Lessons and Synths
Yesterday, I had my first lesson with Vardan Ovsepian since January. This past Wednesday, he premiered his new piece for chamber ensemble entitled "Clockwork," in 6 movements at the Blue Whale. It featured some of the best players in town including Artyom Manukyan (cello), Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (viola), Nick Mancini (vibes), and Tatiana Parra (voice). I made arrangements to start lessons again at the close of the concert.

I schedule my lessons on the same days that I have work in LA, so I can avoid making unnecessary long trips. In our lessons, I ask about practice techniques and how to develop my own exercises that will broaden my language for improvisation. We work through challenging motifs in a diatonic scale, which I am asked to transpose (also diatonically) according to some intervalic pattern. Later, I have to work on transposing the motif chromatically according to the pattern. One of the things I get out of working through those exercises is a feeling of conquering new territory on my instrument. Being forced to work in any key transposing small patterns unlocks doorways to new grounds in my improvisations. I bring staff paper and take notes studiously, not wanting to forget any valuable advise for practicing and performing. At the end of the lesson, we worked through a chart I was preparing for my gig with the trio. It was Robert Glasper's "Jelly's Da Beener."

Speaking of the gig, the trio was united again since January and played very well Saturday night. I prepared new arrangements for everybody, and even went as far as to buy binders for all, print the charts, and enclose them in plastic sheet protectors. I even made a folder for our singer, Michael Sinatra, with pages of lyrics for his charts, with notes about the form and key of his tunes. Being prepared means not having to worry about your group getting lost in a tune, or someone missing the chart in the correct key. It means we can focus on making good music.

Recently I upgraded to Logic Pro X for work, and the new synths are spectacular. Now I am working not only with Ableton (which has two built-in fully-customizable synths in addition to dozens of presets), but with Logic Pro X (which has eight built-in fully-customizable synths in addition to hundreds of presets). On top of that, I'm getting Sylenth soon. I am very excited to start creating so many custom sounds with so many synths.