. You can value the memories of your efforts instead of dismissing them as part of a failure.
I recently experienced this as my plans to record some of my music imploded rather spectacularly a few days before the recording session because of a faithless friend. Looking back, we made some excellent music in our rehearsal sessions. Instead of a lack of successful recordings I am instead left with an abundance of ideas and learning.
I will make plans – and I will doubtless have hopes, but I will trust the outcome. I find that it is really true that the journey is much more important then the destination. So let’s go. :)
After witnessing the rather explosive collapse of The Rubenoff Project for 2015, and a subsequent scurrying after fragments in futile attempts to salvage something, I am left now to finish out the year reflecting on this failure and what I can learn from it. This betrayal by a friend could not have been better timed to effect the complete annihilation of all my plans. I have explored all the possibilities and have found there is no where to turn now. I must accept defeat and move on.
I must turn my attention to travel plans and other concerns, and I will resume creating poems and songs in a quiet way during my brief snatches of free time. I hope to perform a duo at an open mic soon. Perhaps I’ll make some computer renditions of the tunes I would have recorded with my friends. I’ll keep you posted.
Now that The Project is no more it is time to be on to the next thing; time to heal, and eventually to find a way to rise from this ashes and fly again.
Sometimes it can be difficult to face events with equanimity. It is not a difficult concept to grasp that one cannot with any certainty predict the future, yet the brain often seems to do just that, jumping ahead to negative outcomes manufactured out of its fears. Never mind that, again and again, the brain has watched the universe unfold in beautifully unexpected ways that delight and inform; still it jumps to fear, blame and anger instead of openness and patience.
When I encounter difficulty, my first instinct is to overcome it with strength. Yet usually I find that first instinct to be mistaken. Usually the difficulty will resolve itself when given time to do so. Usually the exertion of strength leads to imbalance and recurrence of difficulty – unless strength is used to curb the urge to swift action.
Swift action is useful when faced with a real danger. However, when my “fight or flight” response is triggered by baseless fears, the swift action that may result will often produce negative results. In truth, one cannot truly recognize danger when they are afraid of it. I find that when true danger arises the best response is to ignore all emotions and look mindfully, with clear, calm eyes on what is taking place. Then my response can be sensible.
The feeling of urgency to take action usually comes from the ego clinging to some desired outcome. To free myself, I detach myself from these and leave myself open to what the universe will bring.
Continuing in the vein of making music with my betters, I will be sitting in with the Tracy Clark Trio at Brothers Restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts tomorrow night (Thursday, November 5, 7 PM to 9 PM). I am playing two pieces with them and the rest of the time carousing with friends. Bound to be fun. I’ll have to wait and see if I make it into work on time the next day. I’ll certainly try.
Coming up Sunday will be the next rehearsal for my upcoming studio date. I will be producing a recording and I will call it “Fancy Hat” after one of the pieces. I am sure no one will be surprised at the eclectic nature of the material. :)
At work things continue to change. I am in the midst of an interesting transition there, and see other changes happening on the edges of my circles as well. I am doing more training and less data entry – a challenging and welcome development. At the same time I see the forces of inertia rising to conflict with the change. All very interesting.
Change is exciting (if not a little scary). As usual, the I Ching counsels admirable traits like equanimity, acceptance, balance, patience, reticence – well you get the idea. It comes from the land of “Good luck, bad luck: who knows?”
I’ll keep you posted.
So, as I go forward with recording some of my work with two groups of friends at some considerable personal expense, I know the odds of any of these intellectual/emotional children of mine amounting to anything is less than minimal. (Unlike my real children who have all turned out to be very impressive individuals in my totally unbiased opinion.) Yet I can’t help thinking that perhaps some movie producer will like my lyrics or some company that hawks on-hold music will like one of my melodies, or the combination thereof might attract a relatively small (yet substantial) following. For if any or all of these occurred I would be justified in pursuing that which I love to do.
However, the love is, in fact, enough. My history proves that I will keep producing music no matter what, so I may as well accept that and all the consequences, even if it means I part with money to give my musical babies their best shot at a good and fruitful life.
Anyway, we will be recording in December and looking to release early in the New Year. I’ll let y’all know what dive I rent to have the CD release party. I don’t really believe in CD’s, but I’ll make some as an excuse to have a party. :)
Life is change; embrace life.
Things grow in unexpected places. It is the way of the Universe. If one open one’s eyes, one can see this unexpected growth and welcome it, no matter where it is in celebration of life in all its manifestations.
Too Klez For Comfort has grown to become a federation of musicians with the depth to field a viable ensemble for almost any venue at almost any time. There is more 30’s swing and Latin flavor in the repertoire. And it performs with more confidence and fluency. I am honored to play my part.
Unclaimed Freight continues to evolve, all players bringing an influence, pulling the band in various directions within the broad envelope of rhythm and blues and jazz. The horns add texture and excitement. Again, I am honored to play my part.
My own garden of music continues to grow as I more deeply explore the use of vocals and lyrics, and beats from cultures less familiar to me. I expect to have some finished recordings to share by the beginning of 2016. I have attracted amazing musical friends of all ages and I am honored and blessed to be able to make music with them.
Different, yet the same, I continue, as do you. I wish you peace and joyful surprise in your times to come.