In Which Ryan Is Surprised By A Bird

April 2021 | 2:4

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Koopa and Goomba offer proof that they sometimes leave the radiator, even if that requires huddling for warmth and safety.

What's Been Happening

This month offers the first true test of “will Ryan keep up with his newsletter once he’s really busy”, and so far the answer is yes! This seems like not the year for an April Fool’s themed newsletter, and even as disconnected as I seem to be nowadays I’m tired of “hey remember a year ago?” things, but I do feel compelled to offer a brief list of things from the last year that I’ve learned or hope I keep doing:

Meal planning: I already loved cooking so this is basically “Ryan is better at eating leftovers and remembering the freezer exists”, but now that I’m back to a busier schedule and especially when I start travelling I hope I retain this.

GFS: Related to the above, GFS is Gordon Food Services which is actually a restaurant supply company where you can buy food in bulk. Credit to Mary Galime for introducing us to it and we started just because it was convenient for curbside pickup, but man is it clutch and the food is often better and cheaper so I highly recommend it or it’s equivalent for your area.

This newsletter: Again, so far so good, but I both enjoy and find it healthy to think through all these things and write them down once a month.

Giving myself the same permission and consideration I give to others: I tend to be generically understanding and kind (I blame my Mom and Dad), but even after therapy and years of working on it it’s only in the past year that I’ve gotten somewhat ok at not beating myself up for things that I would never blame someone else for doing.

Sleeping: Obviously a lot of this is a function of schedule, but I have set myself up soooooooo much better to have good sleep habits this year. It’s definitely worth a “note to self” that I can keep doing that even if the world isn’t actively on fire.

Coffee: Shout out to Caleb Alexander for recommending this siphon coffee maker and to my local roaster Metropolis Coffee for having awesome coffee with free shipping over $50. I’ve always been someone who could go hoity-toity or drink burnt Folger’s and be fine... but I’m not 100% certain that’s still the case.

I'm certain there’s more things, but the point is I’m glad there’s some things I’ve gotten better at and can take into the future. I sincerely hope the same can be said for you and yours.

Chart O' The Month

New N'AwlinsBluecoats Alumni Jazz Ensemble
00:00 / 04:00

New N’Awlins is a chart that originally came about as an addition to the Medium Ensemble book because our regular club date was on a Tuesday and I wanted something for the gig that landed on Mardi Gras. In keeping with the theme of “Ryan writes fairly quickly which covers for his occasional lack of foresight”, the original version came together in a couple days and it’s become a consistent part of our sets when we perform.

Since that time, New Orleans itself has had more and more of a pull on me personally. I’ve always loved the food and have gotten better at cooking it. I love the French Market coffee and am still bummed that I developed an allergy to the chicory that is fundamental to its flavor. I’ve gotten to visit several times for JEN conferences, and my wife and I were able to go for my friend and mentor Tom Matta’s wedding. The chart has evolved slightly along with my experiences, but I’m actually proud that my original draft got most of what I was going for; the unique energy and history of the city, bright and dirty, vibrant and smoky, the amalgam of old, new, and in between.

This latest version is finally a big band arrangement I’m happy with, and it came about as part of the latest project with the Bluecoats Alumni Jazz Ensemble. While I’m pleased with the chart, I’m more happy we were able to give a quick shout out to Jesse Paige and the Blue Nile. The relationship between jazz musicians and club owners is historically complex, but the fact of the matter is neither could exist without the other. I’ve actually never played the Blue Nile; I know Jesse through the Bluecoats, and he’s far from the only club or business owner that’s struggling in New Orleans let alone the world. That doesn’t change that he’s a good dude, that he’s part of the scene, and that we can all do what we can to keep that scene happening as life gets back to what the future holds. If you would like to help the Blue Nile specifically there’s info in Jesse’s intro to this video version of New N’Awlins, and otherwise I urge all of you to keep supporting your local arts and cultural institutions however you choose.

Epidendrum 'Pacific Sunset' x 'Pink Rabbit'.JPG

Look, Nature!

Full disclosure; I had a totally different picture in mind (a lovely picture of spring flowers sprouting through snow) and then I saw this picture of a Robin that is apparently “open for business” shall we say. Sometimes life makes decisions for you without asking.

Education Notes

As education finally trends towards being able to plan for the future, I know that anyone that’s teaching is probably too busy to have read this far into my newsletter. If you did make it this far, I offer three things:

As always, reach out if I can do anything or be of any help.

Marshall University was kind enough to have me as the guest clinician for their Virtual Jazz Festival, and we recorded a great clinic about choosing and preparing repertoire for jazz ensemble. It should be available soon through their website and social media, and if anyone would like the materials from that I can share them directly.

I urge you to make a list of the things you were forced to do or learn in the past year that you think you can use in the future. The temptation will be great to fly back into the comforting womb of doing things the way we did before, but we have gained too much knowledge and paid too much in time and emotional energy to let those lessons go to waste.