Monday, December 17, 2012

A (partial) Return to Worship Ministry

Christ United Methodist Church: the physical focal point of yet another who'dve thunk it development in my multi-track (but somehow synchronous) world. Faith Souders (a local pianist/organist) contacted me some weeks ago to fill in a few dates for her. She then informed me that the organist with which she shares the position does not wish to continue in the new year. I have accepted the opportunity to share this role with Faith as we move forward. Was tempted, for a time, to take another crack at re-working up the organ chops, but quickly settled into this as a piano only (ad)venture. Though I will miss my friends at PCC, this is kind of a best of both worlds thing, as I will still have opportunity to attend when Faith is at CUMC (or when I am energetic enough to go to PCC first, then zip over to Christ Methodist. One is at 9:30, and the other 11am). 
With the exception of next Sunday morning (12/23), I will be at the piano at CUMC every Sunday thru 2/10/13, as well as Christmas eve (at 7pm). If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know of my connection to worship ministry, service music, and traditional hymns. The itch is now being scratched. Kind of the happy puppy being scratched behind the ears feeling. Get the feeling that the congregation feels okay about this as well   :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Annual Christmas Carol Hymn Sing

On Sunday, December 16, at 6pm, I'm privileged to return to the Alliance Family Fellowship, in Dover DE (meeting on the campus of Westminster Village), for their annual Christmas Carol Hymn Sing service.  i've known the pastor, Ken xxxx for some time, going back to when he was the chaplain of Westminster Village, and I entertained the Health Care residents. Though Seniors from the Independant Living community attend the services, the church has a strong ministry to the community at large. This hymn sing is a joyful opportunty for all to bask in the meaning of the Christmas season. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thursday Jazz and Blues Night at Old Bay Steak House

The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival added Old Bay Steak House to it's list of local venues (which I referred to as " the trenches" earlier in my journal blog) for Jazz Fesdtival weekend this year. Spontaneous Invention (featuring Dave Schiff - pictured from the festival weekend) took the happy hour slot, and blew the house down. Old Bay has now partnered with the Festival to continue Jazz (and blues) throughout the year. The stable of bands continues to grow, so it's all a work in progress. In December, (Mike and) I will be there on (Thursdays) December 13 with Shore Jazz (with Cody Leavel on sax), and December 27 (with Dave). Come out and support Old Bay, and the musicians that make it happen.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Joe Holt's Notes mp3 Subscription Plan.

When a new CD is released, it is the final outcome of a long path, sometimes over many years. Many paths are traveled; visited and revisited. When the financial opportunity is realized for me to release a new project, I literally have to pick one. Since I began releasing CDs in 2000, I am up to nine (and if you are not familiar with them, you can find them here). More CD releases are coming, but now, here’s an new, easy and really affordable way to grow your collection of my piano recordings beginning right now: to become a Joe Holt’s Notes mp3 subscriber. Here's how it works:
Every Monday, a new mp3 track will be delivered to your e-mail inbox. The music will vary from week to week, and span the scope of my private collection to include:

Live (concert) performances
Original Improvisations
Studio recordings
Radio show performances.
Pre (album) release tracks
Exclusive content (for subscribers only)

I have many recording projects in progress, literally dozens, so don't worry about the well running dry. If I don't record another note for several years, your inbox still won't miss a beat. And about the exclusive content: Not everything is going to make it's way to a physical product that can be purchased. Some tracks that never see pressing will still make their way to download sites (check out my CD Baby page), but others will not. As a subscriber you not only will have exclusive access to some tracks, you will receive everything else first, before anyone else can purchase it. In some cases a track will be made available for download (on CD Baby and related sites) soon after you receive it, but in every case, you have it first.

So if I have this massive collection, why not release them all at once? First, the financial piece is not the only part of the administration process. A lot of listening, editing, organizing and soul searching goes in to this. Once something is out there, I can't take it back. So you know you will not be accumulating a collection of outtakes and reject tracks. Everything you receive is potentially something that will eventually make it's way to a CD release. And some of it will. So you will have it first, and in some cases you will own what no one else can buy. Secondly, a dam serves a purpose. A controlled release will blend right in with the ebb and flow of everything else. Opening the floodgates (or destroying the dam) usually creates chaos.

A Joe Holt’s Notes mp3 subscription is as affordable as it is easy.

Only $5/month (3 month minimum) - 3 months/$15
Special offer - 6 months/$25 (buy 5 get 1 free).
Order online at
(though the offer begins today, the website order form may take a few days to reflect changes. Just e-mail me, and we can get started.).
It's that easy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Beth McDonald returns to the Avalon Theatre

On Friday, December 7th, at 8pm, Beth McDonald returns to the Avalon Theatre; this time to the Stoltz Listening room. Pictured above is Beth's last (featured) appearance at the Avalon, with me accompanying. This time, just a duo, in the intimate Stoltz room. Over the past months, Beth and I have worked up enough new material to fill a suitcase or two (or perhaps it just feels like that). Expect a variety of Christmas and Holiday favorites, happy and fun songs celebrating the joy of life, sultry and poignant love ballads, and the debut of a new Beth original (or two). Tickets are on sale now, and will (based upon the attendance at Beth's previous shows) very likely sell out prior to the date, so reserve now. You'll be glad you did.   

Friday, November 16, 2012

New Video Playlist - Willow Valley Lakes Manor - 9/24/12

On Monday evening, September 24th, it was a joy to return to Willow Valley Lakes Manor, in Willow Street (greater Lancaster) PA. I've lost track of how many times I've performed in their auditorium, on their fine piano. Over a decade ago, my friend, Dr. Jack Wilkins and his wife Anne moved in to the Independent Living community, and it wasn't long before Dr. Jack had talked me up sufficiently to receive an invitation to perform. The rest is ... what it is. This is (at least) the third performance at WVLM from which I've posted video on You Tube, and the second time I've used the video recording of their own feed. It's a great set up. In addition to the wonderful piano, they project video on the large (centered) screen, which will be evident from time to time as you watch. This compensates for the piano being on the far left of the stage (perfect for accompanying), and enhances the connection experience with the audience. The concert was well attended, and the residents and guests very receptive and supportive (as always). In contrast to many of my video postings, which capture the sound from the camera (often in the back of the room - great for feeling the vibe and response from the audience), this one uses only the piano and stage mics. Still, you will get the sense of the fun and positive energy of the evening. looking forward to returning to Willow Valley Lakes Manor on April 22, 2013. Thank to Sue Albright for her kind and supportive spirit, and for the continuing opportunity to perform for the residents. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Concert Review - Tri State Jazz Society - 10-7-12

in the November edition of the Tri-State Jazz Society Strutter, this review was published  on last month's concert in Wallingford, PA. This is validating, for the growing connection I continue to feel with both the music, and the audience, each time I perform. In the coming weeks, I will be adding additional video posting from this concert. Check back with this blog, as I will announce the video playlist here, once completed. 

Jazzman Bunk Johnson once said, “Jazz is playin'
from the heart; you don't lie.” Or maybe it was
Louis Armstrong.
At any rate, one interpretation of the above
statement would be to say that a jazz musician's
improvised performances are a reflection and/or
extension of his or her unique personality.
Which brings us to the appearance of Chestertown,
Maryland jazz pianist Joe Holt at the Wallingford
Community Arts Center, sponsored by Tri-State
Jazz Society, on Sunday, October 7.
I have known Joe for several years now, having
performed and even been on the road with him as
members of the Midiri brothers' unit. We have had
many conversations about the art and craft of
performing jazz. I can tell you, he's a quirky guy.
And his eclectic approach to music, to jazz, and to
the piano are a reflection of that quirkiness. He is
the genuine article, an artiste, whose work is a
reflection and an extension of who he is. He plays
from the heart, mind and soul; he does not lie. And
he is at his very best when playing his unique brand
of solo piano for an appreciative audience.
October 7 was an overcast, rainy day. Those who
stayed away that day missed an interesting and
eclectic program of improvisational piano artistry. A
bonus to his performance was the presence of a
camera, trained on the piano's keyboard, its images
displayed in real-time on a large television screen
next to the piano, enabling the audience to watch
Joe's hands work the keyboard, a fascinating
enhancement to the aural experience.
Joe began his concert with a nicely arranged
version of George Gershwin's classic “Nice Work if
You Can Get It.” In the key of F major, Joe played
the first three sections of the first chorus rubato
(expressively and without a defined tempo). In the
fourth section of the first chorus, he swung into a
nice, swinging medium tempo.
The second chorus found Joe paying homage to one
of his main musical influences, the late, great New
England jazz pianist Dave McKenna, by playing a
walking bass line with his left hand, and a deft,
single-note improvisation with his right.
Stride piano was the next style, into which Joe
effortlessly transitioned for chorus number three. (I
always like to think of and refer to the stride piano
style as “industrial-strength ragtime.”)
Chorus number four was a neat trick: a bass
register single line jazz solo with the left hand (no
mean feat), accompanied by quarter-note chords in
the right. Imagine a bass solo by Ray Brown,
accompanied by Bass guitarist Freddie Green. But
on piano. There were hints of ¾ time in the bridge,
but very subtle. At the end of the last section after
the bridge, Holt skillfully wrapped things up with a
clever tag and ending. Nice work, indeed.
After the Gershwin opus, the audience was treated
to Joe's musical musings on Lerner and Loew's “I'm
Getting Married in the Morning,” Hoagy
Carmichael's eternally-beautiful “Stardust,” Maceo
Pinkard's “Sweet Georgia Brown” and even
modernist Miles Davis' “Solar,” among many other
Holt told the audience that he does not consider
himself a stride pianist “because there are so many
who do it better,” naming Fats Waller as well as
present-day practitioners Neville Dickie and Jeff
Barnhart. After this modest self-assessment, he
launched into a perfectly acceptable and swinging
stride performance of the Waller chestnut “Ain't
Misbehavin,'” his left hand clean and accurate, his
right hand dancingly creative.
Holt does like to talk between songs and his
comments are as quirky and rambling as his
playing, but his verbal, stream-of-consciousness
insights into music are worth considering. For
example, he expressed his opinion that Oscar
Peterson's style was not an extension of Art
Tatum's, but rather, of Nat King Cole's. I had never
considered this, but as I thought about it during his
performance of “Sweet Lorraine” (recorded by both
Peterson and Cole, who had a big hit with it), Joe's
comments made perfect sense to me.
A couple of surprises were Joe's eclectic choices of
the famous Pachelbel Canon (a classical
composition) and Scott Joplin's “Maple Leaf Rag,”
both of which were performed with improvised
sections that, while remaining true to their
respective genres, were simultaneously extensions
of Joe Holt's unique personhood and statements of
his own musical vision.
By the end of the afternoon's proceedings, Joe had
run the full gamut of jazz piano styles, from Fats
Waller to Keith Jarrett, with echoes of Erroll
Garner, Nat King Cole, Bill Evans, and especially
the late Dave McKenna. (Indeed, Holt's latest solo
piano CD is a tribute to McKenna, entitled “The
Spirit of Dave McKenna.”) And, yet, through the
virtuosic display of such a wide variety of piano
stylings, and, perhaps, in spite of them, Joe's own
unique musical vision remained clearly present.
Beyond the actual playing of the piano, Joe's
quirkiness is further evidenced when he sings along
with his lines and when he utters spontaneous
verbal expressions in support of the music he is
making while he is making it. To illustrate, at one
point, during “Sweet Georgia Brown,” his left hand,
as though it had a mind of its own, began a
rambling musical ascent up the keyboard, even as
his right hand shot up in the air and stayed there,
as Joe uttered some inaudible comment, seemingly
a complete sentence, probably to no one in
particular or to everyone or to himself alone.
These idiosyncrasies come from the heart, mind
and soul of Joe Holt and are a part of his musical
statement. He has found the elusive balance sought
by all jazz musicians: the balance between the craft
of performing music that is recognizable as being in
the traditions of jazz, and the artistry of creating a
very personal expression within those same
I acquired a copy of Joe's latest CD, “In the Spirit of
Dave McKenna.” It is a wonderful recording which
I recommend. But Joe's artistry is best enjoyed live
in concert where he is comfortably spontaneous
and plays with a controlled abandon (which I did
not hear in the recording).
By Ed Wise

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Return to 49 West

A view from behind from my January 14, 2012 performance at 49 West, in Annapolis, MD. Elana Byrd went out on a limb and booked a solo performer for the first time. We had a really fun evening! Delighted to be invited back, this time for "Sunday Supper and Jazz" on November 18, 2012, at 7pm. 49 West is well known for an eclectic mix of artful musical offerings, with a strong jazz leaning. Within this, Elana Byrd brings her own series of performances to her "Intimate Jazz" and "Sunday Supper and Jazz" series. Promoting to a large mailing list of dedicated jazz fans, her shows generally bring the biggest turnouts for 49 West; typically selling out the (intimate) room. It's a lovely venue with good, reasonably priced food. For more information, and to reserve your seat, call 49 West CafĂ© at: (410) 626-9796, or email: Hope to see you!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sunday 10/7/12 - The Tri-State Jazz Society presents:

Last February, I was privileged to participate in the Tri-State Jazz Society's piano concert series, and this Sunday am again privileged; this time to be invited back, in their regular TSJS concert schedule. The video above is from last year's show, in a different venue. This year the concert is being held at the Community Arts Center, in Wallingford, PA (in part because they have a better piano). Have backed of for the more rigid Stride Piano theme of last year, and instead will theme the concert around my newly released "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna" CD. The Tri State Jazz Society works long and hard to give voice to the more traditional voices in jazz, performing today, and have been voted  "Best of South Jersey, Jazz/Blues Entertainment" for the last 4 years running by the readers of the Courier Post (the area's newspaper). Am looking forward to Sunday! One thing is for sure: that I will be among friends.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Busy Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival Weekend

The Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival lives on in  2012, along with the tradition of most all of the local restaurants and clubs booking in jazz acts over the festival weekend. This year, Mike McShane and I are working multiple projects, which makes for a full weekend for us, as well as a fun one.The events and performances are sprawled all over the Rehoboth/Lewes, DE area. Here is the listing of Shore Jazz and Spontaneous Invention performances (copied from my schedule page): 

 Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival weekend:
THURSDAY 10/11/12: 6-9pm
Shore Jazz at Just in Thyme, Rehoboth Beach, DE
Join John Ewart, Mike Mcshane and Joe to kick off Jazz Festival weekend!

FRIDAY/SATURDAY: 10/12,13/12: 4:30 -7:30 (time tentative)
Spontaneous Invention at Old Bay Steak House, Rehoboth Beach, DE
“Happy hour” spot for Dave Mike and Joe for Jazz Festival weekend
FRIDAY/SATURDAY: 10/12,13/12: 9pm-midnight
Spontaneous Invention at Arena’s, Rehoboth Beach, DE                              
The Energizer jazz band continues into the night (midnight, anyway)

SUNDAY  10/14: 10am-2pm
Shore Jazz at Bethany Blues, Lewes, DE
The Sunday Brunch for Jazz festival weekend!

Check the official Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival website for all else there is to do and see. Hope to see you sometime over the weekend!

"In the Spirit of Dave McKenna" is Now Available!

This recording has been a lifetime in coming, even if only planned for several months. Subconsciously, perhaps, the planning began soon after Dave McKenna passed away in 2008. His uniqueness was brought into stark relief (in my eyes) as tribute concerts served to drive home the fact that Dave playing is inimitable. Even pianists who do what he did don't even come close. What also was impressed on me is that, although I imitate no one, on an organic level, I (in my own may and on my own path) evolved to a similar playing style. Dave's name was the one I heard most often in commentary as an obvious influence on me (at a time when I wasn't even listening to his recordings. That came later). Dave McKenna, in an important way, is in a category with Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and others who honed their unique contributions to a point of perfection. Imitators inevitably fall short. Though I am not an imitator, I fall short as well. Also, as I listen to the recording, post release, I'm struck by how much I am playing unlike Dave (I've actually wished, at times, that I had recorded some of the tracks with more of a mindset of imitation. Of course, I would have regretted it if I did). Hard to be objective inside your own head, though. Now that it has been released, the comments I am receiving suggest that I have, indeed, kept it between the foul poles. One thing that seems clear; this is my strongest, and perhaps most focused studio recording to date. It is, indeed, In the Spirit of Dave McKenna that I continue on in my calling.

Spontaneous Invention is Hooked

After a successful and encouraging (and validating) show at the Avalon Theatre's Stoltz Room, the journey continues for Spontaneous Invention. We now have a (once a month) steady at Hooked Seafood and Martini Bar, in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Catch Dave Schiff, Mike McShane and I on October 6 and December 22, and Dave and I (as a duo) on November 17. Stay in touch with Spontaneous Invention at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shore Jazz Continues at Jerry's

This (image above) was a familiar sight on Saturday nights in Lewes DE for nearly 2 years. Unfortunately, Beseme closed last year (we played the closing night party on December 17), and for a brief time, Shore Jazz was "homeless" in Lewes. Earlier this year, Jerry's Seafood (2 blocks from the old Beseme location) picked us up for 1-2 Friday nights a month, and so the fun continues. In the "old days", you would usually find this sign on the corner down the street, and almost without fail, weekend visitors (often from the greater DC area) would be intrigued enough to step in to our little scene, along with our local following, becoming a part of it. The rapport with our friends continues, so if you are ever in the Lewes DE area when we are, stop in to Jerry's Seafood. Remaining dates this year are 10/26, 11/9, 11/30 and 12/21.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Full Concert Video

On July 11, 2012, I performed for the Independent Living residents of Oakcrest Village, in Baltimore, MD. It's not uncommon for these communities (especially the larger ones) to run an in-house closed circuit feed, while archiving the performance for future reruns. This was a good performance to preserve, as it was a fun evening for all of us. Thanks to the lifting of time restraints for You Tube video posting, I was able to post this complete performance from front to back. For my (literally) hundreds of postings, this is the first full concert video. The upside is that (again, for the first time), the intereaction from and to the stage (much of this occuring between performance selections) is preserved.
In any concert, selections are chosen with the demographic in mind, This performance of piano improvisation includes:
1) Surrey with the Fringe on Top
2) Maple Leaf Rag
3) Ode to Joy
4) Gershwin Medley (The Man I Love/I've Got Rhythm)
5) "A.D.D. Improvisation"
6) I Can't Help Falling in Love with You
7) Chopsticks
8) Tea for Two
9) Fur Elise
10) Jobim Medley (Girl from Impanema/Wave)
11) Bye Bye Blackbird

 If you find the time, grab a bag of popcorn (or something), and watch the show. if you like it, send it to a friend. Click here to watch on You Tube

Friday, August 31, 2012

Facebook in Focus

Despite being a serial clutterer, every now and then I tidy things up a bit, so here goes: Introducing the new Joe Holt's Notes Record Label Facebook Page. I have played with the idea of separate Facebook pages for some of my unique recording projects (in particular, He's Steppin' Out, and Stories Without Words", but now have folded everything into one place. With the inpending release of my 9th "Joe Holt's Notes" CD; "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna", it's about time that I got a bit more organized. If you are interested in the progress of my recording adventures, and want to be among the first to know of upcoming releases, this is the place to be. Since Facebook is interactive, this can become conversation (rather than pontification). So have at it, if you "like" it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Chestertown Jazz Festival

The "Joe Holt Trio" has been dormant for a time, but that is about to end with an appearance at the Chestertown Jazz Festival, on Saturday September 15th. Have been looking for the right opportunity to break out with the re-formed group, which includes Mike McShane on drums and Mike Buccino on bass, and this is certainly it. The music will weave, bob, bop and pulse throughout the day with a wonderful line up of artists and bands. It will be a day worth spending, and a destination worth traveling (if you're not a local). Heads up: If you're coming from a distance, be aware that that Chestertown sits rather isolated in rural Kent Conunty MD, and (nearby) lodging is limited. Book and reserve early (I already live here, so I'm good).
note new time: The Joe Holt Trio set has been moved up to 12:15am. Updated 8/31/12

Spontaneous Invention at the Avalon

On Saturday, August 25th at 8pm, the newly minted "Spontaneous Invention" Trio will raise it's profile a bit with a performance in the Avalon Theatre's Stoltz Listening Room. Here's the copy on the Avalon Theatre calendar page:
"Spontaneous Invention is a jazz trio consisting of Dave Schiff (who performed for 20 years with the U.S. Navy's premiere jazz ensemble, the Commodores), Mike McShane, and Joe Holt. The musical conversation of Dave, Mike, and Joe is borne of a unique intuitive connection they share. Even if you don't think you like jazz, you will recognize that something interesting is going on here, and be drawn to the conversation."
We're looking forward to this date! In the meantime, you can follow the journey, or join in the conversation on the Spontaneous Invention Blog. Hope to see you (then, sometime, somewhere, somehow ...)

Back in the Recording Studio

It's been over 4 years since I last recorded in a studio with an appropriate (high end) piano. That is, until last month, when I visited Blue House Productions for the first time. My long held idea (dream?) of managing multiple recording projects with monthly trips to the studio is now being realized. On Wednesday (8/1 - tomorrow), Jeff Gruber and I will be producing the final master for "In the Spirit of Dave McKenna", to be released in September. But, far from sounding like anything is finished, I'm just getting started. I've been to the studio twice, and already have 3 projects underway. Tomorrow I'll be introducing a fourth. And just imagine where I'll be a year from now (perhaps Jeff should be frightened)! This is gonna be fun (and already is)!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Press release - New CD to be released on 9/10/12

                                                      Press Release
                                            Joe Holt to Release New CD:
                              “In the Spirit of Dave McKenna” on 9/10/2012.

Jazz pianist Joe Holt will release his new solo piano recording: “In the Spirit of Dave McKenna”, in time for his appearance at the Chestertown (MD) Jazz Festival, on Saturday September 15, 2012. The CD pays tribute to the unique contributions of Dave McKenna to solo jazz piano, as well as the influence of Dave's playing on Joe’s approach. In Joe’s words: “I’ve never copied anyone’s playing, and couldn’t if I tried. My musical expression is an amalgam of all of my experiences and influences. One brief early encounter with Dave McKenna’s playing, however, was one of those moments when I grew in the understanding of what was possible. I've been traveling for over 30 years on the path revealed to me that day, and I still feel like I'm just getting started.""In the Spirit of Dave McKenna" contains 15 tracks of jazz, popular and Broadway standards including: I’ve Got Rhythm, C Jam Blues, Surrey With the Fringe on Top, Where is Love, and Sweet Georgia Brown. Joe is a career full time musician, currently performing extensively in the Mid-Altantic US, primarily as a soloist, but also with his own Trio, including Mike McShane - drums and Mike Buccino - bass, with whom he will perform at 12:30 pm at the Chestertown Festival. For more info on Joe visit 

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Video Playlist - "Joe Holt 101"

In addition to any particular style or type of music I may play, or approach I may take to it; the broad sweep of it all becomes yet another feature. This playlist is designed to portray with width and breadth of my performing experiences. As the boundaries expand, and the center of gravity shifts, the posts will be updated to reflect this. If there is one playlist to "define" me, this one is probably it. Click through to the playlist, read the descriptions, and see if you agree.

The Eddie Sherman Show on the Bandstand, and more

Looking forward to returning to the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand this year, this time with The Eddie Sherman Show, featuring Peggy Raley, in free outdoor concert at 8pm on Saturday, July 14th. This is (yet) another project I'm involved with that is going places. One thing for sure: Sherman and Peggy love the Great American Songbook, and it shows. You could consider this evening a teaser for our show the following Friday, July 20th, for the Abbott's Grill Jazz Dinner series, featuring a special menu pairing with Nassau Valley Vineyard Wines. This is a nice intimate settling, and a great way to experience the best of several worlds. Go for it!  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Experience Spontaneous Invention

I've known Dave Schiff for a long time, and if you've followed my schedule, you may know him as well. He's hard to forget once you meet (hear) him. After putting in his 20 years with the Navy (performing in their premiere jazz ensemble, the Commodores), his saxophone has taken him to many stages, in many places, with many artists, both jazz and pop (click here to read about Dave). Recently Dave, Mike McShane and I inaugurated "Spontaneous Invention"; a collaborative effort of 3 highly intuitive musicians. After playing together on a few gigs, we've all come to recognize to the potential places this can go, both musically, and in performing opportunities. And now, full steam ahead, with the Spontaneous Invention Blog, YouTube Channel, and performances which include; the Abbott's Grill Jazz Dinner Series on Fri 6/22, repeat (and future) shows at Nomad's in Wilmington, and several appearances in Rehoboth during jazz festival weekend (announcement coming soon). Much more to come. Think you might like it? Then, formalize that relationship on our new Facebook page. Yes, we're all in.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Video Playlist - April 23, 2012 - Music at St. Margarets Concert Series

On April 23, 2012, I had the privilege of returning to St Margaret's Church, in Annapolis, MD, this time is an official "Music at St Margaret's" Concert Series performance. Arguably the most inspired playing was after the tape ran out (the encore in particular), though a fun variety of selections and moods were captured, and posted here. Thanks again to the series director, James Fitzpatrick, who has inspired and encouraged many in his support of the arts, and artists.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Video Playlist - Sitting in with Dixieland Direct

 This video playlist documents a fun evening for me. I won't be able to express it any better than I did on the playlist itself, so I'll just copy it here:
 On April 29th, I filled the piano chair for Dixieland Direct, at the Zoo Bar, in Washington, DC (and set the camcorder on a ledge to capture the second set). It was a kind of "going home" experience, even with guys I hardly knew. In the "old school" (not referring to my own generation, but rather the path I took) in which I came up, jazz sits in a different place than in the academically driven approach that began with be-bop (and continues to today). Playing with these guys was akin to holding hands in the happy place: where jazz is more about what you're feeling, and less about "how hip can you be?". My new friend (and serious jazz student) Christophe (whose foot makes a prominent appearance on the right side of the screen) commented about the gig later on Facebook: "We get so wrapped up in technique, complex harmonies or bebop lines, sometimes we forget the music. Give Dixieland Direct a "like" and go see them on their next show. A humbling experience and great music lesson." Christophe gets it. Even as loose around the edges as it got that evening, at times; it was, and is, always, about "the music". Henning (clarinet/soprano sax), in particular, represents the "old (school) pro" (most, sadly, are no longer with us), who took us "kids" (back in the day) and taught us the ropes. The lessons and stories that the "old guard" taught us are a cherished treasure to me. Dallas represents the happy and communal spirit of the whole thing. He spent all of the evening smiling, and much of it laughing, You won't see that on too many "modern" jazz stages. Mike (mostly hidden, but you see him from time to time) represents the tastefulness that was a given in the classic era. It was a joy to play with these guys. check them out at

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Return to Nomad's with Dave Schiff's Spontaneous Invention

Look out Wilmington! Dave Schiff's "Spontaneous Invention" returns to Nomad's jazz club on May 18th. Dave has stepped up his game, both in pushing out the boundaries of his own musical expression, and in self promotion (He says he's inspired by me. Now he has a You Tube channel, Facebook page, online ordering ...). The fruits of his efforts are beginning to show. More performance announcements for Dave Schiff's Spontaneous Invention coming soon!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Second Sunday Coffee House on May 13

I'm looking forward to a new experience. On Mother's day (5/13), at 6:30 pm, I will perform for the Second Sunday Coffeehouse, at St. Paul's Church, in Centerville, MD. Generally, these environments are the realm of singer/songwriters, but not always. The intimate nature of the Coffeehouse concept works well for me. Unlike most of my solo performances these days, this one is close to home, so I'm looking forward to seeing many of my friends (hint ...)! The video above is a playlist from a Coffeehouse concert at the Darlington Arts Center, in Garnet Vally PA , in 2011. Click here to see the listing of posts.

New Video Playlist - "The Joe Holt Trio"

This playlist (unlike those which document a specific performance date) is an evolving "work in progress". As I acquire new posts suitable for representing the trio, they may show up here (and others go). Click here to go to the playlist page, and look over what's posted. You can choose to watch them in succession, or click on any one individually. Hope you enjoy the video.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Abbots Grill Jazz Dinner Series

Abbott's Grill, in Milford DE deserves kudos for it's new Jazz Dinner series.
From the Abbott's Grill website:
"Inspired by the Supper Clubs of the 1940's and 50's, this event will be about great music in an intimate stetting, combined with an elegant 3-course dinner. Owner Kevin Reading and the award-winning chefs at Abbott's Grill are excited to bring this new level of entertainment to the region."
On Saturday, 3/31, I'll be with Sherman and Peggy, and Mike and Paul for what promises to be a fun and entertaining evening. The "Eddie Sherman Show" is on a new tack, with a more defined concept, and tighter charts/arrangements (thanks to Paul Midiri). Come out and catch the show, if you can.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A New Season with American Cruise Lines

I recently received my performance schedule for this year's Chesepeake Bay touring seasons with American Cruise Lines. Big changes are happening this year for the company, as 2 new itineraries are up and running (cruising): the Alaska Inside Passage, and the brand new Mississippi Riverboat cruise (on the just completed "Queen of the Mississippi"). I'm jealous. Okay, not really (maybe a little). All of that said, I have nothing to be disappointed about. I'm still on the team, and looking forward to a new season! Will be performing my "A.D.D. Improvisation" concert when the ships are anchored in Chestertown, and docked in Cambridge, MD, beginning in May. The video post above is the "A.D.D. Improv" demonstration/feature on board the American Spirit (in the Chester River, less than a mile from my house) last year. If you're thinking about a cruise this year, get in touch with me, and I'll let you know if I'm scheduled.

A Return to St. Margaret's

I'm delighted to be returning to St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, this time in an "official" slot in the Music at St. Margaret's concert series. On Saturday evening, April 23, at 7:30 pm, I'll be performing "A.D.D. Improvisation". Last year, for my first shot, I was scheduled as an added "recital". This year, I hit the big time, and am included in the Music at St. Margaret's concert series. Can't wait!
"What a joy it was to watch Joe spin his magic spell with notes and quotes and improvisations that tickled 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. Clever, witty, and totally creative stride piano playing!"
James R. Fitzpatrick, Director "Music at St. Margaret's" Concert Series

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Video Playlist - "A.D.D. Improvisation"

Not sure why it took me so long to come up with this program title. In this video collection/playlist, there are 10 posts/selections from solo concert performances, that drive home the point. Not sure I could pay attention long enough to watch them all together, though. Okay - I dare you! ... huh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A.D.D. Improvisation at The Cabaret at Germano's - 3--9-12

The other show I'm performing began in 2008 as "An Evening of Piano Improvisation". Soon thereafter, the title was changed to "Spontaneous Joy"; perhaps a more appropriate description of the performance, but not very compelling (particularly if you don't know me). So, beginning on March 9, 2012, we'll call it like it is: "A.D.D. Improvisation". Once you see it, you'll know it fits. I'm looking forward to my debut performance at The Cabaret at Germanos, in Baltimore, MD. From everything I've heard and experienced (in the process leading up to the performance), Germano's Trattoria is a class act. Can't wait! If you're in the Baltimore area, hope you can join me!

New Video Playlist - 49 West - 1/14/12

Though I am way behind in video posting for some events, it won't stop me from (attempting, at least) posting current shows in reasonable time. All videos in this playlist are from the second half of; "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride" (where I expand the variations on the theme a bit more than in the first half), performed last month in Annapolis, MD. In this concert, I reveal my own grounding in stride piano (the first 2 jazz pianists of major influence, via recordings, were Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller), and explore the path of self accompanying jazz piano. When I put myself out there to dedicated jazz audiences, this will (most often) be the concert concept of choice. Different every time, of course. It's jazz!

"Joe Holt provided just the jolt we needed to our jazz series in Annapolis!
He was the consummate performer who trilled our audience and filled our
soul. We feature guitar and piano based groups, trios and quartets usually,
and Joe was our first solo pianist! He filled the room and more than
satisfied the audience! I think I remember a standing ovation. Joe is one
tremendous talent playing stride piano all night long! We are having him
back as soon as possible!" - Elana Byrd

Thanks to Elana Byrd for bring me into her jazz series, and for scheduling me back for "Sunday Supper and Jazz", on Nov 18, 2012. Looking forward to it!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lessons via Skype Now Available

After getting a bit of instruction from my daughter, Charie' in my first Skype connection, I'm ready to give on line lessons a shot. It may seem strange, or awkward to conduct music lessons via video conversation, but I'm not feeling that. Tomorrow morning, I'll connect with Glenn, and the new path will open. It's really good to be back into teaching. The reality though, is that I live in a small town, with no big towns (only smaller ones) nearby. Through YouTube I have made many fans and friends around the globe, and now acquired some students. Connecting and sharing. Makes the world go round.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Joe's 2012 Video Channel Now Open.

I started posting on YouTube in 2007, and have added a new channel each year. The original channel (joeholtsnotes) has become a "highlights" channel, where (often) one selection from each recorded event is posted. The remaining selections are posted on the "annual" channel, and then organized into playlists (where all the posted video from a performance is accessible with one click). Having the annual channels keeps it less convoluted (for me, anyway), and better documents the "evolution". Embedded above is the first post of my 2012 channel: a "wandering mind" version of "Puttin' on the Ritz", taken from the performance at 49 West on January 14. I think you'll agree this shows an evolution. Also brings to mind the quote from Jim McGann's review last year: "It is an understated clichĂ© to define Holt’s playing as the mouse in the maze hunting for the elusive piece of cheese." Click here for Joe's 2012 YouTube channel.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"He's Steppin' Out" in 2012

Here's a funny photo of Brian Whitaker and I from 2004, right about the time he came on board as my comic partner (replacing Jimmy Lawlor, who appears on the 'He's Steppin' Out" CD) for live performances of He's Steppin' Out". Since then, it's been an ebb and flow of performances, sometimes with long spaces in between. Throughout this time, though, there has been a tacit kind of "keeping the faith" about it all, along with a general sense of just rolling with it. There has also been an undercurrent throughout this life of this project of it's inherent value and timeless application. It doesn't rely on riding a popular trend, rather, at the right time, (I continue to believe) it will create it's own (trend). It remains, now, as it has been since Brian came on board: one performance at a time. This Sunday, January 29th, 2012, we will present "He's Steppin' Out" at the Leonardtown (MD) Church of the Nazarene, at 6pm. Our new theme is "Joe want to perform a piano concert for you ... but Brian has other plans". Looking forward to a fun evening (and more to come)!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shore Jazz back in Lewes, DE

Shore Jazz found a home in Lewes DE (where John Ewart and Mike McShane both live), and a loyal (and substantial) following with a nearly 2 year run at Beseme'. In the post-Beseme' era (and the "no place like home" department), we hope to see our friends (back in Lewes) at Jerry's Seafood as we join the music calendar for one Friday a month starting on Jan 20 (other dates are 2/17, 3/23, 4/20), from 6 to 9pm. Mike, John and I will be there. Will you?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Video Playlist - St Margarets Church - 7/24/11

Getting going with the catch up process of video posting. Last July, I performed for the first time at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis, MD, for a "recital" (technically, not part of their concert series). It went very well, and James Fitzpatrick invited me back on April 23 of this year, as a part of their 2012 series. Check it out here. This is the concert that was webstreamed (watch the archive here). At the same time, Steve Payne recorded the first 30 minutes on a higher quality tape. From the tape, I was able to grab 4 complete posts, which comprise this playlist. Thanks James, and Steve!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Now Available on CD Baby

Something new this year (thanks to Joe Jr's efforts when helping me last year) are digital downloads; now available on 3 of my recordings hosted on CD Baby. It's a strange time for the music industry, as ever (and more rapidly) changing technology challenges the realm of commerce. I, personally, think that the hard copy CD will be around for a long time. There is no denying, though, that downloadable mp3's (much smaller files) have become mainstream, especially among young people. So for all you yougsters out there (whatever your age), check out my CD Baby Artist page, then take me with you in your I-Pod (or some other thingomajiggets).