入境隨俗 (When in China…)

The quest to experience music around the world continues, this time in Beijing, China. Months ago, my good friend the trumpet player Pete Dragotta and his wonderful wife Janet visited me in Taiwan from Guangdong, China and the idea came to us to do a gig in Beijing.

Unfortunately, after months of work permit complications and visa-chasing, Pete was unable to make it. China would have been a solo venture had it not been for my mother, who decided to come with me and make China a two week trip that took us from the mountains of Sichuan to downtown Beijing!
China was, in a word, captivating. These are fecund times for this country, which is changing so rapidly socially, economically, and culturally. Beijing, now a sprawling metropolis, seemed to perfectly fuse the ancient with the modern. 
Here are some photos and video clips of our gig at Jianghu Bar (江湖酒吧), with Li Tieqiao (saxophone), Yu Miao (guzheng), and Da Huai (bass). This was my first time playing with guzheng, the traditional C…

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 nex…

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 Kamm…