Monday, September 22, 2014

The KC Generations Sextet




The Kansas City Generations 

In 2011 I made my first visit back to Kansas City to play in several years.  The jazz scene had changed drastically since my last time in town in 2003.  A new energy was happening, much of it coming from the young musicians who had just graduated from UMKC where they had studied with Bobby Watson.  

I wanted to come back to KC more often to see my family and friends, to touch down with a place where I had a lot of history.  It just made sense to build a group to work with and things came together stronger each time the band played.

In 2012 we performed at the Blue Room and again in early 2013.  The group grew from a quartet to a quintet.  We built a book around composers with Kansas City roots: the music of Ahmad Alaadeen, Bobby Watson, Pat Metheny as well as our originals and some obscure tunes from favorite albums.  By 2014 we had an identity going and a big sound, and the group had grown to a sextet.  A buzz was going about this group and each show we played a bigger audience and more energy.

The band recorded an album in August which is now in post production.  We recorded the music we had been working on for a while, songs by Alaadeen, Watson and Metheny.  The idea was to 'keep it in the family' by playing their music which had a big influence on us all.  Not only those three as musicians and composers, but just the fact that they had come out of KC and set a high standard.

The "Generations" concept comes from the threads that run through the musicians of Kansas City where the mentor/apprentice way of learning still exists in places like the Mutual Musicians Foundation and on bandstands where the older established generations hire the younger cats, helping them cut their teeth and learn on the job.  

The concept also comes from the feeling of the KC musicians, the common language of the blues they seem to share no matter how harmonically advanced they get and the relaxed but optimistically bouncing swing that embodies the KC feel lives thru the generations of cats who come from there.  

Geographically, all the guys in the band come from small towns around the midwest: Sioux City, Iowa.  Jefferson City, Missouri.  Hannibal, Missouri.  Topeka, Kansas.  We all went to UMKC, or rather it chose us, and we all trained on the bandstands of Kansas City.  

From the first note the feeling of this band was like a homecoming for me and leading the group has been one of the most exciting musical associations I am a part of and it continues to get better.  Sometimes things come full circle and for me, touching down with the KC spirit and playing with these guys has been just that.

Keep an eye out for the new album and tour in the spring of 2015, see you then!

About the band:

Andrew Ouellette is a pianist originally from Hannibal, Missouri, who followed his musical dream to Kansas City where he graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Performance. While at UMKC, Andrew had the opportunity to study under world-renowned saxophonist Bobby Watson and has taken that experience to the KC bandstands on a nightly basis.  Oulette has shared the stage with the likes of Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove, Lisa Henry, Marilyn Maye, Angela Hagenbach, Lonnie McFadden, and many other nationally and internationally recognized artists.
 
Saxophonist Michael Shults has been “making strong impressions” on the Kansas City jazz scene says the Kansas City Star, and has been praised for his "strong, imaginative work" by Downbeat Magazine.  Originally from Hannibal, Missouri, Shults has trained under Bobby Watson for the past several years and was featured on Watson's critically acclaimed 2010 release "The Gates BBQ Suite".  In 2012 Downbeat magazine awarded Shults the Graduate College Soloist award from Downbeat Magazine. He just finished his PhD and will be teaching at ….



Trumpeter Hermon Mehari, originally from Jefferson City, Missouri, has made a major name for himself.  He was the winner of the 2008 National Trumpet Competiton and placed 2nd in the International Trumpet Guild competition in Sydney, Australia. Mehari received his BM in Jazz Performance from the University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory of Music in 2010, leading to performances with Jaleel Shaw, Logan Richardson, Bobby Watson, and Ben Van Gelder. In addition to performing, he dedicates himself to being a serious educator. Hermon has participated in clinics and panels around the country and has served as the director of the Kansas City High School All Star Jazz Ensemble. Trumpeter Hermon Mehari was most recently featured on the world renown saxophonist Bobby Watson's 2013 release, "Check Cashing Day".

Steven Lambert, originally from Souix City, Iowa is now a prominent saxophonist, composer, band leader and educator on the Kansas City jazz scene. He leads several of his own groups including the Steven Lambert trio and quartet, KC Sound, and Foundation 627 big band to name a few. He also is one of the most sought-after woodwind players on (flute and clarinet) in Kansas City. He works extensively as a sideman with a wide variety of groups throughout Kansas City and maintains an active presence as a board member at the mutual musicians foundation, a national historic landmark in Kansas City.

Ben Leifer was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas in a musical family. He moved to Kansas City in 2004 to study music at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and has since begun a healthy career in music, performing regularly and honing the craft alongside his peers. Ben was featured on the “Gates BBQ Suite” CD by Bobby Watson.  Ben has been fortunate to play with jazz luminaries such as Bobby Watson and Michael Carvin, while also performing with younger masters, such as Sean Jones and Jaleel Shaw, to name a few. 

Drummer Matt Kane, originally from Hannibal, Missouri, went to the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City on scholarship in 1989.  He trained in the clubs with Lori Tucker, the McFadden Brothers, Ida McBeth, the Boulevard and Trilogy Big Bands, Karrin Allyson, and others before a two year stay in Ahmad Alaadeen’s “Deans of Swing” when the album “Time Through the Ages” was recorded.  After relocating to New York City in 1997 Kane attended the New School and became immersed in the local brazilian music scene, playing with Jovino Santos Neto and Cidinho Teixeira.  Kane returned to jazz in 2008, recording with Steve LaSpina and Vic Juris on the album “Destiny” for the SteepleChase label.  He freelances in NYC and has recently performed and toured with Janis Seigal, Sasha Dobson, Dave Stryker, Kyle Koehler,  Randy Brecker and Joe Locke.  He returns to Kansas City a few times a year to perform and teach at the Blue Room and American Jazz Museum/Gem Theater.  Matt is the founder/leader of the KC Generations Sextet.  





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The New re-mastered Matt Kane Trio CD "Streamliner"

New Matt Kane Trio CD "Streamliner"

In 1996 I had been leading my band for a year.  I was lucky to have teamed up with vibraphonist Tom Rickard and bassist Tony LaPuma.  We'd met at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and were playing around KC for a good while as sidemen when we decided to get something original going.

I organized a recording session at UMKC for an afternoon in April and we ran down about 14 originals and covers.  It came out a lot better than I'd expected, everybody played very inspired and I felt it was swinging, musically mature and tasteful.

When it came time to send the CD off to the replicating company, several of the best tunes couldn't be used because I couldn't get the rights to them and the CD ended up not being a as I wanted it to be, but we were bent on putting it out, we'd already booked the CD release dates!.  To our dismay, the art design came out bad and the sound levels were too low for some reason.  We released the CD on a limited local basis.  Still, we had a lot of success with the CD, it got us gigs opening up for Joshua Redman and Charlie Hunter at the Grand Emporium and in 97 were were a headlining act at the KC Jazz and Blues Festival.

Later in 97 I moved to New York, Rickard to St. Louis, and we fell out of touch for 17 years.  We met back up in 2013 in St. Louis and had a real blast catching up.  So, I made time in January of 2014 to take the DAT tape of our album to a studio and see what was on it.  I'd totally forgotten.

I took the DAT to Trading 8s studio, run by Chris Sulit and I was amazed at how great the album held up; the playing, the sound we got on tape, the tunes, the whole thing.  The sound was really good, I could hear Tom's mallets so clearly on the vibes and the drums had a real organic and deep sound.  The playing was very in the pocket; I was reminded of how great Tom really is, he lays a lot of great spaces for the drummer to have a dialogue, he swings, he plays so melodically and also modern when he shifts into that gear.  We had a real natural hook-up.

Since I'd never released the CD on an international level, I consider this CD new to the world.  Now that I have had success with other CDs, and they can be self-released on iTunes, CD Baby and Amazon, I liked the idea of adding this CD to my available recordings.

I really liked the streamlined sound of a vibes trio, and so that's where I got the new name for the album "Streamliner".

I'd taken a photo of the St. Louis arch at a dramatic angle that looked like a single line going up into the sky and I thought it represented the album well, so I used that for the cover.

When I re-programmed the CD I finally felt like the album was very representative of the band and also just made for a much, much more complete CD.  Some of the songs I couldn't get the rights to back in 96 I could now obtain, like "Naima" or "Summertime" or "Mambo Koyama".  A few of Tom's originals that were not on the original release like "In July" and "Saving Time" made for great additions and completed the programming of the disc.  I even deleted a few covers from the original CD in favor of Tom's original tunes.

It's not often one can re-visit a musical relationship and have it live up to your expectations, but when I got together recently with Tom in St. Louis to release the CD and play some dates, I was laughing out loud at how easy it was to play with Tom again and how we'd both added a couple gears to our musical depth.  We played the Cigar Inn and Robbie's House of Jazz and both nights were amazing to me.

The new CD can be purchased here:


iTunes:

Amazon:

CD Baby


Touch, sound, fluidity, warming up, training into action

The drum set is a physical instrument.  Max Roach once described it as a "four limbed monster".  Just getting a snare drum roll to sound clean and even takes a long time of practice.  And since the drums are not a chordal/harmonic instrument in the sense that a guitar or piano is (tho the drums can be played melodically, another blog post in itself) an aspiring drummer can spend years on the basics before getting to what they thought would only take a few weeks to get to.

For years, I thought warming up was silly and thought the rudiments were even sillier.  I thought it was all for uptight, drum corps playing.  I never really respected any of it until I got to college and got a thorough humbling, finding out that my homespun technique was sorely lacking any kind of finesse.

I worked for hours on books like Joe Morello's "Master Studies" and Charles Wilcoxon's "Modern Rudimental Swing Solos".  And I did improve quite a bit.  Still, I found it boring and couldn't get up to work on it daily.  I somewhat skirted the issue by proclaiming that I didn't need "chops" because my favorite drummers, Elvin Jones and Roy Haynes, didn't really play like that, so why should I worry about it?  (I later learned that Elvin practiced 8 hours a day and rudiments were a big part of his thing, as was the Wilcoxon book!)

Something weird kept happening.  I would watch video tapes of my performances and noticed that when I went for something that my skills couldn't quite handle, my body would contort and my tongue would stick out of the side of my mouth and most times I would not get what I was going for.  I thought I had an above average touch, but still certain things would come out too loud or clumsy and unrefined.  Especially too loud.

Eventually, I took a long break from playing 'jazz'.  From 2002 to 2006 I left jazz behind and played mostly brazilian gigs, which really didn't require much soloing, and that was fine by me.  Also, living in Manhattan, I only played a small bass drum and snare, because that's all I could carry on the subways.  I didn't need fluidity around a kit, because for 10 years I didn't play really what you'd consider a kit.  My lack of snare drum vocabulary was sorely exposed on the occasional jazz gig, but I did nothing to fix it, and even if I wanted to I wasn't about to start plowing thru Morello exercises again.

In 2008 I met Michael Carvin and began studying with him. I could write a book on studying with Carvin, but here I'll just say that if you study with him, you must deal with the rudiments... thoroughly.  Period.  And not just play thru them any old way, but in a very specific way.  The Wilcoxon book became my drum bible and I've worked thru that book note for note.  I've been at it for five years and feel I'm just beginning to find my identity and sound thru the Wilcoxon way.

Carvin challenged me to get behind the drums every single day, and I did.  Something started happening in my playing and in my life.  Discipline.  Little things began happening here and there that surprised me.  Discipline began leading to freedom.  In music, drums and life.  Which are all the same thing anyway.

My touch came back and then some.  I learned how to get a sound from the drums.  Which is very difficult but necessary.  My sound began to open up.  I began to get up off the drums with my strokes instead of playing down into the drums, which was a bad habit I'd acquired from playing rock as a kid. I started feeling much more confident and relaxed.    And best of all, my playing vocabulary exploded and a flood of new ideas came into play which brought out my individuality.  I learned how to work with my snare drum wire tension to get a bigger sound.  (I've always struggled with the sound of snare drums, until I figured this part out).  And I learned how to tune my drums, especially the snare.  This was the exact opposite effect I thought the rudiments and practicing would have.

A daily ritual was just what I needed, and it doesn't have to be long, boring and arduous.  I learned a couple key things over the past few years that have really helped.

It's one thing to get it... it's another thing to keep and maintain it.

There have been a couple times when I felt I needed a rest and I took a couple weeks off from the instrument, but when I came back, to my horror, it was almost like starting over.  The level of fluidity I'd achieved seemed to dissappear!  So, I'd have to go back to two and three hour sessions of just playing buzz rolls, doubles, singles, etc... to get my touch back.  Not an enjoyable process really, but I wanted to keep what I had attained, I knew I'd have to maintain it, daily.

I once read an interview with Pat Metheny in which he said if he took a couple weeks off, then it literally felt like he forgot how to play!  I didn't feel so bad hearing it from Pat, who is the most fluid guitar player out there.  It's no secret that Pat does an incredible amount of hard work in all areas of music.  But how does he maintain that?  I also read where he said that he's obscessed with it and has to warm up for two hours just to go and accompany his kids at a school sing a long!

I recently found that I do have to get into similar two hour sessions where I methodically go thru all of the rudiments, rolls, and even yoga, to open up my body to the point where there is no barrier of tension between my brain and my body and the drums.  That sounds very hardcore and I don't always have that kind of time, especially on the road.  But I now have two different approaches to this; one is the necessary two hour sessions where I get everything to the point where I want it.  Two is the maintence kind of routine, where I run the same kinds of things, but I play it down with no repeats.

Books:  The Joe Morello book is amazing and from it you can see how he developed such a beautiful technique.  I'm not a technique freak, not even close, but I love a beautifully played roll, graceful cymbal beat motion, a deep a rich drum sound that resonates in my belly.  And Morello says to repeat his exercies in the book up to 50 times each.  I lose track of count and become bored, as most anyone would and I don't have six hours a day to do it.  So what I do, is spend that kind of time once or twice a week on that kind of stuff, and then on the other days I play the book down with no repeats.  I have found that I get the benefit, because I have already spent the big blocks of time working on the muscle memory part, and going thru it just once w no repeats keeps the benefits in there.  This works particularly well when I do it at night just before bed, run all of that stuff just once and move on.  It keeps it more lively and when I wake up the next morning and go down to play the drums, it's there, because I didn't do anything else on the drums except the training.

Pads:  The other part of this that is really important and still somewhat of a mystery to me is practice pads.  For years, I hated them.  The unrealistic feel, the whole thing.  Then I bought a Remo versatilic tunable practice pad kit, with the old style pads that have actual drum heads on them, not some unrealistic piece of rubber that fools you.  I tuned the pads using the "drum dial" and to my surprise the pads actually resonated and felt good.  Sometimes, I just can't play my drums at night, out of respect for my wife.  So I play the Remo kit into the wee hours.

Something amazing happens fter a few days on those pads.  My drum sound, accuracy, control, everything... just opens up on the drums.  I wish I could explain it, but the Remo tunable practice pads just do something to my touch for the drums and give me a much deeper sound and feeling.  This goes for the bass drum as well.

Training into real - time action: the MUSIC

None of this training really works musicially unless I practice it musically.  After taking a good long time to warm up and reach a level of relaxed fluidity, I then put it into musical action.  One of my favorite ways of doing this is playing Charlie Parker tunes on the kit.  I like to pick a tune and play it as many ways as I can think of.  First just on the snare, very literally.  Then maybe I'm interested in flams that day, so I'll see how flams can work within the melody.  Maybe there's a rhythm in the tune that lends itself to rolls or single drags or double paradiddles.  This is endlessly fun and I find keeps things from getting too "drumistic".

I may have specific tunes I'm working on and I'll see how I can play thru them, or solo over top of the form using some of the sounds the rudiments create.

Another way is to pick a rudiment and see how many ways it can be spread across the drums and cymbals.  Slowed down, sped up, time warped within a few different tempos, varied dynamically.  Again, endless fun, and bridges the gap between just working on technique and getting to some music.

What works for you:  Every drummer is different.  Some do not warm up at all, I've read articles by legendary drummers who say they thinks it ruins your spontaneity.  But I see it like this:  A boxer works out on the heavy bag, speed bag, jump rope, jogging, sparring, etc..  but when he's in the ring, it's the real thing and their training serves them well, if they trained with the awareness that the training itself is a means to an end.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A look back at 2013 and on to 2014

2013 was a good year.  My new CD "Suit-up!" was named in the top 50 jazz albums of 2013 by JazzTimes magazine.  The CD has received a great response.   We played a great round of local shows in New York and New Jersey at Trumpet's, The Robin's Nest, Hat City Kitchen and Bar Next Door.

The Matt Kane Trio toured Missouri playing in Hannibal, Columbia and Kansas City.
I was the Artist in Residence at the Kansas City 18th and Vine Jazz Festival and my trio w/ Dave Stryker and Kyle Koehler.  It was the first time I've returned to my Missouri home with a band from NYC.  We played to great audiences everywhere and folks really had a good time.


Dave Stryker, Matt Kane, Kyle Koehler @ the Blue Room, Kansas City 

Stryker
Koehler
Check out video of the band in Columbia Mo!!


In January and February 2013, I was happy to be a part of a recording project with a fantastic composer and guitarist, Tony Romano and master bassist Steve LaSpina, recording all original music by Romano.  It has yet to be released, we may re-record some of it, but I am very excited about this group for the future!






In April of 2013, just as "Suit-up!" was being released, I was so fortunate to spend a couple days in the studio with a phenomenal band:  Tony Romano, Leny Sendersky, Randy Brecker, Joe Locke, Cleve Douglas and Steve LaSpina.  We recorded an album called "Desert Flower" which will be released in early 2014 with CD release events in NYC to follow.

Also in April, the Mark Peterson Trio, cut tracks that could be released sometime this year, tho we will likely go back and record more.

MK, Mark Peterson and Frank Ponzio

A DAY FOR DRUMMERS!!

   In April 2013 the Matt Kane School of Drumming met for the 3rd annual
"Day For Drummers"  an event for young drummers to meet and play.  This is one of the biggest days of the year for me, I really enjoy this drum get-together.  Everybody is featured, playing songs and rudimental solos they've prepared.  An open discussion with family and open house feel to it, we have seen an increased group each year and we look for 2014 to be even better!  A big thank you to Strauss Performing Arts for the use of their studio.

Danny Kindler
Brendan Decker, Matt Kane, Danny Kindler, Forrest Valliquet


A great drummer from Highland
Park, stopped by and jammed
with us
Brendan Decker
Sean



On To 2014....

I'm really happy to announce that in early 2014 I will be releasing an album called "Streamliner" featuring vibraphonist Tom Rickard and bassist Tony LaPuma from Kansas City.  The Matt Kane Trio was originally this group and this was my first CD as a leader. I've improved upon the original audio, re-mastered by Chris Sulit of Trading-8s Studios.  The cover design is brand new and three new tunes are included.

We will have a CD release party at a club in St.Louis, Spring 2014 and I will announce that date when I have the CD up online to buy in March.

"Streamliner" will be available by March, 2014



One of the absolute most genuine, honest and musical people in the world, I'm so happy for an on-going musical relationship with Sasha Dobson, continues to get better as we play at the SoHo Grand hotel with Neal Miner this winter and Sasha and I play duo on Mondays at Moto in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.














Later in 2014 I will return to Kansas City for another show with the KC Generations Quintet.  This band exceeded my expectations when we got together in 2013 at the Blue Room.  Wow!  Is all I can say.  We'll play more of Ahmad Alaadeen's music and prepare to do a recording in the second half of 2014.  It will include Ben Leifer, Hermon Mehari, Michael Shults, Steve Lambert and Andrew Oulette.



Click here to see the Generations Quintet in action at the Blue Room

and a whole bunch more!
Generations Band with the lovely Fanny
Hermon Mehari, Ben Leifer, Roger Wilder,
Matt Kane, Steve Lambert


See you this year!

Matt





Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Suit-UP!" The story of the new CD.

The story behind the new "Suit-UP!" albums goes all the way back to my first gig as a leader in Kansas City.  I put a band together to play the kind of tunes I wanted to play:  hard swinging, aggressive and adventurous.  We did pretty well around KC, played all the local spots, the local festivals and took it as far as we could.  After I moved to NYC I wanted to continue the group, however it would take years for the right situation to align.

I played at some of the spots around NYC with a guitar trio; Detour, Dark Star Lounge, Kavehas, Internet Cafe, you know, and every gig seemed to have a different bass player or guitar player, the group never found it's stride.  

Years later I scored a steady gig at the Delta Grill on 48th and 9th.  I experimented with so many bands, had some brilliant players in there, but somehow brilliant players never seemed to make a difference at the Delta, people weren't there to hear that.  I wanted a response from the folks, wanted them to party and have fun and groove but at the same time I wanted to play music I loved with great players.

So, that's what I started giving them.  I switched the format of the group, started using organ/guitar/drums trios.  People starting tuning in.  It was a major lesson for me.  I worked with several organ players and guitarists.  Some of the combinations were ok, but still it took a while to find the right cats.

A couple years ago I called Dave Stryker and Kyle Koehler.  Everything fell into place.

I have an affinity for the guitar and great guitar players.  I've been lucky to play or record with some great ones, Vic Juris, Steve Cardenas, Bob DeVos, Stryker and even back to Kansas City w/ players like Rod Fleeman, Danny Embrey and Jake Blanton, I find the texture, comping and phrasing articulation of improvisers on guitar, it's such a versatile and expansive instrument, yet very pure.  It's not an easy instrument to articulate really swinging lines on, that's why many guitarists really don't swing, their lines come at you rapid-fire, every note picked or half the notes fluffed over and the narrative of the line gets lost.

Stryker's playing and entire concept is crystal clear.  Dave's commitment to swinging and playing music that people can relate to, yet satisfying his own musical standards, mixing blues and modern, plus being a great improviser, writing clever vehicles to get to where he can do his thing, Dave's been working on his craft, seriously, for a good while now and he has the intangible wisdom that you only get by constantly working on music for years.

Kyle I knew from playing gigs around Jersey City and hearing him with Don Williams just swinging like a big dog.   He's left handed, and his bass feel has so much lift-off and snap, there's an urgency and purpose there that I feel is absolutely necessary, that's where the group stems out from.  Koehler is a true disciple of the organ.  That's what he does.

The Delta folks loved the band and the cats in the band loved playing the Delta.  So, after a year or so we'd found a batch of tunes that worked for us.  Stryker brought a lot great ideas to the gig; the Mardi Gras Mambo, Way of the World and a bunch of other party jams that the Delta just loved.  Check this video to see what I'm talking about:

The "Kane Mutiny" at the Delta video


I was thinking about doing a record, finally.  I felt like it would be more than just a session where cats rolled in, read the music down, collected their bread and split.  I really felt like we had a great band vibe going.  Dave and I are from the midwest and Kyle is from Philly; swinging is high on the priority list.  I feel we're all looking for the same things in music.  

I booked a session at Tedesco studios in Paramus.  The trio did two rehearsals and I started seriously thinking about the tunes.  I had a coupe originals I thought would fit, Dave brought in a couple, plus an arrangement of "Who Can I Turn To?"  which turned out great.  When I started thinking about how to bridge the blues with a more modern vibe, the music of Ahmad Alaadeen came to mind.  I'd toured and recorded with Alaadeen in the 90s and his music really embodies the spirit of Kansas City jazz, in a modern vein, so I brought "Big Six" and "21st Century Ragg" to the session.  I also wanted to do something by Pat Metheny, so I brought in "When We Were Free" and "John McKee" and we ended up doing the latter.

I originally intended on bringing in 10-12 tunes, but Dave said "Eight is the magic number".  He kept emailing me, "did you pick the 8?"  and I finally whittled the list down to 8 songs.  I am glad Dave was really specific about the tunes, it ended up helping a lot.  He was very specific at the rehearsals, molding the tunes and making sure we had a good balance of feels and solos.  Dave's a great producer and I'm thankful to him for caring enough about the record to scrutinize the finer details that separate a decent record from a great record.  Thru the whole process he was in contact making sure we were on the same page with the tunes. 

We arrived at Tedesco at 11am on Jan 13th.  We we're tracking by 12:30.  The sounds came together instantly, we had very little adjusting to do.  Almost everything went down in first takes, except "Shadowboxing" which I felt I could play the head better.  I think we also played "Way of the World" a couple times to find the right tempo and pocket.  

By 4pm the album was in the can, except for Way of the World and the overdubbed claps.  Stryker's experience helped make the session flow, his insistance on picking the 8 tunes was really smart.  And the whole flow of the album was there before we recorded anything, just the tune choice and even the order we recorded it in, all made the record come together effortlessly so we could concentrate on playing instead of doing a ton of takes.  

By 5pm we were headed out the door.  We didn't even break for lunch!  The whole album recorded in about 4 hours, mostly first takes.

Here's a sample of the session in a video shot at Tedesco:

MK Trio session video



The mixing session went just as easy.  Chris Sulit of Trading 8s studios did an exceptional job.  Stryker was really cool to be there for the whole mixing session and again, his experience helped elevate the record.  The initial mix came out good and later Chris remixed a few things to match volumes.  I have to say it was the most painless and easy mixing session I've ever been to.

By this time Stryker and I had ironed out the song order and the album was pretty much there.  Now the real fun part:  photography and design.


I've been working with a brilliant photographer for years, Jessica Santoro.  We set the Canopus drums up in her studio and got the lighting going.  She's serious about her craft and as the session got going she worked hard to get the shots she wanted.  I was all talking like "hey, maybe this... or maybe this...." but really, the shot that ended up on the album cover is the shot that Jess meticulously set up with the shadows and light.  

This is where the album title came about.

I needed to give Jess a concept of the title and I liked the phrase "Suit-Up!" a lot.  First, because of the sports reference.  When a musician or athlete gets ready for the game or the gig, suiting up changes your mentality.  It's a mental que that says "Hey, here we go!".  I like that.  I just thought it sounded cool and the phrase speaks to the nature of this band which I feel is pretty aggressive and going for it.  So, when this band plays, I feel like "yeah, it's on!"
The Trio:  Suited up!

On to design with Mike Mandracchia in Jersey City.  I've also worked with Mike before and he's top notch.  Mike came up with several drafts and again, what I thought was the one, was not really the one, and the one he really liked, ended up being The ONE.   Mike ended up with a kick ass retro kind of design with a slightly aged look that made the CD look like an LP.  I'm a huge fan of LP cover art and I've never liked CDs because they're so small, but Mike really used space and the element of three, symbolizing the trio, to create a design that had space, strength and elegance.




All in all, this album happened in a few months.  The recording and mixing was done in a week.  The design took about a month and a half and all the duplication and details took another couple of weeks.  This is how jazz records happen best I think.  Don't labor over it.  Just do it and move on.  That's what jazz, or improvised music or whatever you call it, is about anyway.  The feeling I really wanted to capture with this album was the trio in a small club, swinging and representing our thing.  I think we got it.

"Suit-Up!"  is available on iTunes:  "Suit-Up!" on iTunes
on CD BABY:  "Suit-Up!" on CD BABY
on AMAZON:  "Suit-Up!" on Amazon

CD Release Events at Trumpets, Montclair, NJ. June 13th and Robin's Nest, June 14th.
Other info available at:  www.mattkanemusic.com


Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Welcome to Kane's World!

A trip to Kansas City!

Checking in here periodically to give a perspective of what's going on in my world; what's on my mind, the latest happenings, album projects, thoughts on music, playing, teaching, practicing and whatever else comes to mind, worth committing to print.

I'm fresh back from a trip to Kansas City and I think it's a fine place to make my first blog entry.

Ah!  Six days in Missouri.  My homeland!  Family.  Friends. The Mississippi River.  St. Louis arch.  Mark Twain Dinette.  I-70.  Kansas City.  Burnt-ends, baked beans and greens!

I flew into St. Louis on Saturday, March 29th, rented a snazzy, new 2013 Altima, and drove up to Hannibal, MO to be with my family.  It was great seeing them all.  My niece Ciara and nephew Trevor are growing fast, Trevor now being taller than me.  Ciara is working on her jump rope skills and we practiced on the front porch.  She's up to 63 jumps in a row!  Mom and Dad are doing well.  They remodeled their living room and everybody had a nice time chatting.

Later the men folk went to a very spirited event downtown, the Hannibal Boxing Club Fights!  There were a couple really good matches, a couple pretty dramatic knockdowns here and there.  I think the crowd was just as much entertainment as the fights were!

The Kanes at the fights in Hannibal, MO.

Easter was great.  Got to be with my grandfolks who are 96 years old!  Also saw uncle Bob, who got me my first drum at age six, and my uncle Jim and aunt Mary.  So good to see the family!  Everybody had a great time talking.  Aunt K.K. was there too, she's doing well.  

After a nice Easter celebration with the family I drove over to Lee's Summit North High School to work with the students of their Jazz Ensemble.  Director Scott Kuhlman is doing a great job there and he's put his heart and soul into this program.  Scott and I were in the studio jazz ensemble together at Hannibal High School and it was great seeing somebody from the hometown doing so well and passing it on.  It was my pleasure to work with so many talented and attentive kids!  I was really impressed with the jazz ensemble there and how well they play together.  I'm looking forward to going back next year.

Monday night I drove up to Liberty, MO where I would be staying a couple nights with my friend, Doug Funston.  I shipped a set of drums to his place and we put them together, everything fit, no pieces missing and now I have a kit that resides out in Kansas City!!  It took a lot of extra work to ship drums out there, but it was totally worth it to have my sound.

Tuesday I met with the "KC Genereations Band" for the first time.  Hermon Mehari was kind enough to host the rehearsal in his living room, where there was a set of drums ready to go.  Steve Lambert, Ben Leifer and Hermon all three got right down to business and played the music down.  I was really relieved when I felt how focused this band was.  I was asking them to play some tricky forms on tunes like "Herzog" by Bobby Hutcherson, and they stepped right up it.  All the cats are very relaxed and confident and excited to play this music, with this band.  I knew that this was going to be my best return KC gig since I left in '97!

Doug's cat assists in putting the drums together.

On Wednesday, for lunch I met with Chuck Haddix and Fanny Dunfee.  Fanny is Ahmad Alaadeen's wife and I am working with her on a book of Alaadeen's music.  She taking great care of her husband's legacy.  Alaadeen's personal collection is housed at the Marr Sound Archives at UMKC.  Chuck is a great asset to the KC music scene, the work he does is incredible.  Chuck is the patron saint of recorded sound!  A true KC treasure and institution.  He just finished his book about Charlie Parker and I'm honored that Chuck wrote the liner notes to my new album.

Chuck showed us the Alaadeen collection and I was surprised and blown away that Alaadeen kept one of my tunes that I had shown him.  It was called "Eureka Springs".  It was right there in his collection of music.  Wow!  He kept it!

After a wonderful meeting with Chuck and Fanny at the archives, we had lunch at Saraha on campus.  Wow! UMKC is a totally different place than it was when I went there.  It's really nice to see how it has evolved.  

I then scooted down Paseo to 18th street, hooked a right and went on down to the Mutual Musician's Foundation where I rehearsed for the nights gig with Ben Leifer, Chris Clarke and Steve Lambert.  Ben's gig was a tribute to Mingus and we had some work to do on the music.  It was great to play downstairs at the Foundation again, especially with Chris.  We played there a lot back in the 90s.  The Foundation is the holy church of Kansas City Jazz, period.  That's where we went, every Friday and Saturday night to play and learn.  Cats like Daahoud Williams, Mamoud Sherif, Lonnie Newton, Eddie Saunders, Alaadeen, and so many others were true keepers of the flame there.  The vibe and history in those walls is really something.  If you're in KC, you have to go check it out!


After rehearsal, I checked into my hotel room at the Q Hotel and then stopped by one of my favorite old KC spots D'Bronx for one of their steak sandwiches.  I love that place!  I like to go sit in one of the old booths next to the brick wall, relax, eat and watch people come in and out.

The Take Five Mingus gig was a huge success.  Everybody played their asses off, especially Ben and Steve, who had a lot of tricky lines to play.  Was great to play with Chris Clarke again, too.  He's a one of a kind.  Ben really led the gig well.  It was a ton of music to just run down and then go present to people.  I felt pretty good about the overall presentation.  Lori and Doug do a great job of promoting music at their venue, they're one of the more progressive spots in town which is key to the young players in KC.  Thank you to Lori and Doug!!

Thursday was a beautiful day.  The spring weather really came on.  I got out of the hotel early and walked down to the Broadway Cafe for coffee.  It's the best spot in midtown, in fact, I drove out of my way daily to go by for their coffee.  The Q Hotel has a hook up with Gold's Gym so I went in there to jump rope and stretch, after a long trip I really needed it.  I went down the the Blue Room feeling great, rehearsed the band once more, this time adding Roger Wilder to the mix.  With Roger, the music took shape and more focus.  He read everything down and played his ass off.  


Debut of Matt Kane's "KC Generations Band" at the Blue Room, American Jazz Museum

This night of music brought fourth so many great vibes and spirit, I don't know where to begin!  I should begin with the music of Ahmad Alaadeen.  Our second set was dedicated to the great KC saxophonist, composer and educator.  We played "Doin' the Deen" by Reggie Thomas.  "21st Century Ragg", "'ASR", "And the Beauty of It All" and "The Ringing" by Alaadeen.  His spirit lives on thru his music and everybody could feel it in the Blue Room that night. 

Alaadeen's wife, Fanny was there for the show and she was very touched to hear the music come thru these young musicians.  Our saxophonist, Steve Lambert, requested that we play "And the Beauty of it All" which Fanny really loved, that one of the young players would want to that music.  So, we dedicated that tune to Fanny, especially.

Many of Alaadeen's educational efforts were right there on stage that night.  He worked hard to pass on to the next generations.  Being in his band during the 90s was key to my musical growth and many, many others.  Hermon, Steve, Ben and Roger all felt the influence of Alaadeen in KC.

Playing Alaadeen's music, 15 years later was such a gratifying experience.  When I was in Alaadeen's band in the 90s, I was following instead of leading.  I played very carefully back then.  This time around I felt like I was really leading the music and pushing it forward.  That's what Alaadeen would've wanted.  The band responded by playing much more intensely than in rehearsal.  I was impressed and touched that they would be bringing it so strong.  

Above all you could really feel Alaadeen's spirit come thru his music.  Especially playing it in Kansas City, with young cats who are all hanging out at the Foundation and have learned to play around town, Alaadeen's spirit has touched everybody in town.  

This gig was special for many reasons.  Personally speaking, since I left KC in '97 I hand't been able pull off a return performance that I was satisfied with until this one.  From 97 to 03 I made attempts at playing gigs in KC that for whatever reason, just didn't get off the ground.  Even finding a set of drums to play that are the right sizes and sound was very difficult.  So, I stopped coming back to KC for several years.  When I returned in 2011, I had changed a lot and so had KC.  I felt a new energy in the young players and a new appreciation for jazz.  I finally felt I could book a gig with local cats and play on a high level.  The current crop of local young players re-energized my interest in playing in KC.

I met a great bassist, Ben Leifer, who I plan the group around.  He has worked with my teacher, Michael Carvin, so I know Ben is on point.  Ben suggested Steve Lambert and it was natural to add Hermon Mehari because they all play together alot.  Roger Wilder ties it all together with his experience and there it is, a quintet I know will deliver.  

I can't just come to KC and play standards.  So I carefully chose the music, basing it around Ahmad Alaadeen's tribute set which we played in the middle of the gig.  I feel like the repertoire is key.  It all has to fit together, that way, there is continuity in the vehicles that the cats are blowing on.  It fit together perfectly.  I couldn't have been more pleased with the sets.

A word about the cats, who I am very thankful to play with.  

Ben Leifer:  A very intuitive and musical bassist, Ben has a natural affinity for the instrument.  His feel has a great pickup and his solos are always flowing, Ben explores his ideas and makes music out of them.  A great trait to have.  

Hermon Mehari: Hermon plays from the silence.  He takes his time and creates a vibe.  He's trying things, but making it all make sense.  His trumpet playing is like a secret he's letting us in on.  Trumpet is one of my favorite instruments to play with and Hermon was very engaging.

Roger Wilder:  Roger goes for it and never loses control.  He hears everything and has a sure grip on what he's doing.  His rhythm is excellent and there's nothing nebulous about what he does, he's very matter of fact in his playing and is always present and creative. 

Steve Lambert:  Steve more than rose to the occasion in playing some very difficult music, he just straight up threw down and kicked ass on it.  Steve is one of the keepers of the flame at the Musicians Foundation in KC, and it shows in his playing.  This dude just wants to play.  Some of his solos, when I thought he might top out and stop, just kept spiraling upward.  His feel is great, tone is full and nice to listen to, he's got ideas forever.  

You will hear from the "KC Generations Quintet" again for sure!

Roger, Hermon, Ben, Matt, Fanny, Steve


Hermon Mehari

Also in attendance at the gig was Ollie Gates of Gates' BBQ.  Chuck Haddix of KCUR's "The Fish Fry" Radio Show and of the Marr Sound Archives.  KC legend, David Basse.  Bill Brownlee of the KC Star.  John Hoffman.  Gerald Dunn.  Donivan Baily.  Stanton Kessler.  Some of my fellow Hannibal folks were in there, Michael Shults, Andrew Oulette, David Clayton and Austin Smith.  My Family from KC and Hannibal, the Leonards and Kanes.  Many, many others came out to support and I thank you all!!

best,

Matt

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