Finally, after three years…

Finally! I’m thrilled to announce that I have two different recording projects this month! The first is as a guest vocalist with the awesome Dharma Gypsys. Their debut, pictured below, is my favorite album to meditate to and practice yoga with.

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Then, I go into the studio for my 5th North American album, with my Killin’ Sweethearts trio, Andy Langham (piano), Dominic Thiroux (bass) & Abe Lagrimas, Jr. (drums).

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The great Laurence Hobgood will be producing the album and will provide arrangements and accompaniment.

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We will also have a special appearance by the incomparableErnie Watts! Look for it in 2014!

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The last recording project I did was more than three years ago. My hope is that this album will reflect where I’m at in my life’s journey and who I’ve become as a human being and an artist. The repertoire is leading us all to a higher vibe…and a potential title! More news soon…

November is a great time to reflect and give gratitude. So,thank you for your love, your continued support and your friendship. I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells, I honor the place in you of Love, of Wisdom, and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends, and Namaste.

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Mentors

A mentor is not merely a wise teacher but a trusted supporter.

On Saturday, May 19th, at the book launching of “My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood,” the new book by Philippine Inquirer columnist Ruben V. Nepales, I was reminded of the vital importance of mentorship. The book profiles notable Filipinos in Hollywood – yours truly being on one of them. None of us would be where were at (or featured in “My Filipino Connection”) without our mentors.

Prosy Delacruz, a Los Angeles’ Fil-Am community leader, cited Mr. Fritz Friedman, Vice President of Sony, as one of her mentors in the community. I, too, have many mentors, and Ms. Prosy Delacruz is at the top of the list.

At my stage in life, I’m now being called a mentor. It’s such an important role, not only for the growth of the individual but for the advancement of our community. I’m proud to serve, and I thank all of my mentors for your wisdom, generosity and tremendous support.

 

 



Making Sure Art Remains

 When our society chooses to not pay our artists for their art, we all lose. So many artists must take 2nd (and 3rd!) jobs to subsidize their 1st job, leaving little time to work on their craft. Most creative artists don’t have benefits and health care, let alone meaningful savings accounts. My plea: Take care of your artists. Honor their craft. Treat them with dignity and respect. And remember, their art is their product. When you pay for an artist’s creation you’re encouraging them to continue creating, to continue making something good for the world. When you don’t — offering them "exposure" or "an opportunity" instead — you send the subtle message that their art is of little or no value. In fact, art is invaluable, and we’d probably all be better off if there was more of it and less of everything else. 

“My Funny Brown Pinay” 3 years after its release

I’m inspired and gratified to see how "My Funny Brown Pinay" has touched so many women (and men!) of color.  Three years after its release the song continues to uplift and empower women of color. Here’s a recent example from an expressive and intelligent kayumangging Pinay:

 

http://lahaiseslair.com/jessica/2010/04/13/white-or-another-reason-im-not-happy-with-myself/

Update on My Latest Recording

 I am in the process of completing my 4th U.S. album and I can’t wait to share it with you! Please keep on checking my website for updates on shows. We recorded at a different studio in the Hollywood Hills. Love it!

My engineer for 4 albums in a row: Mark V 

My producer for 4 albums in a row: Michael Konik of FreeHam Records

Lola the studio assistant checking out my goodie bag.

 

The Status of Jazz in Los Angeles

p>I am sharing with you the best way to describe the status of jazz here in Los Angeles. — CC

“Jazz: Competing and Competing” [10/26/2008]

One of the 20th Century’s greatest artists, a cat named Thelonius Monk, the pianist and composer of countless jazz standards, including “Round Midnight” and “Well, You Needn’t,” left behind, among other things, a brilliant son (the drummer, T.S. Monk), a lucrative publishing catalogue, and a legacy of musical encouragement. The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz is one of America’s most powerful forces in propagating and teaching an art form that keeps reaching for the stars, even as the culture at large does everything it can to marginalize jazz music and repeatedly declare it deceased. The Monk Institute conducts an annual competition, a talent search, dedicated each year to a different musical discipline. (This year it’s the saxophone.) The winners get big scholarships and recording contracts, and perhaps even more important, an effective marketing campaign that instantly brands them as musicians worth listening to. It’s the “American Idol” of jazz, except that with the Monk Competition the judges actually know what they’re talking about and the speed-dialing and text-messaging skills of teenaged girls have little impact on the results.

Still, as we’ve noted previously in this space, if you had to pick someone who never would have won the Monk Competition in his lifetime, it would be Thelonius Monk. Iconoclasm doesn’t play well in the mainstream.

Sadly, jazz music here in Los Angeles, is slowly drifting toward the margins of the culture. Aside from the gala extravaganzas like the Monk Competition, which concludes at the Kodak Theater – site of the Academy Awards and the “American Idol” finals – with brand name guests like Joni Mitchell, Sting, and Bono lending their illustrious names to the event, most jazz concerts in Los Angeles are poorly attended. On a recent Saturday night in Hollywood, the greatest quartet in America, the Tierney Sutton Band, played to fewer than 100 people. The TSB isn’t an obscure outfit; they’ve been the beneficiaries of another splendid marketing tool, the Grammy Awards. But even two consecutive nominations in the Vocal Jazz category don’t guarantee an audience for music that is profound, transcendent, and mildly challenging, not to mention astonishingly beautiful. Our leading arbiter of cultural worthiness, the Los Angeles Times, recently axed jazz coverage from its Calendar pages. No reviews, no previews, no feature stories, no listings, nothing. The longtime jazz critic there, Don Heckman, who has more than 5,500 signed articles at the paper, has been ushered to the sidelines, where the Times (and the culture at large) believes he belongs, leaving more editorial space for vital coverage of indispensable reality TV shows and celebrity fashions. Mr. Heckman’s ideas can be found now at his new Website: http://irom.wordpress.com/. But if you want a comprehensive listing of who’s playing where – or even an incomprehensive listing – you’ll have to look elsewhere than our local newspaper, which behaves as though jazz music doesn’t exist, except as a peculiar subculture unworthy of serious consideration.

If you find this state of affairs an affront to your aesthetic sensibilities, the man in charge of the Calendar section is Leo Wolinsky. Leo’s email’s address is Leo.Wolinsky@latimes.com. Perhaps letting him know that people who care about jazz aren’t an entirely silent minority would help.

Those involved with the Monk Institute and all the other fine organizations that teach and present and celebrate America’s grandest contribution to the global arts, must feel like Sisyphus with a Saxophone. The majority of the semi-finalists at the Monk Competition, the majority of graduate students at Berklee College of Music, the majority of wildly talented and passionate musicians struggling to find their voice and vision – most of them will, at best, find work teaching other initiates, who will in turn teach others, who, like the thousands of others before them, will make music that very few people care about.

There is no competition in art. But competition in the cultural marketplace is brutal and unkind. This thing we call jazz is losing, badly. And though many of us are oblivious to the collective loss, we as a nation are losing, too.

The Monk Competition finalists will blow their hearts out. The Tierney Sutton Band will continue to create works of astonishing sublimity. And folks like Don Heckman will try to make sense of it all. Concurrently, our culture will slide further into the smelly muck. “What we play is life,” said Louis Armstrong. How chilling that we collectively seem to prefer an embrace of death. – Michael Konik

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Michael Konik is a bestselling author, FoxSports TV poker commentator, swinging jazz singer, record label owner and producer, and a true renaissance man. He graciously shared from his Website his Thought of the Week, which I believe elegantly and accurately describes the current status of jazz in Los Angeles. I am outraged that jazz (in the form of listings, feature articles, reviews) is no longer being covered in the Los Angeles Times. If you want your voice to be heard, please speak up and email Editor Russ Stanton at russ.stanton@latimes.com.– CC

Mr. Toti Fuentes

Mr. Toti Fuentes, JazzPhil-USA’s 2006 Lifetime Achievement Awardee, passed away today at 9:30 AM ET in Chicago. A mass will be held in his honor in Glendale, California. More details at www.JazzPhil-USA.com.

For his love of life and art and for the inspiration that he instilled among us upcoming Filipino artists, he will never be forgotten.

JazzPhil-USA Inaugurates the Annual Emil Mijares Scholarship

The Jazz Society of the Philippines, USA (JazzPhil-USA) is now accepting applications for its Emil Mijares Scholarship, named in honor of the recently deceased legendary pianist, arranger, and 2006 JazzPhil-USA Lifetime Achievement awardee.

JazzPhil-USA will grant $1000 to a Southern California-based student of Filipino descent. The scholarship is intended for a student who is pursuing education in jazz musicianship, demonstrates promise in the field of jazz, and is committed to the JazzPhil-USA mission of uplifting the Filipino community.

Applications and more information are available at www.JazzPhil-USA.com.

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2008.

Mr. Bob Popescu of Catalina Bar & Grill

Mr. Bob Popescu, owner and booker of Catalina Bar & Grill, passed away on Jan 5th from a massive heart attack. He was a good friend, a tremendous supporter and the one who gave me my first big break in the jazz scene. I will miss him and his mischievous smile.

A public viewing will be held Wednesday evening, from 6:30-9PM, at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Gordon), in Hollywood. The funeral is Thursday at 1PM, at the same address.