Track Of The Week: Wind of Change

When my manager asked me to make a music video for my new arrangement of the Scorpions classic ‘Wind of Change,’ I turned immediately to what inspired me to record this version in the first place – Russia and its people. The original Scorpions version was a beacon of hope for the Russian people when it came out in the early nineties and became an important anthem for them which remains in their hearts today.

At this particular moment in time, I hope and pray for our walls to once again break down so that we may let a unified vision of the world into our hearts once again, just as this song provoked so many to do so long ago.

The video contains photos I’ve taken over the past three years as I’ve traveled through Russia and Ukraine including images from Vladivostok, Yaroslavl, Yekaterinburg, Ufa, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Arkhangelsk, Ulyanovsk, Kiev, Chernihiv and more. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to see all these places first hand and hope to offer a unique perspective on the incredible and diverse beauty this part of the world possesses.

I also feel very lucky to be able to bridge the gap between nations and cultures via music and look forward to returning to both Russia and Ukraine in 2017 with a very special tour. Details to come.

Track Of The Week: LANDSLIDE

Here’s a demo recording of a jazz version of the Fleetwood Mac classic ‘Landslide’ that I recorded yesterday. This arrangement came into my head a few weeks ago and completely haunted me until I recorded it. The vocals, trombone, piano, and bass were all recorded within a few hours and mixed soon after. Sometimes it just happens that way. I hope you enjoy it.

 

From Ukraine to The Netherlands

It was a whirlwind musical week for me beginning in Ukraine where I was a featured performer at the Chernihiv Jazz Open. It was an incredible experience and once again, I was really moved by the incredible respect our friends to the East have for jazz music and culture. I hope to return to Ukraine in April as an extension of my Russian tour!

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Just a few days later at the opposite end of the continent, I made my live debut with my brand new rock band, Little Neon. Alongside my co-writer and collaborator Justin Pursey, drummer Barry Van Esbroek, guitarist Sander Bus, and bassist Pim Koppen, we performed the bulk of our upcoming debut album for the first time anywhere. It was a total thrill to bring this music to life and a personal milestone for me to play original music with a band I can call my own in Europe for the first time. I can’t wait to do it again!

Stay tuned for info on more Little Neon shows as we book them as well as news on my jazz gigs and tours. In the meantime, you can check out Little Neon’s debut single “Endless Summer” on iTunes, Spotify, & more.

Reflections of Russia

hybio2016When you journey out into the world to make music in a new location, there’s really no way of knowing what to expect until you get there. Many of you may know that I’ve been to Russia before – first in 2013 with Doro then again for an extensive tour in 2015 with U.D.O., but nothing prepared me for the magic and power of my first solo excursion through Russia.

First off, let me explain the logistics of this tour. I was traveling as a solo artist, meaning I was traveling completely by myself and playing with a new band in every city I visited. We would rehearse sometimes the day before the gig, sometimes hours before the gig – one time only, make or break. Luckily, each and every musician I met along the way was incredibly capable and hard working, and had clearly put a lot of time into studying my material before I arrived, which made rehearsals a breeze.

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Secondly, my fears of isolation were quickly put to rest as everyone who looked after me in each city was extremely warm, welcoming, and gracious that I had come to visit their town. I could only explain that I was equally gracious to be there.
The stage was set for an unforgettable experience and what transpired at the shows certainly did not disappoint. I’ve played for all kinds of crowds in my life, sized from 100,000 to 1 and just about everything in between, but I saw something in these crowds across Russia that is extremely special – I saw their eyes. I saw them watching me and hanging on every note and word of the material I’d prepared for them. I saw them listening to and appreciating music in a way that is becoming increasingly rare in the West. I saw them exhibiting a deep respect for music.

13567172_10157012709625524_1113987992135655246_nEach show had a distinct tone and personality and they were all very special for me. The obvious highlights might be my set at the Everjazz International Jazz Festival in Yekaterinburg and the final show of the tour in which I found myself on stage at Lenin Memorial Philharmonic Hall in Ulyanovsk with a Big Band behind me, but the smaller club shows in Ufa and Arkhangelsk were equally special and good for the soul.

I’m happy to say that plans are already being made for me to return to Russia in 2017 for a more extensive tour, so watch this space for info! Also, be sure to check out all the brand new photos and videos that I just posted from the tour.

Lastly, thank you to the wonderful people in Ufa, Yekateringburg, Arkhangelsk, and Ulyanovsk. To the musicians, the fans, and the great new friends I made along the way: it was a dream come true for me. I hope to see you all again soon! Spasibo, Russia!