The new semester at IU has started, and I’m already feeling that this term will challenge me in new ways I never thought possible.
My course load is pretty hefty, as usual, this time around. Honors Music Theory, Ear Training, Jazz Arranging 2, which focuses mostly on large ensemble writing, and a course in Spanish Linguistics. I’m playing in more school-run ensembles including the Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, and The Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Throw in playing caixa (the cousin to the snare drum) in the Brazilian Percussion Ensemble…and then take a step back! That’s a lot of stuff to do!
I’m also going to continue rehearsing and hopefully performing with my big band which I’ve tentatively titled, “Mitch Shiner and the Swinging Hoosiers.” I’ve enjoyed organizing rehearsals and picking music to play.
Even in my first lesson with Professor Houghton, he gave me a lot to try to work on. His philosophy of teaching seems a strategy of total inundation. He will require me this semester to develop a regular practice routine on the vibraphone, something I have not done yet. He suggested sight reading two to four difficult tunes each day – I’ve been getting some good mileage out of that so far! We’re continuing to work on brazilian drumming – and combined with Brazilian Percussion ensemble, I’ll really be swingin’!
Taking the arranging class last semester with Professor Brent Wallarab really changed my musical direction. I realize that the only way for my musical vision to get from inside my head to the audience’s ears is to write my own and arrange my own music. Primarily being a drummer, I don’t deal with harmony too much. Trying to understand what makes sense with different combinations of instruments and textures has been a challenge and absolutely a thrill.
Our final project for class was to arrange a three-horn chart, with full rhythm section. My sextet arrangement was on the beautiful song, “Somewhere, Over The Rainbow.” Brent has organized a collaboration with the Recording Arts Department, so I will get a chance to rehearse and record my own arrangement! I’m so excited to get in the studio on Tuesday night!
I’ve been so fortunate to work with Brent at school, but lately he has been calling me to perform with his professional bands in Indianapolis! I’m so honored that he thinks so highly of my playing.
I played with his septet in October. We performed music from the Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn book. In November, I played with the Midcoast Swing Orchestra. Both of those were at the Jazz Kitchen in Broad Ripple.
Before winter break, he included me on one of the most insane shows I’ve ever played on. When music, offensive humor, and the holidays collide, the result is the Leisure Kings Holiday Show. We performed to a full house at the Indianapolis Vogue Theatre!
Here’s a clip of the two singers: Leisure Kings.
The day after, I performed at the Jazz Kitchen with the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Orchestra, performing music from their holiday CD, “Carol of the Bells.” The band featured the legendary vocalist Everett Greene on almost all the songs. He sang and toured the world with the Count Basie Orchestra, among other incredible ensembles. Just being in the same room with someone who performed with that band was almost a spiritual experience!
I can’t wait to keep cooking and learning more this semester. I’m arranging more music for my next project – to be revealed soon!
Thank you for reading, and have a great day! Back to the woodshed for Shiney!