Hey guys! I just put two new videos up in the video section of the site. One is me playing a solo version of my composition "Because he cares" and the other is a video that McNasty Brass Band just put out. Check them out!
I've been REALLY bad about posting stuff on here in the last year or so. This is totally my fault, and I truly do aim to get better at it. Especially with the posting of gigs and stuff. Anyway, in case you were wondering, things have been AWESOME! I'm really settling into Minneapolis and the music scene here has a way of never letting you down if you keep an open mind. I've played so many shows of so many different styles of music lately and I am eternally grateful for the wonderful community of musicians and fans that continue to support and inspire me on my journey. Anyway, off to the shed!
Do you ever have those moments when you're teaching and you wonder who's actually teaching who?
I've been thinking a lot lately about how teaching, at a certain level, should be more of a diologue rather than one person telling the other what to do. For example, last week I had a lesson with a highschool student of mine I've been teaching for about a year now. He's a really great high school player and actually practices (which is more than I can say for some students) and even better, THINKS and ANALYZES his playing.
Generally, our lessons consist of me doing a few warm up exersices with him to see where his sound etc is at that day, and then we will work on some band music or an étude. I'll often stop and ask him "how can we make this more musical?" Rather than "How can we do that better?". I used the later kind of thinking for years in my own practicing and find it leads to way more self deprication than is worthit. After all, we are making music here, not manufacturing precision equipment.
Anyway, this student has always had a pretty good range ( up to a G above high C as a Junior in highschool with a pretty big sound), but what he lacked was finesse as many younger students do. This week was different though. At the end of our lesson I usually go through some range stuff with him, admittedly so that I can work on it as well, and this week his whole approach was different. Notes were coming out clearly, articulations weren't blatty and he was playing the notes with a lot more control and dynamic variance. Astounded, I asked "what the heck did you do last week that has you playing this way?" He responded simply with," I started thinking about high notes as part of the song rather than hard sounds."
I don't know how he did it, but his mindset shift literally transformed his playing. I'd like to say I had something to do with it, but honestly, I think I learned more from him than he did from me that week. I guess the point I'm trying to make is, keep an open mind, you never know where you'll get inspiration from.
Hey guys, remember me? I know it's been a while, so I thought I'd do my best to give you a quick update on my life.
First off, I want to appologize for being so behind on updating my gigs list. You can look at this one of two ways. Either I am a) Lazy, or b) too busy playing said shows to write about them on my site. Thankfully it is the latter.
This past month has been CRAZY! When I moved back to Minnesota from Boston almost exactly a year ago I found myself wondering how the heck I was going to do in Minneapolis. How was I going to get gigs? How was I going to meet people? What kind of music was I actually trying to play? The answers came slowly at first, and then it was as if a floodgate had opened and I was now being asked to play in styles of music and conditions I had honestly never even imagined myself playing in, let alone playing profecciently in.
They say that you know you're doing ok as a musician when you're busy enough to turn down gigs. Looking at my schedule for the rest of the summer, I'm pretty close to booked up, which is kind of a surreal feeling. After a year I really feel connected with this arts scene and have met so many colorful and amazing people in it. Forget anything anybody tells you about Minneapolis, it's a dope city. It's truly the example of a place where you will get out what you put in.
Anyway, sorry for my little ramble. I'm just kind of thinking out loud here as I sit manning the door at Jazz Central, a venue in northeast Minneapolis that has turned into my haven for creating new music and presenting it to a really cool and receptive audience.
The Twin Cities Jazz Festival was this weekend and it was a truly amazing experience. On Friday, I played 4 gigs (in one day!). Going into the day I was worried that my face was going to fall off. But this Friday was essentially a snapshot of all the things I've been doing compressed into a single day. My schedule was as follows:
4:30 playing trumpet through and effects pedal with the Solflower Collective
7 playing loud high and fast with the Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra
9:30 playing a featured set on one of the stages at the jazz festival with my quartet.
11:30 playing ANOTHER two sets with my quartet at a different venue.
I often complain about the trumpet taking up all my time to have a personal life, but it's days like Friday that make me realize that making music is my personal life. Drummer Bob Moses told me my freshman year of college that unless I was actually living the music I was playing (regardless of what kind of music it was) I wasn't living at all. I'm slowly starting to get that now. I look around me and see so many amazing artists who make music their lives. It's because of these kind of people that the Minneapolis music community is so great. When music is your life, other musicians are all a part of your family, and you all support each other through the thick and thin. That to me is dope.
Lastly, one of the groups I'm a part of Tiger Speak, just released an album yesterday. It's a live hip hop album we recorded at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn. Here's a link: http://tigerspeakmusic.com/album/live-in-brooklyn
Give it a listen!
Today is the day. Ra Ra Ru's debut album "Metallic Ink Co" is now available on the Electricity is Magic label.
Download it on Bandcamp or order the physical CD at http://rararumusic.bandcamp.com/
You can stream it from Here or Here (can you tell I'm a fan of options?)
If you want to order just the CD you can go to http://electricityismagic.com/ or email
I cannot explain my excitement to finally have this music out in the world. It's a pretty surreal feeling to know that something my friends and I created is now available to everyone everywhere.
I'd like to personally thank Electricity is Magic records for bringing Ra Ra Ru into the fold with the many other talented artists on that label. I'm hoping that this will be the beginning of a fruitful partnership!
"It's conceptually possible for you to never miss another note."
I was practicing in our kitchen the other day when my room mate and fellow trumpeter, Sten Johnson (who is a badass by the way. Check out his band New Sound Undergroud) said this to me. At first I laughed it off and joked, saying some like "what, like you?" (Sten is also one of the most incredibly accurate trumpeters I know). But as we spoke more, I realized he was right.
One of the biggest problems brass players encounter, and trumpeters especially, is consistency. Being consistent on the trumpet is one of the hardest things because there are SO MANY variables. One thing that my mentor, the late Laurie Frink, talked about a lot was the ebb and flow of your physical and emotional body. It could be swollen lips, or a recent breakup, or even something as simple as a change in the winter. All of these things affect how you approach the trumpet consciously and subconsciously. So, that being said, how the hell is someone supposed to be consistent knowing that such extreme conditions exist? Inner focus.
For those of you who have ever watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you know about master Splinter, a rat who is their Guru/Sensie, whatever you want to call him. He was always full of wise quotes, many of which had something to do with focusing within yourself to bring out your true potential. Everyone has read stories and is aware of the amazing things the human body is capable of doing if we let it. The variable that needs to be eliminated in order for us to reach our potential though, is distractions.
Hitting 10 high C's in a row perfectly is more than entirely possible. It's the same concept as hitting 10 home runs in a row. The actual physics behind both things are kind of mind blowing when you boil it down to the math and how little variables can change for this to work, yet it is totally possible.
For the last three days I have been trying something that Kelly Rossum taught me something I should have started a long time ago. When I go to do my warm up or practice, if it has an off switch, it stays out of the room. Another exercise that Kelly showed me that directly correlates to this is as follows:
-Put a metronome on 60bpm
-starting on a note of your choice (I start on C in the staff) play a soft, but full quarter note on beat one every 2 measures.
-Do this 5-10 times on your starting note. If you crack a note or don't hit it perfectly, start from the beginning.
-After you've hit that note perfectly your chosen number of times, move up a half step.
-If you crack one of THOSE notes, move back down a half step and try again.
I've found that I now know if I'm going to hit that note or not before I even play it all based on my inner focus. If I think of anything besides that note, I almost invariably crack the next note every time.
Doing this just in three days has boosted my awareness of my playing and aided the flow of my improvisational ideas tremendously. Now I just hope I can keep it going. Call me crazy, but it's worth a try. We never really know what we can do until we do.
This Minnesota cold has literally been sucking the life out of me and everyone I know. After months of subzero temperatures, I couldn't be happier to take a gig/recording/vacation trip to the east coast (where it's a comfortable 28 as I write this). Anyway, I love traveling for the purpose of making music somewhere other than the place I call home. There's something about moving around or just being in a new place for me that has always really helped me get my creative spirit back on track. Like they say, too much familiarity can be a bad thing, and the freezing cold was becoming all too familiar.
I got into Boston on Thursday and felt this surge of joy upon realizing that, for the next 12 days I get to do the thing that I was put on earth to do, make music. For these precious 12 days, I'm not worrying about financial matters, scheduling students, driving (!), grocery shopping, shoveling, and the multitude of other things that go into my normal weekly routine. To say that I am thankful for this time is an understatement.
Last night, I played my first gig in Boston in about six months with the Love Experiment at a house show on the Tufts University campus. It was a little surreal talking to the guys and girls in the band as they showed up at the house. I'm always amazed at how people grow so much as musicians and as individuals in such a short time. I'm especially grateful for the positive energy each one of them brings. The body needs physical food, but the soul needs spiritual food. Playing with this band last night was a feast for the spirit of most epic proportions.
I'm now on a bus to NYC to catch a rehearsal with Tiger Speak, another group that I am extremely proud to be a part of. On Sunday, both Love Experiment and Tiger Speak will be playing a show at Shapeshifter in Brooklyn. If y'all don't know about this place, check it out. The talent that comes through is HEAVY. I'm really excited to see and hang with some old friends while I'm in New York. This will be my first time being there for more than 24 hours so hopefully my opinion of the place changes (that's a different story for a different day).
When I get back to Boston on the 5th, I'll be doing the horn recording session for the second half of the upcoming love experiment album (which you're going to want to hear, trust me) and then just simply existing for a few days and checking out some friends' recitals.
Also, I'm really happy to announce that my band Ra Ra Ru has been signed to a label! Electricity is Magic, a small label out of Canada that puts out some unreal improvised music, will be putting the record on their site and there will be some physical copies. More on that later. Check them out at electricityismagic.com
Alright, I just finished my Dunkin doughnuts coffee and I think it's time to pass out. Skyscrapers when I wake up.
I turn 23 today. My only goal for this year of my life is to work harder than I did the past 22. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in any way.
I know I've been talking about it for long enough, but I figured I should release a taste of what Ra Ra Ru's forthcoming album will be like! Here is a single off of our album entitled "Mary Had A Little Secret"
click here to give it a listen!
and give it a listen!
You never really take injury seriously until it happens to you. About 3 weeks ago I was playing a show doing the regular trumpet "high and loud" thing. I noticed that my throat felt really weird and swollen after the second set, like I had swallowed a tennis ball or something. After the third set, I tasted blood and it hurt to play past a certain range. Of course I continued playing, as I just figured my body was tired. The next day I woke up in pain, and I felt like I was choking. I saw a doctor, and long story short, I herniated my throat. I was told that, although the pain will go away, there will always be a pocket in my throat now that I have to be careful not to over exert or really bad things could happen. So, fellow trumpeters, always remember that one gig is not worth your career.
I'm trying to take this as a blessing in disguise though since it will force me to learn to play with less pressure and better technique. The hardest part is going to be getting over the mental freak out that something bad could happen every time I play and getting more into the mindset that things will be ok if I just relax. That being said, a lot of good things have been happening too. I was lucky enough to get a job teaching at MacPhail Center for Music here in Minneapolis teaching beginning trumpet players for the next 6 weeks. If you ever want to reevaluate your entire technique, teach begginers. It is so awesome to see these kids get markedly better in just minutes, and on top of that, they are STOKED about it. People always forget about how much you can learn from kids based solely on their world view. They are just learning things for the sake of learning them. They don't have financial stress, relationship stress, car payments, etc. They just want to have FUN. That's really what it's all about in the end, isn't it?
The Ra Ra Ru album is so close to being done! I'm just waiting on the artwork and then I'll get it up and available. I really can't wait for y'all to hear it. It's like a dream being realized for me. Anyway, life goes up and down, but as my mentor Kelly Rossum always says: Onward.
P.S. I added some new music to my Audio Page here. You can also check out more of my stuff and leave comments on my soundcloud page at https://soundcloud.com/jake-baldwin-1