The leaves on the maple tree outside my practice room window are finally starting to turn red. They have remained green for weeks longer than usual. The unseasonably warm weather has softened summer’s seemingly sudden end.
I hope this email finds you happily engaged in your life and work and that you find yourselves able to commit your attention to it all with your full mind and heart. I think we all sense that in these times of deep distraction – that our ability to be able to stay focused (and relaxed) is essential to finding our balance, to feeling grateful and to being whole and strong, and may very well be the key to tapping our ability to offer ourselves to our world.
At the New England Conservatory where I teach, the students seem particularly motivated and energetic and focused this year. Besides teaching private students and coaching a weekly jazz ensemble, I make available four hours each week of office hours/open-studio, a time for students to come in and play with me. There are two 7-foot Steinway grand pianos in the wonderful room on the third floor of the Jordan Hall building where I teach. And every single week all four hours are scheduled up and busy. Horn players, pianists, bassists all come in to play and talk, learn, and explore.
I am also taking a graduate-level course this semester on the complex and evocative and off-kilter music of Thelonious Monk. It is taught by Ken Schaphorst, the chairman of the Jazz Studies department. As a result I have been learning many new ways to approach writing and playing music, as well as learning a bunch of great Monk tunes.
Still – maybe because of all the other things going on in our world that seem off-kilter, I find it comforting to know that things still follow the laws of cause and effect. Though conditions may be too complicated for us to understand all the causes and effects, the truth of the web of inter-dependence can help ground us. Knowing that each thing we do, each thing everybody does, ripples out into the world and gives rise to the next thing and the next. Everything.
These seasonal news letters ripple out into the world as well. In fact, many of you have reassured me that this is an essential part of what I need to do as a musician making my way in Boston – I need to let you know where I am playing and when. So here goes….
There are two gigs every month that I enthusiastically want to make sure you are aware of. For the past two years, we four musician friends, Hery Paz – tenor saxophone, Max Ridley – upright bass, Dor Herskovits – drums, and me – piano, have been playing a set of music at the Lilypad in Cambridge on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm. And at Spice in Ipswich on the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm.
Our music keeps growing and changing and it is very clear to me that we are bringing a heart-felt open-minded sensibility to our collective improvisation: where our listening is at least as important as what we each play. There is a lot of energy and excitement in the music that we play – a lot of it written by me, but its spontaneous heart arises from this deep listening.
Many of you have come by to hear us. Many of you have not. You can hear a little bit of what we sound like – a song I wrote taken from our CD “Tetraptych” released last spring. By clicking on this link, your browser will open to the correct page on my web site.
My website also includes my schedule, and blog, discography and videos. I hope you will poke around on the web site and that you will find it interesting and beautiful. www.bertseager.com And then I hope that you will find a “first Wednesday” in Cambridge at the Lilypad — Wednesday, November 1, December 6, January 3, etc. — and that you will mark your calendar with one of those dates to come out and hear us.
Or a “first Thursday” at Spice in Ipswich: Thursday, November 2, December 7, January 4, etc.
I remain so grateful for your interest and support and friendship and know, as I am sure you do too, that we are very lucky to be alive at this very moment. —— And this one too!