5 Things I Think I Think

Just some random thoughts that I wanted to share with you for 2017 and beyond.

•Idk what the best album of the year is so far

Five months into the year and I feel that we have had a lot of high quality releases without many that stand out above the rest. I mean this in the best way possible. Plenty of really good albums out there but no clear cut favorite for me.


•Music has been good this year, but not as good as last year


I’ve enjoyed this year’s releases very much, but I feel that last year was a bit stronger. The year is still young and I haven’t fully dived into my “Best of the year so far” blog so maybe after more research I will have a different perspective, but for now 206 is beating 2017.


•I’m going to go to more summer concerts


Overall I always want to improve as a performer, writer, and a fan of music. That means going to more performances. I’m certain I will be attending more concerts this summer. Some local concerts I’m looking forward to are Grant Park Music Festival, Blues Fest, Jazz fest, and Ear Taxi to name a few. How about you?
•I’m going to see all Big 5 orchestras


This is kind of a 2017/18 goal but I want to see all Big 5 orchestras CSO, Cleveland Institute, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra. Hopefully I can get started this fall and finish by next spring.
•The Jazz Loops Day are numbered


I’ve loved writing for the Jazz Loop. It’s helped me so much as a writer, as a musician, and as a fan of jazz music. Now that my career is well underway I find myself spending all my time teaching, performing, and recording. This is all fantastic, but squeezing in time to write for The Jazz Loop is getting harder and harder and with my other website needing constant articles as well I think it’s time I fully focus on my career and let The Jazz Loop go. This saddens me a bit as a have so much fun doing this, but I think it’s time. Still, don’t worry I will keep blogging for the rest of 2017 and re-evaluate the situation going on to 2018. I will give all of you an update as soon as I’m certain.
That’s it for today’s blog. Any thoughts on your mind on the Jazz scene? Any concerts or events your looking forward to for 2017? Worried about The Jazz Loop ending? Let me know in the comments below.

Nine For Nine Project Explained


My latest project Nine For Nine has officially begun! I’m so excited to share all of this new music with you. To be brief, Nine For Nine is a project where I will be releasing a new track every 2nd Monday of the month from now until the end of the year. So by the end of 2017 there will be 9 tracks released in the last 9 months of the year, hence the name Nine for Nine. Today I officially launch the project with a solo piano performance of the jazz standard “Maiden Voyage”. Below I shared some of my thoughts about why I chose this tune and what it means to me.

Herbie Hancock’s influence on me has been tremendous. As a musician from Chicago he has constantly been a source of inspiration and motivation. The first album I ever heard Hancock on was The Best of Herbie Hancock: The Blue Note Years. Immediately songs like “Watermelon Man” and “Maiden Voyage” became the benchmark for what I was aiming to be. After that I purchased An Evening of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, that album was so good I almost quit playing the piano altogether. I remember thinking “They’ve done everything there is to do on the piano, I can never achieve that virtuosity so why keep playing?”

I kept playing. And the more I listened to Hancock the deeper my appreciation for him grew. Whether he was doing straight ahead jazz on albums such as Empyrean Isle, pushing the definition of jazz on Bitches Brew, or playing a pop record with Christian Aguilera. Hancock always made an impact and added his voice to a project. Now I’m channeling Hancock to add my voice and make an impact on this project.
So without further to do, here is my Maiden Voyage (horrible pun intended) the very first tune of the Nine For Nine project, “Maiden Voyage”. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this, and I hope you find as much inspiration from Herbie Hancock as I have.

Similarities between Jazz and Baseball

The baseball season is just underway and I’m so excited about watching my Chicago Cubs defend their World Series Title. As usual I try to relate everything to music, everything to jazz, and after thinking about it, I found quite a lot of similarities with Jazz and Baseball and I’d like to share some of them with you.

Pace of Action


Many people who are not baseball fans argue the game is too slow, takes too long, and there is not enough action. Jazz has similar complaints. Some people feel they can’t connect with the music without a voice, ballads are slow and boring, and there isn’t as much energy in the music as there is in say a rock or hip hip concert. Of course fans of both will tell you there can be a learning curve, but if you stick it out the nuances of baseball and jazz become the most enjoyable parts of the experience. Also the beer is fantastic.

Use To Be National Pastime


A not so positive similarity. Both baseball and jazz use to be the most dominant entertainment products this nation had. However, baseball fell behind basketball in the 90s and then Football in the early 00s. Jazz had an even briefer time at the top. As rock took over mainstream music in the 70s followed by hip hop in the 90s. While both baseball and jazz will probably never be as popular as they once were. The hardcore fanbases ensure us that they are here to stay.



I’m more worried about the future of jazz then the future of baseball. Baseball has been able to get very lucrative local tv deals so while the sport may not be dominant on a national level it is extremely healthy on a local and financial level. Calling jazz healthy at any level is hard to do. I’m confident the music will continue to grow, evolve, and find a place in society as a respected art form, but without financially backing, ultimately musicians and the art they create suffers. Let’s hope jazz follows in baseballs footsteps and finds ways to have a nice local scene and a profitable business so we can enjoy the music for years to come.

Free Jazz Concerts in Chicago 

We have to support the arts if we want them to survive. I know a lot of college students and musicians who want to support the arts, but financially it can be expensive. So I’ve created a list of venues and dates where you can watch a show for little to no money. Hope this helps anyone who wants to support music, but has a tight budget. 

Jazz Showcase

I love the Jazz Showcase so much. So many great performances happen here from local legends to well known acts. If you just want to hear live music every month there are at least a couple of free performances which are usually sponsored by WDCB. Even when there is a cover charge it’s usually 5-15 dollars and even cheaper if you have a student ID. Check them out. 

Green Mill

The Green Mill is usually a little more expensive than the Jazz Showcase, but they also have more consistent free shows. On Thursday’s from 5:30-8:00pm you can check out Andy Brown’s Guitar Cocktail Hour Show, Friday’s feature “The Flipside Show” from 5:30-8:00 pm, and early Saturday morning (after 2am) the Sabertooth Organ Quartet is free. So the Green Mill offers perhaps the most diverse and consistent options for listening to live music for free. 

Other Options

Many other jazz venues have free to very affordable options that are also worth considering. The Whistler has a lot of shows that are free and many feature jazz fusion. Places like Emporium Arcade Bar and Winter’s Jazz Club also have free shows from time to time. They don’t have them as regularly as the other venues, but it’s definitely worth checking out the calendar.

There is no excuse to not listen to live music in Chicago. Even if your budget is tight, there are a multitude of options where you can support your favorite musicians for little to no money. While attending these performance I do advise you to at least buy a drink or two. If you didn’t spend any money getting in please consider buying AND TIPPING your waiter/ waitress. Having a good turnout and a happy staff is a major key for musicians. Even if the turnout is low having a lot of alcoholic beverages sold and a pleasant crowd means the band is more likely to get a call to come back again. If the audience is rowdy and cheap when the manager asks the staff how last night was they will be sure to tell them. So please support the arts, go to a live show, buy a beer, and tip your servers. 

Desert Island Albums 

Stranded on a desert island what five albums would you bring with you? I do a lot of listening to music and approach music from so many different angles, but the idea of what would make a good desert island album never crossed my mind. It would have to be an album that I could listen to forever without getting sick of, it would have to have a diverse set of tunes, and do something the other 4 selections don’t. I didn’t really put any restrictions on myself when thinking of a desert Island album other than no cheating with box sets and things of that nature. So without further ado here is my list of Desert Island Albums in no particular order

John Coltrane- Giant Steps 


I knew Coltrane would be on this list I just wasn’t sure which album. I picked Giant Steps because it has so many classic tunes on it; the title track, “Naima”, “Countdown”, “Mr P.C” and one of my personal favorites, “Syeeda’s Song Flute”. Not even my favorite Coltrane album, but more on that later.

Charles Mingus – Ah Um 


I chose this album primarily because of its variety of music. With tributes to Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, ballads like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”, and the soulful opener “Better Git In Your Soul”, this album is a brief history of Jazz music. On a desert island this album would feed that desire of hearing different types of jazz music while still being able to listen to a cohesive record.


John Coltrane- A Love Supreme 


This album changed my life. I wouldn’t be a jazz musician if it wasn’t for this album. The minute I heard “Resolution” was the first time I heard real jazz. It left me speechless, and opened up a whole new world to me. On a desert island this seminal album would remind me of why I love jazz in the first place.


Miles Davis – Kind of Blue


Another classic and one of the first jazz albums I loved. This album has been a constant in my life. I go through good stretches where I’m either listening to it on a daily basis or I end up having to play or teach tunes from this album. Can’t imagine not having this in my life or on an island.


Robert Glasper- In My Element 


This isn’t even my favorite Glasper album, but I feel like I would need to have some Glasper in my life. I love the progress Glasper represents for Jazz and music in general. My favorite album from Glasper is either Black Radio 1 or 2, but I love his Trio work so I’d take In My Element on the desert island and be just fine.

What albums would you take with you on a desert island? Would love to hear which albums you’d take that I didn’t and why. Leave a comment below or message me your desert island albums.

Continue reading “Desert Island Albums “

Jazz Loop Update

The Jazz Loop officially turned 4 on Sunday and I’m so thrilled this blog has been running for so long. Writing these posts and interacting with all of you online and in person has truly been a joy. Now as we begin a new year on The Jazz Loop, I’ve made some adjustments to the site.

First is the look. I always make yearly changes to the aesthetics of the website and this year is no exception. Hopefully you find the new look clean and improved. All previous categories are staying and operating as they have in the past year. The only exception is First Listen which should be much more consistent as I will be live tweeting my First Listen of an album on the first Monday of each month. A blog post on the experience and my overall views of the album will be posted shortly after. Follow me on Twitter here to be part of the experience.

Things are always subject to change on the Jazz Loop. I might change the site if I find I find a better theme, a category might be redone if it proves ineffective, and new categories can be introduced. The adjustments made this year are minor, but will hopefully improve the site and improve your experience reading it. Can’t wait to see how this site will grow, and can’t wait to talk to all of you about all things Jazz in 2017.

100 blog posts. Thank you! 

Wow we have just broken past 100 blog posts for the Jazz Loop! Amazing that this milestone was reached just as 2016 drew to a close. When I started this site back in 2013 I really just wanted to reach out to my fellow jazz heads and discuss different topics in the genre and the music industry as a whole. It’s been an amazing 3 plus years and I’m just as dedicated as ever before to bringing you the best content I possibly can. I’ll have a thorough Jazz Loop update later in the month where the website will be revamped and I’ll go in depth on what I have planned for 2017. 
 I’m exited (musically) for this year. I feel I’m ready to bring you more posts than ever before, some of my personal artistic projects are going to be released this year, and being officially done with undergrad, I’m pumped to fully immerse myself in all my works. 

So for now I just want to say thank you. Thank you for those of you that supported this site from the beginning, and thank you to those of you who just began reading The Jazz Loop. Without your comments and views I’m just a madman yelling about jazz. So let’s kick off 2017 and post 101 with positive energy and optimism for the future! 

A Couple Blogs I Got Wrong


With the anniversary of this blog a couple months away and nearing my 100th blog, I’m getting a bit sentimental. Writing this blog has become a joy in my life and I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve ever read it. But before we get all mushy and teary eyed I thought we could look at a couple bloopers I’ve had since writing The Jazz Loop. So without further to do here are a couple blogs I got wrong.
Jazz Loop Updated:
I do a Jazz Loop Update nearly every year. Year by year I make adjustments to this blog whether it’s a background change or a new category. Last year I made some dramatic changes to this website which I addressed on the blog post JAZZ LOOP UPDATED. One of my errors was creating the Category CHICAGO JAZZ ARTISTS SPOTLIGHT. It’s not that the category was a bad idea, it’s just that month after month I ignored the category. We are now entering the final
Month of the year and I have 0 blog post on this category. One of the issues is since I am a Jazz musician in Chicago I feel like I have a bias to essentially every musician here. Haven’t figure out a solution on how to use this category without it just feeling like a promotional tool. If I don’t figure it out by the end of the year it will be taken down for 2017.

Save the CD
I really dropped the ball on this one. I have awful lines here such as “Streaming music as your primary way of listening to music will have dangerous consequences” and “This decline in album releases will result in a stunting of creativity in then jazz community.” On the first quote I no longer agree with. Yes, I understand the consequences of streaming, but saying it has “dangerous consequences” is dramatic and I provide no evidence. Speaking of no evidence “decline in album releases”  has no evidence whatsoever. I just make up these theories and don’t back it up with actual data. For the record I still want to “Save the CD”, but I’m not as anti-streaming now as I was then and I didn’t make a compelling argument for the CD on this. post. https://thejazzloop.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/saving-the-cd/

Thankfully I’m pretty happy with the vast majority of my blogs. Still, it’s good to criticizes yourself, try to get better, and even laugh at your past mistakes. I had a blast writing this one, but hopefully I won’t have to write another blog like this one anytime soon. What are your thoughts? Any blog posts from the past you think deserved to be here? Place the comments below.

Stop playing for other musicians and play for the crowd.

I went to one of my friends’ gigs the other day where they played some pop music at a bar. The place was packed and the crowd was really into the music, the room was vibrant. Still, as a musician, I was listening intently and did hear some errors, moments, of hesitation, and overall sloppiness. As I stood there looking at the subtle things that weren’t quiet as sharp as one would hope, I thought… So what?

I’m not sure of how many musicians were at this performance and how many were listening as intensely as I was, but when I looked around the room, I saw the joy on people’s faces, singing the songs, begging for more, I realized that it doesn’t really matter what I think. Who cares if the musician in me was noticing the imperfections? I was less than 1% of the audience, they weren’t playing for me they were playing for a room of 150 people and at the end of the day, everyone had a great time, the gig was a success, and they will undoubtedly be called back again. So what if I noticed these errors, music is to be enjoyed and if it was then that’s really the point right?

Of course as a musician we need to worry about these issues. It’s our goal to be perfect to have an error free performance even if that’s subjective and impossible. However, many times we are so focused on that goal that we forget about the objective, which is to have people enjoy our music. Often after a performance, we are just bitter. That solo sucked, I missed that one chord, the ending was a bit sloppy, etc. We need to stop feeding into this mentality so much. Yes it’s important to work on our craft and improve,  but can we do so while still celebrating our accomplishments? Can we smile after a performance and say “Hey good job, that was fun!” Can we stop putting ourselves down when we should be our own biggest fans?

If you, my fellow musician, take anything away from this let it be this. Stop obsessing over your performance. The audience doesn’t care. As long as your swinging, rocking, or grooving, that’s all that matters. Can things have gone better? Of course. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But only a small number of the actual crowd noticed or even cared. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the stage, stop playing for musicians and start playing for the crowd.