Happy New Year! As you know, the beginning of 2013 brought the group an opportunity to perform at 4th Annual Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Atlanta, GA. We received a total of $2050 in donations which covered all but about $700 of the total cost of airfare and hotel. In addition, my parents covered all of the cost associated with driving the instruments to Atlanta and back. The outpouring of support and kindness by our friends and fans has been so touching. Thank you all so much for helping us make this happen. We had an absolutely incredible time at the Conference and look forward to telling you all about it.
Below is Monica Shriver’s account of the conference. Hope you enjoy! (Might want to grab an extra cup of coffee to read this one, it’s pretty long. Too much good stuff…)
I flew into Atlanta a day early (saving quite a bit of money on airfare) and stayed with friends on January 1st. It was really nice to catch up with them, relax and get a good night sleep before the conference started. I was able to check into the hotel early on the 2nd, practice, and relax before the evening concerts. My parents arrived that same day with all the instruments. The hotel was the gorgeous Hyatt Peachtree in downtown Atlanta.
They had plenty of convention center space, although many people ended up having to stay at nearby hotels. (Ask Paul about sleeping on the 32nd floor next time you see him!) That evening I stood in line for registration for about an hour, but eventually got our passes. It was pretty awesome to see my name and Doublers Collective on the pass – I was really proud.
Although there was music from 8 PM until 1:30 AM that evening, the highlight for me was definitely Rufus Reid’s “Quiet Pride”. A 23-piece big band with wordless voice performed this 5 movement work by Rufus that was written honoring the sculptures and spirit of the late Black-American artist Elizabeth Catlett. It was one of the most unique and moving pieces of music that I heard all conference. Rufus has been doing more and more composing and I really enjoy his writing.
Thursday morning I woke up early to attend clinics on Transcription and how to use it with young beginning improvisors, Jazz Funding Opportunities, and Flute technique with Jamie Baum. My favorite clinic that day, however, was a complete surprise. About a week before the conference, a person by the name of Aubrey Logan added me on Twitter. When I saw her name on a clinic description, I decided to go check it out. It was called Combining Chops with Soul, but the clinic mostly focused on stage presence and interacting with your audience. Aubrey was entertaining, funny, and straight forward. I really enjoyed what she had to say and getting the chance to meet her in person.
I also saw a lot of great music Thursday, including Kris Berg and the Metroplexity Big Band featuring friend and mentor Chris Vadala, Wayne Bergeron, and Clay Jenkins. One of the best college groups I heard was from the University of Central Florida joined by Aubrey Logan and they even had a surprise guest perform with them: one of my favorite saxophone players Antonio Hart!
My Friday morning began with a performance by a saxophone quintet out of the University of Kentucky called the Mega-Sax Ensemble, directed by a friend, Miles Osland. The last couple of songs they played featured great saxophonists, Jeff Coffin and Bob Mintzer. I also went to a clinic by Jeff Coffin about listening to early saxophone recordings, which wasn’t anything new but still fun. Actually the best part was seeing Jeff again (he was the 2011 Highland Jazz Festival Clinician) – he’s one of my favorite people. I spent most of the afternoon practicing and making sure all my reeds worked. In a square shaped hotel, I was lucky enough to end up with a far corner room, hidden down a hallway with only one neighbor. We soon found out that we could practice without being heard at all – so everyone practiced in my room! All of my reeds worked great except for my tenor reeds. I tried every single one and none of them sounded good. I ended up heading down to the exhibits to see if I could pick up some reeds from the Vandoren booth. They gave me 3 for free! Totally saved me too, because one of them ended up being the perfect reed!
Friday evening was the LeJENds Fundraising Gala, honoring the two great educators David Leibman and Rufus Reid. It was a really nice event and great to talk to some people who I wouldn’t have had a chance to talk with otherwise. I ran into a friend that I met the previous year, and he introduced me to a bunch of new people. I also enjoyed a really fancy dinner and great conversation with the people at my table.
After the Gala was the evening concerts. The highlight was hands down, the Army Blues performing with Wycliff Gordon. I knew many of the guys in the Army Blues from hearing Alan Baylock’s Big Band the previous 2 years, too. Man, that band sounded incredible! I was completely blown away. What I also couldn’t believe was that in less that 14 hours from that point, the rhythm section from the Army Blues would be playing with Doublers Collective. I was so excited!! Following the Army Blues performance, Mike and I headed down the street to a local jazz club to hear the Western Michigan University Jazz Quartet. Unfortunately, we had to sit in the back and couldn’t hear much. We called it an early night (1 AM!) and tried to get some sleep before the performance the next day.
Saturday was performance day. Mike and I got breakfast together at 9 AM and then around 10 grabbed all of our stuff and started getting ready. We were scheduled to do a sound check at 11:15, but luckily nothing was schedule in our performance room, so we snuck into the hall early to get everything set up. (It takes a long time to set up 24 different horns and then warm-up them all.) Around 11 the rhythm section showed up and we did a run through and sound check with them. Before we knew it, it was performance time.
We played 5 tunes for our performance – Stompin’ at the Savoy, Homer Takes a Holiday, Tempis Fugit (Alan Baylock’s new arrangement for us), Quiet Now, and In a Joyful Mood (in memory of James Moody). It went really well. The rhythm section from the Army Blues sounded amazing! Locking up with them was effortless. I’m still blown away by them – sharing the stage with Steve Fidyk, Regan Brough, and Tony Nalker was one of the highlights of my musical life. Incredible players and fabulous people, too. I sincerely hope I get the opportunity to do it again.
We had a really great response from our performance – tons of positive feedback! It was really cool being able to perform for people outside of Arizona and we were able to reach fans, other musicians, club owners, grant providers, university professors, and composers! It was wonderful getting the opportunity to network with so many people during the entire conference!
Although, so many great things came from attending and performing at the JEN Conference, here are a few of the highlights:
1) Michael Abene (who has agreed to write a piece for us) told me that he was so glad we were there so that he could hear us in person. His plan is to write us an original piece featuring the five of us without a rhythm section. Hearing us live really inspired him!
2) Harry Schnipper, the owner of Blues Alley in Washington DC, loved the group and said we have a place to play when we make it to DC. The rhythm section from the Army Blues also agreed to play with us again.
3) One of my friends works in the marketing department at Alfred Publishing. She has offered to help me with any questions I have about marketing and Doublers Collective.
4) In addition to the clinics and music, I also got to hang out with and listen to some amazing musicians and educators, including Dave Liebman, Rufus Reid, Antonio Hart, John Patitucci, Jeff Coffin, Wayne Bergeron, Wycliff Gordon, John Clayton, Gordon Goodwin, Caleb Chapman, and many others. Although I was running around pretty much all day long, there was so much that I missed due to so many events happening all at once.
As a bonus, here’s a nice blog post written about us by a new fan: http://www.stevemoffett.biz/1/
Sadly, I didn’t get a lot of pictures, I really need someone to follow me around with a camera! But the ones I did take can be found at http://www.doublerscollective.
If you are on Twitter you can search #JEN13 and read all the tweets by everyone from the conference.
The entire performance was professionally recorded by The Rush Stage and can be viewed by purchasing a pass (which enables you to view everything that was recorded at the entire conference) or just purchasing Doublers Collective’s performance. Here’s that link if you’d like more info: http://jensales.therushstage.
Thanks again for all your support of Doublers Collective – for donating, for attending our performances, and for helping to spread the word about us. We couldn’t do it without you!
Founder and Director of Doublers Collective