Monday, May 08, 2006
Birthdays, travel, stock-taking
May has been quite action-packed so far. Got a generous last-minute no-way-you're-gonna-refuse sort of invitation to spend Daphne's birthday up in Portland, Oregon, courtesy of some of our oldest and dearest LA friends, Sarah Shute and Matt Smith. (Sarah took the above photo of my little familial unit waiting to board Portland's efficient-as-hell public transportation system. Looks sunny, right? We got caught in a beautiful rainstorm not two hours later. It was great fun.)
While in Portland, we watched the kids play in the yard (which was deliberately full of clover), drank way too much (apparently, Sarah and I are bad influences on one another in that department), ate some amazing food, and just took a break from the rat / crack race that is LA. Oh, yeah, and Daphne and I got the hard sell ("move! move!"), which included being driven around to several cozy, artsy, urban-yet-livable neighborhoods, and being flabbergasted at how affordable they are.
It's a bit overwhelming, now that LA is putting the screws to me and the wife both artistically and financially (oh, did I mention that I'll be leaving the IML in June? It's good riddance, really (sometime I'll tell you about it), but you know how nice it is to have a steady income). I'm painfully aware that we have to do something about the situation (though I don't want to be an alarmist); I'm just not sure what. I especially don't want to lose the network of musicians who have collected around the IJG; we've come too far for me to just throw that away and start from scratch elsewhere. It's no secret: I love those guys. So I'm thinking that if and when we do leave, it should be to go to a place where I can remotely maintain the group as an LA ensemble. Portland might be too far for that scheme (though perhaps not). The SF Bay area, on the other hand, might be just what we're looking for...
It's all too early to tell at this point.
Anyway, that was the first week or so of May. Got back on the 4th, played an IJG quintet gig at Club Metropol on the 5th (opening up for wicked cool east coasters Gutbucket), and now we're getting ready to head out to Chicago for another week or so; we'll be celebrating Thandie's second birthday there (did I ever tell you that all the women in my life were born in May?).
The quintet gig was fun, by the way. We had a few less people at that show than at the Barnsdall debacle two weeks back, but it didn't matter because the space was (a lot) smaller, and the vibe much more casual. I do love playing the quintet music (it's certainly more sedate and subtle and jazz-like than the big band), but somehow I don't think it's as, well, compelling. The big band sticks out like a sore thumb: a point of pride with me. It may not be for everyone, but it's different and unique, and I'm crazy proud of it. The quintet probably isn't so far removed from other jazz things that are happening these days. But it's (obviously) far easier to maintain. Ah, this fucking business.
It was a thrill to play with Gutbucket, by the way (you can get some of my take on them in an AAJ article I wrote about their first appearance in LA a little over a year ago). With all the struggling the IJG has been doing of late, it's comforting to know that there is a similarly "non-commercial" group a few steps ahead of us, and actually surviving at it. We can learn a lot from them, and I sure intend to.