NYU Ensemble Blog

Latvia Tour: Volcano 1, NYU Ensemble 0

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Sad to say, the bad winds and ash won out. My NYU Ensemble and myself were supposed to leave for Latvia today, but the tour has been postponed due to the unique travel difficulties posed by the Icelandic eruptions. We will be rescheduling the tour for sometime this summer, and our hope is to make a positive out of this situation by using the extra time to prepare even better, particularly in the realm of our cultural diplomacy efforts.

This rescheduling is certainly going to involve some added expense with ticket rebooking fees and such, so we are going to be keeping the fund raising conduit open. Tax deductible contributions to the project can be made at http://nyfablog.wordpress.com/support-this-project/ (don’t forget to put “Latvia” in the comments area when making a pledge).

NYU Ensemble Update

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Three days to go before we leave for Latvia! I’m a little concerned about the travel situation due to the disruption currently being caused by the Iceland volcano, but there’s nothing to do but wait and see, and hope that the ash blows away from our travel route.

We have been busy getting the music more and more happening. As good as the band sounded at the Blue Note, there was plenty of room for improvement in ensemble work and negotiating the Afro-Caribbean grooves, which some of my students haven’t had much direct experience with up until this project. Aside from dealing with the music itself, I’ve been working with the students individually and in groups on solidifying their overall rhythmic awareness and applying that to the clave based music that we’re playing.

A help for me in this has been using the exercises from a great book called The Clave Matrix by David Penalosa to get the students to experience rhythm in a more direct, embodied way.

This work paid off at our fundraising gig last Wednesday at the Tutuma Social Club, where the group showed increased confidence in playing the charts and with the rhythm. Incidentally, Tutuma ia a hip little spot that you should check out! Great atmosphere and food, a wonderful proprietor (Santina) and staff, and good music (I stuck around after our set to sit in with my old friend, guitarist Dave Stryker and his trio).

Here’s clips from our Blue Note and Tutuma gigs:

Blue Note:

Tutuma Social Club:

Support Our Latvia Trip!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

As we’re gearing up for our NYU Afro-Caribbean Ensemble tour of Latvia, we find we’re in need of some additional funding to support the students’ travel expenses and to help fund documentation of the tour. We encourage you to help us – and you can take it off your taxes. Make a charitable donation to tour support through the New York Foundation for the Arts at their website:


Make sure you follow the instructions and specify “Latvia Diplomacy” in the Comments section when making the pledge.

NYFA has its own blog for our Latvian mission at: http://nyfablog.wordpress.com/ , of which the “donate ” page is a tab.

Blue Note Gig Preparations

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

We’ve been working hard this past week getting ready for the Ensemble’s gig at the Blue Note tomorrow (Sunday, April 4th). We’ve already had a full rehearsal, a rhythm section rehearsal, and I’ve tutored the rhythm section members individually on Afro-Caribbean rhythmic concepts.

It’s a bit of a crash course since last semester we were working on a whole different repertoire that was more “swing” oriented. But everyone is taking to the new material very well.

Here’s an video excerpt from the rhythm section rehearsal – running over the changes on “Countdown”:

Today (Sat.) I’ll be running over the parts with the horn players in a sectional, then the full group meets for a rehearsal. Our repertoire is a good cross section of my arrangements and tunes in the Afro-Caribbean vein:

  • So What originally recorded on “Another Kind Of Blue: The Latin Side Of Miles Davis”
  • Solar originally recorded on “Sketches Of Spain y Mas”
  • Flamenco Sketches from “Another Kind Of Blue”
  • Countdown from “Que Viva Coltrane”
  • Descarga No.7 from the Grammy winning Brian Lynch / Eddie Palmieri Project “Simpatico”
  • Slippery also from “Simpatico”
  • One For Mogie an often recorded tune of mine given a Latin treatment by this band

We’ll also be doing two or three numbers from our “straight ahead” repertoire of earlier this school year; Deception by Miles, my Chippin’ In as recorded by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and Jackie McLean’s Dr. Jackle.

Brian Lynch NYU Afro-Caribbean Ensemble Personnel

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Brian Lynch – ensemble instructor & leader, trumpet
Peter Cobb – alto sax, project co-ordinator , ensemble/NYFA liasion
Casey Berman – tenor sax
Brad Gunson – trombone
Steven Feifke – piano
Jin Kyo Park – bass
Jamie Eblen – drums
Alex Raderman – percussion