Category Archives: Music

“A Musician Must Make Music…”

 “A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.” — Abraham Maslow

I had the rich pleasure to hear the William Peace University Peace Singers and Florida College Saturday night. That evening the Florida College students were spread amongst many volunteers hosts for lodging. Music has always been a part of my life. Music is largely why I love anything or anyone. In our home I have several percussive instruments, a piano, an electronic keyboard, a synthesizer, and a violin. We made sure that our guests understood just how important is in our lives as we drove from the theater to home. This morning, we had the distinct pleasure of hearing our guests playing our piano and fiddling around with various pieces of music in Jennifer’s deep locker of sheet music.

What struck me is that the guests were nervous staying with complete strangers. The way that they coped with the stress of being on the road and staying in the homes of complete strangers was by doing what comes natural… making music. The words of Maslow never became so real to me than at that point.

Turning to work, I realized if business leaders would let people do what gives them peace, then those leaders will always be rewarded with the sweet sounds of people at their best.

The implications are inescapable. Business leaders have to find people who’s passion is the work they are to perform. You must place people in positions that play to their strengths, not just making up for weaknesses. You must place people in cultures that encourages them to do that which they love to do. You must place people in physical environments that support the kind of work they love. And the work has to be the kind of work that creates intrinsic reward, the kind that fuels that passion within them. But it’s more than that, you have to create situations that let people make mistakes that they can learn and recover from.

Are you trying to make sure you create an environment where people can just be the best at what they do? Have you hired people that actually want to be best at what you need done? If you haven’t done these two things, I suggest you make a plan to course correct. You are missing out on the best parts of work life: watching people become fascinated with being the best. Fuel the passion!

FREE Omar Sosa Concert

Cover of
Cover of Afreecanos

I’m trying not to get upset that I won’t be able to attend Omar Sosa’s free concert next week, March 25, 2009, at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC.

I stumbled upon Omar’s work about a year ago now when I was studying Carribean and Afro-Cuban Jazz rhythmns. Let’s just say I was blown away with the way he melds modern world music, jazz, and Western Africa together in one big yummy dessert.

“Sosa’s new Afreecanos ensemble features noted percussionist and educator, John Santos, Mozambican electric bassist, Childo Tomas, and New York-based saxophonist and flute player, Peter Apfelbaum. The ensemble fuses the folkloric with the contemporary, the ancestral with the urban – all with a Latin jazz heart.” (from the IDB website)

The review of Sosa’s Afreecanos at All About Jazz pretty much sums it up. “Fanta Cissoko’s passionate vocals open ‘Nene La Kanou’ on an intoxicating, personal note. Traditional African instruments blend with Cuban batá, as Sosa’s improvisation displays his gift for melodic invention. The intriguing ‘ngoni’ accompanies Mola Sylla’s vocals on ‘Mon Yalala,’ soon joined by kalimba and balafon. Sosa explores ideas around the vocal, eventually taking a spacious solo that blends beautifully into the song’s texture.”

Yeah. It’s like that. I like to just call it magical.

You can pick up Afreecanos and preorder his upcoming album, Across the Divide: A Tale of Rhythm and Ancestry, to be release on March 25, 2009 at Amazon.

This event is free, open to the public and held at the Enrique V. Iglesias Conference Center, 1330 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC  20577, and one block from MetroCenter.
Photo ID required.  Business casual attire. Seats are unreserved general admission with only 380 seats available. Young people 8 years and older are welcome.

Béla Fleck on Tour

Béla Fleck's Africa Project
Image by kyle tsui via Flickr

Béla Fleck is on tour again and this time I hope not to miss him. His latest project is “Throw Down Your Heart: Tales From the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 3 – Africa Sessions” which is both music and a documentary film. Fans of Béla Fleck and West African music will not be disappointed.

The documentary follows Béla through Africa as he searches our the African roots of the banjo. (You did know that the Banjo originated from Africa, right?) Béla traveled to Tanzania, Uganda, the Gambia and Mali while recording his latest album with local influences. The documentary also covers Africa today from the eyes of of someone other than the doom and gloom of main-stream media. We get a look at Africa that is very different than the way it is portrayed in today’s media. Much like Neal Peart’s portrayal of the rich culture of Africa and the warms hearts of its people, the documentary opens the eyes of the viewer to the beauty of the continent that arguably holds the future to peace on planet Earth.

Béla Fleck and The African Project will be performing at The State Theatre in Fall Church, VA on April 9, 2009. Tickets are $50 in advance. See the State Theatre website for details.

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Noise.io – iPhone Synth – iPhone Synthesizer

Image representing noise.io as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

I’m really getting serious about music again. The problem is that inspiration is everywhere for me and I’ve got a twenty year backlog of ideas. As a result I’m constantly looking for a means to get ideas out of my head and onto paper. The Noise.io by Amido iPhone Synth is where I’m looking to fill the gap between head and MIDI files. The interface is really forward thinking… maybe to a fault. There are some simple UI concepts that Noise.io leaves out and thus makes the user experience clunky. Overall this is a good start for me. I’m hoping that Noise.io adds a few more features in order to make this serious tool.

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