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DYAD shows


New music and new gimmicks for DYAD are rearing their heads this spring, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.  We are adding songs by Samuel Barber and Hall & Oates. Mark Shilansky (recently featured on NPR and in the Boston Globe) is singing and holding down the piano seat while I sing and play assorted instruments (bass, mandolin, and trumpet). Following a concert for the 30th anniversary of the Concord Community Music School last week, we will be doing shows in Jamaica Plain (Boston) and Somerville.  Check 'em out.



Last night I performed at the Concord Community Music School.  This is a non-profit music center that serves 1,600 students and gives out loads of scholarships for lessons and ensembles.  It is their 30th anniversary celebration and many alumni of the program came back to perform including Audrey Budington and Mark Shilansky.  I was blown away by the community support and love this program gets, and by the tireless dedication of the founder and director, Peggy Senter.  Here's to another 30 years!

New band coming soon


After performing with the vocal ensemble The Four Freshmen on several tours in 2014, I was amazed by the passionate fan base for vintage vocal group music.  The Freshmen all play instruments and sing in four-part harmony, which makes them appealing to audiences and also economical as a touring entity.  I am launching a new quartet comprised of 4 singer/instrumentalists to showcase the work I have been doing over the last several years at Berklee; namely, transcription and performance of vocal ensemble music of the big band era.  Stay tuned!
In the meantime, enjoy these vintage vocal group videos

Little Pony transcription


Just finished work on a vocalese piece for my students.  Little Pony was written by Neil Hefti and recorded in 1951 by Count Basie's band. The tenor saxophone solo by Wardell Gray was lyricized by the great Jon Hendricks, who recorded it on "Sing a Song of Basie" with Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

You can see and hear the transcription at a slow tempo here.

Singing while sick - tips


Sometimes students say they are "too sick to sing" because they have a cold, and they let their practice slide.  Even when you are struck by the common cold, try 2 things:

  • mental practice.  Imagine yourself singing the pieces, see how many mistakes you make.  Do it in real time.  This helps, believe it or not!
  • slow, low, gentle warmups like humming, oo, ee.  Use only the easiest part of your range and concentrate on getting clarity in your tone.

Taylor House Friday


DYAD is a fun project I have been doing with Mark Shilansky for a few years now.  We do all kinds of music, jazz pop, originals, all with a fresh, intimate, interesting take.  We love this music and it shows.  Live at the Taylor House, Jamaica Plain, MA this Friday.

So you want to come to Berklee?


I received an email from a student who is planning to attend Berklee.  The student asked me for advice on the school.  Here's my response.


Hi [prospective student],

I'm glad to hear you are pursuing your interests at [community college].  I went to a community college myself and it's a great bargain.

Students who do the best at Berklee tend to have a passion for music that makes them not realize they are "missing out" on other things (like a social life).  They tend to come in with a great deal of knowledge about one style but are open to exploring others.  They don't think of classes, homework, rehearsals, etc. as a chore but as an adventure.  They understand that sometimes you learn the most when you try, and fail.

Berklee is a big school (4000+ students), which is its strength and its weakness.  There are so many choices for teachers, courses and peer groups that no matter what your focus you will find others who have the same.  The weakness of Berklee's size is that no one will hold your hand through the program unless -- emphasis here -- unless you ask them to.  You have to understand when you need help and have the confidence to go get it.

Best of luck to you,


Where are the DIY music patrons?


This month's issue of JazzEd magazine (page 32) has an interview with Elvin Jones from 1971.  His voice on the page sparkles with life and intelligence, the same way his drumming did when I saw him at the Regattabar more than 10 years ago.

He speaks to the music scene in Detroit when he was coming up. I'll quote him here (emphases mine):

There was an elderly man then who was a jazz patron of the arts, you might say.  He was quite walthy and had retired from business. He used to run one of Ford's plants in Ohio, as the general manager or something like that.  He lived in Royal Oak, Michigan, so he used to come to the Bluebird a lot.  He decided that he wanted to sponsor concerts like Norman Granz.  He asked Thad and me to get some musicians together and from there we would see about hiring a hall, get publicity out, and put on a concert.  So we did it.

I love the do-it-yourself attitude here.  An individual who felt that music was important to the culture of his community spent his own money, talked to some musicians and made it happen.  Elvin doesn't say whether the concerts made or lost money, but surely that was not the point.

In the United States today, there are surely no shortages of individuals with the wherewithal to sponsor concerts and the passion to encourage the growth of music that builds intelligence, soul, and culture.  Are they out there?

Posting shows again

Hello Friends! I want to apologize for neglecting my performance postings on this site. I have been announcing my shows only on Facebook for a while, which was a mistake. Not everything needs to fly under that banner. I have a few exciting shows coming up this month, and I'd love to see you at one or more of them. June 8: Press Room, Portsmouth, NH June 15: Nave Gallery, Somerville, MA June 18: Andiamo, Newburyport, MA June 22: Amazing Things Performing Arts Center, Framingham, MA June 27: Demeters Steakhouse, Portsmouth, NH Check out the Calendar section of this site for more info. Jazz and creative music! It's worth your time. Love, David

Wyoming All-State

Had a wonderful time at the 1st Annual (right Ben?) Wyoming All-State Jazz Festival! The cats in the band were Ed, Ben, Scott and Matt -- great players, made it look easy. The high school students worked their tails off for two days and ended up swinging their way through 4 songs. Met lots of nice people -- is there such a thing as an unkind Wyoming-ian? Maybe, but I didn't meet one.

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Next appearances

  • September 22, 2018
    Avery Bar, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, MA
  • October 5, 2018
    Endicott College, Beverly, MA