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D-MoZone is the place to find out what’s new with pianist/composer/educator Diane Moser. Keep an eye on this blog for updates on music, health, gigs, fundraisers, random thoughts and all things D-Mo. And please keep sending your thoughts, good wishes and comments this way—they’re always needed and always appreciated.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Duetto" new cd is out!

The recording that I did with bassist Mark Dresser, recorded by CIMP records is out-the box of cd's arrived yesterday. Mark and I recorded this in August 2008 at the Central Presbyterian Church of Montclair, NJ. Then..as you all know...and the reason for the blog..I was diagnosed with stage IV..end of the line.. GIST cancer and my life took a big turn. So this release, is very special to both of us. Two of my birdsongs are on this recording, Hello (based on the chickadee's song) and If You'll Call Me, Then I'll Call You (based on the robin's song and Mark...you'll have to read the liner notes for that ;-) along with my composition For My Mother. Also on this recording, is a piece that Mark composed for me called Big Mama Heart, along with his compositions Para Waltz, Yeller Grace, Mattress On a Stick and Star Melodics. More details to follow soon......but in the meantime...thank you Mark Dresser for getting this together! Thank you Bob Rusch, and Marc Rusch for driving to Montclair to record this..to Susan Rusch for the delicious birthday cake that day and for calling Novartis inquiring about Gleevec..just in case my insurance would not cover it, and to Kara Rusch for the beautiful cover, to Gaylord French and the Central Presbyterian Church for allowing us to use that beautiful sanctuary and to Bob Dowling for tuning the piano and making it sing!

Millay Colony for the Arts Residency Part 2

Well finally,I have some time to finish what I started this past September...sharing my residency experience at the Millay Colony for the Arts from August 2011. I know, quite a bit of time has passed, and lots of exciting things have been going on, but I have a little breather right now, so here we go!
The photo to the left is the main house of the Millay Colony for the Arts, where the shared kitchen, living room, library, offices, dark room, laundry room and 2 artists studios (one of which I was in) are located. If you're interested, here are the rest of the photos of the Millay Colony Ground.

I really liked my studio! It was big and airy, with a back door that opened up to the woods. In the mornings I would sit outside and listened to the birds, having that morning coffee and some reading. During the day, it was nice and cool (along with the aid of a box fan), and there was a couch for more reading or nap taking! At night, I would go outside with star maps in hand and study the constellations. One night was particularly exciting...I had been improvising with and transcribing the audio files from NASA's Voyager, and decided I needed to rest my ears for a little bit so I stepped out into the darkness, looked up at the sky, and whoosh!...came this streaming bit of cosmic material thru the sky that looked like a huge ball of fire with a huge tail of fire behind it. To me it looked as big as a Mac Truck! I related the story to the astrophysicist Charles Liu, who told me that bit of cosmic material was probably the size of a strawberry, or maybe as big as a small cantaloupe. imagine that! Here you can see the photos of the Millay Studio.
 There were 2 places I would go for walks during the day, the Millay Poetry Trail and the Millay Estate grounds. When I walked the poetry trail, I was mainly interested in recording Hermit Thrushes. There was one day when I heard them as I walked off the road onto the trail, and as I pulled out my recorder and walked deeper into the woods, they had disappeared. Drats, I thought! However, I decided to sing to them, and after a few minutes, they started singing back to me. Wow, I had never had that happen before, that was thrilling! If you walked off of the trail, circled back a little bit, you would come across this...

Vincent's Gin Bottle Pile
Vincent is what Edna St Vincent Millay preferred to be called, and her pile of gin bottles and other old cans were in an area off of the trail. It was like being on a scavenger hunt, walking over tiny streams of water, ducking under branches, at times sinking into mud...and then...there they were. They have been there since before the 1950's. The folks who maintain the estate have left them there for the rest of us to hunt down.

The photo to the left is Vincent's writing cabin, just a few yards from the main house. Inside is a desk and a small bed. It's very small and very austere, and I imagine it was probably her favorite place to be. You can see more photos of the estate grounds here.

 Austerlitz, NY, where the colony is located, not far from Chatham, is a beautiful area, nestled in the BeBe State Forest, about 15 minutes from Tanglewood, with lots of artists hidden down winding roads or sometimes right on the main highway.
I thought the location was perfect for exploring, meeting interesting people, hearing music, seeing art, and having some wonderful food in town. I was there for 3 1/2 weeks, and spent most of the time working, but would take a day every week to explore the area. I kept a record of all the places I visited and there were 14 new places that I went to. That seems like a lot, but many of these places were only 15 minutes away...Hudson NY, and Athens, NY being the furthest I traveled to the south, (about 40 -60 minutes)and New Lebanon being the furthest I traveled to the north (about 25 minutes).

I went to the Hudson Music Festival to hear the young guitarist, and son of one of my colleagues at the New School, Jesse Statman, do a solo set, and then to the Hudson Jazz Workshop, to hear another New School colleague and great jazz pianist, Armen Donelian, along with saxophonist and co-leader Marc Mommaas, the wonderful guitarist and New School colleague Vic Juris, and the workshop participants. It's also where I met John Sergenian, who told me about the big band charts of Jaki Byard...which our big band will now be performing June 13th at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair. I called Susan Brink about the workshop event, and she came down to film it which you can see here. The photo above is of BeBe State Forest...the colony is on the other side of the mountain that I am standing on (behind me).

 Tanglewood! Heard the incredible pianist Ursula Oppens one morning and then went back to the New Music Festival and ran into one of my fellow MacDowell Colony composers, Andrew Norman, whose piece "drip blip sparkle spin glint glide glow float flop chop pop shatter splash" 
was being performed that evening-what a nice surprise!

 Going into Chatham was always a nice little break in the day, especially on the weekends. It's not very big, but there are some interesting used book stores, places to eat, a movie theater, a very cool store called "American Pie" which had everything from fanciful kitchen doodads, to cards, journals, clothing, jewelry, toys, and CANDY!...the kind we used to buy back in the day when it was a penny or a nickle a piece (you know that's not the price now ;-).

 I met 2 really interesting sculptors. The first one being Roy Kanwit, and his Taconic Sculpture Park & Gallery.  When you drive up the Taconic parkway, just before you get to the Chatham exit, you can see some of his sculpture up on the hill to your right. I followed the signs to his place and was met by his wife, who is from IOWA! So we sat down and had a little get to know each other session in the shade of the trees, and soon after Roy appeared. I was the only one around so I was able to spend a little time with them and lots of time roaming the grounds. You can see more of that here.
 His sculptures are either marble, or steel and cement, like this on in the photo on the right. That one is so big, that there's a huge ladder behind the head so that he can go up and make repairs. His marble work is beautiful, and walking around the grounds I was surrounded by mythic images and felt transported to another time.

This jem was found by my dear friend Dennis Connors, who came up to do some filming one day...the Circle Museum...about 15 minutes down the road from the colony. I hadn't traveled south on Rt 22, so I didn't know it existed until Dennis (who was traveling north on Rt 22) asked me about it. I went over a couple of times to check out the sculptures and talk with the artist Bijan.

Bijan is originally from Iran, and came to the states in the early 70's...to the Bronx. He told me he would build his sculptures on the street, and then the police would come and tear them down. So he decided to move upstate, found this house on the side of RT 22 with several acres and began creating his sculpture park. His sculptures are mostly based on "circles" from scrap metal, iron, and a very big turbine. He also has paintings in the main house. If you ever find yourself on Rt 22, going north of Hillsdale or south of Austerlitz...stop and in and have a chat with Bijan. There are more photos here.

Another place I visited,also only 15 minutes away, was the Norman Rockwell Museum. My father was a big fan of Norman's and I have several framed prints of Norman's paintings that hung in my parents house. The photo on the left is a of Norman's painting "Do Unto Others"...just beautiful. it sits in his studio, which originally was in Stockbridge, Mass, only a few minutes away...and moved to the grounds of the museum. If you have never been there, I highly recommend going. You will see all of his paintings, his covers for the Saturday Evening Post, and other exhibitions as well. The day I went, with friend Susan in tow, was the same day of the earthquake that was centered near Washington, DC and felt up and down the east coast. Susan and I didn't feel it at the museum, but the artists at the colony said they did. You can see more photos here.

The residency was wonderful, I got a lot of work done on my birdsongs, sketched a new movement for my big band piece "Music of the Spheres", got lots of practicing in on the piano, and enjoyed the surroundings. Besides the "cosmic event" that I witnessed one night, and the Hermit Thrush singing to me, there was one other special moment....I had been working on one of my birdsongs called "Dancing with the Sparrows', and decided to rest for a moment and listen to my bird/piano improvs from MacDowell on my bed. I put on the headphones, laid down, and as soon as the sparrows started singing on the recording, a sparrow flew up into my bedroom windowsill, and seemed to be listening in and leaning along side of the screen.Tthe sparrow flew away as soon as I got up to take a look, but as I walked away, I saw out of the corner of my eye, the sparrow was slowly walking/hopping back to the window.....

Once again, i would like to thank the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation for naming me a Creative Fellow at the Millay Arts Colony, and making this residency possible, and all of the great staff at the Millay Arts Colony, Calliope and especially chef Donna!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thank you for making our 15th anniversary an incredible night!

I want to thank everyone who came to our 15th anniversary show last Wednesday night at Trumpets Jazz Club! What an amazing night! We knew we were excited about playing, but when all of you came in and filled up the club...well...there was a lot of love in the house...and we felt that! It makes a huge difference in the performance of the music when musicians know that the audience is diggin' the music...the electricity of that appreciation just flows through the band..and it makes all of us dig in even deeper to the music....so thank you for that.

Also, a big thank you once again to photographer Chris Drukker for all of these photos, they are just wonderful! You can view the rest of them here.

I'd also like to thank The Montclair Times, Joan Finn and George Wirt for including me and the band in their "Women In Jazz" article, which also included interviews with pianist Gerri Allen, and vocalist Melissa Walker.
And.. a thank you to Tim Wilkins of the Star Ledger for getting the word out, as well!
All of us in the band are so appreciative of your support!

We also want to thank Enrico Granafei and Kristine Massari, owners of Trumpets Jazz Club for giving us a home and making it so easy for us to come play the music!

A big thank you to Judy De'Angelis...otherwise known as "Judy..at the bar!"...for holding it all together! And all of the staff there as well.

Another big thank you goes to my son Chad Moser, who came in and subbed for Natascha at the last minute!

Thank you to Allwood Community Church for giving us rehearsal space.

And a huge thank you to Dennis Connors for creating the new video on us...which you can see here.

As you can see, performing a concert of music involves not only the band...it also involves all of these folks who help to make it happen, and of course a very wonderful audience......yes...there was a lot of love in the house that night!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

More anniversary celebrations...15th for the big band!

This Wednesday night we will be celebrating our 15th year of playing music together as the Diane Moser's Composers Big Band! 15 years! Wow!

We will start the night off with my tune and the name of this blog.."Flipped Kitty in the City",  move into some "Boogie Stop Shuffle" by Charles Mingus.....
then onto some new compositions by Marty Fogel and Erick Storckman....

 a new arrangement by Russ Vines on Billy Harper's tune "Priestess"
 and guest trumpet player Chris Rogers' arrangement on Tom Harrell's tune "The Water's Edge", we'll also play a wonderful composition that we played last time and looking forward to playing again by Rob Henke called 'Koufax"..in memory of Sandy Koufax,
we'll also be playing a Duke Pearson chart that Mike Spengler is bringing in called "Chili Peppers"

and ending the 1st set with my composition "For My Mother".

The second set we'll play Matt Haviland's tune "Comes A Time",

Jim Cifelli's tune "Blues For McCoy"

 a beautiful arrangement of a Joe Zawinul tune "A Remark You Made' by Ed Xiques...and end the set with Ed's tune "The Newcomer".

(photos courtesy of Chris Drukker...thank you Chris!)

Tonight I was sorting music and "cleaning out the books" as we call it...discovering hidden treasures of old set lists and such..sometimes I find photographs and notes about this and that...and while I'm doing that I can hear the band rehearsing the music (in my head) and what was said and sections that were worked out..and how the performances went...and the hang after the rehearsal and after the gig....
It is amazing to me that we have been together for 15 years and I feel so honored to be working with these outstanding musicians and wonderful souls who come together to create what Jim Cifelli calls a Sonic Party.... because it is absolutely that...a Sonic Party! And you are all in invited!

Our brilliant friend and photographer/film maker Dennis Connors has been working on a documentary about the big band, and has put together a short preview of that ...which you can view here.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3rd Anniversary and continued good health! Thanks to all!

Yesterday was the 3 year anniversary of my surgery for the removal of GIST tumors...one 13 pounder and several satellite tumors. I celebrated by going out to dinner with my son and his girlfriend to The Grand Sichuan on 9th Ave and 24th street in NYC. With the exception of weight gain and some muscle issues I am in very good health. I go for my next round of cat scans on Friday and I am confident that everything will be just fine.
I wrote a few months ago that I had the opportunity to speak at Novartis for their Oncology Kick Off meeting and that I met one of their oncologists, Dr Christopher Keir who I later spoke with a week later.
Dr. Keir is the one who wrote the new labeling information for Gleevec and updated the time to be on Gleevec to three years and more if needed. This was recently in the news.
I asked Dr. Keir how long I would need to be on Gleevec, and he said that due to the rather large size of my tumor I would need to take Gleevec for a very long time. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I understand the reasoning. In the meantime, I am finding new solutions to deal with the side effects, and counting every day as a true blessing!
Thank you all, once again, for helping me and Chad through that incredibly difficult and scary time.
We will never be able to thank you enough!

Photos are courtesy of Novartis. To the right of me is the amazing Tricia McAleer, who is the Program Director at Life Raft Group  an organization that not only assists all of us who have GIST, but is also very much involved in the research and development for a cure. To the left is Tracy Furey, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication at Novartis.