Barely A Dude (Thoughts)

Just to give context: I have a show at the Jazz Gallery coming up in one week called “Barely A Dude.” I’ve invested more emotional energy into this project than anything in my musical career thus far. I’m making this post mostly to organize my own thoughts in addition to sharing them with many of you who have already commented on the title of the event.

Photo by Kat Lee

Photo by Kat Lee

I’ve always been huge on community. Ever since I was young I never found myself looking for the cool kids to hangout with or joining clubs that had some purpose or function. This was due in part to my stubbornness and obsessive tendencies but mostly due to a consistent feeling of never “fitting in” or at the very least, never wanting to fit in. Maybe this sounds like a negative or lonely statement but really, I was a happy kid. Always loved by my family, respected by my few but close friends (well, most of them) and most importantly, didn’t hate middle school (and I wasn’t even one of the “Popular” kids!). I didn’t let the feeling of isolation get me down because I was always good at starting groups or creating my own friend circles that later turned into tightly knit hangs. I’d introduce my coolest friends to each other and more often than not, they’d end up being even better friends with each other than they ever were with me. In quite a few cases, they’ve ended up dating! This is something still true of my life today.

I think I started becoming most aware of my passion for community about halfway through college when “The MacDougal Hang” started. Without going into too much detail, every Thursday night there was a group of students that would have class until 11:00pm and afterwards we’d all assemble on the 5th floor of the new school and migrate southwards to Macdougal street where we’d eat at Mamoun’s or Artichoke Pizza and end the night together in a massive hang at cafe reggio. The best thing about this was that new people along with the regulars would always come each time and we’d get to know each other on our own terms outside of school. It felt very humanizing and hopeful.

It wasn’t long before I realized this was the reason I played music. Well, not so much the only eating falafel and pizza part, but for the diverse community of human beings it unites. Though this was an incredibly important and meaningful realization, it would later present a whole new set of challenges that my 19 year old mind couldn’t even begin to anticipate.

Fast forwarding a few years to right after I graduated; here I was, a fresh college grad with my fancy yet useless jazz diploma in despair whenever I was at home because I had pretty much no gigs and I wasn’t making money. As a result, I was always at new school (more than most students) even though I had already graduated. I was trying to pretend I belonged somewhere because I was too depressed (therefore lazy and lost) to start re-distributing my passion for creating communities into parts of my barely budding career as a “broke jazz musician.” Over the course of the next year, I started to get into other “escapes” like various trading card games or believing I could be a successful video game streamer. This was actually  facilitated further by always being at new school (which tricked me into feeling productive). I wish I could say that I wasn’t aware of the cycle I had fallen into but I knew all too well what was going on.

I was getting enough gigs and performance opportunities from other new school students and alumni (particularly pit orchestras and random non-paying bands) to feel comfortable with the progress I was making but in reality, I wasn’t happy or mentally healthy. In summary; I wasn’t making music that was meaningful to me because I didn’t have a community I felt comfortable sharing with anymore.

One of the reasons why I didn’t feel I had that community was that I always felt incredibly repulsed and judged by the often hyper-masculine and seemingly cutthroat jazz-session community. Even at New School; one of the most “progressive” institutions in the world for studying jazz, there was still so much toxic competitiveness around every corner and in every foul-smelling practice room. Don’t get me wrong; I loved my college experience but that place can be grosser than a men’s locker room at a high school gym and I’m not just referring to the smells.. I am aware the young jazz community has brought tons of people (myself included) incredible opportunity and experience and I wouldn’t give any of it away for the world, but I’ve seen it turn away far more people than it has helped in my limited time on “the scene”

The saddest part is that the music itself is what suffers from this toxic energy. It has done nothing but selflessly give to our world and society, yet certain types of people use it wrongly and as a way to judge their self-made dick measuring contests at “the late night sessions” across the world. Again, my intention here is not to simply rag on this community but rather, make the point that the music itself is not and never will be the problem. Ultimately, I began to get out of my post-college funk when Adam O’Farrill asked me to play on his commission at the Jazz Gallery in 2017. This was my jazz gallery debut which was a big deal for me since it was somewhere I always wanted to play. Being a part of his project reminded my how good it felt to be able to be myself musically and still be appreciated for that alone. Since then, I’ve improved my mental health and lifestyle tremendously, leading to a plethora of new and fulfilling opportunities.

In a meaningful artistic situation, there’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself aggressively or in a “masculine” way. People of all genders, sexual orientations and ethnicities do this all the time and it’s often totally appropriate and still respectful to the music. The problem appears when people who particularly enjoy that style of playing put other musicians who don’t sound like that below those who do. It’s even more problematic when musicians who play that way all the time, shame their peers and students for not wanting to sound the same way. Though far less common, there are also people who are so obsessed with “tasteful” and “melodic” aesthetics that anyone who decides to “go for it” immediately becomes “masturbatory” or “tasteless” in their musical approach. I’ve personally found myself caught in between the two for my entire musical career. This idea of “Caught in between the two” seems to be the theme of my identity in general. As a biracial child I was always considered “So Asian” by my american friends and “So American” by my asian friends never really caring to find an answer yet feeling like I needed to. This is one of the main reasons I identify so strongly with the bass clarinet. It’s different than a saxophone, yet people outside the classical world generally don’t think of it as a clarinet either. This also goes hand in hand with my gender identity. I’m biologically male, use he/him/his pronouns enjoy action movies and videogames, but for the most part always lean femme. I’ve always felt bad about gender-exclusivity in social situations. Terms like “bro time” and “girls night” both give me a ridiculous amount of anxiety because I’d rather bro-out with most of my female friends than random dudes but I also don’t wanna be excluded from something just because “I’m a dude.” I prefer being me; a bass clarinetist who’s “Barely a Dude” surrounded by people who see me as my own person without the labels of asian, male, female, saxophonist or otherwise.

This performance (and hopefully future project) will reflect all the facets of myself I wish to share with loved ones, friends (present and future), and the rest of the world full of other people like me that are always navigating binaries. It showcases music that speaks to my girliest tastes and fulfills my needs as a dude.


I feel unbelievable. Every possible emotion you can feel. The only reason I’m writing this is because I have no other way to express the spectrum of things going through my body at this exact moment.

Some friends of mine have been releasing albums recently that have been steadily building up to an explosion of feelings - the likes of which are being expressed by this blog post. I’ll say what I can here but there’s no possible way to do any of these masterpieces justice so maybe just go take a listen yourself. The following are listed in the order that I listened to them. No hierarchy here;

Item 1: Jihye Lee “As the Night Passes”

Moody, elegant, beautiful, versatile and colorful. The compositions flow beautifully and travel to countless aesthetic and emotional spaces that never seem unnecessary. Jihye’s voice is incredibly nuanced and though I can’t understand Korean, every word seems carefully chosen and meaningful to say the very least. What I love most about this album is how it can always fill a musical craving no matter what your mood is. It showcases a kind of versatility that’s incredibly hard to find especially in the world of duo music!

Item 2: Star the Moonlight “Haven’t You Heard”

This is one of the greatest orchestral works not written for a full symphony orchestra I’ve heard. Each composition is extensive, expressive, densely dynamic, and perpetually interesting. Band leader Maximillian Zooi has clearly succeeded in channeling not just an idea or concept, but a universe far greater than words, reviews, genres and otherwise. Like I said at the beginning; I cannot do it justice with words. Just find yourself 39 minutes of free time and give it an honest listen. I highly recommend listening to this album specifically not in a noisy place (unless you have god-tier headphones) because the subtleties in the mix and compositions really give it a whole new dimension.

Item 3: Aurelia Trio “Spattered Current”

Don’t have too much to say about this one but I assure you it’s not because its any less perfect than the other albums on this list. These (q)ats know how to create a vibe. “Spattered Current” is exceedingly atmospheric, yet anything but minimal in its wonders. This is a stellar example of art you can consume passively or actively and everything in between. The tracks all sound incredibly cohesive but push and pull you in so many directions simultaneously making the title an absolute perfect fit for the album.

Item 4: Tiny Gun “Crazy I Can Be”

Storytelling is the best way to achieve a universal level of empathy. Compelling stories keep you interested but exemplary stories inspire you to tell stories of your own (even subconsciously). At the risk of sounding ultra-pretentious I’d say that all art is some form of either intentional or unintentional storytelling. Despite that risk, its one well worth taking in order to try (but inevitably fail) to explain my feelings about this album.. “Crazy I Can Be” is incredible.. I can only speak for myself but after hearing this I had so many feels I was literally speechless. It’s not very often that we can lose awareness of our own mortality listening to something (through cheap earbuds) we downloaded this morning but still, it’s somehow a feeling that is all too familiar and certainly not foreign. I believe there is an embedded story (either premeditated or subconsciously imposed) to this masterpiece that’s super relatable on both an aesthetic and emotional level. Even so, it’s unlike anything I’ve heard before in the best way possible.

My Friends Play Music VII - October

We've reached October! The weather is finally calming down, going places is less painful and people are back at school again!

There's a ton of great stuff to check out and I wish I could include it all in this Month's edition of "My Friends Play Music"

For this month I've decide to do something a little different and list shows by venue since Many things are happening at the same location.

Hopefully this will make things easier and more organized for everyone.

Parkside Lounge-

October 1st 9:20pm: Alyssa Jean - TONIGHT! Alyssa plays a set at the parkside lounge as a part of an artist showcase! Alyssa is an incredible songwriter and lyricist who’s also secretly a practiced mage. If you go to her show she might share a few spells with you but don’t get your hopes up. Either way, it’s going to be great so go if you can.


October 2nd 9pm: Mareike Wiening Quintet - Mareike is one of my favorite drummers in the city who also happens to be one of the friendliest, tolerant, and all around kind human beings you’ll ever meet. Her music is top tier and her band is amazing. She’s very busy so make sure you take the opportunity to catch her as a bandleader tomorrow at 9pm! Her band will feature Ole Mathisen on Saxophone, Alex Goodman on Guitar, Glenn Zaleski on Piano, and Johannes Felscher on Bass!

Wonders of Nature-

October 8th 9pm: Brickwork - The infamous trio (formerly called Mughal Muesli) will be playing their always quirky yet intense music again this month which is great to see! They had a few months hiatus due to bassist Mat Muntz being abroad but I’m happy to see them back in the city and doing the thing. I’m not very secretive about my opinions and if we’ve talked about saxophonists I’ve probably mentioned Xavier del Castillo as my favorite tenor player in the city and possibly the world along side the ever masterful Vicente Hansen Atria.

55 Bar-

October 9th 10pm & 11:30pm: Adam O'Farrill's Stranger Days Boosts back to their regular 55 bar gig next week indulging in their post album life. In these crazy times, stranger days are always to be anticipated. (Excuse me..)

The Jazz Gallery (7:30pm & 9:30pm)-

The Jazz Gallery continues to crush it as my favorite venue in the city. Believe it or not I had to greatly slim down the list of shows I wanted to give a shoutout to at the gallery alone. These are what made the cut. I’ll try to be as brief as possible.

October 4th: Micah Thomas Trio - Micah is a virtuoso of the piano and dabbler on the drums who’s approach to the piano blends countless influences and does each of them justice. Catch this show I promise you’ll at the very least be blown away.

October 11th: Patrick Bartley - Pat is one of those hyper genius cats who’s as intense as the desert sun. He’s still very young and is already incredibly established in the jazz scene. Not to mention, he’s a fellow J-music and Japanese culture enthusiast. I’m super excited to hear this and have had it written down in my books since it was announced.

October 13th: Jihye Lee Duo - Known as a fantastic big band composer and arranger, Jihye is doing something a bit different and giving us a taste of her incredible vocal skills in an album release show. Joined by pianist Kevin Hays, the pair will perform her originals! Definitely check it out.

October 18th: Lex Korten Sextet - This show has been in my calendar since before it was even announced. Lex is an incredible musician who’s also among my closest friends. He’s bringing a large group to the stage this month featuring a collection of equally skilled cats. Davy Lazar on trumpet, Yuma Uesaka on tenor saxophone, David Leon on alto saxophone, Nick Dunston on bass and Kayvon Gordon on drums.

October 24th: Nick Dunston - Formerly known from the legend of Neil Duncan; Nick Dunston brings a recently formed quintet to this familiar stage showcasing a synergy of delicate sounds that create a push and pull of emotional peaks. This gestural extravaganza is sure to intrigue listeners of all levels.

October 25th: Arta Jekabsone - This incredible vocalist from Latvia is truly special. Those that hear her cannot forget her immensely positive energy and refined mastery of craft that is truly one of a kind. She has won multiple large scale competitions and is building quite the rep. We met over 3 years ago in a New School elective ensemble and since then I’ve been a total fan.

Rockwood Music Hall-

October 6th 11:30pm: Eyehear (Stage 3) - This is a group I’ve heard so much about but sadly have yet to fully see. The roster of musicians is quite remarkable and their music is a blend of experimental jazz, metal, and free improvisation. This show will feature new compositions!

October 10th 7pm: Bianca Muniz (Stage 2) - Bianca was a classmate of mine at The Nevv School who has quickly ascended in popularity both locally and beyond! Her music is quite special and she’s a role model to many! This is a great night to be around Rockwood!

October 10th 11:59pm:JK and Chris McCarthy (Stage 1) - As mentioned above, this is the night to hang at Rockwood. JK Kim and Chris McCarthy perform at stage 1 at midnight! These guys are complete virtuosos and are one of the only groups in this generation who don’t take themselves too seriously… Seriously a great time.

The Owl Music Parlor-

October 4th 9pm & 10pm: Gaya Sings Connie//Kat and Jesse - The Owl’s one of my favorite places to hear music in the city and these two groups are a perfect fit for the venue. Every single on of Gaya’s projects is spot on and her voice is like no other. Kat Lee and Jesse Bielenberg play on the same bill afterwards! Another group I haven’t heard before, but Kat was one of my first friends in NYC and anything she’s a part of is worth checking out!

October 19th 9pm: Caroline Kuhn - Later this month at the Owl will also be a special performance by Caroline Kuhn who is a fantastic singer, banjoist and songwriter. Originally from NY recently graduated from NEC. I’ve been listening to her music on bandcamp and it’s not only super awesome but the perfect fit for the venue!

The Stone-

October 16-20 8:30pm: Joel Ross - Joel is an amazing musician who has played quite a few times at the Stone. He's well established in the Jazz world but has an incredibly eclectic skill set. He’ll be playing this entire week with various configurations all of which will be interesting.

Cornelia Street Cafe-

October 14th 8pm//9:30pm: Almog Sharvit Quintet + Adi Meyerson Trio - This fantastic bassist double bill is part of the Israeli jazz spotlight! Almog Sharvit, the bassist from Kadawa will be playing at 8pm with his group followed by Adi Meyerson’s Trio! Both former classmates of mine in College.


October 20th 7:30pm - Noa Fort will be performing as part of the BRIC jazz festival. In BK! Noa writes amazing music and also plays the piano with an amazing atmospheric and haunting touch. This event will featuring tons of great acts so if you’re local definitely go check it out!


October 2nd & 5th 7:30/9:45pm: Benny Benack III Italian Quartet - Benny is an amazing trumpeter and singer who I’ve admired for quite some time. Recently picked up on some of his trails in Japan and it seems he was quite a hit there! I originally met him at Adam O’Farrill’s 20th birthday party and have followed him on social media for quite some time. He will be playing at Birdland Jazz twice this month! Swing on by.

October 25th 5:30pm: Alex Frondelli Quartet - Alex Frondelli is a recent friend of mine who’s also a phenomenal guitarist! He’ll be doing an EP release show later this month with a killer band featuring Sam Townse on piano, Mikey Migliore on bass, and Jason Wastor on drums!


Nathan Kamal and Xiaoxiao Yuan will be playing a duo show on 10/27 that is a part of the monthly HOWL performance series! These musicians are both incredibly special and I’ve had the unique pleasure of working with both of them quite a few times. Nathan is a composer and multi string instrumentalist who always brings a good vibe to the scene and Xiaoxiao is a fantastic bassoonist. Stay posted for a location!

There’s a lot to see in October so no one will need to sit around looking for something to do! Hope to see you at one of these shows and I apologize for anything I couldn’t include.

I’ve decide to take a small break this month from bandleading to focus more on my own hustle (teaching and otherwise) but I still plan to be heavily involved in the scene supporting live music! Please reach out to me if you have shows next month as well I may not be able to include everything in the post (This is already over 1500 words as it is), but I love hanging and supporting you all even if it is from a distance.

I’ll do my best to keep the calendar updated as well!

My Friends Play Music VI - 10 shows to catch in August

Summer in NY like usual, has been hot and uncomfortable which prevents people from sticking around (myself included). I had the great pleasure of visiting the beautiful Bay Area as well as sizzling Los Angeles and sweaty Miami. Despite my sarcasm, all three cities were truly beautiful and I had some incredible experiences musically and otherwise at all 3. Anyways back to the topic! –

August is the month where folks return from far off places to once again share their music with the public. Here are 10 shows I’ve selected for this month’s series:

1.      .QP returns to Tomi Jazz – Continuing our monthly residency at Tomi Jazz, Jeremy Corren and I will be playing lots of new material as well as our favorite videogame and songbook standards tomorrow at a hip Japanese bar/restaurant. Our rep will be including Disney princess songs that I’ve been hearing on loop for quite a while now.

2.      On Friday 8/3 the jazz composers showcase returns to the Jazz Gallery for the 11th installment. The composers that are selected never fail to impress not to mention the band is filled with incredibly skilled musicians from around the city. My favorite thing about this showcase is that it consistently defies the stereotypical sound image of what a “jazz big band” sounds like in the minds of most.

3.      Also on Friday 8/3 Glassbath (who I’ve talked about before) returns to the stage at The Way Station in BK. Glassbath has some awesome music out that is unique, virtuosic and raging at the same time. Go check it out if you haven’t. The best way I’d describe them is “Avant-Jazz-Metal”

4.      MUTE is a quartet of fantastic musicians including Dayeon Seok and Kevin Sun both of whom I’ve either worked with or listened to extensively. They recently toured Asia and are now bringing it to us at the Jazz Gallery on 8/8. Definitely check it out.

5.      Gabriel Charkarji is a phenomenal pianist and composer who will be bringing his trio to Minton’s Playhouse featuring some special guests on 8/9. Gabriel and I went to school together but we became friends at the Banff summer jazz workshop exactly a year ago!

6.      Luca Soul Trio plays at Joe Solomon’s Studio on 8/12 featuring Elias Stemesedar and the legendary Billy Mintz on drums. Luca is an incredibly well-rounded musician whose ideas won’t cease to intrigue any audience.

7.      One of the most exciting multi bills I’ve seen is happening at Three’s Brewing on 8/14. I try to avoid putting double & triple bills on my posts but all the artists on this one are incredible. Joanna Sternberg starts off the night with a solo set. Joanna is an incredible part of the community who always brings light to the environment no matter how dark. You may have seen some of Joanna’s unforgettable hats and fliers floating around. KADAWA takes the second slot of the evening once again destroying everything in their path as a virtuosic rock/jazz/cinema/literature inspired trio that will blow your infinity gauntlet right off. Closing the evening is Gaya Feldheim Schorr singing the music of Connie Converse. Gaya is an incredibly talented singer/musician/photographer/curator who has contributed so much to this community in a short amount of time.

8.      Back at the Jazz Gallery – Brian Krock brings his big band to do an Album Release show!! The band roster looks monstrous and the music I’m sure will be no different. I actually met Brian at an earlier installment of the Jazz Composer’s showcase and since then I’ve grown to become a fan of his woodwind virtuosity as well as his musical voice. Definitely check this show out!

9.      Three friends of mine and arguably three of the most accomplished young jazz musicians in the city; Adam O’Farrill, Immanuel Wilkins and Joel Ross bring an afternoon of music to Tomkins square park in an event called “UNHEARD” as part of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. This concert is FREE and mid-day on a Sunday so unless there’s a hurricane or thunderstorm there’s really no excuse not to go.

10.   Another multi-band bill that I couldn’t not include.. (what’s with all the double negatives?!) Star the Moonlight, Michael Mayo and Aberdeen play the Knitting Factory in BK on 8/28. All these groups are killer. I’ve known Both Michael, Max (leader of STM) and Andrew (Keyboardist in STM) since I was in high school (shoutout to LACHSA). This will be the last thing I do in NY before I head to Japan for a while so come hang.

My Friends Play Music! - 10 shows to catch in June.

May was a busy month for musicians that brought about the end of the college year which resulted in lots of exciting end of the year shows among other awesome displays of creativity and craftsmanship. June, like any other month in this city is certainly no different. I once again apologize for not going into extensive detail, but I thought this month it’d be fun to pick 10 fantastic shows I’m super excited for.

6/5 – Bassist, composer, colleague, and friend Nick Dunston debuts a new group at Bar Lunatico in BK. The band features an incredible roster including Flautist Louna Dekker-Vargas who has an incredibly special voice on the instrument, Ledah Finck on violin and viola, complete virtuoso Tal Yahalom on guitar, and Stephen Boegehold on drums!

6/6 – Retumbra Trio returns on BND! I wrote about them/heard them play a few months ago and I want to reiterate how special they sound. Blending Giuffre-esque influences with a more contemporary flavor (oof excuse my pretentiousness) they have a super unique vibe that holds much to be appreciated!

6/7 – Clarinet legend and pioneer of the Contra-Alto clarinet Ben Goldberg brings his quintet to the jazz gallery. To be honest and perhaps someone unfair, I haven’t been this excited about a show in a very long time. In addition to being a master, Ben is an incredibly kind person who has quickly become an inspiration to me. His band looks incredible including Ellery Eskelin on Tenor, Mary Halvorson on Guitar, Mike Formanek on Bass, and Tomas Fujiwara on Drums. Sets 7:30 and 9:30.

6/8 – Vibrophonist/Composer/Perhaps my oldest friend in NYC Jake Chapman is bringing a trio to Kismat Indian Restaurant Uptown. I went to middle school with Jake and even back then we played in the jazz band together. Joining him are two incredible players, Dayeon Seok on drums and Chris Palmer on bass.

6/11 – Allright cats, we’ve reached that time of the post where I plug the always exciting band Secret Mall! These cats have been playing regularly in NYC a ton this year and every time I see them it’s better. Meme filled & shredtastic, this band is perhaps one of the best products of internet culture and talent in this so called “millennial” generation. They’re playing this time at Rockwood music hall stage 2 and it’s FWEEE.

6/14 – Theo Walentiny brings his group back to the Jazz Gallery to play more music + showcase the always exciting combination of creative personalities he seems to round up. I’m excited to be a part of the mix alongside Adam O’Farrill on Trumpet, Kalia Vandever on Trombone, Lee Meadvin on Guitar, Nick Dunston on Bass, and Mareike Wiening on Drums.

6/18 – Unified Field Orchestra (UFO) double bills with a band called Dry Hands at shapeshifter lab. I got to hear and sit in with UFO at rockwood at the beginning of may and it was extremely fun. UFO blends quirky lyrics, instrumental virtuosity and dense electronic textures, with lively energy that’s both accessible and interesting. If you’re willing to make the trek to the SS lab, it’ll be well worth your time.

6/19 – Bassist Adi Meyerson brings an EPIC (and I don’t use that word lightly) assortment of cats to Cornelia street café to play some music! The band consists of some of my closest friends and more; Lex Korten on piano, JK Kim on drums, Alden Helmuth & Morgan Guerrin on saxes.

6/21 – The aforementioned Lex Korten debuts his quartet at the Jazz Gallery. This is not only the band debut but Lex’s Jazz Gallery debut as a leader. I’ve been excited about this one for months and I’m devastated that I won’t be in town to witness it ☹. Please go to make up for my absence. Lex is an incredible human being who destroys the piano, synth, melodica and just about any instrument (and sometimes videogame) he touches in the best way possible!

Much Love & Happy Listening


My friends play music! - Spring Edition (May)

April was definitely a busy month for most musicians of any sort! Recital season/good weather & lots of shows! May is a little slower since a lot of folks begin summer travels but there's still some mighty gems to unearth! (Yeah I just wrote that..) I admittedly had less time to make this month's newsletter as thorough as I might have liked, so I'm going to keep it to a maximum of 2 shows per day. I'll add more to the calendar as time progresses since I figure that's what most people have been looking at anyways!

5/1 - John Koozin 4tet at Cornelia Street Cafe featuring Chris "Stomp" Garriga, Anthony Pearlman, and emerging tenor saxophonist Scott Mike! $10 at 6pm

Also on the topic of emergence is Nicola Caminiti's Trio at Bar Next Door Emerging Artist Series at 6:30pm! 2 drink minimum, no cover. He will be joined by the illustrious JK Kim and Ben Tiberio on Drums & Bass respectively!

5/2 - Unified Field Orchestra recently released their new music video in March and it's pretty freaking awesome! They're playing a show at Rockwood 1 at 6pm opening the night with a some "cosmic fun" The show is free but give them a donation if you can! UFO features some awesome folks including drummer/multi-instrumentalist Janna Graham who I had the pleasure of working with in a pit band last month. This will be her birthday show so bring your gifts!

5/2 - Austin Zhang has proven to be one of the most diligent woodwind players I've met in the short time I've known him. He's also an exceedingly polite and nice individual who I can't wait to see further progress in the future. He brings his trio to the Bar Next Door Emerging Artists Series at 6:30pm! | 2 Drink Minimum

5/2 - Kelly Green brings her sextet to Smalls at 10:30pm! Kelly is among my favorite musicians not just in this city but possibly the world and is truly a multi-faceted artist that will move you with her joyous energy! Her piano playing and singing are unlike anything I've ever heard, both of which are tremendously compelling. I hear her trio play almost every Sunday at Cleo's and it only gets better every time. If you're looking for an excuse to bring your ass to smalls, you will not find a better one than this. Joining her will be Brandon Woody on trumpet, Jovan Alexandre on Tenor, Mike Troy on Alto Jonathan Barber on drums, and Matt Dwonszyk on bass.

5/2 - Adam O'Farrill's quartet "Stranger Days" has been on the scene for quite a while now. I've had the chance to see them a few times and its always maxed out and pretty freaking sick. The group will be playing at 55 bar at 10pm two sets $10 featuring Chad LB on Tenor, Walter Stinson on Bass, and Zack O'Farrill on drums!

5/3 - Bassist Adi Meyerson has been a long time friend of mine who I've reconnected with recently. She also hosts the mezzrow jam with Miki Yamanaka every Tuesday evening which is one of my personal favorite hangs! I'm thrilled to announce her Pre-album release show at the Django called "where we stand". Her band is preposterously killing featuring Joel Frahm on tenor, Camila Meza on guitar + voice, Taber Gable on piano and Kush Abadey on drums. 7:30PM $10

5/5 - Theo Walentiny's Senior Recital at the New School (55 w 13th street) 5th fl. performance space. Theo needs to introduction. [Cliche warning] I feel shameless and unapologetic in saying the that there is a very special place in my heart for Theo and the music he creates. He will be presenting a solo piano odyssey that will probably birth a small universe formed from the tears of the audience members.  4pm | Free

5/5 - Stephan Crump is bringing his "Rhombal" quartet to the jazz gallery on my birthday! Stephan is an amazing bassist and incredible human being. The group features one of the baddest trumpet players in the universe, Adam O'Farrill. Also in the band is sax master Elery Eskelin and Kassa Overall on drums. Sets at 7:30 and 9:30pm $25/$10(members).

5/8 - Joel Ross  brings his quartet to Mezzrow featuring Kalia Vandever, Craig Weinrib, and Harish Raghavan. Joel is one of the most innovative musicians in my generation and this band looks incredible. A must see for anyone who has the time/funds to do so. sets at 8pm & 9:30pm $20

5/9 - Mareike Wiening & Yuhan Su quintets at Cornelia Street Cafe is going to be amazing. Mareike is one of the baddest drummers out here and she's double billing her band with another group comprised of equally badass musicians. Her band will feature Rich Perry, Alex Goodman, Glenn Zaleski, and Johannes Felscher and Yuhan Su's band will feature Alex Lore, Matt Holman, Petros Klampanis, and Nathan Elman-Bell. Show begins at 8pm! $10 Cover | $10 Minimum

5/9 - 5/12 - Nate Sparks is a long time friend of mine and recent Juilliard graduate who composes fantastic music of all sorts. Known specifically for his amazing big band arrangements, NYC is in for a treat! Nate is summoning his big band for a week @ Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Columbus Circle! I've been practicing quite a bit for this gig and but I can safely say that it's going to be a total blast! (quite literally)  big bands are a total hang but need more support so don't miss it! 11:30pm Wednesday-Saturday

5/11 - A band that started at New School when I first arrived here almost 6 years ago is releasing an album with a show at C'mon Everybody in BK. GREAT TIME features some amazing musicians including Jill Ryan, Zack Hartmann and Donnie Spackman and they will be joined but some very special guests including Jachary, and Kahiem Rivera.  8PM!

5/12 - Adam Briere Senior Recital (New School)- I previously talked about how big bands are a total hang. This band is likely the definition of a jazz "hang" and we're playing the music of Thad Jones as well! Adam is an awesome drummer and great dude who has been making The New School a better place for the past 4 years and his recital is coming up! It's not every month where you get to hear about more than 1 big band comprised of younger musicians that actually play at a super high level. Especially big bands that are not required school ensembles or institutionalized. 4pm | Free

5/12 - My dear friend/non-biological sister, Kalia Vandever is playing a trio set with Nick Dunston and Lee Meadvin at the Owl Music Parlor. 8pm Kalia plays in various configurations around the city, all of them inspiring and incredibly advanced in regards to spiritual energy & melodic maturity. This trio will be something truly special. Don't miss it.

5/13 - Jasper Dutz Quartets @ Rockwood 3 - This month I've been hard at work writing tons of new music & playing in various quartet configurations with a small roster of fantastic players. The goal is to put together specific musical personalities in a way that showcases a set repertoire from various angles and approaches to improvisation. This project will make its debut at Rockwood Music hall on the 13th! This group is consisted of some of my closest friends; Jeremy Corren(p) John Koozin(b) & Dayeon Seok(d). 10:30pm $10

5/13 - Will Brown Senior Recital (New School) - There are a few people who are simply too kind to be real. Will Brown is one of those people. A truly good human who plays the F*** out of the saxophone would be the most accurate way to describe him, and to add the cherry on top, his band is also littered with angels. John  Koozin on bass and the incredible Matt Wilson on drums. This may be one of the best free shows to check out in the whole word within 24 hours in each direction... Like all recitals of course, it is FREE...

5/18 - Prawit & Daniel Durst continue performing with their historic duo project, this time at an Open art space event curated by Stacy Collado at a venue called The Baumann. These guys have been friends since most high schoolers were potty training and seeing them play is a treasure. Support the NY art scene and stop by! No Cover | $10 suggested donation

5/19 - Kelly Green is playing every other Saturday at Winne's jazz bar in midtown with her trio & I highly & hugely recommend checking it out. I sit and watch her every Sunday at Cleopatra's Needle on the upper west side, but this show will be much easier to get to for you brooklyn folk. 

5/20 - Sara McDonald's NYChillharmonic returns to the stage this time in BK at littlefield! Her band roster is amazing, this time featuring an entirely female cast!! Sara's music is incredibly unique and inspiring on many levels bringing a perpetually badass vibe to social media and the community of young musicians in the city! Tickets start at $10 show starts at 8:30pm!

5/23 -Saxophonist Kevin Sun brings a new group to the Jazz Gallery. This time playing music as part of a larger concept revolving around"meditation and self reflection." His band consists of some fantastic musicians Adam O'Farrill, Dana Saul, Simon Willson, & Dayeon Seok!

5/24 - Hattie Simon & Anthony Pearlman who are literally two of my best friends and musicians are playing duo at one of my favorite venues/restaurants Tomi Jazz! This will be a nice way to wrap things up before we all part ways for the summer! I'll be there eating some noodles and drinking tea with a smile.

5/26 - Adam O'Farrill & Gabe Schnider will be playing duo at a loft on 9th St. in Brooklyn as a part of the 999 Festival. If that isn't MAXED then I don't know what is....

Due to the way the school year works, this month seems relatively chill compared to last month. I'm writing this at 4:30am because I've had very little time to sit and think due to recital season so if anything seems rushed or is incorrect I apologize. Also, if you feel like supporting this newsletter Feel free to donate! What I'd much prefer to a donation, however, is seeing musicians promote others even half as much as they promote themselves. We are part of a creative community weather we want to be or not, and sharing things that matter to us (which hopefully is more than just our own gigs) becomes increasingly essential by the day. Now more than ever, we need to strengthen our community in order to emphasize the importance of music and the arts not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our children, the education system and society as a whole. Music facilitates empathy and empathy is the answer to hate and close-mindedness. Have a fantastic day & happy listening!

My friends play music III! (April Newsletter)

April is here! The weather will start to warm up soon and it’s also recital season! This means that there’s going to be shows galore! Unfortunately I had to be a bit selective this month because I got a ton of submissions and the calendar is also packed enough as it is! Thanks again for all your continued support not just for this newsletter but also for one another! I’m planning to start adding other features to these posts like concert highlights, pics etc. but haven't quite figured it out yet so please feel free to make suggestions on stuff I could add/you'd like to see more of! 

4/2 – 8PM .QP Duo is back at Tomi Jazz playing two sets. Myself and Jeremy Corren have been hard at work refining our rep. Gearing up for a new project release later this year. These shows are always a total blast to play and I hope to share them with you all!

4/4 6:30PM Austin Zhang returns to bar next door this month with his trio featuring Andreu Pitarch Mach on Drums and Niklas Lukassen on Bass and Voice!

4/4 – MIDNIGHT Hattie Simon brings debuts her group to Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 to debut some new music and showcase old music. Hattie is a really special singer who I’ve had the pleasure of hanging and playing with a lot this past year. Her band features Baptiste Horcholle on sax and synth, John Koozin on Bass, Chris “Stomp” Garriga on Drums, and Mike Sheelar on piano.

4/5 – 6:30PM Vaughn Stoffey Trio featuring Evan Gregor on bass and Alex Ritz on drums! They are also playing Bar Next Door. Vaughn is a recent friend of mine who has already blown me away with his passion for jazz, metal, and so much more!

4/5 7:30 & 9:30PM Song Yi Jeon album presents her release show at the Jazz Gallery! Song Yi is one of the most mind-blowing singers I’ve heard and her writing is just as amazing. I’ve been looking forward to seeing her play again, this time at my favorite venue in the city!

4/7 – 10PM Mughal Legion 4 featuring you guessed it, Mughal Muesli trio, double billing with the Anna Webber quartet! Mughal Muesli is a crazy NY based trio that plays a lot around town and Anna Webber is an amazing saxophonist and flautist. Her quartet will feature Jonathan Goldberger, Michael Bates, and Jeff Davis.

4/8 – 9PM Eyehear and Glassbath at Williamsburg Music Center. After releasing their album less than 2 months ago, Glassbath is already storming NYC with their great sounds. I highly recommend checking the album out on Bandcamp. Eyehear is a project led by David Acevedo featuring a good friend of mine Conner Duke, Sean Kim, Joe Freund and Daniel Mesko! WMC is a really great space to hang and hear music and I highly recommend checking this show out! 

4/9 – 7:30 & 9:30PM Minton’s Playhouse, Chris McCarthy with Eivind Opsvik and JK Kim. I’ve had the distinct pleasure but not quite enough of music making with Chris but I hope that changes soon because he sounds amazing! This trio is going to be truly special at Minton’s Playhouse. s

4/10 – 7:30 & 9:30PM Former teacher of mine and musical inspiration Walter Smith III brings his trio “TWIO” to the Jazz Standard. The recently released standards album has been one of my go-to picks for almost any situation. This show is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Greg Hutchinson on drums & Harish Raghavan on bass.

4/11 – 9:30PM Remy LeBoeuf forces Cornelia Street Café to yet again take from my wallet and hopefully yours by bringing a fantastic group of musicians to the venue. I try to keep my fanboying to a minimum with these “newsletters” but I can’t resist giving this a shoutout. Joining Remy will be Shai Maistro(Piano), Charles Altura(Guitar), Peter Kronreif (Drums) and Rick Rosato (Bass).

4/13 – 6PM Cole Davis Group plays at Cornelia Street Café featuring JK Kim, Vaughn Stoffey, and Lex Korten! This lineup is pretty incredible and I put it in my personal calendar as a must see. You should come hang out with me at this show so I have someone to cheer and woo with.

4/13 – 11PM Whaliens! I had the pleasure of seeing one of this group’s first concerts live and it’s really something special. The roster of influences for this group is vast. Ranging from Jazz and Funk to actual extraterrestrial creatures “the universe and beyond” they do not fail to live up to that standard at all! They will be playing at Greenpoint Gallery! Band members include Emily Sgouros on vibraphone, Jonathan Milberger on saxophone, Daniel Kim on guitar, Nico Sleator on keys, Dominic LaMorte on bass and Daniel Venz on drums.

4/13 – 7PM BA AKHU live at shapeshifter lab. Abdulrahman Amer is a phenomenal Trombonist joined by Brandon Woody on trumpet, Matthew Malanowski on piano, Hwansu Kang on bass, and Savannah Harris on drums.

4/14 – 9:30PM Dear friend Sasha Berliner brings a group to The Cell. Sasha’s a truly gifted vibraphonist, composer, and meme master who always puts on incredible performances. This group will feature Chris McCarthy, Ben Tiberio, and Jeremy Dutton on drums with a guest appearance by Giveton Gellin on trumpet.

4/15 – 9PM Wit and Daniel live at Williamsburg Music Center! Two of the actual sweetest people I know. Both of whom happen to be fantastic musicians as well. I had a pleasure of playing in a trio setting with these two guys a couple months ago at Bar Next Door and I’m super excited that they’re going to be playing a duo show. Warm vibes all around at this show for everyone to enjoy!

4/16 – 8:30PM KADAWA plays at Bar Lunatico! KADAWA has an unbelievably virtuosic yet unique sound and is comprised of three of my former New School Colleagues. Tal Yahalom, Almog Sharvit, and Ben Silashi.

4/16 – 11:59PM JKXCM is playing at Rockwood Stage 1 at midnight. The duo project featuring Chris McCarthy and JK Kim is something that will peak any creative person’s interest. I saw these guys play live at the Shrine the other night and was simply blown away. This dynamic duo brings the fire 11/10 times.

4/16 – 10:30PM Bassist and composer Kenneth Jimenez brings his trio to the Bushwick Improvised Music Series featuring Hery Paz on Sax and Satoshi Takeishi on drums. Kenneth writes some exciting music that will make your head turn in the best way! He makes sure to keep both the listeners and the performers on their toes at all times.

4/22 – 6PM Two of my favorite musicians are playing duo at the Downtown Music Gallery. Noah Becker who is both an amazing saxophonist and clarinetist will be joined by none other than Colin “Deeps” Hinton on drums! I’m super excited that this is happening and I’d highly recommend being there!

4/22 – 7PM Bassist and fellow New School Alumn Torge Goderstad brings his group to the Nuyorican Poets Café! The band features Baba Tang on voice/spoken word, Will Brown on soprano sax, Sunhyun Yoo on alto sax, Mike Sheelar on piano and Bryce Collins on drums. Torge is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and I there’s no better way to celebrate earth day than checking this show out!

4/23 – 10:30PM Colin Hinton has a series at the Branded Saloon that he will be performing at with Eivind Opsvik and other potential guests. Colin plays a ton around town in various configurations and with his group called Glassbath. He’s a unique character with a lot to contribute to the NYC creative music scene.

4/24, 26, 27, 27 – Noah Halpern is a fantastic trumpeter from Seattle who’s not only having a senior recital this month but also playing the late night set at Dizzy’s in NYC. This week he will be celebrating the music of one of my all time favorite musicians in history, Booker Little. Something to surely catch.

4/27 – 10:30PM Bassist Conner Duke plays a solo bass set at the mystical Postcrypt Coffeehouse on the campus of Columbia University. Conner is a unique cat who has quite the ear for the unknown and a super strong sense of musical awareness that can be appreciated for so many reasons. The venue also has excellent cookies.


- Senior Recitals

April means the end of the collegiate school year is approaching. This means that people are graduating. The following is a list of recitals that might blow you away.

Manhattan School of Music – (120 Claremont ave)

April 22nd –  7:30PM Andres Valbuena

Andres has made it onto every newsletter so far with the incredible band Secret Mall which will be playing one of the sets at his senior recital! The other set features Andres’ original music as well as standards. The recital will feature secret mall (Alfredo Colon, Ed Gavitt, Steve Williams, Santosh Sharma, Sam Towse and Chris Palmer)

April 6th – 8:30PM John Otten

Music by John Otten, Rashaan Roland Kirk, Tony Williams and Horace Silver. 7th floor of MSM (Pforzheimer's Hall) Featuring Xavier Del Castillo, Patrick McGee, Chris McCarthy, Adrian Moring and Fred Griggs

New School – (55 W 13TH street)

April 16th – John Koozin 7PM

One of my best friends and fellow member of Three Hunters Trio will be having his recital this month. John’s music is incredibly fun to play and his recital lineup is absurd! Adam O Farrill, Kalia Vandever and I will be playing horns, Hattie Simon, Mike Sheelar, Will Brown, and of course Chris Stomp Garriga will be involved as well along with other potential guests.


April 19th - Lucas Kadish 7PM

This guy is very good at the guitar. His music Is really cool and his lineup is golden. The performance will feature Nick Dunston, Connor Parks, Theo Walentiny, Kweku Sumbry, Daniel Berkey, and a special guests from Winnipeg Manitoba. (If you know who it is then you have no excuse not to be there)..

Juilliard Morse Hall – (155 W 65TH street)

April 2nd – Noah Halpern

Noah’s recital features a tremendous roster of cats playing the music of Tadd Dameron, Robert Schumann, Eric Dolphy, and Cole Porter as well as original music


April 10th – David Milazzo

David is one of the baddest alto players out here. His masters recital is going to be extremely lit. The concert will feature Adam Olszewski, Cameron MacIntosh, and Joel Wenhardt.

- Closing Comments -

As many of us know all too well, the NYC scene among young creative musicians is not monetarily self sustaining at all. This is one of the main motivators for this monthly post, to hopefully increase the amount of support within this community or at the very least, awareness about each others performances. Supporting other musicians in your age group is not only good karma but is incredibly inspiring. If we all do a bit more to support one another, the increase in turnout for our shows will be significant and better turnout = better pay. I plan on continuing these monthly posts for as long as I am based in this city but going to so many shows quickly drains my already underpaid musician's wallet. As far as the newsletter goes, I'd like to add more content as well as live media of the shows I go see and eventually have a page of band profiles that play around the city on an entirely separate website but alas, funding is an issue. If you feel like contributing to this cause, you can choose to give a donation! Contributions will be used to help facilitate cleaner organization of these posts as well as the adding of additional features to the monthly posts and calendar! Something even more valuable than donating though, is to see you share other people's shows in addition to your own! Even one new person going out of their way to help us all make "musician's facebook" a more selfless place means the world to me & I've already seen so many folks start doing this. Happy Listening!

"How much does it pay?"

A common theme at jazz school (and other art schools) is constantly being pressured by classmates to "be unique" or overly "distinguished" within a small, already exclusive field of music. This leads to elitist and entitled behaviors born of insecurity. Some examples of this include the refusal of young musicians to:

  1. play with certain people,
  2. play at venues that aren't "nice" enough
  3. play certain types of music
  4. play for too little pay

Beginning with the first point, this doesn't necessarily refer to people you've had exceedingly negative experiences with, but more to people who aren't "good enough" by your own 19 year old grammy-band making standards. Something to remember is that if you're someone who's got a head start on the music game, you sound good because of the circumstances of your early education which has consisted of 15 years at most. Other people who go to your "jazz school" haven't been as fortunate as you, but the thing you both (hopefully) have in common is that everyone is trying to improve. Do not be the talented young asshole in your fundamental classes that either doesn't ever come to class, or thinks everyone sucks because they're less <insert narcissistic adjective here> than you. The only person holding you back in your "Ear Training 2A" class is the person you see in the mirror everyday at your ever-so-early 10:00am jazz history lecture where you're probably gonna be on facebook the whole time anyways.. In conclusion, if someone who hasn't been as fortunate as you in their musical upbringing asks you to play a session, give them a chance or rather, give yourself a chance because in the long run, you'll probably learn more about life (and things that matter a lot more than nailing the changes to giant steps) from helping them improve than they will from you.

If you're still reading, then you probably already know what I'm going to say about the second point-- No venue is "below" you or unworthy of any note you'll ever play. I understand how badly certain venues treat their musicians but this isn't a rant on crappy venues. This is a rant about people who will turn down an opportunity to perform potentially inspiring music simply because they refuse to play at a venue that's not good enough. I promise you, a huge amount of your favorite musicians on this planet have played at the trashiest places you can imagine, and they're only as good as they are because they did those gigs. If you want to get a week at the vanguard, don't be too full of yourself to play at a sketchy uptown club every now and then. Part of being a musician is performing. If you're not grateful for every opportunity you get to perform, then you mind as well stop practicing and either become a composer or producer (both of which are perfectly valid career paths). Again, I'm well aware of how terribly some venues treat musicians but refusing to play at a venue when given an opportunity, is not a good way to get better opportunities down the road.

The third point (young musicians who refuse to play certain types of music) is perhaps the most ridiculous and unwarranted. If you're a music student, and someone offers you a chance to perform music that's out of your comfort zone or even musical preference, turning it down is only going to stop you from learning literally anything. I'm not referring to cases in which the music goes against your moral or religious beliefs. I'm referring to cases in which you're too uncreative to figure out how to play a solo-saxophone beatles cover for a $200 wedding gig. (Yes I've done that before).  In otherwords, give everything (especially yourself) a chance. You can learn a hell of a lot from playing music that you're not comfortable with or that you usually don't enjoy. You were called for a reason, it's not your responsibility to make them enjoy what you come up with based on their expectations especially if you've never done what they're looking for before. Side note: There's nothing wrong with recommending someone else you know for a gig you get called for that you sincerely think they'd be better equipped to handle.

Finally, the last point and perhaps the most important of them all is thinking about compensation. The way I like to think of this point is; determine what fair pay for a musical commitment is based on how humanized you will be for the commitment. In other words, if you're trying to build a reputation as a musician with a true voice rather than a <insert instrument name here> player, take every possible opportunity(regardless of pay) that gives you the necessary freedom to showcase that voice. I can say first hand that the level of certain bands (musically and otherwise) I've been asked to play in (for virtually no pay) has been far beyond anything I've ever been a part of. Moreover, I was likely the youngest member of both bands. This is because the leaders of both bands were fantastic human beings that humanized every single player they called. One of these band leaders said that the best players they've ever asked to play their music have never asked about pay, yet they keep coming back to play. That said, if you have the funds, ALWAYS pay your musicians for their time, but if you don't, reach out anyways because paying someone in respect is exceedingly more valuable. Most of the time, people will forget about money, but they won't forget the experience. Finally, I feel obligated to say that being called by other musicians (especially whom you respect) is a compliment and honor. Being called by weddings/parties/events/other non musicians is business. If someone compliments you, responding to them by asking for money isn't a very nice thing to do, and most definitely will not result in you receiving more compliments.