Rhythm is Music

My friend and sometime-bandmate Antonio Sanchez scored and played the drums for the Alejandro
González Iñárritu film "Birdman."

He has gotten a tremendous amount of positive reviews from critics including a Golden Globe nomination and from fellow musicians as well for his exemplary work on the film. 

For reasons that are frankly unclear, the Academy Awards barred him from being eligible for a nomination for best score. Their reason seems to mostly stem from a statement that the film also incidentally uses some classical music. However, Antonio's music makes up more than 50% of the film score (their requirement) and is, by far, the element that stands out when the music of the film is recalled. 

The director himself has stated publicly the importance of Antonio's contribution to the success of the film:
"...if I would have put another good classical piece it would be the same film. [However] The film would not be the same without Antonio Sanchez's drums. That’s why it hasn’t been unnoticed because it’s so unique and it has such a personality that not to qualify it is to say ‘drums aren’t important, we don’t consider that composing’."
You can read about the issue here if you're unaware.

‘Birdman’ Score Drummed Out Of Oscars As Academy Rejects Filmmaker’s Appeal

I'm asking all of you, if you have a Facebook or Twitter account to post #rhythmismusic in order to draw attention to this oversight of his incredible work. 

The Oscar committee is famously averse to creative, non-standard approaches to film and now apparently music, instead mostly rewarding big budget, paint by numbers dramas. They're often criticized for this approach, urged to celebrate creativity and risk takers. Maybe if we nudge them a little, they can at least consider doing this instead of just outright rejecting it.

One more time music and film fans, please Tweet or post on Facebook #rhythmismusic


Performance with Sting on Late Night with David Letterman

Well, that was fun.

I performed a few times with Sting this past Thursday and Friday and I'm still reeling from the experience.

The guy is the real deal, a true musician and totally pro. It was an inspiring few days of rehearsal and performances where I got to play with one of my favorites. If you had told me at 15 when I was an avid Police fan I would get to play with Sting one day, I probably would have died on the spot.

Here is a video of the performance and a couple extra behind the scenes shots from the show as well as a shot from a late gig we did Thursday night where I got to play "Every Breath You Take" on my new custom Grosh ElectraJet.

Thank you to Don Grosh and Bob Smith at Grosh Guitars and Amilcar Dohrn-Melendez at Cordoba Guitars for providing me with such beautiful instruments.

It's freezing in that theater. Sting is on the left with the hat, scarf and jacket.

Later that night at a gig, playing Every Breath You Take on my Grosh ElectraJet

Sting on Letterman and Live with Kelly and Michael

I'll be performing with Sting on The Late Show with David Letterman (CBS), Thursday December 11 and on Live! with Kelly and Michael (ABC) on Friday morning, December 12 (which will air December 23) in addition to a late night small gig Thursday night after Letterman that is already sold out.
I'm not sure what else to say about this other than, holy crap I'm playing with Sting. I've been listening to The Police since I was 14 and continued to be a fan of Sting after he went solo. This one falls under bucket list.

More Metronome Madness

I got an email a couple of days ago from Lukas Kyska over at TheAspiringGuitarist.net. He let me know that he had referenced my metronome series How to Improve Your Groove in a new post he had written on how to practice with a metronome.

It's a great article with lots of information and video. If you're looking for more inspiration and ideas for your practice I recommend you check it out.

Vijay Iyer: Jazz in the 21st Century

A producer for a Public Radio show called Open Source sent this interview with Vijay Iyer over to me and it's absolutely worth your time.  

I first became aware of Vijay about three years ago through the podcast The Checkout (also worth your time).

This interview is notable if only for his discussion of the give and take of improvisors. Hope you enjoy it.


John McLaughlin Interivew

A reader who did this interview passed the video along to me and I'm only too happy to share it as I'm a big McLaughlin fan.

He has a lot to say about the state of the music industry and even reveals that he drove trucks and sold caviar in order to survive in the early days. It made me feel a little better about my day gigs in the past.

Top 10 Ways to Improve Everything Now

A friend turned me on to this great piece by guitarist and songwriter Bryan Baker called the Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Guitar Playing Now -- however I'm calling it the Top 10 Ways to Improve Everything Now.

I've been thinking about lot of these things lately but have never seen them articulated so well and with humor in one place. Though the piece is written with guitar players in mind, it is applicable to any instrument and I'd argue any discipline. Well done Bryan. It's a great and funny read, check it out.

Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Guitar Playing Now

This is Why You Keep Practicing

This has been making the rounds lately though this is the first I've seen of it in video-form. Absolutely worth watching if you haven't seen it, and watching again if you have.

Ira Glass of This American Life fame explains why you have to keep going, in any creative field. I'm not one big on inspirational quotes and what have you, but this is inspirational because it doesn't rely on hope or new-agey wishes, it relies on his actual experience.

Super short, give it a look.

For myself, I've been in the woodshed for the past three months working solely on Charlie Parker solos and trying to address some fundamental problems in my playing that have bothered me over the years.

I'll have a video up soon on addressing ii V's, both Major and Minor and the best way to practice them.