It’s that time of the year – reflections and resolutions – everyone is putting out ‘best of’ lists, I’ll go for a ‘highlight of the month’ list before the 2017 calendar gets retired. Thanks for coming along on the 2017 journey – let’s start with January, annual JEN conference in New Orleans! What better place to have a jazz conference than New Orleans – the birthplace of jazz, celebrating 100 years of recorded jazz. I got to put together the research track for the conference and jammed and presented/ moderated at various event, but most special was the tribute to David Baker. The room was filled with friends and family for a program of music and tributes –  thank you to Triniece Robinson for initiating and facilitating this session, unforgettable!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standingFebruary – tough to choose, but I’m picking the first ISSMA contest for my daughter Jasmin on Oboe. She had just picked up the instrument in August and decided to participate. Her teacher assigned her the Handel Sonata No. 1, a piece that is usually used for college auditions and certainly not at the level of a student who has been playing the instrument for a few months. We didn’t realize the error though until it was too late and Jasmin stood up to the challenge and with nightly tears worked her way through the difficult piece and received a Gold Medal at the competition – way to go!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, indoorMarch – a most enjoyable week of conference and concerts in Berlin, BUT I will pick our Women’s History Month tribute with very special guest, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. She graciously agreed to come and stay at our house with her daughter for a few days and a very busy schedule. We put together a program of music by and for women with an all-female band and Ingrid also worked with the High School Band in Columbus, IN – Mike Pence’s alma mater. Our collaborative concert was an unforgettable evening of transformation from audience curiosity to communal celebration of empowerment. Thank you to Robert Hay-Smith at the Harlequin Theatre for making is possible!

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorApril – Jazz Appreciation Month, and the highlight – a 10-day tour with The Whole World in Her Hands, now SHEroes. Leni Stern, Jamie Baum, Shannon Gunn, Jennifer Vincent, Rosa Avila, and myself teamed up for an incredible adventure from New York to West Virginia and back. Thank you to all the presenters who made it possible, especially to the WV Jazz Society, the Manchester Craftsmen Guild, and An Die Musik – the video footage is part of an upcoming documentary by Kay D. Ray (Lady Be Good). Here is our WV concert!

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standingMay – The Time Flies went on a European Tour from Scotland to Germany in support of the new LP release. We also recorded some new tracks towards the next album with drummer Josh Roberts and bassist Andre Nendza. If you have any means for playing LPs, get the album – it is phenomenal. I’m not sure what my favorite concert of the tour was – loved them all! Here is a great video from our house concert.

June – it’s my birthday month, we returned in time to celebrate and Image may contain: 1 persondo a jazz piano presentation for Mini U at IU. But actually for this month I want to lift up a special person that turned 60 on my birthday and lost her battle to cancer just two weeks later – the great jazz pianist Geri Allen. It was a devastating loss to the jazz world. We will remember and honor her for her music, her gentle soul, and her leadership!

July – Presentation and visit at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville as well as workshop/ presentations for the Jazz Institute of Chicago. The outcome – an endorsement by CASIO keyboards with the gift of a brand new Privia stage piano. I’m loving the keyboard and it’s an honor to represent the company.

August – The Time Flies tour WV and New Orleans as well as appear regionally at theImage may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing B’town Jazzfest and Jazz Under the Dome in West Baden. The group features mostly Peter’s and my originals and it’s a special treat to be able to perform this quite sophisticated and challenging music with fantastic musicians. Did I say you need to get that recording?

September – Back to School, it’s not always easy to juggle teaching duties with music activities but absolutely worthwhile. The Time Flies are guests at the Evansville Jazz Festival and more and it’s Marching Band season for Jasmin. Did I say juggling?

Image may contain: one or more people and textOctober – A short trip to Germany and Austria to showcase the Jam Session Model and jumpstart the release of my new book “Experiencing Chick Corea: A Listener’s Guide” on Rowman & Littlefield. The book is the culmination of years of research and a special opportunity for my to showcase my long-time fascination with Chick Corea’s music. For the release concert I even get to dust off the good old Yamaha Keytar – super fun!

November – Reunion of SHEroes at the Side Door, CT and Falcon, NY. The new Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing, suit and indoorrecording is set for release on March 23, 2018. This group has a very special chemistry and showcasing those role models is crucial during these tough times of polarization and discrimination.

December – Peace on Earth, spread the holiday cheer, enjoy some video footage from our annual concert with Jazz Fables here and best wishes for 2018! See you at the JEN conference in Dallas next week and at Jazz Congress in New York in two weeks.