Sunday, December 25, 2011

Striding into 49 West on January 14, 2012

With a new stride concert concept: "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride", and a successful Mainstay engagement under my belt, it's time to cross the bay, and begin to push out in reach (to an unsuspecting jazz audience). When I finally embraced the concept of offering and promoting a show grounded in (the self accompanying world of) stride piano, I was, honestly, surprised to find just how much serious enthusiasm there is for this. Truth in advertising: I'm not presenting myself as an historical authority, or as one who has memorized dozens of transcriptions of obscure pieces from the first 2 or 3 decades of the 20th century. For me, the pinnacle of stride piano - Fats Waller, and the sophisticated and elegant solo approach of Teddy Wilson, were my first influences, and represent where I came into jazz, as a teenager in the 1970's. This, along with my first musical group being an instrumental representation of the Benny Goodman Trio (no bass, so the piano fills all the space), solidified my own self-accompanying approach. Instead of concentrating on working backwards (historically), though, I pushed ahead through the decades of evolution of styles, adapting the approach. Though, in this concert, you will hear ragtime selections, and stride classics by James P. Johnson and Fats, we'll also go the other direction, suggesting (among others) the 2 pianists that are most often noted as (obvious) influences on me: Erroll Garner and Dave McKenna. I'm excited to be performing at 49 West, in Annapolis MD for the first time, for their "intimate jazz series". For more information, and to make reservations, please call Elana Byrd at 410-269-0777 or email Hope to see you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Video Playlist - "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride".

The video collection (7 posts) represents the range and spirit of my concert concept of stride piano across the generations. It is curious, I suppose, that I have been reluctant, until recently, to put myself out there as a "stride guy" (of sorts), when this is how I came in, and clearly what continues to drive my approach to performance. I finally get it, though: "stride" piano remains respected and vital, both as an historical view, and as a performance approach that can retain contemporary relevance in the jazz world. So here I am, and here it is - coming soon (hopefully) to a jazz venue near you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Continuing the New Year's Eve Tradition at the Inn at 202 Dover

Honestly, I've lost track. This may be the 5th consecutive for me year for me on New Year's eve at the Inn at 202 Dover, in Easton, MD. There has been an evolution of form (I began at the Inn working with bassist Dave Ross as a duo, transitioning to my two man rhythm section approach with Mike McShane, while establishing a solo presence for their Sunday brunch), but a continuum of substance. Last year, Beth McDonald joined Mike and I. Beth, with her Peggy Lee influenced charm, is the perfect compliment to the instrumental music for dancing under the stars in the conservatory. The only thing that could rival this is the Inn itself. If you have yet to make plans, New Years Eve at the Inn at 202 Dover deserves your serious consideration.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

CD Review - The American Rag

Recently I received a surprise in my mailbox - a copy of this review of my lastest recording:"Happiness ... A Thing Called Jazz" (by Cam Miller in the American Rag, Sept, 2011 edition). I got to know Cam, a little, when I was touring with the Midiri Band, a few years ago. He made it clear that he was connecting with what I was doing. Actually (in person) he called me a "monster" (meant as a compliment), but I was never comfortable running with that. Now, in print, he comes close, having given me the gift of this (composite) phrase: Pianist Joe Holt is a soloist extrodianare, an intense musician with teriffic chops (who) shows you he means business. Thanks Cam!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Shore Jazz on the Move

Things are evolving a bit with Shore Jazz, as well with as each of us individually. The winds began to swirl when we booked a show at the Night Cat, in Easton, MD, for Friday December 2 (fueled by the buzz around our Friday night steady at the Big Pickle, in St. Michaels). This provided the needed kick in the pants to get the "official" CD project together which, as of now, looks on track to release at the Night Cat (above: a studious Mike McShane at an editing session). While this was happening, Sherman Ward (a.k.a. Eddie Sherman) picked up the group for a Rehoboth Jazz Festival weekend booking with the "Eddie Sherman Show", with more dates (similarly configured) to follow. Winds of change also brought news of the closing of Beseme' (our Saturday night steady of 2 years) on 12/17 (we will be there for the closing night party), and the addition of (my longstanding friend and colleague) Paul Midiri a number of performances (including the Night Cat). Not sure what 2012 will bring (as other projects also swirl in the mix), but we're prepared to sort it all out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Dave Schiff Trio

Dave Schiff is a musician I've known for a long time. In recent years, we have performed together with increasing frequency. Musically it's a very good fit; more so, perhaps, than first meets the eye (ear). Years ago, in the early days of Sullivan's Steak House in Wilmington, DE, I specifically remember playing with Dave and, essentially, making the conscious decision not to be intimidated by his lightning technique (notes per square inch). Up until that point, I was falling into the common trap of allowing the prowess of the other musician to draw me out of my own space (have seen this happen numerous times when guests would perform with Oscar Peterson). So, I let Dave take his million note solo, and when it was my turn, I waited, cleared my mind, and began with a single note "plink" (ala count Basie). At that moment, I reclaimed my "voice", and the music (and mood) was elevated from that point forward. Now, years down the road, I can see this as (symbolic of) a turning point in my own path. These days, when Dave and I perform together, we enjoy the waves we ride, and sometimes the moment will inspire a brief high density notes per square inch outburst (ala Dave) of my own, which usually brings a smile. About a year ago, Dave told me that he'd been inspired by my own determination and efforts toward the business/promotion side of things, to step up his own game. I'm privileged now, to (along with Mike McShane) take part in some of Dave's new adventures as the planted seeds begin to sprout. From what I gather, some interesting stuff in in the works for Dave. In this video, look for an interview of Dave, Mike and I from 17:35 to 23:45, and a performance of the Dave Schiff Trio from 29:30 (I am all but invisible, audibly, on the first tune, but it gets better). Dave again proves himself as a seasoned pro in this performance.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jazz Festival Weekend in Rehoboth Beach, DE

Some things are planned and arranged far in advance, others happen at a moments notice. Our appearance in Rehoboth for Jazz Festival weekend is more like the latter. This weekend, you will find music to suit many a taste all over town. It's really worth the trip. In addition to the ticketed events, most all of the restaurants and clubs feature live jazz all weekend. I am with Shore Jazz and the Eddie Sherman Show at Cilantro's. Click on the above poster to enlarge. Hope to see you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome Joe Holt, Jr

Some months ago, (my son) Joe, Jr. came back to Maryland, and walked into a part-time job (in addition to his full-time job at Acme that he acquired soon thereafter) as my PR rep. The timing couldn't be more perfect, as opportunities are coinciding with the place I've reached as a performing artist. I'm very optimistic about continued growth in both realms. And now, what has eluded me to this point: someone to represent me who can catch the vision as I see it (including the tint of the rose colored glasses), and can walk the path with me, has shown up in my own DNA. Glad to have Joe back in Chestertown, and on board the Joe Holt's Notes express. To everything there is a season ...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Return to the Mainstay

On Saturday, November 19, I'm looking forward to a return to the Mainstay, in Rock, Hall, MD for a solo performance of "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride". This concert will be similar in scope to the Tri-State Jazz Society event back in Feb, that provoked the review posted earlier in this blog. The Mainstay is an Eastern Shore treasure, in a "who'd have thunk it" location for it's eclectic, frequent, and well supported programming. I'm pleased to be in the company of performers who occupy the Mainstay stage. It helps that the director/founder likes me:
Joe Holt can be called a "piano man" in the tradition of the great single acts of the piano world....While he focuses on the stride tradition, his range is great.....Joe Holt is fine; to see, to listen to, and experience. I am deeply impressed. Tom McHugh
If you're in the neighborhood, please consider setting aside the evening to come and share in the happy music (and stuff). While you're at it, pass the word around, get a little buzz going, and let's fill the Mainstay! Hope to see you!

A New Steady for Shore Jazz, and more

Almost when we weren't paying attention (so to speak), the newly minted "Shore Jazz (instrumental) Trio" began to hit stride. Coinciding with John Ewart pushing out on his clarinet (in addition to his alto and tenor sax), "Shore Jazz" has attracted new fans, virtually every week. Both at Beseme', in Lewes DE, on Saturday nights, and (our new venue) The Big Pickle Food Bar, in St Michaels, MD, on Fridays, regulars return, and unsuspecting newcomers are drawn in. The vibe is distinct at each venue, which makes it fun. Now, a potential next level thing, as we have booked a show at the Night Cat in Easton, MD on December 2nd, with a new CD release in progress. Follow Shore Jazz on Facebook, and we'll see where it all takes us.

3 New Performance Venues in 2012 (so far)

This is truly an exciting time. I can say that for many reasons, highest among them (relating to my career) is the now consistently open "portal of connection" whenever I sit down to play. Striving to grow artistically is always the goal of one who is serious. Related to that is the whole needing to make a living thing; a motivator to find opportunities to connect with new listeners (fans - funny word), and share the deepened connection with those already on board. This is where (unlike many artist types) capitalism actually works for me. I've come to an understanding that a deepened connection when playing/performing becomes that which others experience along with me, and positions the snowball at the top of the hill. A version of "My Word shall not return to me void, but will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent". As the snowball now begins (it seems) to accelerate down the hill, many things are happening at once. Important among them are the acquisition of new performance venues for my 2 solo piano concerts/shows: "Spontaneous Joy", and "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride". In addition to upcoming performances on the schedule at (among others) The Mainstay, Prince Theatre, and St. Margarets Church, 3 new venues (so far) have found their way to the 2012 calendar: 49 West, Annapolis, MD on January 15th, Germano's Cabaret, Baltimore, MD on March 9th, and St. Paul's CoffeeHouse, Centerville, MD on May 11th. Look for these, and other dates to be reflected on my website schedule soon.

Friday, August 5, 2011

5 Video Playlists Posted

This may seem like a lot, but compared to previous years, I'm off my game (or, rocker). So far this year, we've completed the video documentation 4 concert performances, and one additional playlist highlighting the influence of Dave McKenna on my playing. A number of additional single videos have been posted, with more playlists coming soon.
Check these out:
"Spontaneous Joy" - On Board the American Spirit - 5/25/2011 (shown above)
Assisted Living performance - 1-13-11
Darlington Arts Center - Coffeehouse Concert - 3-5-11
Presbyterian Church of Chestertown - 4/3/11
Joe Holt - In the Spirit of Dave McKenna

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3 CDs Available for Pruchase and Download on CD Baby

It's been a long time coming, but now I'm pleased to announce that "He's Steppin' Out", "Stories Without Words", and "Happiness - A Thing Called Jazz" are now available on CD Baby. Now that Joe, Jr is on board; helping me out with publicity and promo, expect to see more stuff that should have happened long ago. Alright now, time to load up those I-Pods.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First live webstream - success!

Video streaming by UstreamEarlier this evening, I performed in concert at the St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, in Annapolis, MD, and we pulled off a live webstream. The concert went very well, and now (since archived), you can watch it, too! Thanks to Steve Payne, for making it happen, and James Fitzpatrick for facilitating and encouraging.

"What a joy it was to watch Joe spin his magic spell with notes and quotes and improvisations that tickled the the keys and the ears at the same time! The audience ate up his clever and always musical inventions at the keyboard like it was candy of the highest order."
James R. Fitzpatrick, Director "Music at St. Margaret's" Concert Series

Friday, June 10, 2011

Private instruction now available

For the first time in years, I have a location available to offer private instruction. This was less of a conflict for me when I was often traveling and, when home, maintaining a heavy music therapy schedule (leaving no consistent time for lesson scheduling). Now, with a change in emphasis, the opportunity exists to get back in the teacher's seat, even if on a limited basis. Thanks to the Unitarian fellowship of the Chester River, in Chestertown, for the use of their facility, and to Phillip Dutton for facilitating. Have already begun lessons, and am feeling really good about it. Looking forward to being helpful and making a difference. Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist will continue as well. E-mail me if you're interested.

Friday, May 13, 2011

American Cruise Lines - back on board

One of the nice surprises of 2010 was the addition of American Cruise Lines to my performing schedule. After initial performances in Chestertown (facilitated thru my relationship with the Prince Theatre), I was retained for the remainder of the season, performing at port in Cambridge. Now, the 2011 schedule kicks in, and I'm back in the saddle ( raft?). Starting this coming Tuesday (and a few times each month thru October), I'll be bringing "Spontaneous joy" to the parlor of the American Spirit. Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shore Jazz: a Saturday night fixture at Beseme

Shore Jazz is back at Beseme' for the 2011 season. Actually, it's been a few weeks, and the response is strong. Mike McShane, John Ewart and I form the "original" trio. When one or more of us can't be there on a given week, guest artists will be featured. For the next 2 weeks, I'll be holding down the fort with Dave Schiff - sax, this weekend (4/30), and Paul Midiri - vibes the following (5/7). John and Mike return on 5/14. Check the schedule for my dates, and come join us!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Resurrection day for "He's Steppin' Out"

Back in the 1980's, I began a children's choir, at church in NJ where I served as music director. Not finding any music that served the purpose, I began writing my own songs for the group; songs that brought Bible messages home to the children, who made them their own. We had good times for a few years, then we all moved on (and grew up). Every so often, though, Carol would ask me: “When are you going to record those songs?”, and finally, in 2002, I released “He’s Steppin’ Out”. On this CD the original songs and skits are transformed into a 2 man act along with singer/comedian Jimmy Lawlor. I listened to it yesterday for the first time in awhile, and laughed out loud (all over again). Soon after releasing the CD, my friend Brian Whitaker stepped into the roles Jimmy created (and added some new ones), to create a live performance version (in the video above - from 2004 - Brian helps me present “One Big Mess”). All things at the right time (or - for everything there is a season…), and now, after putting it down for a few years, Brian and I are “resurrecting” “He’s Steppin’ Out” with an Easter Sunday presentation at the Crossroads Alliance Chruch in Dover, DE. We’re both looking forward to what the future holds. If you’re not familiar with “He’s Steppin Out”, you should be. Get it here (you’ll want it - trust me).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joe to perform "Spontaneous Joy" at the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown

Looking forward to this Sunday in the beautiful sanctuary of my home church! Join us at 905 Gateway Drive, Chestertown MD, Sunday 4/3 at 3pm.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Concert review - Tri State Jazz Society - 2/27/11

Got to give it to Jim McGann here. I've always believed you can learn (perhaps everything you need to know) about a musician from their playing. That said, Jim knows me better than most - and we've never even held a conversation:
The Time: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Place: The Porch Club, 4th and Howards Sts., Riverton, NJ
Joe Holt, piano

Copied from the Tri-State Jazz Society blog

Direction. Getting from point A to point B. How we get from those two points varies according to the individual. For some, the quickest route serves best, not attractive for sight-seeing, but saves time. For others, taking in some scenery, and an escape from the busiest highways with its congestion, short-tempered drivers et al allows for a more pleasant drive.

Then there’s Joe Holt.

To illustrate visually a Joe Holt piano performance would go something like this: Getting in the car, starting the engine, go back in the house because he forgot something, get back in car, drive around the block three times to admire the Christmas lights, then go back to the house because he forgot to say goodbye to the pet dog, off again, one more trip around the block-this time to admire the neighbor’s ’57 Chevy, makes a U-turn, then arrives at a traffic light, makes another U-turn to go to an intersection where there is no light, takes a road less traveled to get to point B! It is an understated clichĂ© to define Holt’s playing as the mouse in the maze hunting for the elusive piece of cheese.

To be a good stride pianist, one must have a strong left hand. All the greats had them – Smith, Johnson, Waller, etc. Mr. Holt was no exception. In some cases, he presented his left hand as a walking bass, taking “bass solos” as in the case in his performance of “Sweet Georgia Brown.” However, his right hand should not go unnoticed-the driving metaphor described in the previous paragraph is applied here. Some performances like in the opening “Aint Misbehavin’” had both hands switch parts – the bass playing melody and the treble playing bass.

All of the selections performed had their moments. “Putting on the Ritz” could be defined as “What happened after the Ritz.” Both hands stagger in opposite directions, somehow managing to hail a taxi cab to go uptown, while passing Carnegie Hall, “Anitra’s Dance” is performed, ultimately arriving at Small’s Paradise CafĂ© where the house band is playing “Sing, Sing, Sing.” “If Only” a Holt original, took a different direction. Described as a “feeling of regret,” the title fits the mood of the piece, sort of a looking back on an unpleasant past. Based loosely on the melody of “Ochi Chernye (Dark Eyes)”, the piece reminds one of Debussy’s impressionistic works. The closing, “I Got Rhythm” was the best saved for last. Describing his penchant for quoting as “my Tourettes,” Holt applied them liberally, citing diversified works as “Yes, We Have No Bananas” and “Seven, Come Eleven.” Gershwin’s composition brought out the Basie in Holt, applying the subtle treble effects the great Count was known for, even going so far as to allow a Walter Page impression with his left hand!

The relaxed encore, “If I Had You,” marked the end of an adventurous ride, arriving at Point B, safe and sound. - Jim McGann

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist now available

It's been a long road, to this point. Charie', now in college, was in elementary school when the Joe Holt's Notes (the original use for this title) subscription series was churning out mini-lessons in my initial attempt to get ideas on paper, and reach an audience of those to whom I could be helpful in learning and discovery. Back then, I didn't even type, let alone use a computer, so when I faced a point of having to write, produce, and administer this by myself, I was forced to put it down. In recent years, having become (slightly) more functional with things technological, I've been working on the best way to get this back up and running. In the process, the possibilities of digging deeper, and reaching farther have been opening up. Never one to shy away from the grand vision, a new "delivery system" has been put in place to allow depth of presentation, ease of access, and a broad reach to those interested in taking the journey with me. As before (in the original "Joe Holt's Notes"), this series is designed to make the lessons available as I write them (in a much more expansive and comprehensive form), allowing a breathing, evolving series to live on for (hopefully) a long time. If you are interested in playing the piano, at whatever level and angle of view you currently stand, you are invited to take the journey along with me. Click here for the Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist video channel. Click here for the lesson blog.   

Monday, February 21, 2011

Joe to perform "Spontaneous Joy" at the Darlington Arts Center

On Saturday March 5, at 8pm, I'm looking forward to presenting my concert of musical improvisation  in Garnet Valley PA, at the Darlington Arts Center. Thanks to Bill Wallace of the Tri State Jazz Society (where I will perform a stride piano based program 6 days before) for making this connection. It going to be a casual coffeehouse atmosphere, with an open mic opportunity before the concert (at 7:30pm). Join us!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joe accompanies for 2011 "Women Helping Women", at the Prince

Women Helping Women is a wonderful effort to support the work or Dr Maria Boria. The annual performance, at the Prince Theatre, features top local artists, and the full support of the community (in other words, reserve early, if you want a seat). As I love accompanying, I'm always glad to get the call. Steve Payne (sound engineer) posted this video last year of Melissa McGlynn's performance of "Natural Woman". Extra fun for me, as I seldom perform in this vein. You'll get a sense, from this video, that the show is not only a noble effort, but also a good time. This year's event is scheduled for May 11, at the Prince Theatre, in Chestertown, MD. Click here for an article about last year's Women Helping Women.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Transcription of "Sunny Side of the Street" posted

For anyone who plays the piano (and reads music), Ian Pallister has posted a transcription of a video post of "Sunny Side of the Street", from a nursing home performance in 2007. Transcribing is not one of my "gifts" (takes me forever), so I'm grateful to Ian for putting this out there. The video above is the performance behind the transcription. click here for the sheet music.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Joe performs "Spontaneous Joy" at the Washington Grace Church of the Nazarene, Sunday 1/23/11

This Sunday evening, January 23, 2011, I will be presenting my solo piano improvisation concert: "Spontaneous Joy" at the Washington Grace Church of the Nazarene - presented in conjunction with the Community of Hope Church of the Nazarene. This is a concert (entirely) of musical improvisation that will include hymns and Christian song, as well as classical themes, jazz and popular standards, music from my improvisation CD: “Stories Without Words” and entertaining examples of improv, including the “A.D.D. Improvisation”. This is much the same presentation, in substance, that I would give in a theater or performing arts center. What will be different will be the inclusion of hymns and spirituals, and an open presentation of my own understanding of, and trust in God as the center and source. At least that's my purpose.  
This concert will (hopefully) appeal to people who enjoy the arts, are spiritually sensitive, open minded, enjoy jazz and/or classical music. If you are in the vicinity of Washington, DC this Sunday evening at 6pm, why not join us?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Joe's 2011 YouTube channel now open

Yes, again! Every year I think I have to re-explain this, but once you start poking around my YouTube postings (beginning in 2007), it should make sense. The new joeholtsnotes2011 channel will document this year in performance, both in and out of public view. Occasional highlight postings will continue to appear on my original joeholtsnotes channel. If you have a YouTube account, you can subscribe to both them and not miss anything (or much). New this year are promo videos for select events. Hope you enjoy the postings!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Free "Stories Without Words" CD offer thru 1/31/11

You read that right. Anyone who "likes" my Stories Without Words Facebook page (currently or newly) can request a free Stories Without Words CD (or a CD of your choice, if you have already purchased Stories ...)! All that's needed is an e-mail to requesting the CD, with your shipping address. Do you like this? You really should.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Debut Concert for the Tri-State Jazz Society, in February

On Sunday February 27th, 2011, at 2pm, I am scheduled to perform a solo concert at the Porch Club, in Riverton NJ, for the Tri-State Jazz Society's new piano concert series. The concert is titled: "Stride Piano - A Continuing Legacy of Spontaneous Joy", and will explore an evolution of solo jazz performance from vintage stride, through the subsequent generations of solo pianists influenced by this approach. looking forward to a really fun afternoon!

100th performance for Philadelphia Protestant Home (IL) residents

In 1994, I began working at the Philadelphia Protestant Home, at the request of the new administrator, who I had worked with/for previously. Before long, I was making regular visits to the Health Center (nursing) and Assisted Living units in the capacity of music therapist, as well as performing as an entertainer for the Independent Living residents at semi-monthly intervals. Some years later, the schedule was pared back (the commuting distance was always an issue) to , eventually, only the retirement (IL) residents. To this day, the every other month schedule continues, and sometime this year (I'm not certain exactly when, perhaps it was last night), I'll perform my 100th concert for the residents (and guests and visitors). Believe it or not, there are some residents who have been with me for all 100 shows (and they still come)! As you can imagine, it's a very "warm and fuzzy" relationship, and one (actually many) for which I'm grateful. The above video is from the first time I brought the camera, soon after I began documenting for YouTube in 2007. Looking forward to the next 100 shows!