Welcome to my MVBLOG (music video web log).

Here you will find audio pieces and videos.
The videos and more can be found on my 
YouTube channel.
Of course, this is the destination for my writings.
Please visit often to read, watch and listen.

Cheers!

Piano, Video, and Comments

Back To My Roots 

My wife Sheryl and I have been living back in San Francisco for about a month now. We move into our home in a few weeks to start a new chapter back in the city where we met and lived together for over a decade. It feels really nice to be back. It was a fantastic five and a half years in Manhattan, and as my wife likes to say - we haven't lost a city, we've actually added one that will always be one of our homes. San Francisco, Portland, New York, Amsterdam, Paris, and Barcelona have all been homes to us, and it's an impressive list if I say so myself!

For me, coming back to the Bay Area, and spending more time in Portland Oregon is a double whammy homecoming. It's been great reconnecting with longtime friends and bandmates. As noted in my last post, I did some performances with Al-Andalus. I've also done a number of shows with the Curtis Salgado Band. Curtis and I go way back, and I'm so impressed with the amount of energy and raw soul this guy puts out every night, I had to get back in that mix and be a part of it again. More to come for sure.

I want to say a big Thank You to all who have downloaded, streamed, and purchased the physical CD "Gratitude". Along with three of the pieces on the recording currently in regular rotation on SiriusXM Spa radio, I'm getting some great validation and some payback for almost three years of hard work on this challenging album project.

Actually, this is more like it:    Thank You!

I have a brand new project starting in a few days. I'll have more to say about that in the next blog entry. Until then, everyone take care and LOVE to you all.

Upcoming Performances 

My dear friends and very talented musicians, Tarik and Julia Banzi have invited me to join them on a couple performances with their wonderful ensemble "Al-Andalus".

The first one is here

The second one is here

I've known, recorded and played with them for about 25 years and I'm excited to be adding performances other than solo piano to my schedule.

I will be joining forces with another most talented friend (TBA soon) and bandmates coming up in the summer, starting with a huge 4th of July Festival in Portland, Oregon.

I'm so pumped to be sharing the stage and interacting with other musicians after spending 99% of my time focusing on just my solo career. For the last 15 years now.

Time to Break-out!

A New Year 

After the holidays, and a pretty successful run for my holiday CD "The Holiday Spirit" I decided to take some time to design a path forward with my music. Last year I released two CD's and that was intense at times. Releasing albums is a bunch of work and costs a good amount of money and time.

I decided to do something recently that I've always wanted to do. So far I've made string quartet arrangements for three of my songs. The software mock-ups I made sound gorgeous. Very satisfying. This is prompting me to record these arrangements and/or work them in to a performance set. I have some other instrumental arrangements/collaborations that could be added to make for a much more rich musical experience than solo piano.

I don't know where all this is going yet. There's also a considerable cost of time and funds to put a performance like this on. What's transpiring here though, is a vision that has been dear to my heart for almost ever. That's one of performing my music solo and with other talented musicians on stage, and moving from contemporary classical to jazz, americana, blues, and other styles that take the audience to a diverse array of genres and sonic colors.

Something else happened to me right after the holidays. I got pretty discouraged about the music business and the general cultural side of selling and performing original music. It takes a very strong ability to persist, and any independent musician will tell you not everybody is cut out for it. It feels that way for me sometimes. I've been through episodes where my "musical spirit" feels broken. The flame of creativity has dwindled to a mere pilot-light at times, but that is the time to persevere. I'm glad to be back with a new post on my blog here, and expressing some creative ideas again.

Yeah, I'm Back!

Record Release Day 





Here it is - the release of my long awaited Contemporary Instrumental Piano Music CD, Gratitude.

It feels great to be here after two years of putting this together. Now it's time to see how it is received.

Click the album cover image above to be taken to a site to listen and buy it. I hope to stir up some curiosity!
 

Richard Devine And I Again  

So here I go again!

I love his grooves and I just found another one today. Randale.

Everything here is of Richard's making. I add just the piano. There's no other piano in the track so you can separate me from the rest.

The first time I did this I gave some disclaimer about "collaboration without consent". You might refer to that in an earlier post if you care.

This cut is just me wanting to add piano over the top of this established artist's already finished piece of music.

For the person that expressed the desire to hear piano over this piece on YouTube, this is partly for you. I got the idea before though, and reading the comment might have expedited the process! So, just a few hours after discovering this piece, here's me adding piano.

Again, thank you Richard. I hope if you find this it's of no offense.

Everyone, please enjoy.
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  1. Randale

"Gratitude" CD Release 

My new CD "Gratitude" will be released January 15th, 2016. It's set to show up for pre-release on iTunes, Amazon, and other retail music sites on Christmas Day.

Of course I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to getting my new music out to the public with this recording, and do some performances.
 

They're Here 

The shipment of my new CD "Gratitude" has arrived.



This is such a milestone for me and I'm very excited. The release date isn't set yet as it will likely be November or so. The delay is due to a marketing campaign that will kick in around the end of the year. My work will be centered around pre-release strategies and building up interest in this CD the next few months.

Although virtually all aspects of my solo career are new for me to be handling alone, none (to this point) seem as unexpected as this stage of it I'm in now. Four months of figuring out ways to promote the coming of a product before it's available! I do have some ideas and it will be fun. The time will roll by quickly too.

All my activities will of course be channeled through my website, here, first. Presently, this is my only podium.
 

Point Of No Return 

I can't turn back now - my new CD "Gratitude" is off to the presses.

In a few weeks I'll have a thousand little digi-packs hanging out here in our apartment.

I'm really looking forward to seeing it in hand.

I will update when they arrive.

Grateful Mastered 

The name for my upcoming CD is "Grateful". And it has been mixed and mastered by Tom Eaton. It Sounds Great!

And grateful I am for everyone and everything involved with: the project, my life at this time, and the path my career has taken while here in New York City.

A special amount of gratitude goes out to my wife (Sheryl) and my parents (Mitch and Elaine) for continuous support, of which this journey would not have been possible.

Learning to enjoy "the process" so much more in life is like a gift, one I gave myself permission to receive. It's really gratifying to enjoy "the now". Even though there's probably more to get excited about with this stage of my career as a pianist, I'm patiently enjoying the ride as it's moving me along, whether I worry about what's way up ahead or not.

I have a vision, and a team forming around me, to help facilitate this dream I've had for a LONG time. It's so easy to get too excited! Must take a deep breath.....ahh....

Grateful. I think it sums it up in one word.
 

Richard And I  

Richard Devine is a very successful electronic musician, sound designer, producer and much more. He's part of a genre of music that's instrumental, grooving, electronic, with constantly changing rhythms, etcetera.

Two things really strike me about the music: 1) the ever-changing drums and percussion produce a quality that sounds like jazz to me because it's evolving relentlessly, moving forward; 2) As an improviser this music is really appealing to want to play over. Accompanying the grooving beat is mostly a pad of sounds that can be very minimal at times, so it's inviting to want to super-impose a layer above with solo or melodic material. The trick is adding to it but not too much!

Well, I stumbled on this smooth jazz kind of tune of Richard's the other day, and it really had the room to add piano. So much so, I created an intro and outro of solo piano, and had lot's of space to solo and riff over his groove throughout the body of the tune.

This kind of digital "collaboration" and many other possibilities for such "consensual or not" collaboration raise issues with permissions to expose these materials. Richard doesn't know I've done this (I'm curious to know what he thinks and may pursue that) so I won't "put this out there on the web" and just have it here for now.

Disclaimer: This is a fun little side project and there may be more as it was a blast to have such a great track to play with here - Thank You Richard Devine

The New CD Has Been Mixed 

I had a really nice time up in Newburyport, Mass. last week being present for the mixing of my upcoming CD. Tom Eaton was stellar at adding light percussion and getting a gorgeous blend and overall sound. It was a great experience.

I'm very excited to have Tom do the mastering, and we get the CD's manufactured, and get ready for the release.

Will Ackerman, Tom, the instrumentalists and all the people involved in the Imaginary Road Studios production family have all been very supportive in this process, and I am very grateful.

Winter Update 

My contemporary classical/new age piano record is moving along slowly but surely.

I just deleted my last blog entry, made just days ago. I haven't done that before but I thought it appropriate in this case as I posted a new piano piece also. I've decided the piece needs work, and it now has a chance to be on the new CD so I need to protect it until I'm ready to pre-release songs at the right time. I'm really hoping to move things along but my ability to be really, really patient will pay off in the end. (Sigh).

So if you caught the piece while it was up here, good for you and I hope you liked it!

At the end of next week I'll be back from the Boston area, where I will do most of the mixing for this project with Tom Eaton, esteemed recording engineer for Will Ackerman. I'm looking forward to the work we will do, that should get us close to completing this album, yay!

Thanks for tuning in and I'll keep you posted as to the progress being made.
 

Chamber Trio 

An actual chamber music trio (real instruments) of piano, cello, and english horn has been recorded on two of the songs on my up and coming CD.

What a great sound! I've been waiting to hear something like this on my original compositions forever!

Thanks to Jill Haley who played gorgeous phrases and with beautiful tone and intonation on these tunes the other day. Also a continued nod to the incredible team of Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont adding yet more magical tracks to my CD project.

As you can tell I'm getting pretty excited, and with good reason. I'm so looking forward to finishing this recording and releasing it to the world, and performing again to bring it to the people live - oh yeah!

'Til next post - peace my friends - and thank you.

Album / Business 

Now that my writing, arranging, and performing of the music for the album is done, it's time to take care of business.

Right now, I'm looking over so many technical and legal items it's mind boggling. Books, random chapters printed out, check lists, etc..

Wow! But, I do know that when this process is completed I will have learned a lot. I will also be starting work on the marketing and promotion of the album, followed by the pursuit of performances.

Musicians that have gone through this process many times can probably do all the stages for multiple albums simultaneously.

I think it will be a while before I can step back into the world of creating and playing the music. That's the place I live and thrive in.

Album Takes Shape 

A week ago today (and pretty much around this time of day) I was finishing up the piano tracks for my upcoming CD. It felt great to have created enough original songs to complete the project. I was able to let out a sigh of relief and go to the next phase.

Then a stroke of great luck came. Will Ackerman was able to get his long time collaborator, and supreme cellist Eugene Friesen to come in last minute for the afternoon! This was perfect as I wanted cello to be the predominant complimentary instrument to the piano on this CD. He did three songs, and while Will, Tom and I directed him through the pieces, the sound of a really expressive cellist in my music for the first time ever made me well up with tears of joy.

What a satisfying trip up to Vermont last week. There are some English horn and probably percussion tracks to be added and it will be time for mixing and mastering. I'm hoping to have the CD ready to go in a few months.

Everything is moving nicely with this project and I'm looking forward to filling you in on it as it unfolds.

Last Turn to the Homestretch 

Just over a week ago I finished another day of recording for my next CD. It went well, and yes, it provided me with the perspective to see the straightaway to the finish line.

Four weeks from today I will be in the studio again. I'm hoping to finish all the piano tracks then. I've been relentlessly working out tunes and arrangements that might be worthy of making the cut. I will most likely come up with a new tune or two to throw into the ring also.

This process continues to be a great learning experience for me. I feel Will Ackerman is teaching me so much about playing heartfelt music without the unnecessary stuff (mainly notes), clearing the clutter to get to just what's essential. Yet, when I listen to the music (about two thirds done) it sounds very much like me - my identity isn't lost. It doesn't sound like I'm conforming to a genre or whatever.

It really feels great after more than two years here in New York to have chosen this path to pursue. Of course, after crossing this finish line, more laps, turns and finish lines are cued up! Releasing this CD, promoting it, and looking to perform again for the first time in about 15 years, and doing solo piano tours and concerts (a career-long dream) will be extremely gratifying.

I'll keep you posted.

Recording Piano Tracks 

The last six months has been really great. I've embarked on a whole new project that is exciting, and has the possibility to take me above and beyond any place I've ever been with my solo piano music, and music career altogether. I've been intensely writing new music and in a new style for me.

I'm getting ready to go back to Imaginary Road Studios to record my second day of piano tracks with Will Ackerman producing.

The first session took place three months ago. It was great to take the trip to Vermont and see Will's studio, the very live Steinway B, meet Tom Eaton the engineer, and put in a day of solo recording not to forget soon! It was a blast, and Will and Tom are great to work with.

I think I'm better prepared to get some composed ideas turned into pieces this time. It's a new and unusual process for all of us and I think we're flexing to accommodate the situation well.

This project, so far, has taken me away from updating my website and especially this blog. I have yet to develop a way to put an intense process like this into words as it unfolds, so the modest number of regular viewers here have been left out the most. For this I'm sorry, and know from my research that this is the opposite approach to reward the people most interested in what I'm doing.

I think this recording session next week will be pivotal in defining this projects shape and structure. I will be able to open up more to the process after next week also. This will get me showing up here more often to share info! Stay tuned.

Thanks for listening,

Joe