Every once in awhile, we as musi­cians are for­tu­nate enough to do a gig that inspires us and reas­sures us that there is indeed a great pur­pose behind this some­times crazy busi­ness we exist in. For me, that gig came last week when I was for­tu­nate to play with Bob Mintzer and his incred­ible big band at the Blue Note Tokyo for four nights.

Bob is as good a musi­cian as I have ever played with. There are a few who equal his level of vir­tu­osity, but none better. His writing is bril­liant, inspiring and a joy to play. For this par­tic­ular engage­ment, he com­bined his New York and West Coast big bands to form one of the finest ensem­bles I have ever been a part of. Cap­taining the ship was the great, and I do mean great, Peter Erskine on drums. The com­bi­na­tion of Bob’s music and Peter’s drum­ming is sub­lime. Peter has a way of set­ting up the fig­ures and phrases that makes it impos­sible to fail as a horn player. For the most part, the music we per­formed was from Bob’s latest CD enti­tled For The Moment. A brazilian themed project that is extra­or­di­nary in every way; bril­liant writing, fab­u­lous playing and excep­tional pro­duc­tion. Go online asap and order a copy. It’s worth ten times what you’ll pay for it.

Just to sweeten the pot a bit, I was hon­ored to give a mas­ter­class at one of the most incred­ible music stores I have ever been to. The shop is called Joy Brass and is ded­i­cated to selling the finest prod­ucts the brass world has to offer including instru­ments, mouth­pieces, cases, mutes, stands, music, books and record­ings. In short, it’s heaven for a brass player.

Mas­ter­class Joy Brass Tokyo 6.23.12

I was thrilled to see they had 5 Michael Davis model Shires trom­bones in stock and had already sold sev­eral more. The shop is run by a gen­tleman named Kazuhiro Sanada who is both a con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional and a won­derful guy. So, calling all brass players, the next time you’re in Tokyo, check out Joy Brass.

Thank you Bob Mintzer for your amazing music and for giving us all such an inspiring oppor­tu­nity. In an era when people tend to cut as many cor­ners as pos­sible, thank you Kazuhiro for doing things right. Tokyo RULES! I cannot wait to go back.

Posted in Clinics, Hip-BoneMusic, Michael Davis Trombone, New York freelance scene | Leave a comment

Music Education.…..It Works!

I had the good for­tune of working with the Mandan High School jazz ensemble (Mandan, North Dakota) this past weekend as part of their year ending jazz opus con­cert. This was my second oppor­tu­nity to work with this excep­tional pro­gram and both times it amazed me what a remark­able group of kids this pro­gram has pro­duced. The pro­gram is lead by a very tal­ented and inspired music edu­cator named John Warren. This was John’s final con­cert, cap­ping off an extra­or­di­nary 35 year career as a music educator.

On the flight back to New York, I began to reflect on how lucky I am to work with so many fine music pro­grams every year. While I strive to pro­vide some level of knowl­edge and inspi­ra­tion to all the stu­dents I work with, it is actu­ally the stu­dents them­selves that impart wisdom and exhil­a­ra­tion to all that we do as educators.

Mandan High School jazz ensemble 5.19.12

As the flight went along, I kept coming back to the same thought. Music edu­ca­tion is para­mount! To me, it’s the lifeblood of a well rounded and insightful edu­ca­tion. The number of studies sup­porting the role music has in a suc­cessful edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence are too numerous to men­tion, but of course we must. Music stu­dents simply out­per­form non-music stu­dents in all facets of edu­ca­tion, aca­d­emic and otherwise.

Look at the joy on these young people’s faces. It comes from being a part of some­thing spe­cial, some­thing ener­gizing and some­thing fun. Music is all of that and then some. Sup­port music edu­ca­tion in your schools and give young people every­where the oppor­tu­nity to grow and find their pas­sion through music.

Posted in Clinics, ClubHip-Bone, Hip-BoneMusic, Hip-BoneU, Music Education | Leave a comment

New York, Broadway & the Queen of the Desert

The New York free­lance music scene, like the rest of the world, has under­gone dra­matic change in the past 10 to 15 years. At first glance it can seem over­whelming and a bit scary, but on closer inspec­tion we come to realize that this change is our best oppor­tu­nity for growth. It may seem a bit harsh, but the expres­sion “change or die” has never been more applicable.

Some of the most enjoy­able work I do is recording music in a studio. These recording ses­sions can be for a cd, a motion pic­ture sound­track, a tele­vi­sion theme or com­mer­cial. Coming out of col­lege, my goal was to become what was then called a “studio musi­cian”.  Everyday you were pre­sented with a new, fresh musical chal­lenge that you were seeing for the first time. A chal­lenge that you had to deliver on imme­di­ately. A pres­sure packed envi­ron­ment for sure, but also an extremely rewarding one at times. As the music busi­ness has evolved over the past decade, the role of the studio musi­cian has con­tracted. While I still get calls to record on a reg­ular basis, it’s def­i­nitely less.

For­tu­nately, New York has a thriving musical the­ater scene also known simply as “Broadway”. Most free­lance musi­cians in the com­mer­cial end of the busi­ness find them­selves playing in the pits of Broadway. You either have a full time posi­tion, which enables you to per­form 8 shows a week, or you are in the very tal­ented pool of sub­sti­tutes who fill in for the reg­u­lars when they take off to do other work.

Michael Davis w/Miss Under­standing (Nathan Lee Graham)

I am cur­rently playing a fan­tas­ti­cally funny show called “Priscilla — Queen of the Desert”.  And I do mean queen!! We’ve been run­ning for a over a year now and it’s been a blast. The band was expertly assem­bled by the esteemed con­tractor John Miller and is lead by a supremely tal­ented conductor/pianist/arranger named Jeff Klitz. Our band fea­tures some of the finest musi­cians in New York and I’m proud to be a part of it. Our cast is equally tal­ented and to describe them as vivid is an understatement.

Before Priscilla, I was for­tu­nate to be a part of the Tony award win­ning show Mem­phis. That show, which is still going strong, was a plea­sure to play and fea­tured an equally out­standing band. I am thrilled to have been a part of both of these stellar productions.

Musical the­ater is keeping the New York free­lance scene vibrant and we are all most grateful for it. See a show next time you’re in New York and take the time to say hi to the won­derful musi­cians who are making the expe­ri­ence of live the­ater all the more memorable.


Posted in Hip-BoneMusic, New York freelance scene | 1 Comment

A Good Week!

One of the many chal­lenges facing free­lance musi­cians is the sched­uling of work. I’m like everyone else. I’ll have days off waiting for a call, the phone rings for a gig, you hang up thrilled and the phone rings again for another gig at the very same time. Frus­tra­tion a plenty! For the most part, I’ve found the best approach to be true to your word. If you accept a gig, honor the com­mit­ment. Even if you have to turn some­thing down that you’d really like to be a part of, the person calling will respect your integrity and know that when they do get you, you’ll be there for them. Obvi­ously, if the Rolling Stones call for a world tour, forget what I just said!

Once in awhile, things line up just right and you’re able to do every­thing. A couple weeks back I was for­tu­nate to have one of those stretches. I flew to Los Angeles on a Sunday and recorded two new videos for Hip-BoneU with the great Bill Reichen­bach. They’ll both be coming out next month. Fol­lowed that up by inter­viewing both Bill Reichen­bach and Bob Mintzer for Hip-Bone Music’s new artist of the month inter­view series bone2pick. Monday morning found me on my way to Tucson, AZ for three days at the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona Jazz Fes­tival. What a treat to work with the out­standing stu­dents and pro­gram at the U of A. It’s headed up by a tremen­dously tal­ented trombonist/educator named Moises Paiewonsky. If you haven’t heard of him yet, you will! Super pos­i­tive energy on all fronts.

Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona Studio Jazz Ensemble directed by Moises Paiewonsky

Fol­lowing those inspiring three days, I was very for­tu­nate to be asked to be part of the house band for the opening of the Smith Center for the Per­forming Arts in Las Vegas. A stun­ning new arts center in down­town Vegas that rivals the finest con­cert halls any­where. The band was headed up by the supremely tal­ented musical director/pianist/arranger Rob Mathes, con­tracted by one of New York’s best pur­veyors of talent the esteemed Jill Della­bate and fea­tured an all-star cast including Michael Beardon on key­boards, Kenny Ara­noff on drums, Zev Katz on bass, Bashiri Johnson on per­cus­sion, Stuart Duncan on violin and my fellow horn sec­tion mates Jeff Kievit on trumpet, Lou Marini and Aaron Heick on sax­o­phones. We had the plea­sure of backing up Carole King, Willie Nelson, Jen­nifer Hudson, Merle Hag­gard, Joshua Bell and many other won­der­fully gifted artists. The con­cert was filmed by PBS for an upcoming spe­cial. It was an exciting and fun event to be a part of.

Since the gods of sched­uling tend not to shine on us on a reg­ular basis, I think it’s impor­tant to be grateful for those times when they do. I was def­i­nitely grateful for that week!

Posted in Clinics, Hip-BoneMusic, Hip-BoneU, New York freelance scene, Rolling Stones | 9 Comments

Trombone Days Rock!

Just spent a great weekend in San Marcos, TX as the guest artist of the 2nd annual Trom­bone Day at Texas State Uni­ver­sity. A ter­rific event headed by Dr. Martin McCain, one of the excel­lent trom­bone pro­fes­sors at Texas State. It was a full day of rehearsals, mas­ter­classes and an evening per­for­mance that won’t be for­gotten. Kudos go out to Martin and his stu­dents for the superb orga­nizing and playing they did to make this event a roaring success

2.19.12 San Marcos, TX 2nd Annual Texas State Trom­bone Day with Michael Davis and Dr. Martin McCain

Over the past sev­eral months, I have had the extreme plea­sure of being the guest artist at four Trom­bone Days. In November, it was the Cal­i­fornia State East Bay TD, headed by Dick Akright and Billy Robinson. In October, it was the Boston Con­ser­va­tory TD bril­liantly orga­nized and lead by Wes Hopper and Angel Subero. And in Sep­tember, we cel­e­brated Mark Lusk’s 25 years of pro­fes­sor­ship with the Penn State Trom­bone Labor Days.

These events are incred­ible cel­e­bra­tions of our instru­ment and are truly inspiring. My hat goes off to all the great teachers and trom­bon­ists who make these events happen. It’s hard to put into words how much time, energy and effort goes into each event, but rest assured, it’s a bloody ton! So thank you Martin, Dick, Billy, Wes, Angel and Mark for the amazing work you do!

This is the first install­ment of Con­nected to the Hip-Bone, so I’d like to take this oppor­tu­nity to wel­come everyone. I hope you’ll check in on a reg­ular basis as I try to keep everyone up to date with var­ious projects and activ­i­ties here in New York, at Hip-Bone Music and on the road.



Posted in Clinics, ClubHip-Bone, Hip-BoneMusic, Hip-BoneU, Michael Davis Trombone | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments