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Entries in Creativity (11)


[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan

1. What's your latest project? 
Trying to get a working group together, and writing tunes for it.

I have two CDs for sale:
1) WVC Trio + 1 "ELEVEN" (2009)
2) Claude Diallo Situation (feat Julian Chan) - LIVE AT NO BLACK TIE

First one was recorded when I was roped in as a +1 (no relation to Google Plus) in the pre-existing trio. The second album was recorded, while the Claude Diallo Situation band was touring in Asia. We recorded it in NBT, and managed to release it last year in 2011.

I just DIY recorded a 6-piece solo saxophone improvised piece called KARMIC SUITE. I had an unfortunate experience recently, and this was my response to it. You can check it out at

2. What inspires your music?
I would say "life itself". Somehow or the other, everything inspires my music and my playing. I find that there are many parallels in non-music aspects of life, with music.

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? [ the five albums that you could listen on repeat forever]

- Kenny Garrett SONGBOOK

- Miles Davis KIND OF BLUE

- Dave Koz (this one is tough, I really liked most of his albums - his debut album DAVE KOZ, LUCKY MAN, HELLO TOMORROW, OFF THE BEATEN PATH)


- Cannonball Adderley (this one also tough one, got a few like KNOW WHAT I MEAN, THEM DIRTY BLUES, SOMETHING ELSE, BOSSA NOVA, etc)

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 
Antonio Hart, my professor in Queens College. Kicks anyone's butt on saxophone, and such a great musician and storyteller on the saxophone.

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts? 
Wouldn't have mattered. I stuck to my own instincts and conscience. So a lot of advice from many people would've gone through a thorough screening, and if it works for me I'll use it, if it doesn't I don't. LOL! I did what my heart has told me to do, so here I am. :)

6. How do we reach you?
Twitter: julianchansax

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[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett

Photo Courtesy of Adam Everett

In today's [Creative Fridays] interview, we have drummer Adam Everett. I first met Adam while we were both studying at San Jose State University. During my time there, I had the opportunity to perform and work closely with Adam in ensembles as well as his own project - The Adam Everett Quartet. 

Adam's varied musical influences inspired my own explorations. In fact, as I'm typing this - I'm listening to the artist he recommends in this interview. 

Let's check out what Mr. Everett is doing nowadays....

1. What's your latest project? 
I'm currently rehearsing with a new group called Jackie Gage and the Jazz Cartel. It's a mix of Modern Jazz and RnB/Hip-Hop. The instrumentation is drums (my job), acoustic bass, guitar, fender rhodes and vocalized by local San Jose up-and-comer, Jackie Gage.

2. What inspires your music? 
Everything. I recently wrote a song about wind (Windy-Stormy) and one about lightning (In Lightning), but they are almost always about women, love, or little things (Moments)

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? 
The Bad Plus - These Are The Vistas
Miguel Zenon - Alma Adentro
Robert Glasper - Canvas
Avishai Cohen - Gently Disturbed
Prefuse 73 - Surrounded by Silence

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 
Son Lux. If anyone reading this knows about Son Lux, you get a quarter. Just kidding. If you don't know about Son Lux, please listen to Son Lux. His music is beautiful.

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts? 
I wish someone had told me to be myself and not to compromise. It's the best advice I can give...

6. How do we reach you?
Facebook and

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Looking for more Creative Fridays? =)
Check out other interviews here:
#1  : Kevin Broken Scar (Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)
#2  : Deborah Crooks (SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)
#3  : Dylan Kay (UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)
#4  : Azmyl Yunor (Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer) 
#5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil (Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)
#6  : TragiComedy (Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)
#7  : Candelaria (Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)
#8  : Pete Teo (Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)
#9  : Lori McKinney (West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)
#10: Helen Sherrah-Davies (UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)


[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah Davies

Photo Courtesy of David Tucker

British five-string violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies is one of my very epic friends. She’s performed with Jon Lord of Deep Purple in Switzerland and the wedding of Posh Spice to David Beckham in Ireland. After that, she relocated to Boston, graduated from Berklee College of Music, (Summa Cum Laude) with the “Most Valuable Player” award, and gained a Masters (with Academic Honours) in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory.  

Darol Anger described Helen’s music as “so strong, it approaches the status of a new sentient being.... Even in the most thorny, complex episodes, we are moved to care, laugh and rejoice, washed by waves of melodic love.” 

Now, Helen is an Assistant Professor of Harmony at Berklee College of Music, and Visiting Jazz String Teacher (Community Programs) at Longy School of Music in Cambridge. She’s also currently on tour with guitarist David Fiucynski. (I told you she’s epic.)

 Let’s learn what inspires this creative musician! 

1. What's your latest project? 

Musically, writing for my next album - but also revealing my first: "starstuff" to the world - I've been living too frantically to promote this yet!  

Personally, it's to get in contact with my inner tortoise more this year, (despite being a dragon!)  in order to encourage internal reflection and dialogue...the world moves too fast, and instead of the days hurtling through me, I’d like to be able to pass through each day in a more graceful, and grateful I can be more open to receive the music that is... 

[Video] Jerry Leake on percussion and Helen on violin

2. What inspires your music? 

Everything. Really everything.  Life is music and music is life.

I’m a Synaesthete so see colours/textures/images with music, and that informs the bedrock of my compositions.  I  also create a "treasure box" to hold all those moments that inspire and move me. If the muse isn’t talking to me that day, I can draw upon that well, or bank of nourishing nuggets, then it's like fishing, and the ideas usually materialize in three ways: 

a) I’m lucky and the piece just comes out in half an hour 

b) It takes days/weeks of tweaking, and chipping away - like Michaelangelo's prisoners, I believe the "work of art" is already there, your job is just to reveal it.  Creativity is part of the human condition.

c) Nothing ends up being codified, but it was a good fun engagement...

This is where one needs patience and the skill of ones craft - and a certain trust in the process, that it is more important than the product.  It's all a working hypothesis...just like life, but for me, part of a larger sacred journey.

At best, music = one of the healing professions.

3. What's your 5 desert island albums?

This is so hard, as it changes as I change...and it's usually individual tracks rather than whole albums...but here no particular order:

1 "morimur":  Bach Solo Violin Partita in d minor (with the cosmic chaconne )- recent research uncovers underpinning by chorales, and gematria....haunting and utterly beautiful

Christopher poppen and the Hilliard Ensemble

2 “Divine Shadows" Dhafer Youssef - colourful feast for the ears - tunisian singer, incredible voice, incredible music and arrangements.

3 Hildegarde of Bingen: “Feather on the breath of god"

Renaissance woman of 12th century - visionary, glimpse into the eternal mystery of writing a good melody!

4 Tord Gustavsen Trio - “Being There"

jazz with classical sensibilities, i just melt...bill evans beauty of touch and sensitivity, you probably need to be in a melancholy mood however...

5 My most recent addiction: this is just a track as i can't find the album - microtonal string quartet music

“En Secreto" by Mexican composer Julian Carrillo

that's been on repeat for at least a week...the subtleties in between the notes blow my mind...

and now i've left out Rosa Passos, Tinariwen, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Fats Waller, Arvo Part....eek....

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 

Again,  a challenge. there are two presently.

Simon Shaheen - incredible Palestinian violinist/composer, charismatic performer and teacher  - album “Blue Flame" fuses Jazz and Arabic voices in a compelling way, that retains the integrity of both.

The singer-songwriter group: “Birdsong at Morning". local to Boston, echoes of Nick Drake, with imaginative arrangements, soulful and warm accents and a fresh naturalness that I find is rare these days. They are kind enough to ask me to play in the band's backing string quartet sometimes and I always come out feeling renewed...a sign of "good" music...

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts? 

Someone did. 

My incredible piano teacher, Heather Slade-Lipkin - (I was much more of a natural pianist than violinist...) - when I was feeling confused about my future, I once asked her if she considered that I had enough talent to become a concert pianist...she said "yes - but....if you can do anything else in life, do it, earn a living and reserve music for pure joy and fun.  but if you have to do it (i.e. it's a vocation) - then you will have to do it..."  

My life has been unfolding in ways I could never have imagined over the last 10 years - but I believe one just has to have courage to "follow one's bliss" (to use a Joseph Campbell phrase).  If you sense a quest in you, follow it with as much integrity as you can, and you will be helped on the way.  Perhaps music chooses us, not the reverse....

I believe that an artist's life is a devotional life in essence - it will then have it's own inherent reward.

 6. How do we reach you?


facebook: helen sherrah-davies

buy album: StarStuff on

If you're in New York, check out Helen's show tonight in Brooklyn!

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How to be Creative in 7 steps

Reading this made me write this blog post.

1. Do stuff!

2. If it's the same as something you've seen/heard/experienced, change it a bit

3. If it bores you, do something else (unless you're fickle, then pick something, anything and complete it)

4. Finish stuff that you do and keep doing stuff

5. Don't judge, but learn from one project to the next

6. Have fun!

7. Repeat for the rest of your life =)


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[Creative Fridays] #9: Lori McKinney 

Photo courtesy of Option 22This week's [Creative Fridays] post features multi-talented Lori McKinney. We first met when I was invited to perform at Culturefest, a festival that Lori co-founded. Currently based in Princeton, West Virginia - Lori is in the heart of the creative movement at RiffRaff Arts Collective. Running a performance space, co-organizing a festival, being in a band, acting in theatre productions is all a part of Lori's life.

Let's learn what she's up to now!

1. What's your latest project?
My latest project is with Option 22; our new release is called "The Change," and it is set for release in the first 1/2 of 2012.

2. What inspires your music? 
Soul searching, nature, the call for global change, and spirituality inspire my music.

3. What's your 5 Desert Island Albums? 
Radiohead- In Rainbows
LTJ Bukem- The Journey Inwards
The Weepies- Say I am You
Enigma- The Cross of Changes
LTJ Bukem- Progression Sessions

4. Who's one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don't know of? 
Rising Appalachia is amazing; a female duo of sisters with some serious soul. Their focus is "igniting soul sparks and social revolution through harmony."

5. What's an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
I wish someone would have told me how very important it is to keep a great address book of all your wonderfully creative friends you meet along the way.

6. How do we reach you?

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