Parade of Shoes: Walter Ramos

October 23rd, 2012, 4:00 pm by Sara
Walter Ramos of Sensemaya at First Unitarian Society in Schenectady, October 28, 2011 (photo by Rudy Lu)

Walter Ramos of Sensemaya at First Unitarian Society in Schenectady, October 28, 2011 (photo by Rudy Lu)

Walter Ramos of Sensemaya at First Unitarian Society in Schenectady, October 28, 2011

Photo by Rudy Lu.


LIVE: Sensemaya @ Schenectady First Unitarian Society, 10/28/11

October 31st, 2011, 1:14 pm by Greg
Sensemaya (photo by Albert Brooks)

Sensemaya (photo by Albert Brooks)

Truth to tell, holding your drop party at A Place For Jazz is a pretty gutsy move. The crowds that attend the annual series contain some of the best-educated jazz fans in the region, and you have the late Butch Conn – and all who those who maintain his legacy – to thank for that. In short, APFJ-goers know the real thing when they see it… and have limited patience for anything less. So even though Sensemaya is “from the neighborhood,” pianist Dave Gleason’s fuel-injected octet would have to swat any pre-show butterflies and just come strong, all night long. They did that, and then some.

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INTERVIEW: Dave Gleason of Sensemaya

October 27th, 2011, 2:00 pm by Greg
Dave Gleason

The first (and last) time I saw Sensemaya was when they played Riverfront Park in Troy back in 2005. Mind you, I haven’t “stayed away” from the band; as I recall, I enjoyed their performance very much. It’s just that the band and I haven’t crossed paths since then. That’ll change on Friday night at A Place For Jazz, when I attend the CD-release party for the group’s new disc “Havana Before Dawn.”

Pianist Dave Gleason is the band’s leader, as well as someone who’s actually living his education: He studied the folk and popular music forms of Puerto Rico and Cuba while working on his M.A. in Music at Tufts University. He also studied ethnomusicology and composition while playing gigs and jam sessions around the Boston area. So when he was gracious enough to give me a few minutes as he prepared for the drop party, I knew what question I’d ask him first:

Q: What the heck is an “ethnomusicologist,” and when did you know you wanted to become one? 

A: It just means someone who studies world music. You could also say it’s a anthropologist who focuses on the relationship between music and culture. An ethnomusicologist does field work and participant observation. They live in the culture they study and learn their music by playing it. Many ethnomusicologists focus on Africa, India, China, etc., but my focus was Cuba and Puerto Rico. I knew I wanted to study ethnomusicology on about the second day of my freshman year at the Crane School of Music. We read about it in an Intro to Music Studies class. I remember calling my parents that afternoon and telling them that I knew this was going to part of my future. Dr. Marsha Baxter at Crane is an ethnomusicologist, and she helped me get my start; later I pursued it in graduate school.

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Jazz-2K: CD Picks of the Week

October 25th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg

Since it’s finally starting to feel like fall, here are five discs to keep you warm against the chill:

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra: Forever Lasting

“Forever Lasting: Live in Tokyo”
(Planet Arts Recordings)
Initially, I felt this follow-up to the Grammy-winning “Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard” was a great two-disc set that could have been an incredible single-disc release. Recorded in Tokyo three months before the tsunami changed everything, every track has the cracking musicianship and old-school-meets-new-century energy that epitomizes the VJO. However, some animals are “more equal” than others: Tenorman (and last-minute stand-in) Walt Weiskopf scorches the sun on the Bob Brookmeyer juggernaut “Nasty Dance”; Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap” is jet-propelled by Scott Wendholt’s muscle-car trumpet and Luis Bonilla’s take-no-prisoners trombone; and Jim McNeely’s whirling “Extra Credit” is one of three ripping originals by the VJO’s composer-in-residence. But as “sound” as my one-disc theory was, second and third go-rounds through “Forever” made a simple question (“Okay, smart ass, what do you cut?”) impossible to answer: Do you lose Dick Oatts finding every bit of romance in Cole Porter’s “I Love You”? Thad Jones’ bop-cum-blues “Central Park North,” with Wendholt, sop-sax player Billy Drews and horn wizard Terrell Stafford taking turns blowing the front row away? Even a fairly straight-forward rendition of “All of Me” is filled with Big Apple sass. Given that the set’s 13 tracks came from an original selection of 38, I finally had to admit Douglas Purviance and Tom Bellino got it as “down to the bone” as possible. I never denied I wasn’t brilliant, but I’ll happily admit “Forever Lasting” is thoroughly amazing just the way it is.

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Five Firsts: David Gleason of Sensemaya, etc.

August 4th, 2010, 2:01 pm by Greg

David Gleason (photo by Niki Rossi)

(photo by Niki Rossi)

NAME: David Gleason
BAND AFFILIATION: Sensemaya, Soul Session, Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … Hmm… I don’t think I can remember the first cassette tape I ever bought. I do remember the first CD I ever bought was “Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits.” I listened to it a bunch, and I had the piano/vocal book that went along with it. I learned a lot about harmony by comparing the chord symbols with the written music and the album.

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