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The Playful Musician
72 minutes | Apr 15, 2022
Otis Murphy - Saxophone Professor at Indiana University Talks the 5 T's, Eugene Rousseau, Jean-Yves Fourmeau and More!
Dr. Otis Murphy is professor of Saxophone at the prestigious Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington Indiana. Otis has the distinction of being the youngest faculty ever appointed to the Jacobs School of Music, having obtained his position at the tender age of 28. Otis was a student of Classical Saxophone icon Eugene Rousseau and received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in France with french saxophonist Jean-Yves Fourmeau. In our conversation we spoke about his trajectory towards becoming a professional musician. How he got started on the saxophone, what a big influence his father was and the sacrifices his family made so he could, as a teenager, travel to Athens Georgia to study with Dr. Kenneth Fischer at the University of Georgia. Otis also shared what it was like as a freshman at Georgia to be playing with Doctoral Students in a saxophone quartet, which included fellow Playful Musician guest Rhett Bender. Otis also talked about what is was like teaching former classmates, his teaching style, the importance of music in his family. His wife and 6 children all are musicians! He shares about the importance of tone and intonation, how he and his students practice the five T’s and the challenge of switching between playing A440 in the US and A442 in other countries.
75 minutes | Apr 1, 2022
Brett Detar - Founder and Frontman of The Juliana Theory Shares About Songwriting, Film Scoring and His New Sinle Playback 99!
Brett Detar is a Los Angeles based singer, songwriter, film composer, producer and super creative guy. He's made a name for himself with his band The Juliana Theory which he co-founded when he was just 19. Brett has also made an impact on the big screen, composing for the films The Devil Inside and Wer. Brett Shares about his start with songwriting at age six, how he approaches creativity, what it's like to score for a major motion picture and you'll get to hear a bit of his just released single Playback 99, off the EP, Still The Same Kids Part I!
76 minutes | Mar 18, 2022
Reggie Watkins - Pittsburgh Trombonist On Playing With Jason Mraz and Maynard Furguson
Pittsburgh Trombonist Reggie Watkins has always had a knack for music. He has come a long way from learning how to play the piano at six. Born and raised in West Virginia and spending years in Pittsburgh, Reggie was exposed to musical influences that would later turn him into an internationally-recognized performer, pianist, arranger, and composer. Leveraging his experience fronting a quarter on a cruise ship, he then served as trombonist and musical director for trumpeter and band leader Maynard Ferguson. From there he went on to tour and record with Jason Mraz from 2008 to 2013. He has shared the stage with many great artists from various genres including Aretha Franklin, Dave Matthews, Dianne Shuur, Jose Feliciano, Willie Nelson, Arturo Sandoval, Trombone Shorty, The Temptations, and the O’Jays. He is also a member of the Grammy-nominated Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band. He joins us in this episode to talk about his epiphany moment with jazz, his music education and influences, his early cruise ship gigs, his years touring with the Maynard Ferguson band and Jason Mraz, his practice routine, and the honor of playing at Aretha Franklin’s funeral.
74 minutes | Mar 4, 2022
Alice DiMicele - Singer, Songwriter on Her New Album Sewing The Seeds
Singer and Songwriter, Alice DiMicele, joins me on this captivating episode of The Playful Musician. Based in Southern Oregon like myself, we swap stories and share musical memories from the past as well as speaking about challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic and beyond. Alice DiMicele talks about her new upcoming album Every Seed We Plant along with her experience writing and producing during the pandemic. Hear incredible snippets from Every Seed We Plant, which effortlessly communicates emotions and captures the listener’s imagination with thought-provoking lyrics. We also touch on some special high points throughout Alice’s three-decade career, including her performance on stage with Bonnie Raitt, touring, and everything in-between.
95 minutes | Feb 18, 2022
Barney McAll - Australian Jazz Pianist, Composer, Arranger
Australian jazz pianist Barney McAll has had a fascinating music career. An accomplished jazz pianist and composer with an innate musical curiosity and drama, Barney’s played with Gary Bartz, Kenny Garrett, Maceo Parker and Eddie Henderson... and he was Sia's music director too. No big deal. In this episode, we chatted about the influence of Cuban and African ritualistic trance on Barney’s work, his time as composer in residence in Sydney and how he’s developed as a musician. In this episode, we chat about Barney’s new album, Precious Energy, the influence of the Cuban musical and ritual has had on him,Barney’s musical process and writing routine, what audiation is and teaching audiation, his stint touring with Sia as her music director, Anti-pop, the power of objectivity and unwittingly taking part in Laurie Anderson’s 15-year old art exhibition (yes, really)
53 minutes | Feb 11, 2022
Baruch Meir - Israeli Born Pianist and Professor of Music at Arizona State University
Pianist Baruch Meir is a professor of piano at Arizona State University. He maintains a busy teaching schedule in addition to his international concert career. Baruch recently toured Korea's most prestigious music schools and universities as well as the Music Academy in Vienna (Austria), the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem (Israel) and various conservatories and universities in the U.S. Baruch’s distinctions include the American-Israel Cultural Foundation Awards, the British Council fellowship, and many additional awards in piano competitions worldwide. Baruch shares details about growing up in Israel and how he began playing the piano. We chat about his love of teaching and how he uses relaxation with the piano. Baruch discusses the nuances of competitions, including what led him to start his own competition in 2006. We chat about new music, memorization versus reading music, and Baruch’s upcoming artistic plans.
85 minutes | Jan 28, 2022
Theo Bleckmann - Inspiring and Ultra-Creative Vocalist, Writer and Arranger.
A singer and composer of eclectic tastes and prodigious gifts, Grammy-nominated Theo Bleckmann makes music that is accessibly sophisticated, unsentimentally emotional, and seriously playful. Theo spent 15 years as a member of Meredith Monk’s ensemble and appeared on 2002's Mercy and 2008's Impermanence. He has also worked with Philip Glass, John Zorn, Kenny Wheeler, and David Lang, to name a few. Theo has released a series of irreverent albums on Winter & Winter, including recordings of Las Vegas standards, of Weimar art songs, and of popular “bar songs” (all with pianist Fumio Yasuda). Theo shares how his curiosity for sound began at a young age. We chat about how his music is based in jazz, how he maintains his instrument, and his “messy” practice routine. Theo shares about his move from Germany to New York City. We discuss his time working with Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk, his favorite vocalists, and even indulge in some coffee talk.
66 minutes | Jan 14, 2022
Vijay Venkatesh - Delightful and Playful Pianist on Preparation, Clara Schumann and the Joy of Four Hands!
Indian-American pianist Vijay Venkatesh has been recognized on three continents as a pianist with profound musicianship, sparkling pianism and an innate sense of partnership. Vijay has rapidly established a major international reputation as top prizewinner in the San Jose, Seattle, Zimmerli, World Piano, and Waring International Piano Competitions. He has also been named a Davidson Fellow Laureate at the Library of Congress and featured on NPR’s “From the Top” with host Christopher O'Riley. Vijay is performing Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the Rogue Valley Symphony this month. He shares how he is preparing for this performance and also how he channels his life’s experiences into each piece. We discuss his early upbringing studying the Suzuki method, his favorite composers, and the challenges and benefits of transitioning to online teaching. We chat about the Vieness Piano Duo, Vijay’s collaboration with his wife. And Vijay shares his practice essentials and tips and tricks for combating performance nerves.
103 minutes | Dec 17, 2021
Tara Kannangara - Musician, trumpeter, vocalist, composer, teacher and all-around amazing human!
JUNO-nominated artist, Tara Kannangara is a second-generation, Sri Lankan-Canadian force of nature, making music that is deeply personal, genre-bending and culture blending. Tara has been featured on CBC's The Signal, The Sunday Edition and NPR Tiny Desk with Lido Pimienta. Her work has been presented at major festivals across North America including The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Washington DC Jazz Festival and The Smithsonian. She is a founding member of #thisisartschool, a coalition of artists championing equity in arts education. Tara and I chat about her time off during the pandemic and how that helped her reimagine her relationship with music. We discuss her social activism and equity work. Tara shares how her teaching methods have changed, specifically with how she approaches criticism. We chat about the subtleties of the definition of jazz, practice routines, and Tara’s plans for the coming year.
90 minutes | Dec 3, 2021
Robert Spring - Virtuosic Clarinetist, Professor and Master Educator
Robert Spring is one of the country's most unique and talented clarinetists. He is a professor in Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and recently received the International Clarinet Association’s highest honor, the Honorary Membership Award. Spring has performed as a recitalist or soloist with symphony orchestras and wind bands in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. He has been on the faculty of several summer music festivals and has published numerous articles on multiple articulation and other contemporary clarinet techniques. Robert joins the Playful Musician to discuss his musical path to the clarinet and his journey into teaching. He shares the unique practice tips he learned from his time with John Mohler. We chat about the nuances of tongue technique, including how he learned double tonguing. Robert reminisces about seeing Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in concert and we discuss his current projects and future plans.
68 minutes | Nov 19, 2021
Jared Judge - Earns $100k With His String Quartet, Creator of BookLive.com, Author and Educator
Along with being a conductor and violinist, Jared Judge is an established web developer and entrepreneur. He created and runs BookLive.com, a web tool for musicians to streamline their booking, band scheduling and more. Jared currently serves as Director of Development for the Milwaukee Philharmonic Orchestra. Jared is the definition of innovative. He joins The Playful Musician to discuss how he launched Dream City Music and the origins of BookLive.com. We chat about how he started playing the violin, his first teaching gig with a high school band, and how he got into performing at weddings. Jared shares the biggest mistake gig musicians make and how he ended up performing for a former President’s dog. As a special gift for listeners, Jared is giving away free (just pay shipping and handling) copies of his book Gigging Secrets - The Underground Playbook To Make a Living Performing. Visit giggingsecrets.com/playfulmusician to secure your copy.
85 minutes | Nov 5, 2021
Wonkak Kim - Korean Born Clarinetist, Professor and New Music Champion
Korean-born clarinetist, Wonkak Kim, is an Associate Professor of Clarinet at the University of Oregon School of Music. Wonkak has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at leading venues throughout the United States, as well as in Paris, London, Ghent, Geneva, Seoul, Osaka, Costa Rica, and Brazil. He was the first Korean clarinetist to perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto on basset clarinet in a nationally broadcasted concert with Seungnam Philharmonic Orchestra in South Korea. Wonkak is a founding member of enhakē, the clarinet-violin-cello-piano quartet, which is in its 12th season and has been praised for rhythmic integrity. Won joins The Playful Musician to chat about his musical beginnings, from Korea to Paris to the United States. We discuss the nuances of clarinet teaching, including how to pace expectations. Wonkak shares how he approaches memorization and tips for musicians still honing the process. We chat about his interests outside of music, the basset clarinet, and about his many upcoming projects, including performing with the Rogue Valley Symphony.
86 minutes | Oct 22, 2021
Geoffrey Keezer - Jazz Pianist, Composer and Teacher
Jazz pianist Geoffrey Keezer, a two-time GRAMMY nominee, has approximately 20 albums to his name as a bandleader. He has built a successful career by creating unusual and compelling music with a wide range of artists, from singers such as Diana Krall to bassists such as Christian McBride, and rock stars such as Sting. Geoffrey has toured all over the world, playing with giants of jazz like Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, and Wayne Shorter. He has taught numerous master classes at schools and universities such as the Brubeck Institute, the Royal Academy of Music, the New School, and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, among others. Geoffrey joins The Playful Musician to chat about his unique and acclaimed career as a jazz pianist. We discuss his transcribing process, including the very first solo he transcribed. He shares how he collaborates with other artists, including pianists. Geoffrey reminisces about his time playing with Art Blakey and Sting, and the advice he received from Miles Davis. He shares about his practice routine, writing process, and the advice he has for young musicians.
69 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
Jazz Vocalist Kate McGarry and Guitarist Keith Ganz speak about recording What to Wear In The Dark
Jazz artist, Kate McGarry, and guitarist, Keith Ganz, have been musical and life partners for 17 years, producing 6 critically acclaimed albums together and earning two GRAMMY® nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album. After honing their craft on the NYC jazz scene for many years and a stint out west at the California Jazz Conservatory, the couple currently resides in Durham, NC. Kate and Keith join The Playful Musician to discuss their new record, eleven years in the making, What to Wear in the Dark. We chat about their writing process and the inspiration behind various tracks on the album. Kate and Keith reminisce about when they first met and first started playing together. We discuss the intricacies of several songs and how they approach each recording with intention.
99 minutes | Sep 24, 2021
James Genus - Bass Player With SNL, Herbie Hancock, Daft Punk and More!
James Genus is an American jazz bassist and currently plays in the Saturday Night Live Band. He has performed as a session musician and sideman throughout his career, with an impressive list of artists including Roy Haynes, David Sanborn, Bob James, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Wynton Marsalis. James joins the Playful Musician to chat about taking a break from touring and performing during the pandemic. He tells stories about playing with many iconic jazz musicians, including Roy Haynes and Herbie Hancock. James shares his advice for working on time plus how he approaches playing both acoustic and electric bass. We chat about playing with Jeff Watts and the Saturday Night Live Band, and James shares how he prepares for a big gig.
95 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
John Ellis - Versatile Saxophonist and Composer
John Ellis is a gifted, versatile saxophonist and composer. His music is incredibly creative and embodies the celebratory, welcoming spirit of New Orleans and the edgy, frantic streets of New York City. Both as the leader of his own eclectic projects and as sideman for a variety of artists, he consistently expresses a keen intellect and easy virtuosity. John joins The Playful Musician to discuss how he first got into playing the saxophone and his early influences. We geek out about saxophone techniques and talk about how he released multiple records during a pandemic. John shares about playing with Charlie Hunter and how a mentor and former teacher “snuck” him onto a Sting record. We chat about his time studying and playing gigs with Ellis Marsalis and what projects he currently has in the works.
99 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
Steve Owen - The Original Playful Musician! Saxophonist, Composer and Director of Jazz at University of Oregon
Steve Owen is a saxophonist, composer, and the Director of Jazz Studies at University of Oregon. He is the founder and co-director of the Oregon Jazz Festival, an annual workshop for college, junior high, and high school jazz ensembles, the University of Oregon Summer Jazz Improvisation Camp, and is on the faculty of the University of Kansas’ jazz camp. Steve is the original playful musician and was a big inspiration for this podcast. He joins The Playful Musician to chat about how music has been his playground his entire life. Steve shares about how he loves practicing and how he recently took a huge hiatus from playing the saxophone. We discuss his practice routine, writing process, and the evolution of jazz pedagogy. Steve shares his current favorite tunes, who inspires him, and about his plans for the future.
88 minutes | Aug 13, 2021
Donny McCaslin - American Saxophonist and Musician On Recording With David Bowie, His Recent Tour and His Musical Future
American jazz saxophonist, Donny McCaslin, has recorded over a dozen albums as a bandleader in addition to many sideman appearances, including on David Bowie's final studio album, Blackstar. He is a two-time Grammy nominee. His most recent album, Blow, is described as “a daring fusion of vibrant electronica, and bombastic art-rock.” Donny joins The Playful Musician to chat about his recent tour in Europe and how good it felt to play live again. He shares what it was like recording with David Bowie and how that had a tremendous impact on his artistic growth. We chat about jazz influences, learning solos by ear versus transcription, and practice routines. Donny shares the lessons he’s learned during the pandemic, including how to slow down and enjoy every moment on the stage and in life.
106 minutes | Jul 31, 2021
Tierney Sutton - 9-Time Grammy Nominee, Innovative Vocalist, Arranger, Producer and Educator
Tierney Sutton is a 9-time Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist. She has received a “Best Jazz Vocal Album” Grammy nod for every project she has released in the last decade. Known for her impeccable voice and imaginative treatments of The Great American Songbook, Sutton is heralded for her abilities as both a jazz storyteller and her ability to use her voice as an instrument. Tierney joins The Playful Musician to discuss her pandemic projects, which include creating a series of by-request videos and working on two new albums. Tierney shares about being a Bahá’í and her recent racial justice work. We chat about the making of the ScreenPlay album and how her and her band pick music for their albums. Tierney shares about working with her hero, Al Jarreau, how she prepares for performance, and what she’s most looking forward to over the next few months.
110 minutes | Jul 16, 2021
Gian Slater - Ultra Creative and Innovative Australian Composer, Teacher and Vocalist
Gian Slater is a vocalist and composer based in Melbourne, Australia. Gian is the definition of innovation. Her unique approach incorporates wordless singing and improvisation, songwriting; electronics and extended vocal techniques; new music and contemporary composition and collaborations with theatre and dance practitioners. She has released eight albums of her original music,and has featured on many projects and recordings for acclaimed Australian and American artists. Gian discusses how the pandemic prompted her to learn new technology and she shares the challenges she had learning to record herself. From her writing process to composing, we dive into the five year journey of recording her latest album, Grey is Ground. Gian shares about studying jazz in high school, her passion for teaching vocalists, and why she created the vocal ensemble, Invenio Singers. We chat about the evolution of her albums and trusting curiosity. Gian shares her advice for young composers, what she’s currently listening to, and her future performance plans.
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