'Remembering Grover Washington
Gerald, Eric Darius headline holiday tribute concert to late
at Miller Center for the Arts on Friday, Dec. 11; tickets are on
The Berks Arts Council has scheduled a holiday concert to help
kick off the 20th annual VF Outlet Berks Jazz Fest.
And it is going to be a very special concert.
Gerald Veasley and his dynamic band, along with contemporary
jazz saxophonist Eric Darius, will headline the "Remembering
Grover Washington Jr." concert set for Friday, Dec. 11, 7:30
p.m., at the Miller Center for the Arts on the campus of Reading
Area Community College located in downtown Reading.
Darius replaces Walter Beasley for the special show. Unexpected
personal business prevented Beasley from honoring his
commitment. However, Eric Darius was more than ready to step in
to be part of the show.
Tickets are on sale NOW! Tickets are $40. All seats are
reserved. Only 500 tickets are available for this concert.
December marks the 10th anniversary of Grover Washington Jr.'s
The time was right for electric bassist Veasley, a longtime
friend of Grover and member of his band, and the Berks Arts
Council to collaborate and present a musical tribute to the
legendary saxophonist from Philadelphia during the holiday
Not only will Veasley and Darius perform many of Grover's
classic hits from a discography that boasts three decades of
creative and heartfelt albums, they also will perform music from
Grover's Grammy-nominated holiday CD Breath of Heaven.
Veasley's band will feature keyboardist Donald Robinson, who was
musical director for Grover's band for many years, and
saxophonist Chris Farr, musical director for Veasley's band.
"Remembering Grover Washington Jr." is going to be an
outstanding kick-off event for the milestone 20th annual VF
Outlet Berks Jazz Fest!
Get Your 'Remembering Grover Washington Jr.' Tickets NOW!
Exchange, located in Mohnton, is the official box office for the
"Remembering Grover Washington Jr." concert.
To get your tickets:
1) Call CD Exchange at 610-777-2310 to order by phone.
2) Stop by the CD Exchange, 360 E. Wyomissing Avenue, Mohnton,
Pa., during regular business hours Tuesday through Saturday.
3) To order online, CLICK HERE
GERALD VEASLEY MAKES HIS MOVE ON NEW HEADS
Your Move set for worldwide release on March
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contemporary jazz bassist Gerald
Veasley makes no claim to be a master chess player, but there
are certain unmistakable parallels between his line of work and
the small-scale war game that has challenged great minds for centuries.
Like chess, Veasley sees music as a pursuit that involves a combination
of strategy, quick thinking and even a bit of blind faith.
“There’s a multiplicity of decision making in the
game of chess, and there are consequences to every action,”
says Veasley. “In a lot of ways, making music is like that
too. There are so many choices, especially in jazz, where the
situation is never the same twice. That’s always exciting
to me. You’re creating new scenarios at every turn –
every time you step in front of an audience, or every time you
step into the studio. That’s what drew me to this kind of
music in the first place – the idea that it was always fresh,
there was always an opportunity and a new challenge. Unlike chess,
though, winning in jazz doesn’t mean someone else has to
That same combination of challenges, opportunities and win-win
is at the heart of Your Move (HUCD 3130), Veasley’s
new Heads Up International CD set for worldwide release on March
11, 2008. The album is the latest – and perhaps most innovative
and audacious – maneuver in the game that Veasley has been
playing since his early days as an up-and-coming musician in his
“After all those years, after all the records I’ve
made, I’m really mindful of the fact that not just music
but life in general is a lot like that too,” says Veasley.
“There are so many decisions that you have to make. You
get the best information you can, and then you take the next step.
Sometimes you have to be willing to make a leap and take a chance.
There are always situations where you have to be flexible and
adjust, and you have to adjust quickly.”
Any good game involves more than one player, and Veasley has
a couple collaborators on hand that make Your Move an intriguing
gambit. Guitarist Chuck Loeb steps in as a formidable session
player/producer and author or co-author of several tracks. Saxophonist
and longtime Veasley band member Chris Farr also shares a few
The album opens with the infectious riff of “Hear Now!”
a high-energy tune written and arranged by Loeb that serves as
a somewhat rare showcase for Veasley’s technical chops.
“When I’m the writer or the arranger, I usually think
about more than just the bass,” says Veasley. “I tend
to think about what’s best for the song in general, and
what all the instruments will sound like together. But Chuck wanted
me to have the chance to do one of those bass-in-your-face songs.
This was my opportunity to show off a little bit.”
The easygoing “Slip ‘n’ Slide” includes
some playful interplay between Veasley and Loeb, with a rock solid
backbeat crafted by drummer Josh Dion.
“So Close to the Sun” showcases guest trumpeter John
Swana and includes atmospheric layers from organist Peter Kuzma
and vocalist Mikki Kornegay. “This song has a range of emotions,”
says Veasley. “It’s actually a little bit melancholy
in the beginning, but it has a very buoyant, triumphant flavor
toward the end.”
The title track appears midway through the set, and the ease
with which it came together in the studio is evident in the final
playback. “’Your Move’ is one of those songs
that, from the instant it starts, puts you in that frame of mind
to just settle into your chair and enjoy the groove,” says
Veasley. “It just feels right and sounds right. It was easy
to work through when we were recording it. When a song comes together
that effortlessly, you almost second-guess yourself. You find
yourself asking, ‘Wow, could it really be that easy?’
The truth is, there’s a complexity to it, but it comes together
so easily because of Chuck’s skills as a producer.”
“Three Tears” is a tribute to Veasley’s longtime
friend Kip Boyer, who passed away earlier this year. Though understated
and respectful, the track maintains an optimistic and even whimsical
edge. “When I started writing it and recording it, I thought
it would be this sort of sad-sounding song,” says Veasley.
“I had intended to create this kind of solemn tribute, and
it ended up being very hopeful. It had a beauty I didn’t
expect. But then I realized, that was Kip. That was the essence
of him.” “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”
is a unique take on the Sly & The Family Stone classic from
1970. “Being a lover of soul music and growing up in that
era, I just see Sly Stone as the quintessential master of funk.
I welcome any opportunity to tip my hat to him, and I think I’ve
managed to capture some of the lighthearted spirit of the original
tune.” The set ends on a romantic note, with “Roxanne’s
Dance,” Veasley’s musical tribute to his wife –
the life partner with whom he makes every move. “My quest
with this record was to tap into an emotional core,” he
says. “I’m trying to make music about those aspects
of life that are common to all of us. There’s a certain
rhythm to life, regardless of what you do for a living. There
are experiences you have every day – certain moves that
you make – with your spouse, your kids, your colleagues,
whomever. A lot of those experiences are universal, and I’m
trying to bring some of them to light.”
The pieces are all in place on Gerald Veasley’s newest
CD. Listen to Your Move and follow his next step
in the game.
Here's an article you may not have seen about
the Jazz Base, my live cd and other topics.
review of At The Jazz Bass by Pop Matters At
The Jazz Base receives 7 ads on Smooth Jazz.com
right out of the box! Thanks to the programmers who started
spinning this record before the official release date.
Do you want to help spread the word about Gerald's
music and special projects? Become a member of the GV's Virtual
Street Team, and create a buzz in the jazz scene. As a member,
you will receive a Street Team T-shirt, be the first to hear news
and get the latest photos and other exclusives from GV.
To Join Today!
calls At the Jazz Bass, "consistently
lively, upbeat and groovin'-a great addition to Veasley's already
impressive jazz/fusion catalog."
Here's a piece from Jazz Review.com
Check out this All
About Jazz.com review of At the Jazz Base. The writer calls
it a "superb album".
This is an important and urgent request from Susan Brecker on
behalf of her husband, the great saxophonist, Michael Brecker.
Please help, if you can.
FROM: Susan Brecker
SUBJECT: Michael Brecker needs your help.
Dear Family and Friends,
My husband, Michael Brecker, has been diagnosed with MDS
(myelodysplastic syndrome), and its critical that he undergoes
cell transplant. The initial search for a donor (including Michael's
siblings and children) has not yet resulted in a suitable match.
Michael's doctors have told us that we need to immediately explore
possible options. This involves getting as many people of a similar
genetic background to be tested.
There are some important points to understand concerning this
1. The screening involves a blood test only. It can be done very
quickly either at a marrow donation center or at a LOCAL LAB.
is anywhere from $40 to $75 and your insurance may cover it.
you can call Frazier, at the NY Blood Bank, at 212-570-3441, and
an appointment for HLA typing. It costs $40.00.) Check
local blood bank, or go to http://www.marrow.org to find the donor
center nearest you.
2. Your blood typing information can be posted on the international
registry, if you choose, where it would also be available to others
need of a transplant. BEING ON THE REGISTRY DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE
DONATE, it just means that you may be ASKED to do so. You can
name off the registry at any time.
3. Should you be selected as a potential donor for Michael,
understand that there have been tremendous advances in bone marrow
transplants and the term itself can be misleading. Bone
donation is no more invasive than giving blood. Stem cells
harvested from your blood and then transplanted to Michael.
4. A match for Michael would be most likely to come from
those of Eastern
European Jewish descent. If you or anyone you know are in this
please make a special effort to immediately get tested. Ultimately,
would be doing something not just for Michael, but for so many
are in a similar situation as my husband.
5. You are now part of our internet-based drive for donor testing.
everyone who receives this can motivate a bunch of their friends
tested, and those friends then forward this email to get their
to get tested, we will have rapidly expanded the pool of potential
donors. I urge all of you to get tested AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Any local blood center/Red Cross center can assist in organizing
drive for Michael, although it would be desirable if you can get
large group, e.g. a synagogue, to sponsor it. Should you have
questions about this, please don't hesitate to get in touch with
Michael's management office at 212.302.9200 or email@example.com.
Thank you so much for your love and support.
We are so grateful.
Michael Brecker is 56 and an internationally renowned jazz musician.
a result of his harmonic innovations, Michael is among the most
contemporary instrumentalists in music schools throughout the
today. Michael has played on hundreds of albums with artists ranging
from Herbie Hancock to James Taylor, from Paul Simon to Frank
Quincy Jones, Chet Baker and Bruce Springsteen---and on and on.
leader and co-leader of The Brecker Brothers (with Randy Brecker)
Directions in Music (with Herbie Hancock and Roy Hargrove), Michael
received 11 Grammy Awards ,more than any saxophonist, ever. For
information, go to http://www.michaelbrecker.com
Check out this E-card
for the At The Jazz Base CD.
Please pass along to a friend!
This is a great review of the Chuck Loeb
show at the Jazz Base written by Beverly Packard for smoothvibes.com:
Chuck is one of my favorite guitarists/composers/producers.
Check him out at www.chuckloeb.com.
By the way, he'll be guesting with my band November 12 at the
Cape May Jazz Festival (www.capemayjazz.com).
The schedule for the fall festival hasn't
been posted yet, but stay tuned. In this online review,
Karl Lozier calls At The Jazz Base "a gem of contemporary
Here's another review - this one by Mike Varney
Great reviews of "At The Jazz
Base" are already coming in. Check this one out:
very rewarding when somebody really captures the intent of one
of my recordings. This reviewer got it! Do
me a favor, spread the word.
I've published another article.
This latest one is about The Funk Brothers, the great musicians
who were the subject of the film, Standing in the Shadows
of Motown. Look in the July/August issue of Jazz
Times magazine. It's the one with Wes Montgomery on the
cover. Coincidentally, Wes Montgomery is the first
jazz musician I tried to emulate as a kid.
article about the BBC experience from a camper's perspective.
It mentions Victor Wooten's Bass/Nature Camp and Steve Bailey's
Bass at the Beach, as well. One thing we all have in common
is our desire to share our knowledge with bassists, who become
our best ambassadors to the bass community. Thanks,
Bay's Bass Sessions® | Keith White - Bass Bootcamp | June 2005
This is an online article by one of our 2005 Bass
BootCamp students. There is no way I could introduce it
and do it justice. I just read it and I am deeply moved.
You have to read it for yourself.
Wallace - Reading Gerald Veasley's Mail | June 2005
Part of the mission of the Bass BootCamp is "to
inform and inspire". To that end, I always include discussions
in the camp about issues that will make the BBC participants think.
As a result, many of them end up taking a step toward changing
limiting, defeatist attitudes. It is my view that as musicians
(and as people) we tend to "drive with the brakes on"
- an apt metaphor for a self-imposed limitation.
I was asked by Bass Player magazine to submit
an article for it's "Soapbox" section. This was prime
opportunity to share with a larger audience some of the ideas
we discuss at the Bass BootCamp.
The subject of the article is competition. I think
you'll find it interesting. Look for the June issue of Bass Player
magazine. Let me know what you think.
Check out the article
entitled "Portrait of Jaco" in the June issue of Jazz
Times. This piece, written by Bill Milkowski, is about the legacy
of Jaco Pastorius and a tribute concert in his honor (June 22,
Beacon Theater, NYC). The article features some quotes by yours
truly about Jaco, a musician who left an indelible mark on me.
By the way, I will be featured on this JVC Jazz
Festival along with Christian McBride, Victor Wooten, Oteil Burbridge,
Steve Bailey and other Jaco loving bassists. Check it out:
Live CD: "At The Jazz Base"
Today I am listening to the finished version of the live recording
of my band. It has been a labor of love working on this CD, which
I believe is my truest work yet. At
The Jazz Base really captures the excitement and
spontaneity of my great band. It also is not limited by the usual
restrictions of time and arrangements. When you hear the recording,
you'll hear us just "going for it". Thanks to you the
fans, after all, you asked for it! At The Jazz Base will be
released July 26th, 2005.
By the way what's the Jazz Base?
It's my very own club! Every Thursday we present music at
the Jazz Base which is in the Sheraton Reading. It's not only
a great place for me to present my band and other special projects
where I can stretch out, it's also an excellent venue for regional
and national acts. This summer, we'll host concerts by Chuck Loeb,
Nick Collione, Acoustic Alchemy, and a special CD release party
for the release of my latest CD. The date? June 30th!
For more information, visit
Recently, I worked with Leslie Burrs on a concert version of his
opera Vanqui. We performed it in Lowell, Massachusetts under the
inspired direction of conductor Dr. Kay Roberts. It was a wonderful
performance of some of the most stunning music from the opera that
includes elements of classical, gospel and jazz music.
A full version of the opera with: vocal soloists, a sixty
voice choir, chamber orchestra, jazz quartet, sets, and costumes will
be presented on May 7 at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia.
This was our most inspirational BBC yet! It featured an
awesome bass jam at my club, the Jazz Base. Bassist after
bassist got up and performed for a packed house. There were great
workshops and masterclasses by, Anthony Wellington, Bakithi Kumalo,
Jimmy Haslip, Gary Willis and drummer Groove instructor, Richard
Waller. One of my personal faves, though was a surprise presentation
by "Standing In The Shadows Of Motown" producer, Allan
This one-on-one interview show is both informative and entertaining
and provides an insight into the creative minds of great musicians.
Since the inaugural taping of Music Lab with Joe Sample, I've
had the pleasure of hosting shows featuring R&B great Michael
McDonald, slide guitar master Sonny Landreth, amazing bassist
Oteil Burbridge, and saxophonist, composer from Bela Fleck
and the Flecktones, Jeff Coffin. Stay tuned, there
will be an announcement coming soon about the national broadcast
of the Music Lab series.
Over the last couple of weeks, I've had an amazing array of musical
experiences. It's not often I get to hear great music live
but this has been an inspiring period. Here's who I've
heard in concert recently: Little Jimmy Scott, Lalah Hathaway,
Joe Sample, The Blue Notes, The Stylistics, Anglela Bofill, Miki
Howard, Floetry, Marion Meadows, Jaguar Wright. Meanwhile,
I performed with Phil Perry, jammed with Victor Wooten and backed
up a "cast of thousands" at the Cape May Jazz Festival
Jazz Jam. I have to say - I attended one of my favorite
concerts of all time last week. It was the night I
heard Dianne Reeves at the Kimmel Center here in Philadelphia.
She was simply sublime. At times she soared through
the music with unbelievable finesse and at other times she was
passionate and earthy. Inspiring. What about your
favorite concert? Is there one that stands out in your memory? Sign
in the guest book and let me know who inspired you - let me know
about a musical event that may have changed your life.
Sample was in town recently and I had the honor of interviewing
him for a workshop at World Cafe Live. Tom Emmi, the creator
and producer of the BET Jazz program, "Studio Jams",
is producing a new series called "Music Lab". Music
Lab will be shown at schools and will provide an in depth look into
the lives and art of great musicians. My interview of Joe
Sample was the pilot for the series, and what an excellent choice
of subject he was! For many years, he's provided
a living example of a great artistic life as composer, musician,
bandleader, and recording artist. Joe Sample was very engaging,
gracious and willing to share his knowledge. The afternoon
I spent listening to wonderful stories from a true master will be
a treasured memory. For more information on World Cafe Live,
For more information on Studio Jams, visit
What's on your "turntable" right now? If you're like
me, you haven't used an actual turntable in a long time. I just
like saying "turntable." It reminds me of the old days
of vinyl records and album covers with great art and insightful
liner notes. Oh well, time marches on...
So, I'm really asking about the music that you are listening
to on your CD player, computer, MP3 player or other modern media
device. What music has grabbed you recently? Every now and then
a musical performance creeps into your soul and changes your life.
Or sometimes music just makes you forget about your problems for
a day. Which recordings have made a difference in your life recently?
It could be the work of a ground breaking new artist or an old
favorite that you listen to again and again.
Take a moment to share your current ear candy in my guestbook.
In the meantime, here's my list (Five Faves) to get the ball rolling:
Fresh - Sly and the Family Stone
Salt - Lizz Wright
Enroute - John Scofield Trio Live
Musicology - Prince
Everlasting Life - Kim Burrell
Special thanks to Lee Mergner for making sure I stay up to date
with new music!
One of the things I enjoy apart from music is
the company of a good book. I love books that inspire, challenge,
or tug at my heartstrings. Here's a list of books (in no particular
order) that mean the most to me:
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- Long Walk to Freedom, The Autobiography of
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
by Steven Covey
- Q, The Autobiography of Quincy Jones
- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (my
- The Art of Possibility by Rosumund Stone Zander
and Benjamin Zander
- The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green
- Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
- The Color of Water by James McBride
- Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (or anything else
written by Kurt Vonnegut)
I would love to hear about your favorite books,
send me a message in the Guestbook.
Over the past few months I've had the opportunity
to jam with Larry Carlton, Pat Martino, Bela Fleck, and Joey DeFrancesco.
These jam sessions (as well as others) have been documented by
director Tom Emmy as "Studio Jams". Recorded at
Philly's legendary Sigma Sound Studios, these sessions show musicians
creating spontaneous, engaging musical arrangements.
I had a great time hanging out with some of my
favorite musicians and communicating through the language of music.
Kudos to Tom Emmy and his crew for making it happen.
The good news: Studio Jams are now being shown
on BET on Jazz. The bad news: there are still some areas where
you can't get BET on Jazz. Suggestion: call your local cable provider
and demand it!
Meanwhile, you can check out this story about
Studio Jams at Jazz
Lookout for an exciting new tribute to Jaco Pastorius! I am honored
to have played on Jaco Pastorius Big Band Word of Mouth Revisited,
which features a who's who of the bass world: Victor Bailey, Richard
Bona, Jimmy Haslip, Christian McBride, Marcus Miller and Victor
Wooten. The big band itself is tight under the direction of longtime
Jaco collaborator, Peter Graves.
Jaco was a major influence on my development as a musician, and
so it is especially gratifying to be included on this project
that honors his legacy.
The CD is on the Heads Up International label and will be released
The Velvet CD, I'm pleased to say is
being received warmly by fans and music writers alike. Here is
interview with Baldwin "Smitty" Smith from The
Jazz Nation, a web-based magazine. Enjoy!
April 24, 2003
Gerald Veasley Nominated- Bassist of The Year
The 4th Annual National Smooth Jazz Awards has nominated
Gerald for Bassist of The Year.
To vote go to: www.nationalsmoothjazzawards.com
April 23, 2003
Travis Smiley Interviews Gerald Veasley on
The Travis Smiley Show
If you missed, Click
April 22, 2003
BASSIST GERALD VEASLEY LAYS DOWN THE SEDUCTIVE
FABRIC OF VELVET
"What's old is new again." It's an expression
we've all heard. In simple terms, it means the good stuff is timeless,
and it will always survive and eventually resurface, no matter
how many years go by or how much clutter might get in the way.
Bassist Gerald Veasley knows.
He grew up with the good stuff - the seminal urban grooves of
the '70s that served as the backdrop to his creative awakening.
"That was a time when I was kind of coming into my own as a musician,
starting to really take music seriously, and there were all these
great sounds around," he recalls. "Music right about that time
was starting to get very, very funky, and people were taking a
lot of chances. There weren't a lot of constraints in radio."
Veasley's richly textured new recording that
evokes the sound and spirit of those formative years when innovators
like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind and Fire and George
Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic turned the traditions of R&B
and soul on their head and redefined the urban sound.
these potent ingredients from decades past with the sounds and
sensibilities of contemporary urban music, process them through
Veasley's musically rich Philadelphia upbringing, and the result
is a unique instrumental perspective on the burgeoning movement
that is now called neo-soul.
his sixth solo effort on Heads Up, Veasley maintains an unmistakably
progressive sensibility with the help of some of today's brightest
Among the young luminaries are fellow Philadelphian
Jaguar Wright, who provides some sexually charged lead and backing
vocals on the stirring Curtis Mayfield cover, "Let's Do It Again,"
and John Stephens, who also lends his pipes to the same track,
as well as the gently rhythmic ballad "Summer Kiss."
Other guests include vocalists Mikki Kornegay
and Warren Cooper, who both step up to the mic on the sensual
"It's Alright." Guitarist Randy Bowland adds layers of texture
to "Let's Do It Again," "Velvet" and the heartfelt "Home," while
Hammond organists Benji Porecki ("Bread Puddin'" and "Forever")
and Michael Aharon ("Do You Remember") bring the shimmer that's
such a vital component of the urban sound - regardless of what
decade it comes from.
And then there's Veasley's usual crew, each with
a star power all his own: Chris Farr, who handles tenor and soprano
sax; Will Brock and Mark Knox on keyboards; and co-producer Richard
Waller III on drums and percussion.
Helping Veasley hold it all together on the two
neo-soul vocal tracks is producer Herb Middleton, whose credits
include work with Will Smith, Al Green, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans
and Kenny Lattimore.
latest effort is a place where old school meets new school. Drop
this one into the changer and hear the best of both worlds - the
classic as well as the contemporary.
feel of Velvet.
To all my friends - I wish you
a joyous holiday season. I'm looking forward to enjoying time
with my family after having spent the last three months working
on a new CD while juggling teaching and touring.
First, regarding family, my daughter
T.J. is living up to the song "All I Want For Christmas Is
My Two Front Teeth". She has made a fortune off the tooth
fairy. Am I the only one who remembers when you used to get a
dime from the tooth fairy? Ah, the good old days.
Roxanne is somehow handling running
Flying Vee Music, working part time as a career services rep,
organizing the upcoming Bass Bootcamp and doing all the Christmas
shopping and decorating. Ah, the life of a musician's wife (and
I had fun seeing Kyle and his
family over the Thanksgiving Holidays. Many of you know that my
son is the program director of an excellent radio station - WEAA
in Baltimore. Ah, the benefits of having relatives in high places.
Vanessa is coming home from Atlanta
for her mad holiday dash through Philadelphia. If you see her,
tell her that her father said hi. Ah, the joys of fatherhood.
On the music business front, I'm
very excited about the upcoming release of my new CD - VELVET.
It is the strongest music I've ever recorded. It mostly features
my longtime friends and band members - Richard Waller III (who
also co-produced the album), Chris Farr, Mark Knox and Will Brock.
Added to the mix are some new
friends - Jaguar Wright, a true soul singer who gives one of the
most inspired vocal performances I've ever heard and John Stephens,
who is a undoubtedly a future star.
We are offering our third Bass
Bootcamp March 21st 22 and 23, 2003 in Reading, PA. Once again
we are partnering with The Berk's Jazz Festival to present a weekend
of workshops, performances and master classes for serious minded
bassists of all levels. Instructors include Gary Willis, Victor
Bailey, Michael Manring, Doug Wimbish and for the first time Brian
Bromberg. For more information visit www.geraldveasley.com.
If anyone hasn't solidified their
New Year's Eve plans, I have a suggestion, spend it with us at
Zanzibar Blue in Philly. We're going to unveil some of the new
material form VELVET featuring Jill Scott's horn section - Jeff
Bradshaw and Matt Cappy. On the weekend preceding New Years Eve
(December 27th and 28th) you can also see us at Zanzibar Blue.
On The 27th we'll have a special guest - saxophonist Eddie Bacchus
Jr. from Pieces of a Dream. For more information call 215-732-5200.
Finally, from my family to yours,
we wish you health and prosperity in the New Year. In spite of
all the setbacks we may have in our lives, we are truly fortunate.
We are here. Breathing, thinking, planning, loving, living. As
long as we're here there is a chance. May God bless you.
You may notice the glaring gap
between September and February on this page. It's not because
there hasn't been anything new to report. Certainly, there's been
a lot going on. Here's the top five events that I'd like to share
1) Starting with the most obvious,
September 11th turned our world upside down. Personally, I went
through the gamut of emotions since that day - shock, fear, anger,
grief. Then finally, I felt encouraged by the stories of heroism,
unity, and grace shown by the people of this nation.
2) From the agony to the ecstasy
- found out that Rox and I are having a baby. Now finally Taylor,
our 5 year old, will have someone to look up to her. She already
looks up to Kyle and Vanessa, her older brother and sister who
are (sigh) both grown and living too far away to be playmates.
3) I was pleased to find out I
was nominated as "Bassists of the Year" by the National
Smooth Jazz Awards. If you'd like to cast your vote, you can do
it online at nationalsmoothjazzawards.com
By the way, my good friends Pieces
of a Dream recieved a well deserved nomination for "Group
Of The Year". Voting ends February 10th. Spread the word.
4) Recorded with the wonderful
Nnena Freelon. She's a classy lady with tremendous talent and
vision. We worked on an album produced by the unflappable John
Snyder in NY. Ironically, the repertoire is from the Stevie Wonder
songbook. In 1999, I recorded a Grammy nominated album with the
Dixie Hummingbirds that featured a performance and song by Stevie
- "Have A Talk With God". That album was also produced
by John Snyder. Then, when I began working on "On The Fast
Track" I decided to re-do Stevie's "Do I Do", which
has turned out to be quite successful. Hmmm.
5) Moved forward in planning the
Bass Bootcamp, a weekend of workshops for bassists, March 15th
to 17th. We now have confirmed our roster of instructors - Victor
Bailey, Michael Manring, and Doug Wimbish. My fellow instructors
and I intend to challenge Bootcamp bassis students to reach for
the next level. For registration information, click on Gerald
Veasley's Bass Bootcamp on this website's home page.
P.S. Here's the "Memorable
Gig Story" I wrote for Jazz Times Magazine which was published
Jazz musicians are notorious name
droppers. Most of their collections of memories involve having
done "such and such" with "so and so". I'm
no exception. I'm not ashamed to admit that much of what I remember
easily about my career are stories resulting from sharing the
stage or tour bus with jazz legends. The biggest legend in my
collection (and the funniest) is Dizzy Gillespie.
While I never played in his band,
I seemed to cross Dizzy's unmistakable path periodically. When
I misplaced my passport in Vienna, it was Dizzy who called the
State Department in Washington to try to help me. When the Grammy
Living Legends show honored Quincy Jones by assembling a group
(including me - the unabashed name dropper) to play Joe Zawinul's
"Birdland", who was on trumpet? Dizzy, of course.
I once played with him in a jam
session in Japan. During my bass solo on "Round Midnight",
he picked the quietest moment to clear the saliva from his horn.
"Splat!" The audience cracked up at my shocked expression
and Dizzy's feigned regret. Great musicians do have perfect timing.
My favorite Dizzy story, however,
involves not a gig, but a train ride.
I'm on a train in Japan with Zawinul's
band plus (big plus) Dizzy who is seated across from me. It's
too early to have had breakfast, so I remark, "man I'm hungry".
Dizzy produces a briefcase and in James Bond - like fashion pulls
out of it the biggest peach I've ever seen in my life. Without
a word, he holds it out to me and I take it because I'm hungry
and it's from Dizzy. Juice is dripping everywhere and the gentlemanly
percussionist, Bobby Thomas, who is seated next to me, is embarrassed
beyond belief. Too hungry to care, I chew that thing down to the
pit. Of course, the Japanese don't create trash, so there are
no trash receptacles anywhere on the train. I've got this pit
and no where decent to put it. Bobby's embarassed, I'm embarassed,
God only knows what the Japanese are thinking. Dizzy rolls his
eyes in mock disgust and without saying a word, puts the briefcase
on his lap and opens it again.
He pulls out a handkerchief and
motions for me to put it in the handkerchief. What else can I
do? I place the pit in the hand of one of the architects of bebop,
who wraps it up, places it in the briefcase, closes the briefcase
and sets it back on the floor as if this is the most natural thing
in the world.
I think Bobby Thomas laughed harder
than I did.
ON THE WRITTEN PAGE
I was asked by Jazz Times Magazine
to contribute a "memorable gig story". What they were
looking for was a humorous road story like the kind that musicians
tell among each other. My creative juices startied flowing immediately.
I came up with a few ideas that the editor, Christopher Porter
thought were really funny. There was the one about me jumping
off a stage in New York in the heat of the moment and the painfully
funny results; or the time a Grover tour bus turned into an inferno,
and three other story ideas.
The editor couldn't decide so
he left it up to me to choose which story I thought I could "knock
out of the park". I chose to write about a great experience
I had in the presence of the great Dizzy Gillespie. I won't give
it away here, (Awwwh) but you can look for it in the November
issue of Jazz Times.
Meanwhile, sharing this type of
story has inspired me to dig into my memory banks of 20 years
of touring. I'm going to publish those gig stories here on my
website. Look soon for what I hope will be funny, irreverent or
inspiring recollections of life on the road.
Volume #28 of Bassics will feature
a piece about the new CD, "On The Fast Track". It will
also include a transcription of the song, "Under The Cape
Town Sun" which can also be heard on the Bassics CD sampler
accompanying the magazine.
"Cape Town" was inspired
by the music of that gorgeous South African town which I visited
twice. Cape Town is also the home of the great singer/ guitarist
Johnathan Butler. Inspired by Johnathan, I performed this piece
on an Ibanez five string acoustic electric bass which I think
enabled me to capture al organic, "global village" type
sound. This instrument has become a important voice for me and
now I play it every day. It won't replace "Honey", my
beloved six string electric (shown on the CD label) but it's getting
close to my heart. And you thought instruments were inanimate
Ten Tidbits From Radio Land
Lot's of good news on the radio
front for "On The Fast Track":
1 - Single, "Do I Do"
has topped the New and Active R&R chart.
2 - On August 4th, my band and
I performed "The In Crowd" live on The Doug and Lorna
show on WHUR in Washington D.C. Apparently this song has come
full circle, since, according to my friend Lee Mergner. D.C. is
where the signature Ramsey Lewis version was recorded live.
3 - "On The Fast Track"
was new CD featured on John Chung's radio show - Touch of Jazz
on KBLX in Oakland. Touch of Jazz is a very tastefully programmed
Sunday morning show (no, I'm not partial!).
4 - On September 28th, the show
"Harlem After Midnight" on WHCR will salute me by playing
nearly an hour of my music. I'm honored to say the least!
5 - I heard from a very reliable
source that Stevie Wonder heard my cover of his "Do I Do"
on KTWV in LA and loved it. I could walk on clouds.
6 - "Do I Do" is in
power rotation in New York's WQCD (CD 101). Yeah!
7- Had fun live interview with
the very cool and engaging Madison on Detroit's WVMV at my August
5th Elizabeth Park show. Also, had the opportunity to chat with
one of my favorite musicians, Joe Sample.
8 - August 6th performance of
my Electric Mingus Project was broadcast live by WRTI in Philadelphia.
9- WJJZ in Philadelphia (the first
station to play "Do I Do") is putting the finishing
touches on album release party for "On The Fast Track"
where else - but on an AMTRAK train! For details, keep and eye
on the projects page.
10) Congratulations to flutist
and WVMV on air personality Alexander Zonjic on the release of
his new recording for Heads Up. It's called "Reach for the
Sky" and it is beautiful.
If you like "On The Fast
Track", but you haven't heard anything from it on your favorite
radio station, you hereby have my permission to call the station
and (politely) request it.
What are you still reading for?
Call the station. Pretty please.
I just finished a great weekend
of dates this past weekend with Pieces Of A Dream. We played three
outdoor shows as headliners in Springfield, Mass., Atlantic City,
NJ and on the Camden, NJ waterfront. Last nights show in Camden
was especially cool - in front of practically a hometown crowd
(Camden is across the Delaware river from Philly) of about 4000
people. Pieces and I both share Philadelphia roots, so playing
for that audience probably had a comfort level for all of us that's
hard to beat. In spite of Philadelphia's reputation for being
a tough audience, (the recent booing of Destiny's Child during
the NBA finals and the oft mentioned booing of Santa Claus at
an Eagle's Game) I've found Philly fans to be just as vocal in
their approval as in their disapproval.
Last night's show for example,
was a "Lovefest". The audience was not content to sit
back in the uphill lawn seating. A few folks, came to the front
of the stage as the concert started with the new Pieces single,
"Are You Ready". I expected them to take a few snapshots
and return to the grassy area. But you know how it is when family
comes over - they get comfortable. The few in front grew to probably
a hundred by the time the last note to "Fo-Fi-Fo" was
It was great. It's nice to play
in front of a big audience and it's also great to be in a small
club. The first setting offers an electric energy, the second
an incomparable intimacy. Last night was the best of both worlds.
We were able to PLAY BIG - the way bands do when there's a large
number of people checking them out. "Playing big" (my
own expression) means big in terms of showmanship, sound, selections
of songs, attitude, etc., It's an approach that's necessary when
there are huge numbers of faceless fans with whom you need to
Yet with a crowd directly in front
as well, we were also able to make eye contact the way you can
in a little jazz club. Imagine also seeing people that you know
down front - spurring you on.
Not that this band needs much
encouragement. It's one of the most energetic and musically satisfying
shows I've seen in contemporary jazz. OK, maybe I'm being a bit
partial, but next time we're in town, you be the judge.
My latest CD, "On The Fast
Track", is being received well. I'm thankful that I had the
benefit of the talents of my band members: Mark Knox, Butch Reed,
and Chris Farr. This has been my loyal, hard working group for
the last few years, so it was great utilizing their services as
opposed to using "hired guns" (ie. studio musicians
or guest artists). We have a great rapport that I think comes
through on my new CD. Also, the extended family of musicians lended
a hand: Will Brock, Donald Robinson, Randy Bowland, John Swana,
Tony Miceli, Ted Thomas, Charles Baldwin, Matt Cappy, and Jeff
Bradshaw. Once again, these are musicians that I have a history
with and I believe that it makes a difference.
The production team of Richard
Waller III, John Anthony and myself was still intact for "On
The Fast Track". We have developed an effortless working
relationship. In the studio, we have to actually say very little
to each other. We know the result we're going for and we know
when we've achieved it. I'm very thankful to work with people
who understand my musical vision and in whom I can place a great
deal of trust.
Thanks to the hard work of my
label Heads Up, combined with the efforts of the creative/technical
folks mentioned above, the CD is doing well. In fact, the first
single, an interpretation of Stevie Wonder's "Do I Do"
was the #1 most added single in smooth jazz radio in it's first
week of release. Listeners have taken to the upbeat funky grooves,
tight horn section performances and soulful soloists on the CD.
I generally am not influenced by the opinions of reviewers (whether
positive or not) but I must admit to being flattered by Karl Stark
of the Philadelphia Inquirer saying "the grooves come from
a deep place". I think they do. Most important, however,
is your opinion. Check out "On The Fast Track" and tell
me what YOU think!
I've finished my
new record - "On The Fast Track". I feel exhilarated
and satisfied about the results of my labor.
Today I took another step toward completing my latest CD project
for Heads Up Records- the photo shoot. I have to admit,
this is usually the most difficult part for me. I don't
know how models develop the patience to take roll after roll film
to get the perfect shot. I'm a great deal more comfortable
putting in 12 to 16 hours a day creating the music. This
particular shoot went very well thanks to a great photographer
John Secoges, art director - Robert Hoffman, my manager Paul Silverthorn
and my wife and erstwhile stylist Roxanne. I'm anxious to
see what I think will be great photos for the CD.
As I'm writing
this, it's about 10:30 on a Sunday night and in a sense, the second
half of my day is about to start. I'm going to go in my
studio - The Soul Lab, and put some finishing touches on the opening
song for the record. It's a tune I call "On The Fast Track"
- an upbeat song that conjures the image of a morning train headed
downtown. The song features Chris Farr, the brilliant young
saxophonist from my band and Tony Miceli (a great vibes player
who can also be heard in my other band - The Electric Mingus Project).
Waller will mix "On The Fast Track" for an international sampler
that will include songs from other Heads Up artists. Richard
has great ears and is sort of my alter ego. Our musical
tastes are very similar - sometimes it seems as though we're reading
each other's minds. It's great to have that kind of relationship
with a creative partner.
For a few days,
I'll actually have a bit of breathing room from the album.
I'm going to Japan and Hawaii. I'll be playing with Pieces
of A Dream (who just completed their latest Heads Up release).
Playing with this great group will give me a chance to not only
have a change of scenery but will allow me to come back to my
music with a fresh perspective. Who knows, maybe there will
even be an eastern influence creeping into my "urban progressive"
music. Stay tuned.