Dear Friends and Family,
I hope that life is treating you well and that you're finding time and space to enjoy, despite the current challenges we face. Its not easy out there! But with some effort we can carve out a place inside that's peaceful. I'm very grateful to be involved in some musical projects that support me in that department, and that promise the same for listeners.
This year I've been performing live and recording cello with Krishna Das, a great standard bearer of the Chant world. KD has a powerful voice and presence that has helped thousands of people discover their inner spaciousness and joy. This week a video was released about my role in the album, which is due out this Fall.
Also in the Chant world, I've begun producing the new album by artist Nina Rao. Nina is the real deal- a singer with beautiful sound who also brings a powerful connection to her songs. Nina will be leading the Ocean of Chant Retreat at Kriplau June 23-25, and I encourage anyone looking for a place to rest their weary head to come along- I'll be playing cello there too and enjoying the beautiful Berkshires.
I'm looking forward to the launch next weekend of the new album by beautiful Natalie Merchant, on which I play.
In the short term, Fabian Almazan's Rhizome, the Jazz octet of which I've been a part for almost 10 years, celebrated the release of its 3rd studio album with a show at Brooklyn's National Sawdust last Wednesday. Fabian, who is also the pianist for Terence Blanchard Group, is dedicated to creating social change through his complex and beautiful compositions.
Take care of yourselves and each other. That's about all for now. I'm looking forward to seeing you at an event or to hearing from you via email. Your support is deeply appreciated.
Filtering by Category: Music
Dear Friends and Family,
I'm stoked to play cello on this film about one of the most important things in my life- The Clash, a band which touched so many lives so deeply with its incredibly powerful sound and life affirming message. London Town, which comes out in theaters today, has beautiful music by composer/producer Bryan Senti. he coolest thing is when something you were really passionate about as a youngster comes back to your present with no intentional effort on your own part. The Clash helped form the way I think about the World, and that music can help bring human rights to all. My song Same Old Song was influenced by their amazing sound. Listen here and buy the album in my shop
Let's go see the film!
Have a great weekend,
SAINT BOWIE: Dedicated to the Orlando victims and their families.
I was planning to release my Elegy for David Bowie today, which I feared would be too late, but I see that the timing is actually just right. This sad week of the massacre in Orlando is a good time to celebrate Bowie, to be consoled by his bravery. Nobody did more to open the pathways to sexual and gender freedom than David. Please share this video.
In this piece of original music for cello, I'm joined by the wonderful Wells Hanley on piano. The recording was mixed by Mark Plati, Bowie's longtime co-producer, music director and friend.
David was a messenger from another realm. The Man Who Fell to Earth wasn't just a movie role. He came from another planet, another space and time in which Freedom is just another part of life. Where being a sexually diverse being is normal and why wouldn't everyone appreciate that? He shared that vision with a planet just beginning to rotate into sexual freedom- when Space Oddity hit the airwaves in 1969, mainstream America was just figuring out that you don't have to be married to have intercourse. David’s being was so far beyond that envelope, somehow representing the entire spectrum of sexual possibility and gender identification, a single flash of his physicality sufficient to convey a huge throb of freedom. As the tweets of the Arab Spring called dissidents to mass demonstrations, David’s body language sent climactic shudders down the spine of Western sexuality, calling us to throw off the tyranny of the heteronormative and gender binary. In his music, he gave the bird to the monolithic shame which obscures our complex sexuality- helping millions to shine a light into previously darkened corners of existence.
What a service he did his adopted planet. Whether we identify as LGBTQ or identify with them, empathizing with their path of freedom, we can appreciate the changes Bowie brought with him to Earth. To live under the dumbed-down version of sexuality and gender provided by the mainstream is to accept a lesser view of ourselves as humans. Without the much deeper, complete view of who we are as sexual beings, we’re forced to settle for a broken mirror. Seeing ourselves through the shards of this pane damages our ability to fully know ourselves. And if the Oracle’s imperative, ‘Know thyself,’ is the key to our well-being, we can never truly be well.
As a teenager silently struggling to recover from sexual abuse and to understand my own place in the sexiverse, David held up a looking glass that was fully whole. I’ve said many times that he saved my life, and I say it again because it’s true. No one in my life was so able to reflect to me the alright-ness of my experience and inner world. And I think this was true for so many hundreds of thousands, largely because of the enforced code of silence and shame around sexual and gender diversity. David penetrated those private places without us even needing to speak of our struggles. Flying his UFO of radio and record, he came right into our worlds and healed us, lightening our burdens and removing our grief. If you want to assess his impact on our culture, just imagine if he hadn't been here; imagine the breadth of personal devastation had he not descended to Earth. Massive worldwide mourning at his death and ascension reflect the impact he had not just on the world of sound, but on the inner world. And to address his impact on sexuality is to address only one facet of his complex and radical impact on society.
So with these words, I bow down to Saint Bowie and I give thanks for his tremendous impact on my life, knowing that his influence will remain forever. The Changes he brought us can never be undone.
I had a beautiful time on April 18th playing a solo show at The Bedford in London. The bar has a great venue in back, with beautiful sound. The place was packed and the vibes were lovely and I was joined by the lovely Nathan Finkel on guitar. I just received Video of the show which you can watch HERE. There's a coupla cello numbers and a coupla songs. There's some new material I'm really proud of at 9:30. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Thanks and see you soon at a live concert.
Finishing up a music video for Stop Slow Down! I've been working with my buddy, genius JB Michael on this delectable footage. We've shot in Brooklyn- Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Now we've finalized the cut and are moving toward a final color process for the film. It's very beautiful. I'm very excited to share it with you all when the album PLAY HUMAN comes out next month!!
I'm very excited to share that I've been endorsed by one of the great musical instrument innovators: Moog Synthesizers. Moog has been opening ears since its debut in the early 50's and have forever altered the soundscape of Planet Earth for the better.
Heres how it happened:
The Music of Adolescence
In youth, music has the power to shape life, making impressions on the soul deep as grooves on an old 78. The albums we hear, turned on by our friends, the composers and bands overheard or forced upon us, all have a mesmeric force that shapes and sculpts our worlds. The music we hear at that big bang of a moment creates our beliefs and reaches to the very core of who we believe ourselves to be, and who we'll choose to become. We become what we hear.
What daddy spun on the record player during my adolescence touched me deeply. In the dining room of our house in Brooklyn was a converted closet without a door. Shelves had been assembled. Daddy called the audio boys to install a stereo system to make all other stereos feel bad about themselves. I exploited it to the max, the electronics becoming slaves to my bidding, servants of my deepest desire.
When no one was home save the housekeeper and me, I'd play my Bowie records at full tilt. The back of Ziggy Stardust says 'to be played at maximum volume,' so I followed the instructions and extended their imperative to everything I could lay hands on, loud. (Don't try this at home-my ears still ring). And my collection wasn't my only joy.
Daddy too had his wax and those were records that shaped who I am today. It started with Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations and spread to a boxed set of Gould complete. Arrau's Chopin Preludes I abused tirelessly over the years. The Albinoni Adagio performed by I don't know who. I fell in love Casals' Bach and Yo-Yo made his first entrance- the Bach sonatas with harpsichord and Beethoven with Manny Ax. My list could go on-these are just the discs that stick most to the ribs of memory. Daddy kept my ears happy and warm, and they were never lonely.
Acoustic music was one part of the bargain, electronic another. Stevie's Songs in the Key of Life and Glass' Glassworks shaped me. As did Switched on Bach, synth versions of the master's masterworks that had won 3 Grammy's and scored on the pop charts! a big gun in daddy's arsenal. These versions were painstakingly recorded on a monophonic modular Moog synthesizer, one voice at a time, and they hypnotized me.
When it came time for me to make music of my own, the Moog came back to haunt the halls of my inner ear. Where Casals had forever informed my interpretation of the Bach Cello Suites, Switched on Bach formed a ravine in my heart, in which a river now flowed, waiting to find passage back to the Sea of Sound.
Recording the songs on Play Human- my new LP of original rock songs- last year, I found the SampleMoog softSynth had an orbital pull on me. I returned to it over and over, blending its racket with the hum and gore of my ES-335 electric guitar.
Then, walking in Brooklyn one day, I stopped a man with a Moog T-shirt and Moog pass round his neck, headed to Rough Trade to raze a Moog exhibit. Fuck shit piss dick!! I had missed it!!! I suggested we might do something together one day and presumptuously asked him for his card. I planted it in a diary in my desk, hoping it'd bear fruit, "someday."
Six months later and I've taken a gig I don't like but it pays well. I've already committed when I get a call to come in and play some cello lines on a new film score by Bryan Senti. Well fuck me again! I can't do it! I'm busy playing this other thing and missing out on what I'd really love to be doing. I had recently tracked cello for Senti's Experimenter, with Peter Saarsgard, and would have been stoked to play another beauty.
Then, in my absence, something goes wrong during this new recording and he needs me to come in and redo the cello parts, one-on-one with with the maestro. Everything was working out. Some angel dust, I mean some fairy dust, was working its magic.
A few days in and we're hanging in his studio, so I get the privilege of sharing some of my own compositions and productions with Bryan and he gives surprising attention. Sitting in his well-appointed room, I get to admiring and drooling over a beautiful Moog keyboard to my right. Next thing I know, he suggests connecting me with Moog to get me endorsed. And things progress from there. Jason Daniello at the company apparently thinks my work is aok cause he's sending me a contract. And then, next thing I know, I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of a Moog SubPhatty- a recent electronic marvel so lovely I could mount- in the mail.
The day after signing the contract with Moog, I had some computer problems in my studio. Restarts led to rewirings and soon i was digging in the bowels of desk for a missing cable. I stumbled upon my diary, hidden behind my interface. As I took a quick accounting of its empty space, a business card dropped to the floor. Picking it up, I quickly noticed the black and white image of a moog keyboard with a name emblazoned on the back: Jason Daniello. A Sub Phatty decorated its front.
So things came full circle. Magic played a pivotal role. The love of my youth was becoming a spouse. And I would finally be making music of my own on the instrument that had so beguiled me as a teen, the first to insinuate there might be a bridge to cross from Classical to Popular. A world outside the tuxedoed chamber of cello playing that I could reach into with my own hands, away from the fingerboard.
Stay tuned for new sounds from the Phatty I'm working with right now- coming soon to a stereo near you. And keep the magic flowing- in your own work and life. Life is nothing without a lil sprinkling of angel dust.....
Has angel dust been around your life of late? Please share in the comments!!