Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Storrs Sessions

In September of 2007, musician Dave Storrs and I crossed paths one day while I was going to pick up my "crappy Chrysler" at the repair shop. (It's actually not so crappy!) And thanks to the timing of that vehicular breakdown, Dave invited me and some other terrific players (John Bliss, Page Hundemer, Steve Willis, and Mike Curtis) to his Corvallis studio for a jam session. Right out of the gate there was a very good vibe with the music and sounds we were making and, to date, we've compiled quite a number of fine recordings.

Here's a playlist of some of our early sessions featuring Dave Storrs (Drums), Page Hundemer (Bass), John Bliss (Guitar), and myself, Rob Birdwell (Trumpet/Flugelhorn). Enjoy!

Stay tuned for more!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, September 10, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rob Birdwell's Portrait CD Available on iTunes

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Check it out - Rob's Birdwell's latest CD ("Portrait") featuring John Bliss (Guitar), Steve Willis (Bass), and Viking (Drums) available on iTunes!

Cover Art
Rob Birdwell


Release Date: Jul 16, 2007
Genre: Pop
℗ 2007

Download iTunes

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rob Birdwell's CD Release - Portrait

My son's rendition of me is one of the inspirations behind my new CD and the cover art - his simple and sincere offering. And that's precisely the essence of what I hope the music on Portrait - which is now available - will convey.

Four of the tracks on Portrait are "studio" offerings with me making all the noises - while the other five tracks were recorded live as a quartet at Bombs Away Cafe on June 28, 2007 and feature the talents of John Bliss (Guitar), Steve Willis (Bass), and Viking (Drums). A "live" setting provides opportunities for Jazz players to not only be inspired by each other but by their audience - and the bar is raised further when the recording machine is running! So we just went for it, using our instruments instead of pencils, and began to sketch away at various sonic settings.

Buy the CD
album cover
click to order

The tracks on Portrait (all original tunes) are:
  1. Shameless (Birdwell)
  2. Aerostar (Birdwell)
  3. Blue In You (Birdwell)
  4. El Camino (Birdwell)
  5. TV Buddha (Birdwell)
  6. A Ghost at the Gig (The Ballad of Frankie Templeton) (Birdwell)
  7. Reinhardt In Tunisia (Bliss)
  8. Frumpy (Birdwell)
  9. Buddy Collette (Birdwell)
There are many more "portraits" to be made and I look forward to sitting for another soon. Hope you enjoy this one!

Buy the CD
album cover
click to order

Rob Birdwell

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

OSU Beaver Baseball Champs

Way to go Oregon State Beaver Baseball Team! ...and while you're celebrating, check out the XTET this Thursday, June 28, at Bombs Away Cafe. We'll play Jazz from 7:30 to 10 cover...all ages welcome...great food!Beaver Fans - including Frey and Christel

Two of my champion team pictured here! (lower right corner)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Musical Collaborations Online

This piece on NPR about the growing maturity and acceptance of online musical collaborations is mighty interesting. Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane jammed over the phone, so the evolution of this technology makes perfect sense.

My first random musical "WebJam" happened in 2003 and was with some musicians that I didn't know from a site that originated in Germany - posted was a a synthy groove with some pretty cool chord changes...I liked the groove so I loaded in the basic mix into my DAW, added my Flugelhorn jam track, then uploaded my take to their was subsequently's the result:

Rob's Flugelhorn WebJam with various folks

Now, in 2007, we have a plethora of sites/services (very easy to use and sophisticated) that allow us to musically collaborate with our close associates or total strangers:

Saturday, May 26, 2007

CCT Ragtime - KGAL Interview

Here's a radio interview with Mary Jeanne and myself (recorded Wednesday, May 9, 2007) with KGAL host Craig Solomon

This was fun to do - Mary Jeanne is a real pro at this stuff, and Craig was a very nice host.

Two quick corrections:
  • Ragtime actually won the Tony awards in 1998, not 1995
  • I don't believe I sound quit this dorky in real life (okay, so I probably do!)
Archive radio link:

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ragtime Orchestra Dress Up Themes

May 10: Formal Night
May 11: Formal Night
May 12: Jazz/Ragtime Night
May 13: Dress like your mom or how your mom would dress you night
May 16: Crazy Hat night
May 17: Wacky Tie Night
May 18: Movie (characters) Night
May 19: OSU/School Spirit Night
May 20: Teddy Bear Night
May 23: Black Clothes Night
May 24: Pajama Night
May 25: Miss-matched clothes Night
May 26: Formal Night
May 27: Formal Night

Thanks to Ryan B. (Trumpet) for putting these themes together - I think they're great! Naturally, you're free to dress how you want, but here are the dress themes for all of our shows - have fun! -Rob

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Troubadour - Calypso meets Modal

Here's a new tune that I wrote entitled Troubadour..there were probably many forces that inspired this one, but Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane come to mind first: where wild Calypso meets "sheets of sound" modal invention. (I've recently started learning to play Tenor Sax, so Rollins and Coltrane are ever present in my daily routine). Besides the tune itself, what makes the piece interesting is that the solo section opens up into two distinct sections - the first section is a rhythmic Lydian jam. In the lead sheet I suggest a sort of Jazzy Calypso bass/drum groove feel, but that could mean just about anything. The transition from that section would be lead, ideally, by the soloist and take us into a contrasting slow/out-of-time minor/modal section- free, open and sparse...and this could gradually lead us back to the main tune. So there are a lot of possibilities and each soloist will undoubtedly have their chance to carve out their own little world.

The demo I made of Troubadour attempts to emulate the overall arc and feel of what I had in mind, but it's just my own limited take, and naturally open for interpretation.

Troubadour - Rob's basement demo rendition (MP3)

Troubadour - B Flat Lead Sheet (PDF)
Troubadour - Concert Lead Sheet (PDF)

As usual, I encourage players (students and/or pros) to download and perform my tunes and Troubadour is no exception. If you do perform Troubadour, please drop me a line and let me know how it went. And for you true giants of Jazz, Troubadour is definitely one to consider for your next CD...hint, hint!


Rob Birdwell

Saturday, February 03, 2007

CCT Ragtime Orchestra - Music Changes and Cuts

This document pertains to the Spring 2007 Corvallis Community Theatre production of Ragtime, the musical. These notes are intended for the members of the CCT Ragtime Orchestra.

The following are the list of musical cuts, transitions, and/or alternate cues that will need to be marked (in pencil) in your books. Note that your books probably contain many markings from other productions, but ours may be different. Also note that these notes are subject to change. I'll keep you posted if/when new cuts arise and point you to this post for the latest revisions. Please mark your book as follows:


*** Orchestra Volume Levels ***
(See my notes posted in the pit on Saturday, May 12 that outlines our strategy and approach - thanks!)

*** CHANGED 5/10/2007 - Opening night ***
#36 (Bows) – Do NOT take the repeat at measure 45

*** Simple Clarifications - Revised 5/8/2007 ****
#6 (What Kind of Woman) – No repeat on the safety vamps – just play on through!
#7D – Rich and full at measures 43 and 44, for those of you playing
#11 – No safety vamp at measure 8 – just play on through!
#23 – No safety vamp at measure 3 – just play on through!
#26C – No safety vamp needed – just play on through!

Act I
No. 4 - Journey On: we'll play the regular version of the cue (NOT the alternate version)

*** REVISED 5/8/2007 ****
No 5A - Crime of the Century (Part 2, Reporters) - just a point of clarification on the parts. Some of you seem to have an extra measure (measure 30) - however, the cue should end at measure 29.

No 5B - The Crime of the Century (Part 3: Victrola) - will be a pre-recorded cue.
Houdini's Airplane (just before No. 6) - cut this section of the cue only. (we will play cue 5A)

No. 7B - Success (Part 3) - we WILL play mm. 13-18 (not cut as previously indicated)
No. 7D - play through mm. 32, cut to mm. 43 and play as written
No. 9A - Gettin' Ready Rag (Part 2) - play to beat 1 of mm. 31, cut to mm. 76 (beat 2), then cut from end of mm. 85 to mm. 104
No. 11a - Firemen/Coalhouse Crossover - cue starts at mm. 9 (although some you may start at mm. 1 and play through mm. 8, then meet us at mm. 17
No. 12 - Your Daddy's Son - we'll do the regular version of cue (not alternate version).

**** REVISED 5/10/2007 ****
No. 16C - Lawrence, Mass. Sequence - add a fermata to your beat 1 chord or note at measure 22; we'll hold there and I'll cut off. Our next entrance will be at mm. 43 (with the screaming woman)...this is the slow 6/4 through beat 1 of measure 46 (the 3/4 measure) and mark an abrupt cut-off // ....from there, cut to measure 65. We will play this in a slow 4/4 tempo...your last measure is either marked 3/2 or 6/4...either way I'll beat that in a slow 6 and we'll hold on the last beat, then a short cut-off and we're into the transition of "Gliding".

No. 19 - We will do the normal version of this cue, not the alternate key version.

**** UPDATED 5/8/2007 ****
19A - President - played as is - just watch for the 2/4 measure hits.

Act II

No. 23 - We will do the normal version of this cue, not the alternate key version.
No. 25 - "What A Game" - this number is cut; we will do No. 25A though.

**** UPDATED 5/8/2007 ****
No. 26A - Play to downbeat of mm. 34; cut to beat 1 of mm. 64 of cue No. 26B (that's a solo C7 chord for piano, very milked) - the remaining beats in measure (beats 2, 3, & 4) are dictated/tenuto with chorus only ("My honey) instruments should be playing there...after that we're a tempo as written.

No. 27 - We will do the normal version of this cue, not the alternate key version.

*** NEW CUT AS OF 4/18/2007 ***
No. 29A - add a fermata on the whole note at mm. 18...this is where the cue ends... we then go to No. 29B and note where we start....

No. 29B - Harlem Pas De Deux - cue will start at mm. 12.
No. 31 - cue ends with fermata on mm. 40, beat 2.
No. 33D through No. 34A: we will do the normal versions of these cues, not the alt. key versions.

**** REVISED 5/8/2007 ****
No. 35 - we're adding a single measure (before measure 1), that repeats four times. Low instruments play a low G...then we play it as written.

Final notes: make changes in PENCIL. These cuts/changes are subject to change - thanks for being flexible!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CCT Ragtime Orchestra Schedule 2007

Remaining Ragtime Orchestra Schedule:

*** Orchestra Required! ***
Saturday, May 5, 2 PM to 5 PM (full cast w/orch in pit) (cast to arrive at 1 pm, but the downbeat will be at 2 pm!)

Week #1 Pre-Performance Shows (Full Orchestra)

Monday, May 7, 7 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 7 PM
Wednesday, May 9, 7 PM (Preview Night - a real audience!)

Ragtime Performances - Majestic Theatre, Corvallis, OR
Week #1: May 10, 11, 12, 13(M)

Week #2: May 16, 17, 18, 19, 20(M)
Week #3: May 23, 24, 25 26, 27(M)

(M) = Matinee 2:30 p.m. performance; regular show time 7:30 p.m

The above is the orchestra schedule for the Corvallis Community Theatre production of Ragtime (Spring 2007) - want to practice along with the score? Purchase the Original Broadway Cast CD

Important: for all rehearsals, always bring your music, your own stand, and a pencil. If you cannot make a rehearsal and have a book checked out, you must make arrangements to get the book to the rehearsal so the other players in the section are not without music! Please arrive in time to warm-up and get setup. I'll typically arrive 45 minutes beforehand to help setup and if you have equipment I and others can help move stuff.

Ragtime Orchestra Rehearsal History

Saturday, February 17, 10 AM to 12 noon
Saturday, February 24, 10 AM to 12 noon
Saturday, March 3, 2 PM to 4 PM (note the different time!)
Saturday, March 10, 10 AM to 12 noon
Sunday, March 18, 10 AM to 12 noon ** CHS Band Room **

Sunday, April 15, 1 PM to 4 PM (full cast w/orch) New & Confirmed!
Saturday, April 21, 10 AM to 12 noon (NEW, UNPLANNED, BUT CONFIRMED!)
Saturday, April 28, 10 AM to 12 noon (last rehearsal before we hit the pit!)

Move to Stage/Pit Preparation: Sunday, April 29, 1 PM (anyone welcome to help out)

Monday, April 30 - 6:30 to 9:30, Run Act I - Piano in pit w/orchestra any players who want to join in!

Tuesday, May 1 - 6:30 to 9:30, Run Act II - Piano in pit w/orchestra any players who want to join in!

*** Orchestra Optional - Please Try To Make It If You Can ***
Wednesday, May 2 - 7 PM, Full Run - Piano in pit w/orchestra any players who want to join in!

*** Orchestra Optional - Please Try To Make It If You Can ***
Thursday, May 3 - 7 PM, Full Run - Piano in pit w/orchestra any players who want to join in!

Update: All orchestra rehearsals are at Majestic Theatre (map) unless otherwise marked.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sissel's Hideaway - for Early Bird Jazz Band

Here's a new piece entitled "Sissel's Hideaway" which was written specifically for the 2007 version of the Linus Pauling Middle School Early Bird Jazz Band, a before-school ensemble I direct here in Corvallis.

This piece is intended for a young but talented group of players. The lead melody is backed by Latin/Rock rhythm section feel (straight eighths) making it easy to establish a groove. There are two sections that transition to a Swing feel and feature a full Sax soli featurette as well as a full ensemble featurette. Solos are written out and feature the Baritone Sax (or Trombone) and Tenor Sax (or Violin/Concert instrument).

Sissel's Hideway - Score Rendition (MP3) - Approximately 5 minutes total

Sissel's Hideaway - Available Parts & Score

This score can be played with as few as 10 players and still retain a rich sound.

Sissel's Hideaway - Score Excerpt (2 of 9 pages)

Alto Sax 1
Alto Sax 2
Alto Sax 3
Tenor Sax 1
Tenor Sax 2
Baritone Sax
Trombone 1
Trombone 2
Trumpet 1
Trumpet 2

Additional Parts:


For more information on this chart, contact Rob Birdwell.