Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Roger Ingram and High Notes

I had the distinct pleasure of spending parts of the last two days with Roger Ingram, who was the guest artist at the Schoolcraft Jazz Studies Program’s Up Jumped Spring concert yesterday.  Roger is a high register trumpeter who played on the road for 35 years with Tom Jones, Connie Stevens, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Maynard Ferguson, and was the lead trumpeter for the Woody Herman and Harry Connick big bands.

Roger is a great player, and a really nice, very encouraging person.

Here's one of the songs Roger played with us, as recorded with a different band.

Roger Ingram Live at the College Hideaway with the Jim Stewart Orchestra

At his clinic yesterday, he discussed playing in the high register, and quite a few times mentioned counter-intuitive thinking.  The first requirement for having a high register is having a strong, secure low register.  As Bud Brisbois, Stan Kenton’s lead trumpet player in the late 50’s, told him, you can’t build a skyscraper on a weak foundation.  

So what I take from this is that unless you really own the bottom of your horn - from low concert E to high C, you need to devote your efforts there before embarking on the high road.

Once you have that foundation, you can, as Roger’s friend and past guest artist Wayne Bergeron put it, “discover,” not “develop” the high register.  Wayne’s idea is that when you have this firm foundation, you then have the playing strength to be able to explore and map the new region above.  Counter-intuitive thinking.

Something that was a real eye-opener for me is that playing high requires less air, not more.  Bud Brisbois told Roger that if you use a tablespoon full of air to play high C, use a half tablespoon to play the F above, and a teaspoon full for double high C.  If you fill your lungs to capacity and shove a lot of air through the horn attempting to play high, you’re dooming yourself to failure.  Counter-intuitive thinking.

An exercise he recommended for discovering the upper region is to gliss from C to high C and back [Bb on trombone].  In demonstrating, he took a moderate tempo - about 1 second for each leg of the excursion.  Repeat the glissing exercise each half step higher, as far as you can go.  Recognize and accept that this will sound terrible.  Allow that to happen.  You aren’t going for sound, you’re going for a result.  Tone will come later.  If you have a good foundation, and do this for 15 minutes every day for one month, you should be able to play up to double high C at the end of that time.  This approach builds in muscle memory for the location of the partials, and helps to internalize the control needed to play reliably in the high region.   In his demonstration, he did not work hard, and it actually looked pretty effortless.

I’ve had some success building my upper register over the last year, but still would like to expand the next half octave to double high C [concert Bb,] and certainly need to discover control in my existing high range.  I’m excited to embark on this new adventure.

One last parting counter-intuitive thought.  Roger said he really enjoys playing in the middle register!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Tigers Early Season Update

After 9 games the Tigers are 8-1.  The Royals 8-5 loss in Minnesota today puts them at 7-2, giving the Tigers sole possession of first place for the nonce.

In 9 games the Tigers have pitched 4 shutouts.  To date the opponents have totaled 55 hits and 21 runs, or 2.61 hits per run.

David Price and Shane Greene are two of the 3 AL starters with 0.00 ERA's after 2 starts.

Even with the bats cooling off considerably in Pittsburgh, the Tigers offense has amassed 54 runs on 99 hits for a 6.0 run/game average, and only 1.83 hits/run.

Tigers scoring has been remarkably even across the innings with 18 runs coming in the first 3 innings, 17 in the middle 3, and 19 in the last 3.  Last year, the Tigers were very poor at scoring late in tight games.  So far this year, this has not been the case.

Opponent scoring has come relatively late, with 5 runs in the first 3 innings, 6 in the middle three, and 10 in the final three.  Only 1 of those runs has happened in the 9th inning, though, so the closers have been closing.  And, as lopsided as this distribution looks, it's mainly due to excellent starts rather than poor relief.

It's a bit too early in the season to put much stock in batting averages, but Kinsler, Cabrera, Cespedes, and Iglesias are all over .300, some by huge margins.

And most of the the big guns are producing. Iglesias and Cabrera are nos. 1 and 3 in batting average, J.D. Martinez has 4 HR's, and Miggy has 9 RBI's.

If V-Mart and Castellanos can pick it up, the Tigers batting order will be terrifying.

Tigers take on the White Sox at Comerica tomorrow, 1:08 start.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tigers at Pirates, April 14, 2015

Yesterday I sort of live blogged the Tigers game at Pittsburgh on Face Book - Shane Green vs A.J. Burnett.  OK - more along the line of a few random comments.  But it was fun.

It was a great pitching duel, and the Tigers showed how much better they are defensively than - well maybe ever, certainly in a long stretch of recent years.

My musings:

Burnett gets away with a balk picking off Rajai.
More and different umpiring ineptitude.

Plate ump misses a called third on Cespedes, and throws out the Pirate's Mgr.  More umpiring incompetence.

Tigers pitcher Shane Greene has an astounding 81 pitches through 8 innings. He's had 6, 7, and 9 pitch innings. Only three K's along the way.  [Note, the average number of pitches per half inning in MLB is 16.]  Strike out pitchers have to throw a lot more pitches. Tigers are also playing extraordinary defense.  Tigers up 1-0, heading into the 9th.

Iglesias breaks his bat, gets a single to center, and takes second when the Pirates center fielder McCutcheon lolligags. Greene lifted for pinch hitter V-Mart.

V-Mart gets another PH K, Rajai walks.  Kinsler squeaks a single past the SS, Iglesias scores.  Miggy up. Two on, two out.  Ack - called 3rd. Scahill handcuffed him.

Bottom of the ninth, Tigers up 2-0. Soria coming in to finish it off.  Greene's scheduled at-bat in the 9th keeps him from pitching a complete game.

Tigers win 2-0.  Pirates get only 3 hits, and nobody reaches 2nd.  Great outing by Green and Soria.

Tigers can run on the Pirates outfielders.  Watch for that in game 3.

Like yesterday, Tigers scored in the 7th and 9th innings.  I think that is a great sign.  Last year they were awful in the late innings of close games.

Shane Greene has gone 8 innings each in both starts, and given up only 7 hits, 1 walk and no runs in. At this point his WHIP is 0.5, less than half of Scherzer's 1.024.

If Castellanos starts hitting, the Tigers will roll over everybody.  [He’s killed 3 potential rallies in two games.]

Just saw the post game interview with Iglesias. He is either very modest, or very coy.

GoT Season Premier

Yesterday afternoon I watched the Season 5 Premier of Game of Thrones.

Season 1, as I recall it, was remarkably true to the book.

Since then, changes have crept in - some necessary, some that baffled me, but without doing any serious damage.

Now, they've taken turns that are not just different from the books, but totally unreconcilable with major story lines and plot points.

The idea is that B & B are taking a different route to the same destination as Martin.

But the journey's the thing, isn't it?

It's good, I'll give it that.

But from here on out, it's no longer the same story.

And I don't know how I feel about that.

Max Scherzer

Among AL starters in 2014 with more than 59 innings pitched, Max Scherzer had the 21st best ERA at 3.16, way below the average in that group of 3.94 [St Dev = 0.9].

His WHIP was 1.18, also well below the group average of 1.29 [St Dev = 0.2].

By that reckoning, Max was better than average by more than half a standard deviation in each metric.

So far this year, in two starts for the Nationals, he's 0-1, with 13 2/3 innings pitched, an ERA of 0.66 and WHIP at 1.02.  So - despite the W-L total, he's doing very well.

I don't bear him a lot of animosity, but I wish he would have been up front enough to say he left the D for the money, instead of hedging.  Therefore, i don't want his contract with the Nats to be a total bust.  But I would like it to be a historically bad deal.

What I wish for Max is to be a slightly above average pitcher, so that the Nats will have paid a super-premium price for only slightly above average performance.   My track record with this kind of wishful thinking is pretty poor, and this is a long shot, because I think the AL in general has better hitting, so he should mow down the opposition.

But, here's what I'm hoping for:  W-L = 14-12; ERA = 3.87; WHIP = 1.42.

Really though - what are the chances?