Happy New Year

•January 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment


A pretty eventful (and not always in the best ways) 2017 has finally come to a close. I am pretty psyched about what 2018 has to hold… At the moment I’ve stayed super busy with gigs in town, and have upgraded some of my gear, which I’m loving!

I’ve always been into collecting/learning about various pieces of musical equipment, specifically in how it relates to the way I like to play & amplify/effect my sax. On August 5th of last year, my entire Mid-City New Orleans home was flooded with nearly 2 feet of water due to a freakish storm and poor city water management. As a result, some of my gear was ruined, specifically some pedals and my main sax mic so I decided to sort of revamp my setup.

I’m now armed with a new wireless mic that I love and some new pedals that I think simplifies and smooths my affected tone out even better than before (and who doesn’t love being wireless on stage?). I’ll get in to some of my new toys in a future post but I wanted to share something I’ve been trying to work on for some time, but now have to re-learn with slightly different gear.

I’ve always being able to make harmonized sounds to go along with my sax – one of the limitations of the instrument is that it can only (in most senses) one pitch at a time. Even from a young age I was drawn to other instruments chiefly because they’re able to make different types of harmony. I’ve tried numerous ways of achieving this in a live situation to varying degrees of success, but since my last harm pedal (the Eventide Pitchfactor – a super pricey but insanely-abled harmonizing pedal) flooded and got ruined, I was looking for some new options.

Electro-Harmonix came out with a new whammy-style pedal last year and rolled out an updated version of that pedal back in October, the Slammi Plus pedal. This thing is AWESOME. In addition to having a really clean harmonized tone (with guitar, keys, sax or whatever), the fact that it’s all housed in a Cry Baby-wah-type body was super advantageous in terms of saving space on my board and ease of use.

One of the more obvious features of a harm pedal (and one that works well with a sax or other horn) is the ability to harmonize 3rds in various ways … up, down, minor, major. This could essentially be a way to simulate the sound of a horn section, or to just give some more interesting color to a melodic line. The problem with achieving this in a pedal is that a lot of more basic harm pedals is that they allow only for either diatonic harmony (you have to specify a key or scale from which the harmonizer draws from) or fixed harmony, meaning it will always generate, say, a major 3rd up (C-E, D-F#, etc), and does not stay fixed to a certain diatonic center.

There are significant limitations to either one of these approaches. If you stay only in diatonic harmony, it is not easy to continue playing over, say, a key change in the song, or trying to superimpose colors outside the given harmony. If you stay only in fixed harmony, the same problem occurs but from the other way around; you might be able to play the same line in a new key, but if you deviate from that line the harmonized note may or may not be in the chord and can result in bad clashing-tones. As a result I started to look for pedals that had some sort of switch that would enable me to alternate between, say a minor 3rd and a major 3rd. There are several pedals that do this but the trick is now you have to learn how to integrate pedal rocking into your playing to stay within (or outside of if you wish) the harmony. We’ve spent so so many hours just teaching our hands/fingers to work together to make a melody but now involving feet to go along with it is considerably difficult!

However, my belief is that with practice this can be learned just like anything else, and I’ve made this little video to demonstrate what I mean.

I’ve programmed the pedal (quite easy to do for a pedal this versatile) to generate a minor 3rd up from my pitch in the heel position, and a major 3rd in the toe position. I figured running scales and exercises trying this would be a good way to start. I’m not perfect at it yet but it’s a fun thing to play with. The basic idea with the major scale would be (numbers in degree of the scale) 1-toe, 2-heel, 3-heel, 4-toe, 5-toe, 6-heel, 7-heel

Here is an example of how this might be applicable while in the midst of a song. This is a little jam groove I came up with in an effort to practice this concept. The main key center for the song is C minor but in the middle moves up to Eb minor. In this case, a diatonic harm pedal would not really work as the C minor scale has several notes that clash with Eb minor (D, G, and C depending on the kind of minor scale). In addition, if I simply had a fixed major 3rd harmony, it would severely limit the notes I’d have to choose from and hinder how melodic the line can be.

For a horn player, having a pedal like this in your arsenal can vastly expand the possibilities of how you approach what you play. Just because I know I’m not limited to one note, or to one scale, etc. I can approach a solo, for example, knowing that I can use the harmony to build tension when it’s appropriate. Having a deep understanding of basic scales is an essential tool for making this work!


I hope to get into some more detail about the Slammi pedal in the future. It is quite a fascinating device no matter the instrument.

I’m hoping to use this space a bit more in the future so please come back and see what I’ve been up to. My calendar page keeps a pretty well-updated list of all the public gigs I’m doing so I hope to see you out at a show soon!




2016 coming to a close

•November 30, 2016 • Leave a Comment


As 2016 starts to come to a close I figured it would be a good time to update my site to highlight what I was up to this year.

2016 was certainly some of the most fruitful & creative years of my career as my two main original projects Smoke n Bones and One Love Brass Band each released our first full-length albums Amplify and Too Big To Fail, respectively. I couldn’t be prouder of both of these and the many people who helped them come to fruition. If you haven’t had a chance to check out either one, please direct yourself to my music/video page to see some samples.

I’m highly looking forward to 2017! I have some big performances and a couple small tours on the horizon with both of these groups, so please feel free to check my calendar page for info on that.





Solo Piano This Month at Little Gem Saloon – Smoke N Bones opening up for Nth Power at Maison – One Love at Mirliton Festival!

•October 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey yall,

This fall is looking like a busy and exciting one with some nice-looking gigs right in time for Halloween season.

Last Wednesday I started a new happy hour solo piano set at the Little Gem Saloon, an upscale little restaurant bar downtown. I’m there Wednesdays from 5-7:30 playing my favorite jazz and blues with a few personal favorites sprinkled in – I’m excited to get to play my own set on a nice upright piano! The food is excellent as well so come say hi 🙂

Another big gig I’m excited about is Thursday October 23rd – Smoke N Bones will be opening for the very excellent Nth Power (feat. Nigel Hall of many bands, Nickie Glaspie of Beyonce/Dumstaphunk/etc fame, among others) at the Maison Frenchmen. SnB has some new songs (including one of mine) we’re looking to tighten up because we’re going to go record music for our debut album next month. Nth Power is an amazing band and don’t need me to advertise for them but I will – this band is AMAZING live.

One Love Brass Band is also ironing out some new material in preparation for a follow up to Skatober – we have a big show October 25th at the Mirliton Festival in the Bywater. This is a very cool homegrown festival celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and we’re excited to be opening it up on that Saturday! One Love also just made a cool music video for our version of “Message To Rudy”, which can be viewed on the video page here.

I’m also excited for some amazing shows I’m going to this fall – Outkast at Voodoo Fest, Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life Tour, Primus in Biloxi, etc. there’s a lot going on this fall!

Hope to see all you beautiful people out and about!

New Orleans Music Community Loses A Valued Member

•September 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Tim Green, a very well-known local saxophonist in New Orleans, LA passed away last Thursday. Tim was held in extremely high regard by everyone that worked with, heard, and knew personally. I only saw him a week ago setting up for a gig after my band at the BMC. I had heard he was sick and had known about his sleep problems but never knew the extent; he still seemed like such a young guy (I’ve learned he was 57)

I first heard Tim at Snug Harbor shortly after I moved to New Orleans. Aashish Khan was the bandleader, an amazing Indian sarode-player (though I had never heard of him, I was intrigued by Indian music at the time and with few friends I had a lot of free time on my hands and decided to investigate what I had been hearing about Frenchmen St – little did I know I would be a Frenchmen regular in a few years) that had been advertised as fusing Indian and jazz music. This was about a month after I moved to town; when I would tell people what I was into, it was Tim they’d recommend checking out. He did not disappoint in the least.

Short aside: In Philadelphia I studied with a saxophonist named Ben Schachter, who, aside from being a thoroughly excellent player, improviser, composer, and educator, was an extremely humble and honest person, and his demeanor inspired me as much as his actual playing. He was and still is probably the most influential figure in my musical upbringing.

At this particular time in my life, I was very lonely, trying to settle in a new community where I knew almost no one. This concert at Snug Harbor greatly helped assimilate me to my new surroundings, but in particular it was Tim’s playing, his demeanor, his obvious thoughtfulness, that reminded me of Ben (though they are very different players) and by relation, home, and my youth/education, and partially helped to ease my transition.

A fellow saxophonist myself, and knowing that Tim was such an important figure in the New Orleans music community made it an easy decision to pick him as the subject of a “local artist” paper I was charged with writing at UNO. I was warned that though Tim was sometimes quiet, once he warmed up to you he’d talk your ear off. I was on the phone with him for over two hours. I had a list of 20 questions I wanted to ask but because he’d expound on everything I asked I barely made it through about 7-8 of them. I only decided to record the conversation simply to make sure I’d remember everything he said, and thought no one other than me would ever care to hear it. It mostly concerned his upbringing, how he ended up in New Orleans, etc. which is somewhat well-known among the community, but there are some other gems.

The following is that full conversation (split into two parts)

tim green interview 1

tim green interview 2

If you want to skip the long audio, an abbreviated version of the paper I wrote summarizes most of it:

Tim Green was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, one of Connecticut’s most industrial cities.  His interest in music started at an early age, as mother had studied some piano in college and played around the house regularly.  Unfortunately, as he grew older and his budding musical interest became apparent, his parents actively discouraged a career in music, instead attempting to persuade him to move into a more lucrative field.  Luckily, he was close enough to Boston and New York that when he was old enough, he was able to make relatively short drives to see live music performances of any style.  His interest was not strictly tied to jazz: “One night I’d be hearing Sonny Rollins, the next night I’d be at a Blue Oyster Cult concert.  I was listening to a lot of stuff”.  He was highly interested in folk music from many different cultures, pointing out that he had a lot of curiosity about “other people”.  Bridgeport’s wide array of cultures provided a fertile environment for him to listen to and learn about all the different musics of the world, as many of the ethnic restaurants and food markets would feature authentic ethnic folk music performances.
He took up saxophone after a chance meeting with several prominent jazz musicians in the 1970s.  During a trip to New York to see some concerts, he had an encounter with both Hank Crawford and Grover Washington, Jr.  On their way to perform at a festival in Central Park, they noticed Tim in the park and thought he was working at the festival and had asked for help.  He ended up spending the rest of the weekend hanging out with and learning from Grover Washington: “He introduced me to so many jazz greats… I met Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, Esther Phillips.  Everybody that was around there, he introduced me as a young, up-and-coming musician; I hadn’t even had a saxophone in my hand yet, I didn’t even own one!”  At the end of it all, Grover offered to give him tips and pointers through the mail if he picked up a saxophone and decided to pursue it.  Tim was inspired enough to purchase his first saxophone, an old soprano he found in a pawn shop, and began his introduction into the music world.
His first real professional performance came as a member of a horn section with an R&B band called Soul Unlimited.  The gig really fell in his lap, as the sax player in the band, Kevin Ward, heard Tim practicing and immediately stopped, knocked on his door and offered him a spot in the band.  He used this time to hone his skills but decided he needed more serious, formal instruction, and applied for enough grant money to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston for one semester.  Unfortunately, his experience at Berklee was short-lived and quite negative, as he was largely self-taught by ear and could barely read any music at all, which did not mesh well with the much more formal atmosphere at Berklee.  “It seemed so rigid, the methodology, of how you teach someone to learn or how to play.  When I went to a few of my classes, I found that it was kind of a cookie-cutter sort of thing, and everybody sounded like everybody else in school.”  The professors did note his obvious talent when they heard him play, but his lack of formal training and inability to read music made it difficult to find a spot for him.  His own private saxophone teacher, Billy Pierce, even lied to him and refused to give him lessons because, he said, he only taught tenor players; when he went to the length of purchasing his own tenor sax, he was told it wasn’t the right horn.  At the conclusion of the semester, he had decided he had enough, and hopped on a Greyhound bus straight to New Orleans.  He had read about and been fascinated by New Orleans since he was a child, and had declared, even at a young age, that he wanted to live there someday.  He exited the bus in New Orleans with only three dollars, a duffle bag, and his two saxophones, and went directly to Jackson Square and started playing.  Within 45 minutes, he had been offered an apartment and a gig by a local musician who had happened to be passing by, and by then he knew that that was where he would be staying.
He says New Orleans affected what he did musically in three ways.  First, he viewed New Orleans as “the school of hard knocks.”  It resembled the old bebop days of the ‘cutting contests’, where other jazz musicians would essentially be competing with each other through their music.  “These guys would make me come to the gig and stand there from the first note to the last and make me play.  They would make me play!”  Some of the bands he was in with older musicians would even trick him by playing tunes a half-step above or below the key he specified, only to teach him that he didn’t ‘really’ know the tune until he knew it in all twelve keys.
The second way it affected him was that New Orleans was a town that he, like most, immediately recognized that people that came here “couldn’t get away” because of the variety of the specifically New Orleanian culture.  Being a curious person, and having been curious about other cultures and ways of life only made Tim want to stay here for good.  He was amazed at the amount of influence African culture had in New Orleans and was immediately fascinated.
The third way New Orleans impacted him was how cheap it was to live here at the time.  According to Tim, he “may not have been able to do that anywhere else, because I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.  I could eat for about $15 a week.”  He spent nearly all of his time holed up in his apartment practicing the workbooks he had gotten at Berklee, and he would wait around til Friday or Saturday, depending when the gig was, and go out and play, and come home and use the gig money for groceries.  He “had no social life whatsoever”, but was grateful for the opportunity to be able to practice all day and into the night, learning tunes on piano, working out exercises, and working on tone.
Green practices religiously, as he is one of the most intelligent, disciplined, and motivated musicians in New Orleans, if not the world.  This stems, in part, from his challenging upbringing with an often-discouraging mother; it is also largely due to his unabating interest in other cultures.  He works often with groups from out of town, such as musicians from Africa and masters of Indian music.  He has made a career out of playing many different kinds of music, but in relation to jazz, he feels that the next generation of jazz performers mostly have the same drive and spirit that he and his associates had in the 70s, when he really came into the scene.

Post-Jazzfest Madness

•May 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Ah, the adventures of a musician in New Orleans during Jazzfest. This spring has really been a blur for me, I’ve done a lot of performing, some recording, some writing, and things are looking good heading into the summer.

One Love Brass Band just performed at the Bayou Boogaloo festival, our biggest show to date, and it went great! We even had my vocalist friend Mykia Jovian sit in with us for a song. I’ve been starting to write some new music I intend to have us record possibly sometime in the fall.

Smoke N Bones has trucked on with consistent Maison Frenchmen gigs, we’re also getting ready to go to Colorado to tour in July.  I’ve written some new songs I intend this band to do as well.

I’ll try to use this blog more often I promise! There’s a whole new awful season of Phillies baseball to complain about after all.