Recital time is here! Three days from this moment, I will be calm and collected during my recital sound check at SDSU, because there will be no last-minute disaster panics. In the long run, this performance won't mean much. I'm not getting paid, so it's nothing like a real job. But I've never put on my own show like this before, and I wanted it to be special, so I've been preparing for nearly a year.

All the work has started paying off already. I had a set list and band chosen early. I used my web skills to maintain a little web page for my band to keep track of all the charts, recordings, and background on each tune. I started running rehearsals early and learned a few valuable bandleading lessons. Last month's recital audition for the jazz professors was a pleasant success. And now, after holding the final rehearsal a couple days ago, I'm feeling really good about this Sunday's performance. Stress-free since 1983.

The Show

The show will last about 90 minutes, and it's free and open to the public. If you're near San Diego, I'd love to see you there! Blog readers make excellent audience members. Here's the Facebook event page. I like to park in the little lot at College and Lindo Paseo, but you can maybe do better on a Sunday. The music building is here.

Sunday, March 6, 2011
2:00 PM

Smith Recital Hall
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr
San Diego, CA

The Band

The best part of music school is that you're surrounded by amazing musicians willing to play your music for free. I found six who kick extra ass. These guys have done an incredible job bringing the music to life during rehearsals, and I know it's going to sound great on Sunday thanks to their efforts.

Jesse Audelo - alto sax, flute
Kris Korsgaden - piano, vibes
Dan Reagan - trombone
Eli Rodriguez - drums
Douglas Welcome - bass
Tony Wong - tenor sax

The Program

"Remember Rockefeller at Attica" - Charles Mingus
The title refers to the Attica prison riot of 1971, in which inmates took hostages and seized control of the prison. After four days of negotiations, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered state police to retake the prison by force. The event left 39 dead. One might expect a grave tone when setting this scene to music, but Mingus opts for the ridiculous.

"Wacky Misadventure" - Joe Walker
When my wife and I are out driving and we take a wrong turn, intentionally or not, and we embrace the opportunity to discover new lands, we declare to each other: "Wacky misadventure?" "Wacky misadventure." This tune provides a series of cues for the soloist to instruct each member of the group to take a wrong turn and forget the written music for a few moments. Come get lost with us.

"Bashert" - Jason Parker
Jason Parker is a Seattle-based trumpet player. I saw his group play at Dizzy's in San Diego last year, on his first tour as a bandleader, and I loved "Bashert." Jason wrote it on the day he met Darrah, who is now his wife. It was one of those rare pieces that flowed out fully-formed. "Bashert" is a Yiddish word that means fate or destiny, but more commonly refers to a soul mate.

"Recruitment Bonanza" - Joe Walker
In September 2010, a Florida pastor announced plans to burn copies of the Qur'an on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There was a media frenzy. Barack Obama condemned the plans and stated on news shows that the event would be a "recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda." This tune is a futile, depressed, hopeless wish that one man's silly demonstration were the biggest impetus driving otherwise peaceful people to violence.

"Defending Their Turf" - Joe Walker
The title was drawn from a scene in The Largest Street Gang in America, a documentary about the militarization of American police. When performing this tune, we (the band) are a group of meatheads (cops, vikings, high school jocks, whatever you like) preparing to go out and rough up a bunch of people who aren't as awesome as we are. They deserve it.

"The Nearness of You" - Hoagy Carmichael, Ned Washington
This is one of my favorite jazz standards. My wife and I dance to it.

"Trinkle, Tinkle" - Thelonious Monk
I first heard this tune a year ago, and I had to learn it immediately. It's excessively playful and witty, even for Monk.

"The Kármán Line" - Joe Walker
At 100km above sea level, the Kármán line defines the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space. It is the point at which air becomes so thin that an aircraft must exceed orbital velocity (the speed required for a spacecraft to remain in orbit) in order to maintain lift. American test pilot Joseph Albert Walker (no relation), made two spaceplane flights past this threshold in 1963, the only such flights ever made until 2004. "The Kármán Line" is about what it might be like to drift beyond that line and back (sans roaring engines).

"A Little Pain" - Bobby Bradford
Bobby Bradford was one of my first jazz instructors. I met him in 2004 at Pomona College, where he taught History of Jazz and directed the jazz ensemble. An active member of the Los Angeles jazz scene since 1953, Bradford lived the history of jazz, collaborating most notably with Ornette Coleman and John Carter. "A Little Pain" is my favorite of his compositions. Explaining the title, he told me, "Everything in life comes with a little pain, even the good parts." He personally associates this concept with all the unsung sidemen of jazz, specifically in tribute to John Carter.

"Miss Information" - Joe Walker
This is a musical satire inspired by a New York Times column by Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman. The tune is about winning an argument at all costs, whether by deception, childish name-calling, or brute force. Truth and reason are off limits.

The Flyer

The cryptic collage in the flyer at the top of this post actually has some sense to it. A character from each of my five original pieces is represented: a riot cop, Barack Obama, myself, pilot Joe Walker, and Paul Krugman.