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INTERLOCHEN ARTS ACADEMY ~ 50th Anniversary Tour 

Interlochen Arts Academy is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month and next with a spring series of performances and events across the country. I'm honored to be among the Academy alumni who will appear as guest soloists, along with such esteemed artists as Matt Brewer, Peter Erskine, Alexander Fiterstein, Jorja Fleezanis, Ida Kavafian, Bob Mintzer and David Shifrin.


On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in the New York Harbor, a gift from the people of France, designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.

The statue became a symbol of hope, welcoming immigrants to the USA.

On her pedestal is inscribed "The New Colossus" by American poet Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

It's interesting to contemplate this sonnet today.

Here in Anglozona, where I make my home, immigration remains a divisive and hotly debated issue as we approach the centennial of our statehood.

The word "immigrant" carries a strong negative connotation around these parts. Apparently, we palefaces forget that we are the aliens. Our claim to this territory is quite recent, and dubious at best.

I don't know the Tohono O'odham or Apache name for the white man's arrival, but I don't believe we were "greeted as liberators."

I do know that the shameless land-grabs of northern Mexico, which our history books disguise with convenient euphemisms (treaty, purchase, Manifest Destiny), are referred to in Mexican texts as The North American Invasion.

Nevertheless, it's 2011, and here we are.

And there stands Lady Liberty, lifting her lamp, welcoming immigrants.

I'm celebrating her anniversary by seeing the movie Green Lantern, which opens today.

It seems fitting.

My favorite comic book from childhood, Green Lantern is an inspirational superhero space opera.

It tells the story of myriad aliens, coming together in teamwork and harmony, heroically using their creative imaginations, strength of will and light to overcome the evil, destructive power of fear.


In celebration of EARTH DAY I've posted 3 beautiful videos by the talented Norwegian landscape photographer Terje Sørgjerd.

THE MOUNTAIN features Sørgjerd's stunningly beautiful time lapse photos of the Milky Way, captured earlier this month atop El Teide, the highest mountainpeak in Spain.

Set to music by Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi ("Nuvole Bianche" from his album Una Mattina), the video offers a view of our earth and heavens like none I've ever seen.

THE AURORA pairs Sørgjerd's images of a brilliant Aurora Borealis display over a national park in Norway with ethereal film music by Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer ("Now We Are Free" from their collaboration on Gladiator).

Gerrard's otherworldly voice, as she sings to God in her invented language, seems to me the perfect sonic complement to the mysterious aurora.

THE MARKET juxtaposes video of the Maeklong and Damnoen Saduak markets in Thailand with Katie Noonan's cover of the Gnarls Barkley hit "Crazy."

I remember the floating markets from my travels in Thailand and Cambodia. It's intriguing to see one of them again through the eyes of a visual artist, especially when accompanied by music with such a fascinating provenance:
  • The piece began as "Nel Cimitero di Tucson," an Italian movie theme created by the Reverberi brothers for a 1968 Spaghetti Western.
  • Half a century later, Gnarls Barkley (the American duo of Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green) reinvents the piece, adding lyrics and a new hook.
  • Their single "Crazy" becomes a spectacular international hit, spawning over 30,000 downloads in the United Kingdom, placement in popular films, and dozens of other versions by artists all over the world.
  • Australian singer Katie Noonan puts her own spin on the song, and this recording is the version selected by the intrepid photographer from Norway to underscore his colorful footage from Thailand.
Crazy, indeed. Sørgjerd's video speaks volumes, not only about the unique flavors of a traditional Thai market, but about our global marketplace in this increasingly interconnected digital age.
Follow Terje Sørgjerd on Twitter.


When I was at Berklee in the 80s, the Boston jazz community was teeming with talented trumpet players.

There was the brilliant INGRID JENSEN, who had the freshest sound in town, the legendary HERB POMEROY, a lyrical master of bebop, and the ultramodern TIM HAGANS, a harmonically adventurous improviser of the Woody Shaw school. DAVE BALLOU was known for his pitch-perfect intonation and musicality, JEFF STOUT for his uncanny way with a standard, and KEN CERVENKA for his inventive spontaneity. GREG HOPKINS could break your heart with a ballad, while the always soulful KENNY RAMPTON made the trumpet sing like no other. There was also the spirited ROY HARGROVE, a musical chameleon steeped in Blue Note tradition, the explosive ANDY GRAVISH, who channelled Freddie Hubbard at will, and TONY THEWET, a playful prankster with a gift for infectious island rhythm.

The scene was inspiring, to say the least, but it could also be quite intimidating. I was playing trumpet more than flugel in those days, and trumpet players tend to be a bit competitive by nature. Nevertheless, I tried to learn something from everyone and carve out a niche for myself.

Inevitably, whenever I grew confident about my place in the pecking order, I'd hear someone new who blew my mind.

In those moments, I felt like someone who had stumbled into the world of Highlander holding nothing but a pocket knife.

Like the time I worked on Brandt #6, a challenging etude for trumpet.

I had to sweat the thing for weeks before I could make its awkward intervals sound even remotely musical.

After I don't know how many hours in the practice room, I was finally ready to play the piece for my teacher. Sure enough, the hard work had paid off.

I was feeling pretty good about myself until the trumpet player in the adjacent studio began to mimic what I'd just played, only effortlessly, by ear, at a brighter tempo, and doodle tonguing it like Clark Terry.

But what really took the wind out of my sails was when he started cycling the melody through the keys.

I decided I'd better go over there, find out who it is, and pay my respects. Apparently no one had ever told this guy that playing the trumpet is difficult.

And that's how I met GREG GISBERT.



Whooo, I've been craving CORN PONE all day!

For my yankee friends, corn pone is one of the most beloved comfort foods in all of southern cuisine: a thick cornbread that's been cooked over a fire in a cast iron skillet.

There are many ways to enjoy corn pone. Some folks like to bake it in the oven and serve it with a bowl of beans or hearty stew. Others like to mash up warm chunks of the stuff into a cold glass of buttermilk, then devour the entire mixture, dessert-style, with a long spoon.

As for me, I like corn pone best when it's been fried in butter until the edges are as brown and crunchy as hushpuppies.

Readers of Mark Twain (not to mention friends of my Dad) are no doubt already familiar with "corn pone humor," the southern gentleman's ready penchant for pulling your leg, making silly, off-color jokes and telling the tallest and most ridiculous of tales.

As you might have guessed, people can be corn pones, too. Southerners affectionately tease unsophisticated country folks for acting "like a corn pone."

More often than not, the designation is intended not as an insult, but as a term of endearment for the best kind of friends — the ones back home who never put on airs, like you for who you are, and get along easily with just about anybody.