10:00AM May 21
Wednesday morning I had my oral exam in Italian, and I am pleased to report that it went very well. After my oral exam at the midterm I felt really confident with my Italian. I was able to go in and speak for five minutes about my trip to Venice, and then I answered some on the spot questions afterwards. I find it ironic that my presentation for the final on my negative experience was about how immediately after that I lost a lot of that confidence in Italian, as I left Italy for ten days over spring break. There I was again, having a conversation with my teacher, telling her about my summer plans, knowing full well that I was about to again leave Italy and likely lose a lot of the confidence I'd built up again.
I didn't have any other classes on Wednesday, but I hung around with Antonio for most of the day. At first I went to his office to get a DVD of the Blue Note performance. He then showed me all of these amazing pictures that a professional photographer—Downbeat Magazine's go-to guy in Italy—took at two of our gigs. One of those was the final limonaia performance, of which I already posted pictures from. The other was our first big gig in Bologna at Take Five Jazz Club (seen at top). I definitely remember there being photographers at that gig. At one point in that show, I was about to stop playing to give Dave some room on one of his solos, and at that moment one of them came up to take a picture of my profile, so I just kept playing along without making much sound in order to still be in action for the picture (below). Having the photographer come is just another one of the great things Antonio did. I now have a handful of great-looking shots that I can use in a press packet.
After lunch I went right back to see Antonio, and at that point he gave me the recording of our gig in Fontanafredda. As expected, the engineer who mixed the recording really played with each of our sounds. The sax on the other group's tracks had a lot of unnecessary reverb, giving it almost a smooth jazz feel. Everything was recorded really loud as well, to the point where the keyboard and guitar occasionally distort. We were fortunate though, to have been given the raw mix as well, so I copied all of the files on my computer to take back home and remix myself. A few of the tracks were cut short in what I was given, so I haven't been able to finish that up yet, and I'm waiting to hear back from Antonio as to whether he has or can get those full files.
While I was copying files, Antonio and Tryson were brainstorming about ways to improve the program. This was only the second year of the music department's existence at the Florence campus, so they're still getting a lot of things together. Some of the problems result from Antonio not having any support staff or even a room he can always count on having available. A lot of that is in the works of being resolved, but we talked more about how to get other students involved, how to reach out to the Florence community, and how we can communicate better as a department. In New York, we have a zero credit class called program meeting where we catch up as a department once a week. I think Antonio is going to implement that now, and it may also become a venue for students to perform pieces they're working on, get feedback from peers, and possibly have guest speakers or master classes.
When I got home, I put on the new recording from Fontanafredda, and in the hour that it took to play through, I packed most of my belongings back up in my suitcases so I wouldn't have to deal with that on the last night. I then practiced some of the atonal singing exercises for our aural comprehension class the next day and later headed over to Jazz Club for the last jam session. The guitar player who usually runs the session wasn't there, so after his backing trio played a tune or two, I became the default guitarist for the night. There was one other guy I know who sat in for a few tunes, but then I got to come back up and close out the night. I played particularly well that night, which was a great way to go out. All in all, I played on five tunes, and Isamu recorded the show, so I got a copy of a few tunes from him (two of them are below in the form of YouTube videos.)
Here is the first tune I sat in on at the Jazz Club session. This is Horace Silver's 1964 hit "Song For My Father," whose bass line was knowingly copied by Steely Dan for "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" ten years later. The first slide is the sign behind the stage at Jazz Club. The rest of the video features pictures from the Bologna Take Five Jazz Club gig by the Afterthought Quartet and Andy Gravish, with special guest Tom Kirkpatrick, another ex-patriot from Ohio living in northern Italy. The second half of the video features pictures I've taken at our La Pietra campus estate.
This is the funky jam we played to close the night. I love that Gianluca, the Italian sax player, speaks English up front to get everybody clapping their hands. Most of the crowd was Italian, but I guess that line goes beyond languages. This video is accompanied by pictures from the final performance at the Limonaia. Isamu McGregor, the pianist from the other NYU ensemble, Origin Blue, plays on both tracks.