New recording - "Romance, Swing, and the Blues" - with Marcus Roberts and his new band, the Modern Jazz Generation.
I am getting ready to take on my biggest independent recording project yet and I am very excited about it. Since it’s a big project, we are reaching out to you through Kickstarter to help us make it possible.
Those of you who know me know that I love having a stable band. Jason Marsalis has been the drummer in my trio since 1994 and Rodney Jordan has been here with us on bass for four years now. I can’t think of two people I’d rather have with me on the stage every night than these two. We’ve had a lot of good times out there on the road. But I digress…
We have a new band!
And we are calling it the “Modern Jazz Generation”. Hope you like the name. We’ve been tossing different names around for a while but this is the one that stuck – and it’s really growing on me. I like having “modern” in the name because I believe that all great jazz is modern jazz – whatever the age of piece, we make it “modern” (relevant to our own time in history) when we play it. Of course we wanted “jazz” in the name because that’s what we do. And finally, we have three “generations” of musicians in this band. So there you have it – the “Modern Jazz Generation”.
The thing that I really like about this new band is that we cover an age span of more 30 years. In addition to Rodney and Jason, I get to play with some of my favorite musicians, guys that started out with me long ago, like Ron Westray, Marcus Printup and Stephen Riley. There are young musicians like Alphonso Horne who studied and Rodney and me at Florida State and who’s already making a name for himself in jazz. And we’ve got a whole new generation of other young musicians such as Ricardo Pascal, Tissa Khosla, Tim Blackmon, Joe Goldberg, and Caleb Mason, who will be represented on this project. There are 12 of us as you will see in the photo below.
So what’s the new project?
Our first big goal is to complete this recording of a suite of music that I first wrote 20 years ago this month. It’s called “Romance, Swing, and the Blues”. Last year, I made a number of changes to it – I guess you could say I modernized it. We premiered it last fall at Rose Theater in New York (home of Jazz at Lincoln Center). It was a great set of shows and I knew then that I had to find a way to record this new version and this new band. I really wanted to give this talented group of musicians a chance to get out there on the road and play. So that’s our goal.
At the end of August, we will all head to Tallahassee to my engineer’s studio and make this happen. We are confident that it is going to happen because we have already reserved the space, set up the piano tuning, and made the reservations. In fact, we have a live show set up at Ruby Diamond Auditorium on August 29th. So we will be there and we hope some of you will be too.
Why should you support this project?
The most important reason is that it’s a great project and I know that you’re going to love the music. In addition, I know you will feel very good about your own generosity – jazz is a uniquely American art form and your contributions will help it to flourish for generations to come. I believe that jazz music and the musicians who play it have valuable roles in our cultural heritage. This music not only teaches us something about ourselves, but also puts us in touch with the joys and struggles of life, and gives us the strength to approach life's challenges with hope and optimism. It has certainly done that for me.
So I’m getting down from the soapbox now to address the more practical reason why you should support this project. Because a recording session with 12 musicians is an expensive undertaking!
And… if that’s not enough, combined with our fantastic rewards, to convince you to support this project, think about this...... I guarantee you that you are going to see these talented musicians out there on the road, playing at a venue in your community. (I hope you'll follow their careers.) When you see one of them out there, you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing that you helped to make that happen.
Your contributions will help us to pay for the following things: (a) payroll for 11 musicians; (b) studio costs and engineering fees; (c) multiple piano tunings per day; (d) airfares for everyone to get to Tallahassee; and (e) hotel for 12 people for 5 nights (60 hotel nights!). The budget for just the recording portion of the project is about $30,000 so we hope to raise a minimum of $25,000 with your help. If we raise more that, we will be extremely grateful, and we will use your money wisely to pay for rest of the above recording costs plus the costs of a photo shoot, cover art, manufacturing of the CDs, a video, radio promotion, publicity, and distribution of the CD (all of which add an additional $15,000 to the original $30,000). If we stretch our goals even further and raise more than this, it will all go to support performances and teaching by members of the Modern Jazz Generation.
Did I mention that recording a big group like this is an expensive undertaking? Yes, I believe I did....
Well, I think that most of you know how Kickstarter works. Our goal is $25,000. If we don’t raise the full $25,000, we get nothing. And I am surely hoping that doesn’t happen. But we need your help. We are hoping that you’ll tell your friends and family members so they can become a part of this exciting project.
So what can I say except thank you…. to all of you who have supported me by coming to my shows and buying my CDs all these years….to the presenters who have given me the opportunity to perform all over the world…and to all of you Kickstarter supporters for making the “Modern Jazz Generation” and Romance, Swing, and the Blues possible. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The risks and challenges with any project are many, but I have put out a lot of CDs over the past 25 years. I have also worked with many of these musicians for a long time. The music is ready and the musicians are prepared. The piano tuning is schedule and the hotel reservations made. In short, we have done everything that we can do at this stage to ensure that the project will succeed. I have faith that we will raise the money needed to do this project justice. I know that we have many fans who believe in the work that we’re doing. So, we look forward to getting started and we will keep you posted along the way. Thanks so much for your faith in the Modern Jazz Generation.
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