Last time I wrote it was back in November 2004. We were just back from two weeks in Japan. Next stop was Omaha at the Joslyn Art Museum for a Habitat for Humanity fund raiser. I have many memories of this theater, inside the museum as a kid. I heard several concerts there (Horowitz, for one!) and have played there several times since. My Father really does a great job helping to promote this and make it a great success. This was his last year on the Board of Habitat – I’m proud of him!

This time we asked Luigi Waits to sit in with us. He is an Omaha legend and a very swingin’ vibes player and drummer. That was a kick. My band played as great as ever.

Then onto Kansas City. My friend Beena has done a wonderful job with her “new” club, Jardines Jazz Club. We had three packed nights there and loved seeing old friends.

Back to New York … we (Danny, Todd and Jay Leonhart) played on the CBS Saturday Morning Show. Even though it was extremely EARLY – it was fun and the staff were all pros.

While at home, I got to hear some great music. I went to hear Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash at Sweet Rhythm doing a duo gig. I love both those players. And also Andy Bey at Symphony Space – what a wonderful artist! And I loved his band. Also heard my good friend Ann Hampton Callaway at Birdland on Christmas Eve. I always love her. I had family (my Mom and 12 year old niece) over for the holidays and we had many parties. Also got to go to hear the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fischer Hall – lovely. This is the main reason to be in NYC – so many things to hear, see and do if you choose. I should stick around more often!

In January I attended the IAJE conference for the first time in awhile, mostly just for the fun of it and I ended up having a ball. I ‘hung hard’ with my great friend Nancy King and also met some folks and signed CD’s at the Concord booth. Saw a ton of friends there and heard some great music.

I also loved being home for awhile and while there did some fun ‘New York’ things. One was having a very good interview with the stride pianist, Judy Carmichael, on her radio show, “Jazz Inspired.” I truly like her interview approach and her piano playing is wonderful too. I heard Maria Schneider’s big band at Birdland – very inspiring. Also heard the wonderful Wesla Whitfield at Le Jazz Au Bar

Then onto Hawaii. Needless to say it’s always a pleasure to go to there. The Academy of Arts is a lovely and intimate venue and I love the audience there. There is truly an “Aloha spirit.” Jim Howard, Bruce Hamada and Todd Strait all played beautifully.
Seeing my sister and niece there is the true attraction! We also did some hiking and saw some amazing whales… what a place.

February brought several Concord Jazz Festival gigs which are always fun. I do like singing with other singers when I can and this is a very entertaining show. In between those shows in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Atlanta (some beautiful theaters!) my group also played at Barnes at Wolftrap, a lovely venue with a great audience and staff. Next, Eugene, OR at the Shedd Theater (loved that place); then’ onto Thousand Oaks, CA for KCLU-FM radio live broadcast at the Performing Arts Center, another great experience.

Onto Steven’s Point, WI to play with the Community Orchestra there. This was a thrill for me. Bill McGlaughlin has written some great orchestra arrangements as has Frank Mantooth. It was very cool to have my band up there with an orchestra and the orchestra played beautifully.

Then onto Porto, Portugal. The performance was in a theater within a casino there. Unlike casinos in the US, they are more “art oriented” in order to attract the public to come in and gamble (not the other way around).

Staying right on the sea which was beautiful, we were royally treated. (Except by the airlines…who lost our luggage twice, not to be seen again until Portland, OR!! – several days later…)

Meanwhile we played in San Diego – so beautiful there; the Alladin Theater in Portland – a very cool place. Next, two more Concord Festival dates: Seattle, WA and Cerritos, CA. Both gorgeous theaters. Home for a week and a half, then onto some family visits for me in the Midwest.

At the end of March we double billed with the Ron Carter trio at the Blue Note for a week. It was a great pleasure hearing them every night, with Mulgrew Miller and Russell Malone. My band did great too.-I felt it was a very good combination of styles and approaches between our two groups – and great crowds.

Meanwhile I’ve been planning the next recording project and am very excited about it. We plan to go into the studio again in September.

Many thanks for listening and I look forward to seeing you in the audience sometime soon.