Welcome to my new blog, This Is My Life! My purpose for this blog is to give folks a very honest view into my life as a saxophonist/composer. I'll share experiences on many topics including current music projects, concerts I've played or that I'm preparing for, current events, health, hobbies, and many more aspects of life in general, which will all be open for discussion. One thing I look for in all of my musical encounters is an exchange of ideas and I hope that you all feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with me via email or by posting your responses.
So, I'd like to begin by giving you a brief description of what's going on in my life now. In less than a month I will celebrate my one year anniversary of living in New York City. September 6th of 2009, immediately after my group Fitted Shards performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, my father and I loaded his SUV and drove through the night from Chicago to Harlem. This began one of the most important journeys in my life and I'm not just talking specifically about music. Living in this city requires that you ask yourself some important questions. For example, "What am I going to do here?". Finding the answers to this question, along with many others, was a bit of a process and will continue to be, I'm sure, but we'll talk more about some of these life changing experiences later.
Now, I feel like I'm in a groove. I've adjusted to the move but actually don't spend much time in NYC. Fortunately, some of the bands that I'm in have been very busy this past year. Some folks say that this is a sign that you're doing well in New York City, the fact that you're not there. Who knows? I'm currently a member of Mike Reed's People Places and Things, The Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, and blink. I also run a couple bands of my own including Greg Ward's Fitted Shards and the Greg Ward Sextet. With People Places and Things, a quartet featuring Jason Roebke, Tim Haldeman, and Mike Reed, we toured Europe twice this spring. One week of concerts included the octet version of the group which featured the personnel from our latest release on 482 Records, Stories and Negotiations. It was a true pleasure to be on the road with Julian Priester, Art Hoyle, and Ari Brown. All of their playing was amazing and truly inspiring. Art Hoyle is a living history book! From his amazing stories, he seems to have worked with everyone in entertainment. I'll have to share a few later on. Also, The Occidental Brothers, an African dance band, toured Europe for the first time with concerts in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. One of the highlights of this tour was performing for 3,000 dancing fans at the 26th Annual Music Meeting in Nijmegen, Netherlands.
Some other highlights of this summer included performing and recording with renowned rock-band, Tortoise, at Millennium Park in Chicago! As soon as I received the email from Jeff Parker about this project, I was excited and anxious to see what they would compose for Ed Wilkerson, Nicole Mitchell, Fred Lonberg Holm, Jim Baker, and I. We rehearsed for 3 days prior to the concert in order to put the music together. The concert ROCKED 9,500 people! On the weekend after the concert, we recorded the program in the studio and hope to release something to you all soon. On the writing side of things, I received my first work for film. Cauleen Smith contacted me about making marching band arrangements of Sun Ra tunes for her upcoming film. I immediately jumped at this idea because it sounded like such an interesting project. I've completed my arrangements and they'll be recorded on the 26th of Aug. Stay tuned for more updates concerning her film. Another commission that I'm excited about is the concerto from jazz quartet and string orchestra that I'm writing for the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra. This project has been very challenging and exhilarating! I've completed 8 minutes of the 15-20 minute piece and have until Nov. 1st to finish this work. It's coming together so well and I'm learning so much from this process.
I can't believe that the summer is almost over. It really flew by. The fall will definitely be an exciting one. Be on the look out for my first CD release as a leader, Greg Ward's Fitted Shards: South Side Story, which will be released on 19-8 Records on Sep. 28th. Check out the press release:
There will also be several release concerts that are listed in the press release. The first will be at the Velvet Lounge in Chicago, IL, on Sep. 17th. Come on out if you can. Also, my NYC group, which features Damion Reid(drums), David Bryant(piano), and Joe Sanders(bass), will be performing at the Jazz Gallery on Sep. 16th. There are plenty of other things going on that I'll keep you posted on in the future.
This first post has really been an introduction to what's presently happening in my world. Next time I'll elaborate on just a few topics. Until then, let's keep digging!
Greg Ward II