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U. City Musicians All Over New York City

Rod Milam again.  We've hit the heat in August and the weather is not pleasant in St. Louis or New York City (where I'm based now).  There have been multiple days with temps over 100 degrees with Missouri-like humiditiy so far this summer.  This usually happens here one or two days in the year, but not nearly this many.

Most people up this way not from the feels-like-the-middle-of-a-non-concrete-jungle sections of the country complain a lot when the temperature gets above 90F (32C).  They'll whine and moan even though there's really not much humidity and there's actually a breeze blowing, a feature sorely missing from the steambath that is St. Louis in June, July, and August.  But, again, there are usually one or two days that I walk out of my door in Astoria, Queens, get hit in the face with what feels like one of the warm towels that you get before a meal at a Japanese restaurant, and I'll think to myself, "Ahhhh....feels like home."

During the research and recording of interviews for this documentary, I've come to find out that there are about 20 people in the Big Apple that are, or have been professional musicians, that would be very likely to have that same thought running through their heads on those same sweaty days.  Before February, I knew of about 20 people in general that were from U. City that were in New York, but no where near that many were musicians.  Now with this outreach, more and more people that know that "North & South" is a street as well as points on a compass.  It's been a good thing.

One of the people that we've recorded doing his thing is U. Citian and pianist Harry Miller (UCHS c/o 1980).  He's been in New York for many years and is a jazz musician and was a student teacher at the LaGuardia School of Music and Arts.  One morning a couple of weeks ago, Harry asked a couple of other current teachers at the school to come by when no students were around so that I could record them doing a bit of a jam session.  They all would like to play more than they do and the'd gotten together before just to work out some standards.  This particular morning Harry pulled out a very lovely, untitled ballad that he'd written some years ago but had never played with others.  These musicians being great professionals just took about 10 seconds to look over Harry's chart and then proceeded to play this lovely, chilled out piece that made everyone in the recording studio forget just how hot and uncomfortable it was on the other side of the outside walls.

Just click play on this, sit back, and enjoy some sitting-on-the-porch-with-some-lemonade music:

We haven't fully interviewed Harry yet, but that's coming.  Another U. Citian that we have interviewed fully and seen perform some great music in town is Kaoru Watanabe.  (Just click that link to see him playing the Japanese Fue (wooden flute) in Prospect Park, Brooklyn as a part of an experimental "Creative Walk" where he serenaded blindfolded attendees with the fue and a large taiko drum.)  Kaoru's musical story is interesting and we'll be bringing you more on that as the project continues.

We also had a great gathering of a lot of U. City people a couple of weeks ago at a special "listening party" for a soon to be released album by Jeremy Schonfeld.  To find out a bit more about that shoot, just click here.  I've actually done some work surrounding this album, Iron & Coal.  If you'd like to find out more about it, please just click here.

So since there are so many musicians from U. City in the New York area, we're going to concentrate on interviewing them for the next couple of months.  At the same time, we plan on raising a lot of funds and awareness so that we can go back out into the rest of the world to capture more of this great talent that has come through the black and gold city.

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