First Day: More Expressive than the Average Jazz Album
Posted on September 30, 2011
This is the press release I am sending out with my CD. I hope it is professional, and compelling enough to turn a couple heads at least. Since I do not really have any press going for me right now, I am not sure what to expect, but you can bet that in the future I will be doing much more of this kind of thing, so this is good practice for me if nothing else. Feel free to point out typos, syntax errors, or just anything that could be made better.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Roger Kim
FIRST DAY: MORE EXPRESSIVE THAN THE AVERAGE JAZZ ALBUM
Roger Kim’s upcoming album First Day is a direct result of his composition thesis at UC Berkeley, but it sounds anything but academic. By building up expectations using melody, harmony, rhythm, texture or form, and then either thwarting or satisfying those expectations, the music emulates a range of human feelings on a deeper level than is possible with words.
Featuring improvising musicians, Forrest Riege on alto saxophone, Benny Amon on the drumset, and Roger Kim on guitar, each of the five compositions serves as a vehicle for the trio to collectively express thoughtfulness, excitement, joyful delirium, sadness and tenderness, and the range of emotions in between.
Forrest’s singing alto converses with the listener with these thoughts in mind as much as it reacts to Benny’s tastefully interjective drumming. These interactions play out almost telepathically over Roger’s guitar playing, which simultaneously defines the texture, and harmony of the soundscape. Combined, this trio brings together all of the interplay and spontaneity of the best jazz playing with an overwhelmingly humanistic quality.
First Day is set to be released on Tuesday October 18th. It will be available through CDBaby and on iTunes. Roger Kim will be playing at Vessel Gallery in Oakland at 2:30 pm and Momi Tobys in San Francisco at 8pm to celebrate the release of the album.
If you would like more information, or would like to contact Roger Kim, you can do so directly at (510)-557-4047 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictures and more information can be found at http://rogerkimmusic.com
Posted on September 28, 2011
The Cd’s arrived!
I am resetting the “Official Release Date” to be the 18th of October. Hans Wendl, whom I work for, and whom I like to consider a friend, gave me some tips on how to reach out to reviewers and jazz DJ’s and what not, and Tuesday is the day to officially release something. All of this is kind of smoke and clouds hullaballoo to me, but who am I to argue?
Upcoming events for the CD release include CD release party edition of my regular gig at Vessel gallery on Oct 15, and The CD release party edition of my regular gig at Momi Tobys on Oct 16. Word has it that alto saxophonist Forrest Riege, from my original CD band will be playing at these gigs.
Anyway I am crazy busy doing all the work to mail out cds, grabbing addresses, writing on envelopes, making sure everyone gets their rewards. Then I have to reach out to the leads Hans gave me. In the meantime I am seeing concerts, going to jam sessions (did I mention that I got to play with Mark Levine?) and doing gigs. And also doing work for Hans, who unfortunately, is in the middle of a website crisis.
Funny… I always feel like life is not going fast enough, but when I write it out I wonder how I can keep up.
Posted on September 23, 2011
Thank you everyone who has contributed to my Kickstarter. I will say that it was a resounding success, reaching 100% of the goal in three days, and then ultimately reaching 150% of my total goal. The extra money will definitely be helpful, as there are some costs that I failed to consider (such as packaging, mailing, sales tax, and the 10% cut that Amazon and Kickstarter get). Bottom line: I get to print 1000 discs of what is my best work to date to use as a demo, promotion when I gig, and a little piece of merch to sell to unsuspecting listeners who think they will be buying my arrangements of standards.
The “official” album release I am tentatively planning to have around Oct 15th. At this point anyone will be able to buy my cd off CDBaby and iTunes and Amazon, whichever they prefer. I am not really sure how hard I should try to push to media and do publicity. I really want to just for the heck of it, to see if I can get a response and for the experience, but I am a little at a loss of whom to contact and how I should go about it. Well, at least the cd is new, and it will be for a while, so we’ll see how I can spin things over the coming months. Maybe I should push back the “official” release.
Anyway, the artwork is done, the physical CD is being printed (estimated to be done on Tuesday). It has been an interesting ride so far, and I can only hope that it keeps going somewhere.
Upcoming Concerts include Vessel Gallery this Saturday in Oakland, and my biweekly on Sunday Oct 2nd at Momi Tobys. Both are really great supportive places to play, where I really am comfortable and not limited in what music I feel I should play, so do come check them out.
In the meantime, check out some video from my last gig. Arrangements of “My Funny Valentine” and “The Days of Wine and Roses” that I have been working on for a while.
Brian Blade May Very Well Have Changed My Life
Posted on September 21, 2011
I went to see Brian Blade last Thursday, taking advantage of a special online offer (I saved $1 off of what I would have paid by going to the box office:) to see the late set. In order to describe how I felt about the show, I will say that I ended up coming back on Friday to watch both sets (saving money be damned).
I am not sure if I have it in me to write a straight up review of the shows, but I do want to write out how it affected, if only for my own sake.
I remember being impressed with the Fellowship band’s very unique blend, how the horns worked as a unit, how the bass and drums worked as a unit, and how John Cowherd on piano was barely perceptible due to being low in the mix, but still held everything together. Blade’s drumming, a hundred percent finesse also impressed me as usual. Just the whole combination of musicianship, empathetic playing, and the powerful concept of the band was more than enough to satisfy the “jazzhole” in me.
Around two thirds of the way into that first set, however, I ceased to think of those things.
At this point, the music took over an paralyzed something inside me. I definitely felt it reaching into my body and tugging at feelings so pure that my casual writing skills cannot do them justice. I lost the ability to clap, even if I was loving every moment of the piece, because it somehow felt inappropriate. It may have been melodramatic, but I was not sure how to react to something that was focusing me solely on the moment, transcending all of my worldly connections.
I daresay that this must be what Archbishop Franzo King felt when he first saw John Coltrane, and was inspired to found the Coltrane Church. His term “Sound Baptism” duly denotes the true power that music can have when it reaches you in just the right way. At this point of the concert it did not matter what I was mentally noting to write down later to post on the web, or what rhythms I was tapping out to practice with a metronome when I got home. I left the club in a state of incredulous euphoria, and fairly quickly convinced myself that I could not miss the next two performances if I had even a small chance of experiencing what I had just experienced again.
Thinking back, it is not hard for me to believe that these kinds of experiences are what I should devote my life to. I suppose that I am at an impressionable time in my life, and am predisposed to romantic sentiments. On the other hand, what else could possibly seem relevant when you realize that making the art that you care about truly has the power to push someone over the edge?
The Japantown Jazz Festival: A Celebration of Asian American Jazz
Posted on September 13, 2011
On Saturday I caught an Asian American Jazz Festival in the peace plaza in Japan Town.
I was excited about being able to see 6 straight hours of music in one place just a few blocks from my apartment, but I did not realize just quite what it would mean for me. I was not expecting a whole lot, it was less of a festival than a bill of a few groups throughout the day. It was definitely not the same as going to Monterey or being able to afford all SFJazz’s winter season, but it was definitely more live music at one time than I had ever consumed before.
Having all that at once helped me see what it is that draws me to one group of musicians over another. It is definitely how well they play together, and it is not only the level of musicianship that shows, but also how much a group has connected over time. I am sure chemistry is another factor, but that is not really something you can talk about, except to say that: it is there.
Gen Ryu Taiko played a few pieces first. I do not know much about taiko, but I hope that this is the beginning of my education because sitting down and really listening opened my ears. There is something very melodic in the way the drums come together, and learning that new taiko pieces are still being made (one piece written in the seventies had a very Steve Reich-ian rotating rhythm) has peaked my interest.
Karl Evangelista and Francis Wong
The Francis Wong unit came on next.
What struck me first was Wong’s tone. His tenor sax reminded me very much of Pharoah Sanders in it persistent and cutting, yet powerful and smooth reedy quality. Then his playing, with its flurry of multiphonics, false fingerings, and trilling ornaments recalled Sanders as well. Yet throughout he was able to maintain a sense of melody that I do not usually associate with this style of playing. And the audience just ate it up.
Wong’s setlist consisted of some great originals and a few standards. I really appreciated his willingness to allow solos to unfold over a single chord for almost half of the tunes (including Naima, though I missed the rich harmonies in that instance). His ability to add energy and rich harmonic landscapes really came through in the mix of modal, straight ahead, and modern approaches.
The rest of the band included Karl Evangelista on guitar, John Carlos Perea on bass, and Karen Stackpole on drums. Individually they had much to contribute: each had at least one cadenza somewhere throughout the set, but I felt they left something to be desired in terms of the cohesiveness of the entire group. It may be my bias as a jazz-centric musician (they were definitely rockers, as evidenced by the last tune of the set, which may as well have been the Karl Evangelista power rock trio really blowing things over the top (in a good way)), but their playing together felt weak compared to Wong’s and when Wong laid out, there seemed not to be a consistency in feel.
Bob Kenmotsu’s group came on next, and satisfied my craving for a super tight straight-ahead jazz group.
Kenmotsu’s tone, also on tenor sax, was very much in the way of Lester Young in its clarity. The stark contrast between two players on the same instrument shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did. His playing was glassy smooth as well, but cutting in his lightening fast accuracy and command over bebop and post bebop syntax.
The band this time, really stood up to Kenmotsu’s stature (he appears on records with Pat Martino, and Jack Mcduff). Hall of famer Vince Laureano (sp) on drums, Adam Gay on bass, and Bob Brumbloe on guitar masterfully backed up Kenmotsu on a mix of standards and originals. It will not suffice to say that they played on a level that I expect to see at Yoshi’s (the real one in Oakland) with their ability to play together with poise. The communication within the group was so solid that one did not notice it, and for the most part, each of the solos played off of the last and worked to advance the architecture of each piece as it was performed.
Anthony Brown, Masaru Koga, Janet Koika
Anthony Brown’s Asian American Jazz orchestra crowned the afternoon.
Here was a group that not only had great musicians, but had great musicians who obviously had a lot of experience playing together and were united by a strong concept or identity of what the group was.
Each of the pieces strongly evoked a piece of Asian history or imagery, often shifting from one frame of reference to another, effortlessly creating settings with a shift in texture, dynamic and pace. Hearing these pieces unfold, is the aural equivalent of watching river develop backwards. The flow is liquid and natural, but instead of trickling down from a mountain and turning into a rapids before slowing into a placid meandering river in wide banks; I imagined that the atmospheric expositions to be a placid lake that birthed a river that gradually increases in tempestuousness before being released into the ocean.
Masaru Koga’s wind playing (switching from soprano and tenor saxes to shakuhachi to flute to flute with a shakuhachi head joint) traded with Brown on drums, in leading these musical journeys. Their dynamic interplay demonstrated a united effort in achieving the loosely programmatic nature of the compositions, over Mark Izu’s tone setting basslines. Janet Koika and Yumi Ishihawa (sp) on taiko drums really acted in conjunction with Brown’s set playing, as if the trio were really just playing a single instrument.
Overall the whole day was a treat for me. There was not a bad group on the bill, and I learned a lot (for free). As a musician trying to choose between practicing, attending shows, doing promotions, staying healthy and paying rent, it can be hard to manage time, but I have to say: Six hours well spend.