Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I got in!!!

Two weeks from now marks the two-year anniversary of me leaving New York City. At the time, I was planning to live in Tunisia, travel, study French and Arabic, play music with some fresh faces (see previous post to see some of them!), and teach English for one year before returning to New York to resume business as usual.

A lot of you might be wondering what I've been up to since then--and why I'm in Taipei instead of back in New York City. The truth is, I got to do all of the above and more--including some serious soul-searching. The more countries I saw, the more music I played, and the more people I met who had different stories and struggles, the more of the world I wanted to learn about and experience.

Most of all, the desire to leave an impact wherever I could--not just on the musical/artistic level, but on the societal level, became indelibly burned into my conscience, and as much as I longed to go back to New York, I knew it wasn't time until I figured out the next step in figuring out how to accomplish this.

So, this little chick drummer decided to try her luck in the big world of public affairs. First came the heart-wrenching decision not to return to Tunisia and instead expand my perspective from a totally different continent. Then came the dreaded GREs, followed by another transoceanic move, across the Pacific this time, to Taiwan. Daily 8AM Mandarin classes (as rewarding as it has been daunting). And of course, graduate school applications, a process that brought me to the furthest edges of my ontological threshold and back again!

Finally, 10 months later, I've been accepted into my dream school, Columbia University, in what has always been and will always be my dream metropolis--New York City. At the School for International and Public Affairs, I'm planning to study cultural diplomacy, non-profit management, and social activism in a global context. I hope to answer questions like: How do we ensure that artists continue to have places to live and work as the world urbanizes? How can we educate a new generation on the plurality of cultures and languages that confront us in a globalizing society? How can the arts be used as a tool for social advocacy? (It goes without saying, of course, that I'm planning to continue playing music the second I set foot on dry land. Some things don't change.)

I find it so fortuitous that this journey has led me back to where it all began. I've made so many amazing new friends throughout this entire process, and I have also seen how profound and unwavering my relationships are with my close friends and family, many of whom have supported me through some very difficult moments.

So there you have it: I'm coming home, everybody. You have no idea how excited I am to see you again. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

397 Nights in Tunisia

Hi Everyone!

I know Dizzy Gillespie had never been to Tunisia when he wrote the song that made the country famous among jazz musicians, but I gotta say...he was missing out. The people are so warm, the country is so beautiful, and the culture is so rich and complex.

Most of all, the music wasn't like anything I had ever played before. It was a challenge adapting the drums to what Tunisians call "Oriental Music," but entering into this completely different music tradition, with musicians from such a different background, was enormously rewarding.

Since I'm long overdue for an update, I'll just go through some of the highlights:

Atelier Om Ezzine: A music and dance workshop in Mahdia, a coastal town near Sfax. Mahdia has its own folk dance and song, called Om Ezzine, in which the townspeople gather and dance in a circle. Here, we were performing modern renditions of Tunisian folk songs, including Om Ezzine.

String orchestra. The man in the scarf is Mohamed-Ali Kammoun, one of Tunisia's premier composer-pianists, and the one who took me under his wing. Amazing jazz arranger and pianist.

The backdrop was hand-painted by local high school art students. It was gorgeous!!!

Les trois chanteuses, et moi! Miriam, Eya, and Wiem.

Mohamed-Ali Kammoun Quintet @ Theatre Municipale de Sfax: Mohamed-Ali Kammoun took me to Sfax, his hometown, where I had some amazing Spaghetti a la Mer, met his adorable little boy, and played with this quintet. My nametag said Tiffany Ojala, as did the announcer. 

Mohamed-Ali Kammoun, keys, Marouen Allam, bass; Jihed Khmiri, percussion; Hichem Badrani, nay; Hamdi Makhlouf, oud. 

Eau Secours! (100% Water): Now this was life-changing. Not only did I get to tour around Tunisia, but I got to go to Jordan and Palestine with this amazing contemporary dance troupe. The dancers were from different countries: Tunisia, Palestine, France, Egypt, Algeria, and even Brazil. 

In good company: Me, Abdelaziz (dancer, Arabic teacher, extraterrestrial), Hiba (dancer and Palestinian activist), Amira (singer, actress, dancer, super talented), Mich (sound engineer extraordinaire), Leila (frantic assistant), Marion (dancer-fieeeerce.), Vito (yoga guru and dancer), Asma (dancer, enigmatic and super intelligent), Larbi (dope. super dope.)

My homies Haythem, Yasmine, Asma and Bruno. Some of the most beautiful (inside and out) people I've ever met. 

From Jordan to Palestine. Just two more checkpoints....oh well, might as well take a selfie!

The show dealt with the important topic of water shortage in the developing world, especially in Palestine, where water is being siphoned out of Palestine into Israel, and is completely under Israeli control. Check out the trailer (click here)!

Crossing the border from Jordan to Palestine, a few of my friends and I got detained. Strangely, the Israeli officers were more interested in why I was living in Tunisia and traveling with this motley bunch than they were about the round turtle shell-shaped cymbal case on my back, which never fails to raise eyebrows at airport security. We eventually passed through, however, and even got to go to Jerusalem for one day. 

First gig: At Restaraunt Mansoura, in Kelibia. Kelibia beach is probably the single most beautiful beach I've ever seen (I don't have photos, unfortunately, but seriously, Google it.) At this restaurant, you can actually sit outside and sit with your feet in the water while eating top-notch seafood. 

The poster was dope too. 

Orchestre Nationale de Tunisie @ Theatre Municipale de Tunis: Yes, I got to play with the National Tunisian Orchestra! Nightly rehearsals, large ensemble, Arabic/French/English invective flying all over the place. It was a blast :)

Other Photos:

La Tunisie!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Hey Everyone,

Okay, so updating my website more often should probably be one of my New Year's Resolutions! (-_-). Let me update you on what's going on.

DEBUNK has been busy! We played at 45 Bleecker Theatre, Spectrum, and most recently, at the FireHouse Space in Brooklyn. I am so, so excited about the feedback we've been getting from our off-the-wall avant-jazz/trip-hop/noise shows, so if you haven't checked us out yet, come to Bar Reis on Friday, December 14th at 9:00pm for a special double-bill with Concert Black. We'll also have our very own website/Facebook page up-and-running within the next month or so...stay tuned!

On Wednesday, December 12th at 9:00pm, I will be playing another duo gig with Robert Dick at Sycamore in Brooklyn. I am extra-excited about this gig; Robert Dick is one of the leading voices of innovation on flute, and certainly one of the greats of our time. In fact, I'm secretly glad that our gig, which was originally on November 1, was pushed back due to Hurricane Sandy--because now I can actually get people to come!..and not worry about power lines landing on their heads on their way to the venue.

I've also been playing a lot with singer-songwriter/composer David Alan Thornton. He is a truly gifted composer/arranger whose songs WILL get stuck in your head months after you hear them. He's also an all-around beautiful person. You may have missed our last two gigs together, but you can catch him at Rockwood Music Hall on Monday, December 3rd, 10:00pm at Rockwood Music Hall.

In June, I played at Arts for Arts' Vision Festival with the Sound Band --a personal milestone for me-- led this time around by saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc and joined by some of my favorite musicians: Ras Moshe, Matt Lavelle, Pete Dragotta, Kirk Knuffke, Max Johnson, Tor Snyder, Zak Sherzad, and Tom Zlabinger. Then, in September, duo with Ras Moshe in the Interstellar Space Tribute to John Coltrane.

What else...oh yes. The mantra for these next few months is COMPOSITION. I will be focusing more of my energies on making newer, better music for Tiffany Chang's Free Association (which has been in a cocoon as of late, changing its colors), DEBUNK, and even a revival of the Botiquin band.
Thanks for checking back. I promise you'll be hearing again from me soon. Come out and hear some music!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Schizophrenia ensues.

I haven't posted here since St. Patrick's Day. And what may appear as laxity to whomever views this page is in fact the result of the CRAZY, FRENETIC activity in my life at the moment.

Here's what's gone down since my last post: MixTape Dance had our show at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center. It was smashing. If you like feel-good music and creative choreography, you'll want to stay tuned for our next show in the Fall.

A few days before that I played with Four Women (With and Axe to Grind) at the Clemente Soto Velez with Kris Davis, Mazz Swift, and Patricia Parker. Probably one of my favorite gigs I've played so far this year, hands down. Such a beautiful meeting of spirits...we'll be playing again on June 25th. Come through.

There's something about playing with other women that really taps into a different creative energy. Just a few weeks ago, after playing with DeBUNK at the Delancey, I had a rehearsal with Valerie Kuehne and Natalia Steinbach, followed by a session with Nonoko Yoshida and Rema Hasumi.There are so many talented women out there playing creative music these days...it's truly encouraging.
Aside from that, Sound Band, the free jazz big band, has been hitting it hard also, with Tor Snyder playing a key leadership role. We've been playing every month or so at the Evolving Series. Next show is June 4 at the Clemente Soto Velez.

Coming up this week: playing in David Alan Thornton's showcase at the Laurie Beechman Theater, David Alan Thornton vs. the Tiny Hippo Tuesday, May 15th at 9:30PM. Catchy songs, my favorite of which is a suite called Tiny Hippo and His Tiny Train. I Know. I wish I had thought of it too.

LASTLY BUT NOT LEASTLY, but actually MOSTLY, this coming Sunday, May 20th at 8PM, a super exciting collaboration between DEBUNK and DAVI, an afro-electro-funk artist/choreographer. We'll be playing at the Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg for the release of his EP. This production features several guest artists, dancers, costumes, and is definitely going to be a FULL-FLEDGED experience. You will think you're on drugs and watching an alien reincarnation of Prince. You can get tickets here: http://ticketf.ly/J4PsJa. Think of it as a birthday present to me...I'll be celebrating all weekend. Come say hi and party with DAVI and DeBUNK on Sunday night!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Quarterly Report

Hello T.Chang Fans,

Thanks for bearing with me through these incredibly eventful months.  2012 has been really awesome so far. Some highlights include: "DeButing" DeBUNK with Josh Henderson, DJ Hubcap, and Isamu McGregor (soon to be Dave Mainella on keys) at The Tank, playing at Knitting Factory with Pilot Kings, and of course, playing with Tiffany Chang's Free Association at Freddy's Backroom.

Coming up, I'm looking to another round of playing with a couple of my favorite groups: DeBUNK at the Shrine in Harlem on March 29th, Detroit-born dancer/emcee Dulcinea Detwah on April 9th, and the Ras Moshe Trio at Brecht Forum on April 15th.

Additionally, I will be playing with an AMAZING group of musicians, Patricia Parker, Kris Davis, and Mazz Swift at the Clemente Soto Velez next Monday, March 26th. I feel so honored to share the stage with such incredible musicians.

Last, but not least, I will be playing with the fabulous dance company MixTape Dance at the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center (MMAC) April 6 and 7th. This is a unique, beautifully choreographed project that explores the role of music in our daily lives. Check it out.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's 2012!

After two beautiful weeks in California with my family, I came back to New York and landed right in the middle of a Pilot Kings rock show at Ella Lounge, where I found myself sipping rum and coke and playing a lobotomized half-kit (sketchy backline). It was an awesome show nonetheless, and I can't wait to play with those fellas again on St. Patrick's Day!

Then, that Saturday I played at the Judson Memorial Church with several of my favorite musicians, including William Parker, Ras Moshe, Cooper Moore, Fay Victor and Patricia Parker. The event was to raise funds for an Anti-Guantanamo Freedom Ride, and there were several talented poets and an awesome Appalachian band sharing the bill.

Next week, I'm really looking forward to playing with 3Spoke Wheel (Avi Granite, guitar/Danny Gouker, trumpet) next Monday at the Local 269, a night put together by my favorite baritone saxophonist, Jonah Parzen-Johnson.

Then, on Saturday night is the debut of DEBUNK!!! A new hip-hop/experimental group with Josh Henderson on violin, Mike Watson aka DJ Hubcap on turntables, and Isamu McGregor on keys. I'm sooo excited for this performance featuring all-original compositions. Come out to the Tank next Friday if you can!

And to top it ALLLL off, Tiffany Chang's Free Association is playing next Saturday at Freddy's Backroom at 8pm, followed by the marvelous Rock Hop Ninjas at 9pm.

Come for an awesome night of music (which all of them will be!), and have a drink with me to 2012!!!

Seriously. I haven't seen you since last year. It's been a while ;)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Holidays!!!

Hey Everyone! Just wanted to wish you all a Happy Holiday season. I'll be returning to California in three days to spend a week or two with my big Taiwanese family, and I absolutely can't wait!

Thanks to all of you for supporting me and my music in 2011. It's been a truly remarkable year and I know it's going to get even better in 2012. December has been especially awesome: after playing to a packed house at the ABC No Rio with Free Association, I played an incredible gig with Ras Moshe and Dave Ross last week, and the duo gig with Robert Dick at EXAPNO was amazing too-Brooklyn musicians who are looking for a vibrant musical community really oughta check out EXAPNO sometime.

As a last hurrah for 2011, I'll be playing with The Sound Band on Monday, December 19th at 10pm at the Clemente Soto Velez on my last night in New York. Looking forward to playing with some more great musicians under the conduction of Roy Campbell. Maybe I'll see you there?