Sunday, August 29, 2010

Power Lines

They are putting up new power lines along the road that we take the girls to school on. So for the last month or so I have seen these guys stringing the new cables in place. Pretty crazy gig. I'm glad I had my camera to grab this foto last Friday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Extra Days

While most of the young students I know returned to classes at the beginning of this week, Pearl and Rose received the kind of news I would have loved as a child. The Collegio Yeccan Waldorf where my girls go to school was doing some remodeling over the summer and I guess it took a little longer than they had planned, so my girls got a few extra days off.

I decided to make the most of the extra days.

Monday we went to the Zoo in Leon, GTO. The Zoo in Leon is always a good time.

Yesterday and today we spent time at the Expo Guanajuato Bicentenario 2010. The Expo is located about 10 km. (6 miles) outside of town. We have been watching the workers construct the buildings of the Expo over the last year or so. I like to tell people that the Expo was built with the blood, sweat, and tears of the Mexican people. The worker who threw the beer bottle who's broken fragments hit Pearl (see my earlier post Dark Side) was coming from a day of work at the Expo.

The Expo is made up of many buildings of different shapes and sizes. 3 very large 1 level buildings are the main museums.

The 1st museum houses many different kinds of Mexican art.

Hand stitched art.

The 2nd museum has many different rooms/theaters telling the history of Mexico's struggle for independence.

The 3rd museum, and I would like to applaude Mexico for this, is dedicated to the Earth. This was the favorite building of my girls. Very informative, very interactive, very cool.

The other smaller building include such things as, for the kids, a virtual Congress with voting, more information on environmental isuess. For the adults, free tequila shots and beautiful art from Europe.

Outside of the big buildings there are too many thing to mention. An excellent playground (for lack of a better term), Bellagio style water fountain show, ect...

This morning we had the Expo practically all to ourselves.

When we were leaving today I was happy and I smiled to myself as I thought about how much Pearl has enjoyed the Expo.

I love summer vacations with my girls. I will take any extra days that I can get.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


In the post Army Of Cuban Musicians, the wonderful bass player Aaron Romo is Mexican, not Cuban. He is 1 of the many world class jazz cats currently living in San Miguel de Allende.

1 other blog note;
For some reason a few of my fotos (like the 1 below) that I upload come up out of focus. I don't know why. If you like a foto, please click on it and that should enable you to view the in focus foto.

Thank you.
The Management.

3 Things

3 Things I love about Mexico.
The abundance of 3 wheeled bikes, power lines and Modeloramas.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Army Of Cuban Musicians

Yesterday was a wonderful end to a very full week of playing.

After the big concert Wednesday at the Teatro Juarez I played with TUBA JAM Friday at the Cafe Antik and then the Garrapatas Mexicnas played at Manolos on Saturday. We had a good and lively crowd at Cafe Antik Friday night. Saturday evening there was an intense rain storm that started about an hour before the TUBA JAM Party was scheduled to start at Manolos. The rain kept most of the people at home or at least not at Manolos.

A few weeks ago Cuban pianist Gabriel Hernandez invited me to perform with his Cuban trio during an upcoming concert at the Casa Museo Gene Byron. An invitation from Gabriel is hard if not impossible for me to turn down.

We did not talk much about the concert until the Wednesday before and even then the details were pretty sketchy.

Sunday afternoon, Gabriel and his Cuban trio mates plus the last minute addition of a singer arrived at the Gene Byron a few minutes before 1 (scheduled start time is 1). Introductions were made. I had already met percussionist Kimani Carrazana the last time Gabriel played in Guanajuato. The bass player Aaron Romo is currently living in San Miguel de Allende as does Gabriel and Kimani. Gabriel is amassing quite an army of Cuban musicians in San Miguel. The singer is Dannah Garay from Mexico City. I had already heard of Dannah but until Sunday I was not fortunate enough to have heard her sing. She sounds wonderful.

The band quickly setup, changed clothes and then Gabriel and I talked about the program. The trio would open up with a few pieces and then I would come out. I suggested the Horrace Silver classic Song For My Father followed by Blue Bossa by trumpet legend Kenny Dorham. It was such fun playing with a world class Cuban rhythm section. Hard to keep from dancing. After my tunes Dannah came out and dazzled the sellout crowd with several classic jazz standards. The trio closed out the show with a few classic Cuban Danzons. It was a great show.

The same group was also performing at the Casa de los Cuentos hotel later in the evening on Sunday. Even though I was somewhat tired I did not want to miss another opportunity to play with these great musicians. Boy was I right.

We started playing around 730 in the evening to another packed house. The trio was on fire. Cuban music is infectious. It is very easy to get caught up in the music and not think of anything else in the world. The trumpet is a perfect fit for this type of music. Gabriel told me to play whenever I wanted so I took him up and played on most of the tunes. For most of my solos I used my Ranslear plastic straight mute, which gets a very "Cuban" sound. I did put in my Harmon mute to play behind Dannah's lovely melodies.

I have written before about having the best seat in the house, well Sunday evening was no exception. I sat in this window most of the evening. Gabriel's keyboard about 1/2 a meter from my face and Dannah singing along and sitting just to my right. It's fun to be a trumpet player.
Gabriel and Dannah in the window.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Memo's Fotos

My good friend Memo has been my photographer just about since the day that I arrived in Guanajuato. I hired him to document the concert at the Juarez. He really captured the mood of the evening. Nice to have a good foto guy around. Thanks Memo.

If you click on the above title Memo's Fotos, it will take you to his foto site and you can check out the rest. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Horn Player

I guess I have always had a "thing" for horn players. 

My first sexual experience, and what an experience it was, was with a horn player I played with in Junior High band. I later moved to Chicago following a horn player I had met while studying at Tanglewood. Once in Chicago I fell in love with the horn player who I have spent the last 15+ years with, Michelle Lee Duchow Pettit.

Most people call her instrument the French Horn even in Mexico people call it Corno Frances. As far as I know there is nothing "French" about the French Horn so I call it a horn and she is a horn player.

We met at DePaul University in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago during the fall of 1993. She was beginning her Junior year and I was transferring to DePaul after completing my Freshman year of college at North Texas (91-92) and following a year (92-93) of playing on 2 different cruise ships in the Caribbean. 

At the beginning of the school year all of the interested music majors got together to sort out chamber music groups. Michelle had been playing in a brass quintet that had lost a trumpet player. I volunteered, we started rehearsing together and 6 months later I asked her out on our 1st date. She was sweet (or dumb) enough to say, "Yes" and the rest is history.

Yesterday evening at the Museo Iconografico del Quijote in downtown Guanajuato, just down the street from the Teatro Juarez, I was entertained by the Quinteto de Maderas ZEPHYRUS. This museum is a beautiful venue and the music Thursday evening was wonderful.

I agree with the comments that I always hear after people hear Michelle playing with ZEPHYRUS. "It's nice to actually hear Michelle play." There is not much for her to do in the orchestra during the current monarchy.

It's always nice to sit back and hear some good horn playing. 

Did I mention I have a thing for horn players?

Helen Louise Wolff. flute
Hector Eduardo Fernandez Purata. oboe
Hugo Manzanilla Victoria. clarinet
Michelle Lee Duchow Pettit. horn
Alan Monahan. bassoon

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Calm After The Storm

Here are a few fotos I took backstage.

I love this foto of the calm after the storm. See what I mean about the view?

Lucky for you guys, I hired a real photographer to document this special night. I will post some of Memos fotos as soon as I can. Stay tuned.

At Home

Where do I begin?

Yesterday a little after 3 in the afternoon, I meet the jazz cats as they emerged out of the tunnel directly behind the Teatro Juarez. Luis Gasca and Tyler Mitchell were riding in Gabriel Hernandez's car and Richie Cole arrived in the next car driven by Bobby Kapp.

The Juarez doesn't look like much more than a very old theater when you enter the building from the rear. I escorted the band up to the stage level and out onto center stage. They were all impressed. Even though I have been on this stage many times, I am still impressed with the view as you look out into the audience.

After getting settled in the hall, I walked the guys across Guanajuato's Centro Jardin to their hotel, Casa de Agua. Once they were all checked in, I walked with Richie, Bobby and Gabriel back towards the hall. Richie decided to hang in the Jardin. Bobby returned to the Juarez to finish setting up his drum set and Gabriel returned to play the Steinway concert grand.

Everyone seemed OK so I returned home for a quick bite to eat, a fast shower and then I walked back down to the teatro.

In Mexico they give you 3 "Llamadas" or calls before beginning a concert. In the Teatro Juarez they announce the llamadas with the syncopated ringing of a bell. The 3rd llamada was at 8:05 pm.

Dan entered 1st, then myself followed by Laloc. On the way out I noticed that there was now no vocal mic where there once had been. I did not want to use a mic for my trumpet and I guess the sound guys forgot I was going to sing. So the vocals I had to sing old school. Boy am I glad that the acoustics in the Juarez are so good.

It has been a while since I have been center stage on a real stage in a real theater. After the initial shock of the literally blinding lights wore off, I felt quite at home.

We, the Garrapatas Mexicanas, launched into our opening number.

We opened up with Bourbon St. Parade. Then a little theme and variations on the James Bond theme. Next the Joe Henderson composition Mamacita. Freddie Hubbard's Mr. Clean followed by Shake That Thing and Do Whatcha' You Wanna Do. The crowd was great and seemed to follow our every move. They really came alive when I started to sing and dance during Shake That Thing and Do Whatcha' Wanna Do. Proving once again that all the world loves a clown.

Once they removed me from the stage. All the jazz cats saddled up and did their thing. Needless to say Richie, Luis, Gabriel, Bobby and Tyler rocked the house.

The crowd at the Teatro Juarez last night was treated to quite a show. As the promoter, I was pleased that the only person who wasn't happy was the theater manager who had told me that we were not to play music past 9:40.

At 9:50 Dan, Laloc and I joined the jazz cats back on stage to play the Miles Davis classic All Blues to close the show.

It was a great night. Thanks to all who were involved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bottom Of The List

If you walked into the centro of Guanajuato today and if you walked by the Teatro Juarez, this sign may have caught your eye.
Today, outside the Teatro Juarez.
The sign.

I have lived in Guanajuato for a little over 4 and 1/2 years. I can't remember how many times I have walked by this beautiful theater and dreamed of being able to play there as a soloist. I never imagined that I would get
a chance to book a concert in the most exquisite concert hall in the entire state of Guanajuato (GTO).

I'm very glad that my name appears at the bottom of the list of performers for the evening. While I may be a better musicianer than the others on the marque. I am not close, at all, to any of them as far as be-bop improvisation goes. The above* musicians are among the very best be-bop improvisers in the world and here they are in Guanajuato.

We, the GARRAPATAS MEXICANAS (TUBA JAM Trio) will open up at tomorrows concert in the Teatro Juarez. I can't wait. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

*the above musicans are;
Richie Cole, alto sax
Gabriel Hernandez, piano
Luis Gasca, trumpet
Bobby Kapp. drums
Tyler Mitchell, bass

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

3 Wheeled Beach Bike

Another 3 wheeled bike foto. On the beach in Manzanilla.


Whenever my Mom, my girls call her "Grammy", comes down to visit she likes to take us to the beach. This year we returned to Barra de Navidad on the Pacific Coast. A 7 or 8 hour drive from Guanajuato.

Barra is a great place to start. We arrived , without reservations, in the small little beach town around 5 in the afternoon so I headed down to the beach with the girls and Michelle and my Mom began a search for accommodations. Barra is not 1 of the best swimming beaches for little swimmers, however it is 1 of the most beautiful sounding and looking beaches I have ever been to. Nice to get a chance to relax in such a beautiful part of Mexico. 

Michelle and Grammy found us a great place to stay in Barra de Navidad. Over the next few days we visited several different beaches that were absolutely perfect for little swimmers as well as beginning wave boarders. 

Melaque is a nice beach for kids, just a 10 minute drive to the other end of the bay from Barra. Cuastecomate is even nicer and it's only another 10 min. from Melaque. 

All of us thought that Manzanilla, not to be confused with Manzanillo, was great. Manzanilla is another 15 or 20 minutes to the north of Malaque. The sand is softer, the water clearer and the break was perfect for all. Manzanilla is wonderful. 

While we were at Manzanilla, I purchased another "new" horn.

When I played on the cruise ships (1992-93) I picked up a few different Conchs, now I have no idea where they are. I am a sucker for anyone who comes by on the beach selling a basket full of Conch and other shell horns. Michelle said everyone at the restaurant started looking when the salesmen and I played Conch duets. I got the biggest Conch for $150 pesos (about $14 US dollars).

On Thursday, I was loading up the car for our return trip and 2 of the last things I packed in the trunk were both somewhat fragile, forms of communication. 1 very ancient and 1 very recent. Somehow, I don't think that in 300 years there will be a guy on the beach trying to sell a basket full of different laptops, but the Conchs will play on as long as there is someone to play them.

Friday, August 6, 2010

So Shinny

Last Friday Dan and I played at Manolos in Plaza San Javier. Always fun to play with Dan. It has been very cool watching him develop as a tubist over the last few years.

Not a very big crowd, however the crowd did include my Mother, Michelle, Pearl, and Rose. Always fun to play for family. My Mother, Phyllis brought down a "new" trumpet for me to try. That's why the horn in the foto is so shinny.