I lived in San Diego for the last three years, and a few weeks ago, I moved to Seattle. While I'm excited about returning to the region where I grew up, I'm leaving behind a lot of great people and musical experiences.
When I arrived in San Diego in 2008, I jumped on craigslist to find some rocking bands. I hooked up with Staring at Strange, a powerful female-fronted hard rock group with metal, funk, and folk influences. Kelly Strange on vocals, Dave Maciel on lead guitar, Rob Griffin on bass, and Gavin Haswell on drums are phenomenal musicians. Rehearsals and shows were a blast, and the band had a killer sound, especially when goofing off with crazy polyrhythms.
I joined another band soon after. Called Mod Squad, we focused on a decent list of covers stemming from The Cure and The Smiths. This was not my kind of music. Nothing against it, I just hadn't spent time listening to anything resembling new wave, so it was a fascinating listening, learning, and playing experience.
In August 2009, I joined Led Zeppelin tribute band Dazed and Confused. My experiences with Dazed are well documented on this site. It was probably the best cover band experience I could imagine. Zeppelin's music is some of my favorite ever. Jason Ott nailed the vocals. Andy Hinson nailed the bass. Jeff Smith nailed the drums. It was the perfect storm.
In late 2010, I had the pleasure of playing a few blues gigs with Shelle Blue, a classmate of mine at SDSU. I learned about thirty blues tunes in a week in order to take the gig, and I'm glad I did. That band was smokin'. Jodie Hill on bass and Leon Wesley on drums were extremely well informed in the blues tradition and had some crazy musical telepathy going on when we jammed.
As I prepared to audition for the SDSU jazz program, I sought out a jazz guitar teacher to help me out. I studied with Steve Nichols and Travis Daudert at separate times, and they both did excellent work.
After I started at SDSU, I got to learn from dozens of people at the same time, between my professors and classmates. Every professor I had left a great impression on me: Dutton, Rewoldt, Thompson, Helzer, Smigel, Yeager.
SDSU provides students with a variety of options for private lessons beyond the full-time faculty. My lessons with Bob Boss and Bob Magnusson were particularly rewarding. I left each session with countless priceless insights another lifetime of material to practice.
The jazz performing combos were directed by a combination of professors and graduate students. I had the pleasure of learning from a few of my classmates in this capacity: Peter August, Nate Jarrell, and Leonard Patton.
Classmates and Co-Jammers
My classmates at SDSU were the most valuable part of my education. I learned and benefited more from playing and talking with them than I could have any other way. The performing combos were the primary area of musical interaction. During my tenure, I worked with three different combos and the rhythm section of the jazz vocal ensemble. These left me with countless valuable experiences of group performance, listening, and cooperation.
My recital group in the spring of 2011 did an amazing job of bringing my music to life. Jesse Audelo on alto and flute, Kris Korsgaden on piano and vibes, Dan Reagan on trombone, Eli Rodriguez on drums, Douglas Welcome on bass, and Tony Wong on tenor brought their best to my final school performance and made it a very special day.
A few of my classes formed a tighter bond when we recorded pieces we'd written as assignments. Recording my peers' music, having them record mine, and witnessing the whole process over and over gave me an intimate glimpse into the jazz composing process. Danny Green was the all-star during these evening marathon recording sessions, both in his own astounding compositions and the way he instantly interpreted everyone else's.
Starting in 2009, I attended the local Thursday Night Jazz Jam as often as I could. It was perfect for me, because the atmosphere was embracing of developing players while also providing a fun, creative outlet for some of the best young musicians in the city. Jay Jay Lim has been hosting for years, helped out by a rotating house band including Bob Daniels, Karin Carson, Antar Martin, Travis Daudert, Harley Magsino, and Darren Wagner. It was a delight to hear amazing players like Joshua White, Ed Kornhauser, Ian Tordella, Justin Grinnell, and Jason Robinson working their magic later in the evening.
I'll always be grateful to every one of these great people I've met in SD. I've learned immeasurable lessons from each of you, whether you know it or not. Thank you so much, and I'll miss you.