Fresh off of our latest outing, we can say it was truly a treat to spend some time in the beautiful states of Washington and Oregon. Our first two days were filled with very special moments with the students at Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) and Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, WA). At both schools we spent time working with music performance majors, discussing the intricacies of improvising over song structures in ways that elevate all performers to an equal plane of contribution.
During our time at PLU, we had the pleasure of being guest lecturers/performers in Dr. Greg Youtz's Ethnomusicology class, which was particularly enjoyable because it prompted us to discuss all of the non-jazz influences on our compositions, and the ways in which we approach using elements of other cultures and musics without appropriation or disrespect.
The performance segment of the tour started at Tula's Jazz Club in Seattle, which turned out to be a wonderful night of music during which we featured our dear friend and fantastic trumpeter Jared Hall for a special Black Diamond quintet set. After we were finished playing, I (thinking aloud) asked the band the question "how do we collectively get the the next further layers outside of our music?" This is something I think about a lot, particularly in the context of a group that plays music that lends itself to extended improvisations. Our bassist Matt Ulery wisely responded "There is no way of knowing." But over the course of our next four performances, we found out. Each night was exceedingly exploratory, perpetually connective, and always inspired by the environment. Playing together over many consecutive days truly facilitates growth, and over the course of seven days, our music reached new zones of beauty, power, vulnerability, and fearlessness. We all greatly look forward to our next journey.