Monday, January 12, 2015

Life update

Once again it's been kind of a while since my last blog post.  Thought I'd give a little update on what I've been up to.  First off, I released 'The Rehumanization EP' back in May, played a CD release show and have done my best to try to get the record into the hands of any press people and reviewers I could.  I actually have a friend in book publishing who was able to get me the email addresses of 30 Jazz press people.  So I emailed them all personally(and politely), including a link to the record streaming, and a free download code.  Using my band camp.com website I can track how many copies were actually downloaded(and how many plays/listens there'd been).  Sadly from the Jazz press, both came to ZERO.  That was a bit frustrating and disheartening.  The Jazz biz is pretty tough, and unless you've got someone on the inside helping push your record it's damn near impossible to get any Jazz biz people to even LISTEN to it.  It's funny, because I've gone to shows of the people they hype and there's barely anyone there and the music is received in a kind of luke-warm fashion.  While, I played a show this summer at Muhlenberg College and sold 30 records(!).  That was a really fun and incredible show, it felt great to connect with people musically and talk with folks afterwards, who told me how much our music had touched them.

Once we'd played the CD release show back in May, I started writing new music and started thinking about ways to expand and change my band style and format.  It had been about 2 years playing that music with essentially the same people(we had about 15 songs in the book), and after recording it I always feel relieved and ready to move onto the next thing.  The new group I started writing for in June added Baritone Sax and Bass Trombone to the existing Trumpet, Alto Sax, Piano/keyboard, Bass and Drums.  The idea was to add lower counter parts to the existing Trumpet and Alto sax, essentially having a low brass and low reed respectively.  I also wanted to kind of take things in an even more rock way, and use the horns as a 'brass band' type thing but playing alternative rock.  I also was influenced by the Bon Iver 2nd record 'Bon Iver', and it's use of Bass Sax and Trombone.  Over the last couple months I've written 10 songs, rehearsed and the new arrangement of the band played back in November for the first time.  Here are some videos  from our last rehearsal just last week. (I got a camera recently, so I'm hoping to put out videos consistently now)





Other than that, I've been in talks with a great Jazz label and am close to finalizing and signing a contract with them to release my next record.  I'm really exciting about this, they've been releasing great music for a while now and I'm happy to be on board with these awesome guys.  I actually recorded 2 albums at the same time over the past year and a half.  'The Rehumanization EP' is the first from those recordings, and 'I walk Amongst the Humans' is a full length record.  They're shooting to release it this August('15).  MORE INFO TO COME!!


Lastly, I've been doing more teaching than I've ever done before over the past few months.  Teaching trumpet has really been something I've completely fallen in love with over the past several years.  I've had the pleasure of working with some great people who are hard working and committed to improve, and I've guided them through the same studies I learned from my time with Laurie Frink.  It's amazing watching it work for them just like it worked for me.  I've also modified the routine person to person based on their unique and individual strengths and weakness.(I learned a lot about the variations Laurie came up with through seeing different students' routines that she taught.)  I've learned so much about this method and my students are the proof.  It's so deeply satisfying to see them improve by leaps and bounds week to week, and analyzing and fixing chop problems feels so natural to me and my personality.  I still think about Laurie daily, and it feels like I'm walking in her footsteps and keeping a little of what she(and Carmine Caruso) created alive.  I have noticed that I've been teaching for a while that some of my students can play most anything on the horn now, so I need to keep finding new ones to help.  Hopefully it all snowballs, since this is really what I want to do moving forward.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Review of 'The Rehumanization EP'


Here's the first review of 'The Rehumanization EP' written by Nicholas F Mondello at AllAboutJazz.com


The "EP" tag sitting on the title of trumpeter Jon Crowley's The Rehumanization EP is an obvious abbreviation for "Extended Play." Given an extended listening, it might be more apt to be interpreted as "exceptionally pleasing" or "exceptional performance." Both descriptions precisely fit this, Crowley's third release as leader. And, it is just as terrific as its two predecessors. 

With The Rehumanization EP Crowley, originally from the fecund musical womb ofPhiladelphia—and now a Brooklyn resident—continues to offer intriguingly explored tonalities and textures. The four selections on this somewhat shorter in duration recording are all superb Crowley originals. Each is a somewhat slower selection more melismatic in nature than balladic. The melodies of each tune eschew faster tempo and notation, allowing Crowley and crew to expand on lengthy ribbon-like solo forays. In an appealing way, the four selections seem to echo one another emotionally, with each commencing at an almost drone state and developing, highly energized into a finale of sorts. This is music of deep thinking and emotion, yet it is sonorous and easily grasped. 

What works so well here—and there are quite a few elements to that point—is Crowley's playing. This is a thoughtful, emotionally penetrating player. His near vibrato-less tone is robust, yet somewhat vulnerable. Wisely, he's a trumpeting minimalist as opposed to a technical braggadocio—something unfortunately more common today. Think the emotional quotient of Chet Baker with a more focused, inviting resonance—that's Mr. Crowley. His improvisational lines spew effortlessly from the melodies he created and they extend out with each fragment generating another unique idea. 

Alto saxophonist John Beaty joins Crowley in a frontline that is superbly more ensemble driven than one that stands out selfishly at the expense of the rhythm section—which is superb in its abilities to support the slower and energy-developing formats. 

While the Free Spirits, Smooth Jazzers, Giant Steppers and Beboppers each have their players and proponents, Jon Crowley, with his horn and pen almost has created a totally unique format with this recording and his prior efforts. It is a most enjoyable—and especially human—change of pace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Practice Tips


My practice set-up when I visit my parents at their house



Blog 115: Practice Tips


Back when I was studying at Muhlenberg College I had no real trumpet teacher for the 4 years I was there, instead I bought pretty much every book on trumpet that existed; Clarke, Arban's, Walter Smith, Colin, Schlossberg, Claude Gordon, Farkus etc(!)  I would play through book after book, getting stuck on certain exercises, rarely advancing and generally just toiled in mediocrity.  Without any guidance, I could only practice for about 2-3 hours a day before my chops would shut down…and those 2-3 hours were spread out over the course of an entire day; maybe 45 min in the morning, 45 in the afternoon and 45 at night or so.  Since I had such limited ability and limited endurance spreading out my practice time gave me the chance to recover between sessions.  It was an easy lesson to learn since it was pretty much all I could do to get as many hours as I wanted on the horn.

Senior year I remember I lived with a guitar player who was definitely a heavy practicer at the time.  He would be up in his room playing for 3 hours straight and then he'd come out, with his eyes dead and slow and barely able to speak.  This was my first exposure with 'mental fatigue' from practicing…something I'd never felt first hand because I physically got tired well before I would ever reach that point.

Fast forward to my time in NYC, after I began studying with Laurie Frink.  After 2 years of studying with Laurie the work load of drills she'd given me had reached about 4 hours…that's 4 hours without playing a single note of music..just technical studies.  Eventually I got my practicing up to 5-6 hours a day, which is what I still do.  Through Laurie's method I finally learned first-hand about mental fatigue since my endurance improved so much.  I still spread out my practicing into three sessions: Morning, Afternoon and Night, but within those sessions I've learned to pace my practicing differently so that I can maintain my mental focus and keep my physical ability together to play longer and get more done.


During the morning warm-up and technical studies, I play for 2 hours, giving myself many short rests between exercises.  During the afternoon and evening practice sessions I structure them differently though.  I play for 30 minutes, then I take a 10 minute break.  Then I play for 20 minutes, then I take a 10 minute break.  Depending on my mental focus that day I can keep up that pattern for 3 hours or so.  During the 10 min breaks I go to the Kitchen and drink some water, I check my email or maybe just lay on the floor.  But practicing in those short focused bursts is good for the mind and the body.  If you practice for more than 40 minutes straight, I'd venture to say your mind will probably drift at some point and you won't be getting as much as you want out of your practice session.  It's best to get the most out of the time you're spending practicing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Rehumanization EP




Blog 114: The Rehumanization EP


So happy to finally announce that 'The Rehumanization EP' is finally available on iTunes, amazon, and CDbaby.  I started recording this album last June(2013).  My plan was to record both a full length album and a shorter EP simultaneously, instead of doing 2 days back to back like most Jazz recordings, instead we did shorter days(4 hour sessions) spread out, where we could hit harder and have more time between sessions to figure out what we wanted to fix/clean up.  The end product was 3 separate recording days(June '13, Sept'13 and Jan '14) and two records.  'The Rehumanization EP' is now ready and available!

This EP is the first glimpse into what I've been up to these past few years. The music is intense, emotional, and deals with questioning many things we take for granted in the Jazz genre; including form, structure, style, melody and even the roles of the instruments.   I truly believe this is my first great record and am so happy to finally share it….even happier that in a few more months they'll be another full album to follow.  As of this writing 'The Rehumanization EP' is available for just $3.96 via an error or iTunes, so go pick it up before the price is adjusted and ends up higher.

Secondly, we'll be celebrating the release of this record with a show at Pianos Upstairs Lounge in NYC on Tues May 27th.  Two great bands playing before us; Cantina and Relatives.  Big fan of both these bands, it's going to be an awesome night of music, hope to see you there!  Show starts at 7pm, Crowley hits at 9pm


-Jon