Much Belatedness

It has been entirely too long since I've updated, proving, I think, that I can't just blame the winter for my poor web-mastering habits. They have been an exceptionally busy 5-6 months - some highlights
include a series of An Historic solo sets scattered between April and August, some audio of which will be appearing online as subscriber bonus content on my Bandcamp page, and the recording and editing of a future full-length release of solo accordion compositions. I've done my best to fill in the holes in the performances page between April and the present, as well as update it through December!

The fall is going to continue to be busy, in a great way. Some highlights are the October 2nd and 3rd release concerts for the upcoming Broadcloth album "In Stitches", at the Panoply Performance Laboratory in Brooklyn, and Whole G Cafe in New Haven respectively; the October 14th premiere of a yet-untitled composition based on James Baldwin's poem "BALLAD (for Yoran)", presented alongside new works for the same ensemble by Bill Lowe and Taylor Ho Bynum. Those will be
presented in Hartford, CT, at the Wadsworth Atheneum; and some arrangements I'm working on for José Oyola's release party for Hologram, his second full length release, at the College Street Music
Hall on November 7th.

Please check out my Bandcamp page for continuing audio from my Accordion Cover Series (find the video HERE), and for additional bonus content, including another An Historic live set up now.


Solo improvisations - a 1-month reflection

Sometime in the last few days I hit the 4-week mark of having done a 10 minute solo improvisation every day, and with only one or two exceptions in the morning fairly soon after waking up.

I've been improvising for over 10 years, first on keyboards and then on accordion as it became my primary instrument. But improvising solo had never been a huge priority for me - I had done it as a way to assist in composition, or sporadically to prepare for gigs where improvisation was a primary focus. In performing, I had always done it groups - first with various configurations of the New Haven Improvisers Collective, and then primarily with Broadcloth, as well as various duo and trio configurations with folks in New Haven and New York City. I've learned a lot from these experiences, but always had a certain frustration in not always being perceptive in the moment of what was good improvising - what in my playing enabled the type of interplay and dialogue that I value most as a listener and consumer of improvised music.

So I started working on a solo set around March of 2014, trying to see what, if anything, I could learn about my improvising when I didn't have other people to play off of. I learned a lot from the first performance of that material and the week or so of work leading up to that date, most notably that in many cases I had a vocabulary more than I had a language - a lot of techniques and approaches that worked well on the accordion, but were in many cases bound to certain contexts and approaches, rather than being able to be fluidly spoken, understood and reacted to.  Between then and now, I've had the chance to perform that material on two other occasions, and having the chance to revisit it has given me a solid marker on which to judge some of my progress in that regard - even as this awareness started working its way into my practice, into my solo An Historic sets, and all around my consciousness. The goal was very clearly to discover how to respond to myself as well as I sometimes responded to others - when to push, when to pull, when to allow heart or head to take the lead interchangeably, and how to be aware of time and shape while I was playing.

So this practice of daily improvisations has helped in trying to increase my awareness of all these things both as a solo performer and as a group improviser. The collaborative playing I've done since beginning this practice seems to have benefited from it as much as my solo playing has - both in playing with new people (like Friday 2/27 at XFest) or with long-time collaborators.

I've been uploading two of these a week (what I consider the best of them) to my Bandcamp page as a subscriber bonus. Here is an 'outtake' from the practice, not one of the two uploaded this week, to give some idea of what I'm talking about:

The other motivation for this practice of daily improvisations has been to gear up for the recording of this material that first took shape about a year ago. The plans are slowly coming together, and I'm excited to talk more about that in the future.

If any of this means anything to you, I ask that you consider subscribing - not only because you'll have exclusive access to these improvisations, but also because you'll help me be able to afford a proper recording and release of this material. Thanks for reading!


When suddenly, you must be restored + subscriptions

Today, (2/23/15), I've released "When suddenly, you must be restored" under the name Gzara (formerly known as G. Zarapanecko). The album is a long time in the making - two tracks were recorded in the summer of 2012, and the rest were recorded and completed between December '14 - January '15. It's hard to say what, if any, future this project has, but for the time being I'm proud of this work and the work I've done with it in the past. It's available for $5 on my Bandcamp Page. (Note the different URL for my bandcamp page: http://anhistoricmusic.bandcamp.com)

Lys Guillorn, a colleague and friend in the wide world of Connecticut songwriting, interviewed me recently for the webzine Lonesome Noise. You can check out the interview HERE, where we talking a bit about this album as well as the progress of An Historic.

Appropos of nothing, here's an ask: Bandcamp has started offering a subscription feature, and I'm taking advantage of it. For $20 a year, you'll have access to everything I've ever released, plus easy access to anything else I put out (like today's release) through the Bandcamp app. Consider it a way of investing in my development as an artist. At the moment, there is some subscriber-exclusive content available - my daily practice includes a 10-minute solo improvisation every morning, and I'm uploading the best two of them per week into an ongoing album. If nothing else, you can think of them as evidence of the work I do outside of releases and live shows - and in the future, subscriber-exclusive content will also include live shows from various projects, works in progress, and music videos.

OK that's all for now. I've got a TON of shows coming up including appearances with brilliant MC Ceschi Ramos, and Orkestar BAM, the Yale Balkan music group. Take a look to the right for a recently-updated list!


Winter Updates

Trudging along. Naturally it is much easier to forget clerical work during the winter, at least for me. So here's a long overdue, and probably too-brief update.

On February 23rd, I'm releasing "When suddenly you must be restored" by Gzara. It's a 5 song EP of instrumental music touching on ambient, folk, jazz, black metal and noise in varying facets, recorded in two sessions - first in July of 2012, and then in December of 2014. This project has been on more or less of a hiatus since early 2011, with the exception of a handful of live performances and the aforementioned recordings, and for the sake of transparency I have to say I'm honestly not sure what future recordings under the name will hold. As a companion to this release, I recorded a drone improvisation on solo accordion, set to video of a blizzard in progress. You can watch it here if you want. Audio will be included as a bonus in the purchase of the album.

Other than that, the performances bar has been updated through to April, and there are a few things pending that I'm pretty excited about too. Take a look at the Accordion Covers page for several updates I've made in the new year as well!


Song for Ferguson

I'll make a separate post at a later date talking about some of the other dates I've got coming up, now that I've finally updated my calendar. There's a lot good to look forward to, but that's not what this post is about.

I'm hurt, and pissed, about the Grand Jury's recent decision regarding the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. on August 9th of 2014. Other people will be more capable of giving an eloquent rundown of why the situation there since that day has been cause for outrage; mine would include a lot more swearing than I feel comfortable typing out right now.

I wrote a song in the hours following this news, and did a home recording of it just two days later. I've chosen to release it today, on what is known as Black Friday, because a lot of protest movements are organizing around a boycott of commercial/retail businesses on a day that is normally a shopping frenzy. The song is very direct, and personal, and, to quote the great Nina Simone, "I mean every word of it." You can stream the track below, as well as a version of 'Strange Fruit' that I recorded for this release -  but read on to find out why you should consider donating for it:

Here's a statement I wrote earlier, which you can find on my Bandcamp page, going into some more detail:
This album is released as a Pay-What-You-Can download. All proceeds from the sale of this release will be donated to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, which has been helping to address the food desert conditions of Ferguson, MO in the last several months.
I began writing this song on Monday night after the grand jury decision was announced. Like many, I was overwhelmed by anger and pain, but in my heart I knew I was expecting this, despite the valiant efforts of protestors in Ferguson and many on the Internet trying to keep attention on the story and expose the corruption of the Ferguson police department and the legal apparatus that led us to this point. 
This keeps happening, and with increasing frequency, and there continues to be no accountability in this. As a light-skinned black man I am relatively lucky to have avoided a lot of the harassment and violence that has left us with so many dead Black children, women and men - victims both of police aggression and of vigilantism that refuses to recognize the humanity of Black Americans across this country. The murder of Michael Brown is only an exception with regards to media coverage, the way Travyon Martin's murder was - and even still, most coverage is slanted against the victims and against the people rallying in their memory. So many more murders like this go completely uncovered and forgotten by the media - and even more so when you factor in intersections of identity, as with the many stomach-turning cases of violence against Black transgender women. This is not just a Southern issue or a Midwestern issue, as many people believe in various places I've lived in the Northeastern US. I wrote this song to reflect on this situation and my position in it, and I've posted the lyrics in the individual song page to be 100% clear on what I mean. 
The album also includes a cover of "Strange Fruit", penned by Abel Meeropol and made famous with versions by Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. The song was written in reaction to the climate of lynching of Black Americans in the 1930s, and continues to be relevant today - it is hard not to draw parallels between the lynchings of the Jim Crow era, and the extrajudicial murders of Black Americans in the present day. The statistics are indicating that they happen at about the same rate, and are punished about as infrequently.

I will post updates to keep a record of how much is earned from the sale of this single, and in turn to provide evidence of the donations.

Thank you for reading and listening.