Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Thrill the World" is one woman's effort to get people around the globe to simultaneously perform the "Thriller" dance from the iconic Michael Jackson music video.

Dance instructor Ines Markeljevic is the mastermind behind the event slated to take place October 27 and 28, and she's hoping to draw enough participants to set a record worthy of Guinness. So far there are 84 officially registered events in 80 cities around the world. She will lead a group in Toronto, where the "Thrill the World" precursor--"Thrill Toronto"--was held last year. Besides Canada and the U.S., participating countries include: Croatia, Honduras, New Zealand, the Philippines and Sierra Leone.

Yes, she is looking to set a record, but her larger aim is simple: She wants to unite the world in dance.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Recent Concerts

A couple of months ago, I had tickets to a concert featuring the music of Frank Zappa, as performed by his son and a 9 piece band. As this concert occurred on a Monday night, I reluctantly gave the tickets to my brother. I just couldn't bear to miss Renegades Minicorps rehearsal - no matter how much I love Zappa.

My brother and his buddy Steve told that the concert was amazing. Great - just what I wanted to hear about a concert I missed.

Anyhow, they decided that my good deed should be rewarded, and they took me to see Medeski, Martin and Wood with John Scofield. Now, this is a group I had heard of, but had not actually heard. So I went with an open mind.

The first good sign was that most of the people on the shuttle bus to the concert venue had seen the band before. Some had seen them within a week of the concert! They were excited by the fact that we were "virgins" and told us how much we would enjoy the show.

Boy were they right. These guys are the most amazing group I have seen in ages. Very contemporary jazz, played by mutant ninja superstars. We were blown away. If you get the chance - go see them. Trust me. We were so stoked after the show, we just couldn't stop talking about it.

Last week, I got a note from my buddy Kevin Kono letting me know that Eric Miyashiro would be playing with the West Valley Jazz Band (Kevin is a member, along with Mike "8 years as a lead soprano" McWilliams). Miyashiro-san plays high note trumpet ala Maynard Ferguson, so I knew that I wanted to go to this. I called Roland and made him go with me, and we went to West Valley and looked for a way to sneak in.

We made it into the music building, and ran into Kevin in the hallway. He had a couple of extra tickets, so we were set.

As the band filed into the hall, I noticed that I knew a number of them from my days in Music school. Then they started to play. And they could really blow. When Eric Miyashiro came out to join them, they played an old Maynard favorite, MacArthur Park. Coincidentally, Roland and I had listened to that very tune, performed by Maynard in the 70's.

Miyashiro was great, but the thing that really impressed me was the band - they sounded as good or better than Maynard's band! Mike and Kevin were screaming in the trumpet section. And they kept up the high standard for the whole show. We were so excited, it took hours for us to get over the excitement of the concert.

It really showed me that there are a number of great bands at local colleges and universities. Go out and see for yourself. (Except Lee - he hates Big Bands to the point that he would probably gouge his eyes out with a spork if forced to go to a big band concert). Make the effort to support your local musicians.

Such as the Ohlone Wind Orchestra, who will be performing a set of wicked Wind Ensemble pieces on October 28th at 2pm in the Theater at Ohlone. Fetured soloist is Mike Vax, who will be performing two trumpet solos with us.