Wednesday, December 29, 2004

SNL - I Need More Cowbell

One of the great musical skits of our time - can we ever get enough cowbell?

more cowbell SNL skit

Monday, December 06, 2004


If you play in a Jazz/Funk combo, consider adding my new tune, Frumpy, to your set list. This playful pentatonic number is fun to play and fun to solo over.

Frumpy - B Flat Part.pdf
Frumpy - Concert Part.pdf

And if you play it, say it! ("Hey, folks - we're gunna do a new one by Rob Birdwell...hope you like's called 'Frumpy' we, two, three, f...") Just let me know and I'll feature you and/or your group on my blog space - just send me links to your site, tell me a bit about how it all went, provide a link to the audio mp3 file to you or your group's performance of Frumpy and I'll post a short feature piece about it on

And if you decide to record to Frumpy on your next CD,! Of course you have my permission. I only ask that you send me notice of your intent to do so (Example: "Hey Rob, we want to include your tune 'Frumpy' on our next CD - is that cool with you?" Rob's reply: "You bet!") in the very unlikely chance that there are any author royalties that need to come my way. (Yea I know I'm dreaming...this is Jazz after all!).

Anyway, like any writer/performer, it's great when the music is alive and people breath life into it - so put Frumpy on your set list and have some fun with it!

Rob Birdwell

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Music Contracting Services

Want live music for your corporate event, company party or social gathering? Contact Rob Birdwell for a FREE consultation. Professional ensembles made up of some most talented performers in the region will brighten any occasion. All styles of music: Jazz, Rock, Country, Pop, Soul, Classical and more! Serving most of western Oregon, including Corvallis, Albany, Eugene, Salem, Portland, and surrounding areas.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Jeff Helgesen's Home Page

Jeff Helgesen's Home Page - one of the best and most interesting trumpet related sites, particularly for Jazz players, that I've seen. Solo transcriptions , articles and various links to the masters, teachers, insights...there's just a LOT of great material - check it out!

Rob Birdwell

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Yamaha's Digital EZ Trumpet

Cheesy, goofy, flying-in-the-face-offensive to "real", where can I get one of these bad boys?!!!

Rob Birdwell

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

As Dreamers Do

Here's a lead sheet to a new tune: "As Dreamers Do" - the links are Adobe PDF files:

As Dreamers Do (B-Flat Lead Sheet)
As Dreamers Do (Concert Lead Sheet)

I wrote "As Dreamers Do" in the typical "jazz standard" form (yea, whatever that is!) - it's lyrical, harmonically diverse, and the melody is intended to be freely adapted by the player.

Benny Golson, in particular, was a source of inspiration for this tune, not only as a player but for his approach to ballad writing. "I Remember Clifford" was and will forever be one of the standards every trumpet/flugelhorn player knows and loves.

Meanwhile, I'll keep writing 'em and hopefully my friends and associates will play 'em. I'm playing 'em too.


Rob Birdwell

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Oregon State Daily Barometer Online - Majestic Theater hosts a 'magic barrel' to fight hunger

Oregon State Daily Barometer Online - Majestic Theater hosts a 'magic barrel' to fight hunger - this was a lot of fun. John Bliss (Guitar), Jeff "The Viking" Morre (Drums/Percussion) and myself Rob Birdwell (Trumpet/Flugelhorn) accompanied three of the readers and it went very well. The food afterwards from Intaba's was excellent too!

I thought all the readers' material was outstanding...the event raised over $1300 to help fight hunger right in Linn and Benton counties.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Vote Today!

I sincerely hope if you're an eligible U.S. citizen that you've exercised your right to vote in the election today! I cast my vote for John Kerry and hope more Americans will do the same. Regardess...

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ashlee Simpson - video of lip synching on SNL

The media excerpt link is apparently courtesy of Brett Meisner from this discussion. Here's another possible link.

Dang! The one Saturday night I didn't record SNL and this classic moment happens! I've commented about the so-called "live" stuff on this blog before. Sure, stuff happens; things get mucked up on stage. But ya gotta go with it, right? But to walk out on the band? That was probably not a good thing.

Ashlee Simpson's band deserves lots of credit (rather than the blame she publicly lumped on them) for hammering it out and hanging in there...when performing live there's no such thing as "the wrong song" - once that train is in motion, that's the one going down the tracks.

Given that things can and will go wrong on stage, it pays to be able to "wing it" just a little bit. A pathetic little "hoe-down" dance for 15 seconds and then escaping from the stage is far from sufficient.

The reality is that a great opportunity was lost because of lack of preparation on Ahslee's part. And I'm not talking about the preparation for a "computer glitch" but rather the preparation of just being well-rounded entertainer - the preparation of being able to take the blame instead of passing it to "the band"- the preparation of being able to be in the moment, keep a cool head, and get through the tune, however poorly it comes off.

It's interesting when a singer/musician forgets a lyric, comes in wrong or just botches it big time - hey that happens; everyone is human. But the stuff that separates the hacks from the pros is what they're able to do next.

If you put entertainers from another era in the same situation, I wonder what Judy Garland would have done? How about Tony Orlando? Bobby Darrin? My guess is these seasoned entertainers (whom I'm sure experienced their share of "situations") would probably have turned the event to their advantage and at least gotten a laugh out of it.

And if this fiasco happened to a Jazz musician? Forget it! If a Jazz musician falls on stage and there's no one there to hear them, then that's called a typical night at the club! (I just made that up - and that's winging it!)

The SNL audience (both TV and in-house) was prepared to listen to some mediocre corporate manufactured pop music, but instead were subjected to Ashlee Simpson's great escape. And when reviewed that way, maybe Ashlee did us all a favor!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Cakewalk's SONAR: Gradual Audio Lag - MIDI to Audio Conversion

Here's a reprint of a post I made this morning to Cakewalk's site - I'd been having some issues with audio latency in converting MIDI to audio. Maybe this will save others the two hours of experimentation, trial, error and ultimately success, that I went through to find this:

Thanks to everyone for the posts on gradual audio lag...this particular solution worked for me:

I'm currently using SONAR 3.1.1 (might apply to SONAR 4 or later too?) and was having audio latency issues when converting my MIDI tracks from external modules to audio tracks. After trying many other things, the solution that conclusively worked for me was to set this as follows in the Cakewalk AUD.INI file:


I don't know why it works, but it works. Probably something to do with my system's USB audio latency and/or SONAR's ability to adjust or force the syncronization via this configuration setting.

It was getting very frustrating to have my basic MIDI tracks play back in perfect sync with my audio tracks, only to hear after the MIDI tracks were recorded to audo from the external keyboards that there was a definite lag behind the original MIDI track...not right away (a gradual audio lag) - usually becoming painfully obvious around 2 to three minutes into the tune - the latency (lag time) was undeniable and the MIDI to audio mixes could not be used. (I'd even resorted to dumping quick demo mixes directly to my iRiver MP3 recorder without even trying to get audio mixes of the MIDI - but that solution is not unacceptable for mixes that need to be more polished).

Without this KsUseInputEvent option, there were only a couple other options that I could come up with, none of which were particularly appealing:

1. Record the MIDI tracks to audio in smaller sections (e.g., 32 measures at a time rather than the entire track) - but the down side to this is that it's a major time drain and hassle when dealing with lots of MIDI tracks.

2. Record the MIDI to audio, and end up splitting the tracks and adjusting the start time of the lagging audio by various milliseconds (usually to start playing about 10 to 30 ms later to catch up with the other audio). I actually have to do this sometimes anyway (for performance reasons!) but having to do it with music that sometimes comes from a Finale or MIDI source, re-sync with the vocals or horns...arg...that would be a pain for all MIDI to audio conversions.

My sound card is a Roland UA-30 USB and I use a Yamaha UX256 USB MIDI thru box.

In summary, if you find your MIDI track, when converted to audio, lags behind your original MIDI (test this by soloing the two together) then, for me at least, setting KsUseInputEvent=1 in the Cakewalk AUD.INI worked.

Rob Birdwell

Thursday, October 14, 2004 Virtual Studio

I'll be posting the basic play along track soon so we can all begin - the tune, written within the last few weeks, is called "Jenny's Web Cam." Yes, we've all seen her site, either by happenstance, mistaken-email-topic-quick-click (right), or through extensive research. I did happen to get an email invitation to visit Jenny's web cam - hence the birth of a new song. No it's not a porno song - it's a "serious" commentary on the state of free enterprise...(ha!)

Anyway, "Jenny" should serve as a nice vehicle for this type of musical collaboration and will, I hope, be fun to record in this manner.

The "Jenny" track will feature vocals, guitar, synths, strings and horn parts (I have a sketch that includes written parts for all instruments but specifically for Violin, Cello, Trumpet, Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, Trombone - we'll see if that's possible in this "virtual" environment), drums, percussion, background vocals. Plenty of room for lots of folks to add their unique style to the mix.

Eventually, my basic tracks might simply disappear! After listening to the basic track (suspend belief, it will be very bare bones...intentionally), if you can imagine yourself contributing in some musical way (and have the ability to record yourself at home using your own computer/software) then, by golly do it!

[Detailed instructions to follow: Musicians can download the basic track along with the lead sheet of the tune and lay down their part...soon. The file exchange will either be email (MP3 files only) or the Virtual Studio group that I set up.]

Say tuned for more on the Virtual Studio!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

All Things Beautiful (Free MP3 download) by Rob Birdwell

All Things Beautiful words and music (c) 2004 Rob Birdwell

I have many tunes queued up and ready to produce, yet there's just never enough time. Seems like the only ones I get to record are the tunes that carry a deep emotional meaning for me - and this one is particularly special! All Things Beautiful was written for my mom, Christine Birdwell, in honor of her birthday. Background vocals feature Linnea Birdwell, Maja Birdwell and Frey Birdwell. Rob Birdwell produced, sang and played Flugelhorn, Bass and Piano. Enjoy!

Other Music and Links from Rob in 2004

The Stranger By The Bay (new film music by Rob Birdwell)

The film will debut at the Majestic Theatre on February 20, 2004 - two showings: 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm. There will be wine and food too. Should be a nice time to celebrate all those who contributed their time and talents to this show. Here's a link to the content of the "official" press release from the producers.

As you may have guessed, I wrote the music for this film. Although there were over 30 different musical cues, I'm featuring two that I'm especially proud of:

Nice & Easy In Seattle - featuring the Hill Top Big Band

There Is No Getting Over You - featuring Susie Blair (vocals), Jim Guynn (saxes), Jed Irvine (drums), Linnea Birdwell (background vocals), Maja Birdwell (background vocals), Rob Birdwell (piano, bass, flugelhorn, background vocals, writer)

Live Tracks

Long Lonely Road To Chicago (Live) - a vocal tribute to Clifford Brown, featuring Susan Peck on Piano and Vocals

Bebop For Clifford (Live) - a bebop tribute the great Clifford Brown

Big Girl (Live) - featuring Rob Birdwell on the Vocals, Jim Guynn on Tenor Sax.

Little Man (Live) - featuring Rob Birdwell on the Vocals. Jim Guynn's lovely Soprano Sax is sweet n'est pas?

The Easy One - a straight ahead jazz chart.

Soundscapes From A Haunted City - Part I - Featuring the combined Right Relation Quintet and the Valley Brass Quintet. This music was written for an edited cut of the new movie "The Stranger By The Bay" written by Andy Foster.

Works In Progress

Beautiful Moments - shorting after finishing the song, I laid down a live piano/vocal rendition. Far from perfect yet captures the basic sense of the tune.

Stranger By The Bay and Other Music from Rob in 2004

The following is an archive of recent BirdwellMusic front page stuff - it's still relevant, but it's going to the archives!

The Stranger By The Bay
- soon to be showing at a film festival near you!

The following tracks are from the forthcoming indie movie, "The Stranger By The Bay," written by Andy Foster, directed by Mary Jeanne Reynales, filmed/edited by David Grucza, music composed, arranged, produced and conducted by Rob Birdwell.

Nice & Easy In Seattle - featuring the Hill Top Big Band

There Is No Getting Over You - featuring Susie Blair (vocals), Jim Guynn (saxes), Jed Irvine (drums), Linnea Birdwell (background vocals), Maja Birdwell (background vocals), Rob Birdwell (piano, bass, flugelhorn, background vocals, writer)

The following are some live tracks, composed and arranged by Rob Birdwell featuring the Right Relation Quintet and Valley Brass Quintet:

Long Lonely Road To Chicago (Live) - a vocal tribute to Clifford Brown, featuring Susan Peck on Piano and Vocals

Bebop For Clifford (Live) - a bebop tribute the great Clifford Brown

Big Girl (Live) - featuring Rob Birdwell on the Vocals

Little Man (Live) - featuring Rob Birdwell on the Vocals

The Easy One - a straight ahead jazz chart

Soundscapes From A Haunted City - Part I - Featuring the combined Right Relation Quintet and the Valley Brass Quintet. This music was written for an edited cut of the new movie "The Stranger By The Bay" written by Andy Foster.

All selections composed and arranged by Rob Birdwell. Lyrics to Big Girl, Little Man and Long Lonely Road To Chicago are Copyright (c) Rob Birdwell. - A great site for Music Software, Featuring Real Trumpet and Virtual Trumpet - Freeware, Shareware, Demo, Trial, Free Download, Windows, Linux, Java, MP3, Pocket PC, Palm, MSWin PocketPC PalmOs best software program tool buy purchase, no crack serial - cool music downloads too!

Check it out!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, October 04, 2004

Draft Legislation in USA - HR 163

Bill Summary & Status - just a reminder that your vote counts (well, except if you voted in 2000 - if you lived in Florida at the time, that one probably didn't).

I oppose a mandatory draft - if there is a cause worth fighting for, then we do not need our government to force young men and women into harms way (possibly against their will), particularly for causes that are suspect or not what they appear to be.

I am going to vote for the candidate I believe will work to promote peace at home and throughout the world: John Kerry.

Okay, this is a musical blog - why the politics? Well, the stakes are high. Clearly there are important issues on the table: health care, security, the environment... and I firmly believe that a Kerry administration will clearly be the better alternative to the legacy Bush has left us with and seems intent on providing more of, if given the chance. And, of course, far, far down on the list are those policies that deal either directly or indirectly with art and music...yes, I believe a Kerry administration might have the foresight to put plans into place that encourage art/music programs, assist educators, and work with individuals/groups to encourage new amateur and professional opportunities in these fields. No, I'm not talking "entitlements" or government hand-outs for artists/musicians! What I'm referring to is more abstract. I'm referring specifically to an administration that recognizes the vast diversity of ways of expression and communication; an administration that values freedom of speech and enforces our constitutional rights rather than diminish them.

It's not too late to change the current course (war, fear, corruption: Bush). John Kerry is the better person for the job and will (I sure hope) bring sanity, logic, representative governing, and reason back to the role of President of the United States.

We all have a choice - this republic and our democracy will fail if we do not use our voices and exercise our rights: Vote.

Rob Birdwell

Other references and links:

Here's a Washington Time article where John Kerry stated he would not reinstate the draft.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Real Trumpet wins's Excellent Award!

This just's now the "award winning" Real Trumpet audio loop library from, according to - but hey, don't take my word, see for yourself! grants Real Trumpet it's Excellent award!

By the way, the very latest on my Real Trumpet audio loop library can be found on!

As of this writing, Real Trumpet is only $19.95 and that includes shipping - now that's truly Excellent!

Rob Birdwell

P.S.: Virtual Trumpet can also now officially be called the award winning Virtual Trumpet, because, well...they said so... that is!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Trumpet Sites

For the best Trumpet sites visit

...okay so I don't really know if they're the "best" - but that's what they say in their link exchange tag. But check 'em out anyway - there might be something interesting there.

Happy trumpet playing!

Rob Birdwell

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Playing on the Streets

I'm writing this from Stockholm, Sweden...I too have witnessed metro musicians here and throughout our travels and have personallyenjoyed playing on the streets (of Paris)...for me, playing on the street the first time felt a little like skinny dipping at a puritan picknic - not exactly knowing what the reaction would be, only to find that most folks really don't give a hoot. It's always nice though when some people stop to appreciate the music enough to contribute to the hat. For those street musicians who make a living out of this type of performance, well...that's amazing! Must be a hard road, but I have a great appreciation for what they do.

Next time you see a so-called "street musician" take a moment from your busy day and listen...and reflect on the music you're hearing. It might just make your day. And if you have any spare change, know the routine!

Rob Birdwell

Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes

While on a bus with my family leaving the Paris Jazz festival (a very enjoyable day in the park, with fine music that day) I got into a conversation with a guy who was a guitar player. We got on great, talked about music enthusiastically as the bus rolled along and eventually exchanged info...I gave him a complimentary copy of my Real Trumpet CD for yucks and he introduced me to a friend of his, who aparently is somewhat of a legend: Andy Hamilton.

I noticed him on the bus...he looked strongly gentle, if that makes any sense, and he looked like a man who was enjoying life...I guessed he might be in his 70s but it turns out he's well into his 80s and going strong (traveling by bus in Paris, especially a crowded festival bus, is a bit of an olympic event for even the young, let alone the young at heart).

Anyway, the guy (sorry I have his name but can't recall by memory but have it somewhere) gave me Andy's card and introduced us. He told me that Andy was quite a man and a real legend. I was honored to meet him of course, even on that crowded bus, and told Andy I looked forward to exploring his (Andy's) music...

Browsing Andy's bio, I'm proud to have met him and do look forward to hearing him play!

Rob Birdwell

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Musical Notes from Europe Tour

Musical highlights so far include playing on the streets of Paris (bringing in an undisclosed some of pocket change!) and playing with my in-laws here in Sweden (trumpet with their fine accordion playing) - lost my mouthpiece somewhere in France, but have been able to use my Flugelhorn mouthpiece (which I just happened to bring - bon chance!).

Attended a Jazz festival outside of Paris - liked the original group with the Sax/Accordion player - will update this post with more info on them!

There´s a slight chance I´ll hook up with John Bliss in Stockholm later this month, but we must return on the 27th and head home on the 31st!

Enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes and company very much and all are having a good time!


Thursday, June 17, 2004

Just a State of Mind

Over the last 8 days or so I chipped away at a two minute musical production for a proposed sit-com called "The Good Life." The lyrics were supplied by Jesse Mata (whom I've only met once)- he's young and eager to get this thing to market, so I decided to give it a go. The music I wrote was only supposed to be a simple demo (a concept), but as I whittled away at it, making it fit with the lyrics he wrote, one thing led to another and the track took form and sounds...well, not too bad for a demo! It should be interesting to see how the process of pitching this thing goes. That will not be my bag, baby.

Honestly, I feel a bit funky with the idea of writing sit-com music (don't get me wrong, I would enjoy the paycheck if it came) - but I don't even watch TV much at all so my frame of reference for what I would consider "good" theme music for this genre is fixed in time with shows like "Sandford & Son" (Quincy Jones), "Love Boat", "Mork & Mindy" - you get the picture. These were the shows I watched as a kid - so there's a bit of each of those in my musical treatment of "Just a State of Mind."

Who knows - maybe retro will be in soon...again.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Glenn Tilbrook's New Releases

The latest Glenn Tilbrook solo releases, "Transatlantic Ping Pong" and "The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook" are both outstanding! The music, lyrics and production for both are equal to any Squeeze recordings I know of (I have most of them!), so you can imagine the quality here! Glenn clearly puts so much craft into every single line and phrase, while making it all sound so effortless.

Glenn's writing evokes sonic echoes from the best of the Squeeze catalog, with a nod to some of his own influences (Hendrix, T-Rex, and Willie Nelson), but with an ear firmly living in the present.

I'm not sure if you'll find these CDs at your local Fred Meyer (or the "Global Super-Store" nearest you) so you may want to navigate to Glenn's site and order your own copies of these excellent CDs there - you know the routine! I received mine very quickly and I'm glad I didn't put it off a day longer!

Regardless of the music your into give a listen or two to Glenn and I think you'll agree that Glenn Tilbrook rates among the best working songwriters today - and naturally we should toast Chris Difford's (his Squeeze co-collaborator) past contributions and current work too. Chris's lyric on the song "Where I Can Be Your Friend" (Transatlantic Ping Pong) is a reminder that their collaboration can indeed span outside of Squeeze.

I'm always intrigued and inspired by what Glenn invents and particularly admire his ability to craft catchy tunes with sophisticated harmonies - every track (and I do mean every single track) on his solo CDs are pleasing to the mind, heart and ear; each one challenges to be my favorite.

One footnote - I was curious about the origins of the song "Interviewing Randy Newman." I'd read much about the story of how the song came about but hadn't heard the actual BBC radio interview (the one with lots of Steve's edits!). I enjoy Randy Newman's work (love Faust!) so it was interesting to hear the interview. Like David Byrne, I'm not convinced Glenn's forte is interviewing, but he gave it a good shot and Randy was gracious - if nothing else, a good song came from it (I wonder what Randy thought of it?) and one in which Glenn wrote all the lyrics too, somewhat of a new role for him as of late.

As of this writing, here's the link to the page with the various links to the Glenn Tilbrook interview with Randy Newman

Sunday, June 06, 2004

CBS - 58th Annual Tony Awards

CBS - 58th Annual Tony Awards - looking forward to seeing this! (I'm going to tape it) So many slick looking/sounding shows. Will be especially interested in the best musical revival award. Fiddler on the Roof is up for a revival of a musical award so it's a sentimental favorite, but it will be great to see and hear excerpts and stories from all the shows, the making of, the writing, the getting it to the stage despite all odds...! Especially looking forward to the combined number(s) with all the nominiated casts.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Fiddler on the Roof - Music Director Diary Notes

Dear Diary...

The following are just some of my informal "diary" notes on the opening week for Fiddler on the Roof, from my own "Music Director" perspective. These are not intended to be rants or raves nor do I disclose specific names, etc. - I just want to try to capture some of the simple facts and observations from this experience. Often, when doing a show, it's hard for me to recall all the thousands of things that happen - emotions are high, stress is somewhat high and things are constantly evolving. Most will be lost, but here are a few highlights:

Monday May 3 - the highlights from this included my many, many mistakes, notably my disastrous cueing of the chorus in the opening number, "Tradition." This was mostly a communications thing as we weren't all on the same page as far as the first entrance went - but my eye jumping over a few staves and cueing everyone in early on the "dai, dai, dai, dais" certainly didn't help! How strange it was that the entire chorus could be so off - opps, it was ME! Other layers were still evolving too - lights, scene transitions that weren't always timely, tight, etc. It still wasn't entirely clear, musically, what underscoring was working and what was actually taking away. I mentioned that these Monday (first or second time in the pit) were usually the most challenging - this one did not fail to live up to that. I felt a little discouraged, primarily with my own performance.

Tuesday, May 4 - woke up early and wrote out detailed notes (big stuff) to the orchestra. So many great players the problems were primarily just simple communication things (when to come in, etc.) and the context of some of the things we were playing. Although I don't like those types of "Monday" runs, Tuesday was near stellar! Things came together in a big way. We nailed Tradition! And other numbers followed successfully. Trying to get a sense of the overall balance (we only have three pit covers open) - many said the orchestra was too soft - others said too loud? Which was it? Well, as it turns out, probably a little of both, depending on the action on the stage. Oh, one recollection: the Fiddler tripped on one entrance to the stage and that bugged him! But he did an amazing little ad lib when Tevye appeared to be late on his entrance. Speaking of Tevye - Bob is absolutely amazing. I can't imagine a better Tevye in all the history of this show, and that includes Broadway and Movie renditions. (Okay, getting caught up in the fever. I'll keep the raves in check!)

Wednesday, May 5 - (Preview Night), about 150 folks in attendance. A real audience. After the stellar Tuesday night rehearsal I was wary, but things went well. The applauses provided new challenges - still many scene changes and musical transitions a bit rough but getting better. Since we have an orchestra of about 50 (but only 25 or so in the pit at any given time), many musicians are getting the chance to see the show. This helps greatly, as being in the pit can serve to disconnect one from the overall emotion on the stage - even though the music being performed is certainly a key part of that emotional "thing" that makes it all work. So getting their reactions on balance, blend and feel were very valuable. Also got to chat with folks in the audience about the show - very exciting. Director's note: orchestra too loud! Yikes!

Thursday, May 6 - Opening Night! A very good opening night. A couple rough starts ("Miracle of Miracles") and some places were I would swear we were a beat away from total disaster, but otherwise we held it together with grit and brute force. We pulled down our volume in many key places and that seemed to work well.

Friday, May 7 - the day after opening night. This was an "exciting" show! Orchestra did great adjusting to the various unexpected events on stage (very minor line issues, some rushing of songs - I would have to blame fatigue more than anything). Our wonderful Tevye was feeling ill but delivered a fine performance - a dropped series of lines at the top of "To Life" ("to our agreement...err......but most important..") prompted us in the pit to simply go with the flow. It worked too. A bit of trouble in the dream sequence, but a nice recovery by Grandma. It's a long week - only two more shows until week #1 is over. I'm in no hurry to see this production end - enjoying it all. Audiences seem to like it too. We seem to end about 11 pm every night (we start at 8 pm).

Saturday, May 8 - as I recall this was a good show. As of this writing I have let the entire second week go by without detailing anything in this blog! That just means that for the most part the show, by this time, assumed a rhythm that was fairly stable.

Sunday, May 9 - this show was on Mothers' Day. In our family we've actually postponed Mothers' Day until Fathers' Day since things are simply so busy. The one notable event was that we lost a cast member to a broken ankle! Very sad for him, but he will hopefully have a speedy recovery.

Week #2

Since I didn't take notes, I'll just summarize this week with various streams of thought...flashes:

Two days rest - what rest?! Hard to sleep on Monday since we were all coming down from the rigorous week (a seemingly 15 day week!). Tuesday's lecture "An evening with Sholom Aleichem" given by Mike Aronson was inspiring! Learned a great deal about his life and writings. Wednesday - the show resumes its week 2. As I recall, this audience was very perky, laughing everywhere! Were we thin on strings? Yes, but it worked out great anyway. The orchestra and cast performed great - not loose at all; very tight for being off two days. Thursday - another good show as I recall. Friday -another a good show, but some rough spots in various solo lines. Saturday - I captured some photos/video/audio clips from the pit - a good call too because we were on FIRE! S.C.'s clarinet solo on stage was a knock-out! He's truly a pro and it showed! I was having so much fun - didn't feel like I was expending an ounce of energy. The orchestra executed so well - adjusting to the subtle changes on the stage and vocal delivery almost instinctively. This night was indeed a highlight. Sunday - yikes! Very tired. Arms feel heavy - a matinee show to boot! Feeling a bit sick too (cold/sinus stuff but no fever). Just hanging in. By the middle of act I no major mistakes so feeling a bit better. The show overall was excellent and we met at China Delight for food, friends and laughs. I had to leave early though to attend a VB rehearsal. Yikes! My chops? Where art thou? (Monday morning - lots of long tones, Arbans, et al. Gigs coming up soon!)

Week #3 - Closing Week of Fiddler on the Roof

Had a fairly restless two days off - was a bit drained after the second week - I'm certain I wasn't alone as many of the actors/musicians were grinding on.

Wednesday, May 19 - the third week began with this performance that was quite exceptional! The pre-sold hospital audience was very different from "normal" audiences; one of the rare occasions where there were some empty seats - for subsequent years we must tell folks wanting tickets to hang out on this night! Of note: the first bottle to find its way into the pit. Fortunately it pretty much rolled my way - I just snatched it up! Then, as if one wasn't enough, another actor dropped his as the last moment of the dance causing glass to shatter - small pieces of glass landed on at least one string player! From this point forward we switched to plastic bottles for safety!

Thursday, May 20: this show was also quite good - Tevye's hat went missing during the break after Act 1. There was a stuffed toy turkey on his chair. He was inflamed. His hat was found. The turkey was a coincidental joke by Lazar (presumably a reference to the inside joke of "5 chickens for the first five sabbaths of their wedded lives...") - no harm done. Tevye cried like a baby on Little Chavala - a nice way to vent! Orchestra is wonderful. Everyone hanging in there; we're all still adjusting. No two nights are the same, but there's solid consistancy throughout, even with the diversity of the pool of 50 players. I can't see doing a community show with an orchestra that is not "overbooked" like this. The payoff is twofold: rehearsing with a large group provides the power and support that younger/less experienced players can feed from; and second, when it comes to performances, allowing players to trade off/share eliminated a bit of the burn-out that can dampen the old spirits. With only three shows remaining, everyone seems in fine spirits. Oh, I'm aware of the toll on some folks, especially in the orchestra - but overall, I think the memories of the long nights will be smoothed into a feeling of accomplishment and job well done.

One final memory - vocal warm-ups: we did a 4-way round of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" with a fun twist: one time through all together, then break into the round. Once all the way through each respective part, modulate up a half-step (with a gracious and respectful nod to the great Barry Manilow's pop 70's arranging style) - the rub is that for a moment there's some amazing dissonance, but things worked out great. This proved to be a nice way to center in on ones key/tonality and trusting that it will somehow come together and it did.

Friday, May 21: A great show as I recall!

Saturday, May 22: Another great show. Perchik (T.C.) makes his infamous Cool Shoes performance run, misses Tradition. Apologies in the morning though!

Sunday, May 23: Show closes with a very tight performance! It was a great run and everyone seems to be in fine spirits despite the long run. One ghost in the mics somewhere (boom!). An emotional cast, which is to be expected (those new to shows don't realize that they never really end!) - I try to remind myself that the so-called close of one show merely marks the beginning of a new one. Shows come and go - its the folks we get to meet and work with along the way that matter. Friendships and great memories are made. Cast/Crew/Orchestra party at Papas Pizza: funny skits ("Dream Sequence") - got some video clips of this! MJR's words to entire cast. I spoke a bit to ensemble, specifically about the orch. players in attendence, though most weren't there. Never can say enough (certainly wasn't prepared to speak!) - forgot to say some really important things but hopefully the important stuff was conveyed even if not said directly.

I have a memory CD (orchestra oriented) with lots of photos, short video clips and various audio clips that give an idea of what we sounded like. It's quite amazing really and something I think will be special to have. Looking forward to sharing this with orchestra folks and others involved in the show.

Fiddler on the Roof - what an amazing show. A showcase for such extra-ordinary local talent, great music. I was amazed night after night with the craft that went into the script and score. It's truly a giant of shows. I felt our Corvallis Community Theatre rendition was done right - 14 shows, every single one totally sold out, standing ovations for every performance. It brought many members of the community together in a big way (folks who might never have met forged friendships) and provided an outlet for so many to practice their art/craft.

Well, on to the next show!

Break a leg!

Rob Birdwell (May 2004)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Cakewalk Loops

Cakewalk Loops - a very good source for audio loops. And don't forget to check out Rob's Birdwell's Real Trumpet Audio Loop Library, a great source of Trumpet and Flugelhorn licks and one-shots which also features a wide assortment of mutes.

Here's a demo of Real Trumpet in action (MP3 format).


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Real Trumpet - Audio Loop Library

Real Trumpet - Audio Loop Library - this week's musical blog showcases my Real Trumpet audio loop library. It contains over 500 high quality ACIDized audio loops! Jazzy licks, funky groove solo clips, falls, glisses, sustained notes. This collection also features Flugelhorn (which blends amazingly well on just about any style of music) and various mutes (cup, harmon, plunger).

Listen to the Pumping It (MP3) demo of Real Trumpet in action and you'll hear for yourself. The Real Trumpet audio loop library will compliment and meet the most demanding composer/producer needs. And for the price, currently only $19.95 (and that includes shipping in the U.S.A.) is an amazing deal which probably won't last for long!

View the Flash Demo of Real Trumpet - pretty cool stuff!

I enjoy playing live - but I can't be everwhere. That's why I put together the Real Trumpet audio loop library. Now at least I can be heard everywhere!


Rob Birdwell - composer and performer of Real Trumpet

Monday, March 08, 2004

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Marsalis and LCJO swing, brother, swing

Marsalis and LCJO swing, brother, swing - review of the March 6 concert in Portland by Marty Hughley.

Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis - March 5, Hult Center, Eugene, Oregon.

I was there! Enjoyed this concert - click here for a complete review. I tried to take notes, but it was a challenge not to get swept away by the music and performances (or maybe I was just lazy) - alas, I didn't get all the tune names performed or detailed accounts of all the great solo work - but I tried to convey, in words, my own account of this outstanding evening of Jazz.

Rob Birdwell

Friday, February 27, 2004

Dianne Reeves

Dianne Reeves - I'm listening to her CD "Bridges" now and kicking myself for missing her perform live recently.

I did hear her perform live once actually - it was at the U of Idaho, 1985. I performed with a student quartet - we finished our set, and as I walked off the stage, Dianne Reeves and her awesome backing musicians took the stage. She was extraordinary - and seems to only have improved with time!

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Jazz Clubs Worldwide

Jazz Clubs Worldwide - wow! This site is an amazing resource for Jazz clubs around the world! I'm keeping a link this - awesome!

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Stranger By The Bay - Independent Film World Premier!

Here's the press release from The Stranger By The Bay production team announcing the debut of the film on Friday, February 20, 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm at the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis, Oregon. This should be an enjoyable evening - nice to celebrate finishing this. With so many people involved, it will be nice to finally see everyone together. I hear there's food and wine being served too!

I personally learned a great deal from this experience and look forward to writing my next score!

Rob Birdwell

Monday, February 09, 2004 - Charting, Graphs, Web Services!

We interrupt this Musical Blog to plug this Corvallis, Oregon based software company, ProWorks specializes in charting and statistical graphing software. They also provide consulting services for an ever-growing number of companies, including Hewlett-Packard, NASA, and Battelle.

The ProWorks Flipper Web Service is particularly powerful and flexible. choose the ProWorks Flipper Web Service because it was easy and powerful enough to serve our needs. has devised a very powerful "templates" (XML) model. Their charting web service is fast and "real-time" data updates are easily accomplished.

The ProWorks Flipper Web Service can be accessed by a variety of technologies, including Java, PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, and more!

For Microsoft Windows based developers (web or desktop) the Flipper Graph ASP and Flipper Graph Control are must-haves. The useful examples, powerful functionality, flexibility, and ease-of-use of these powerful controls make them excellent choices for enterprise developers.

The ProWorks .NET charting technologies build upon the strong feature set of the ProWorks Flipper based charting technologies, with all the benefits of .NET.

In summary, I'm pretty Jazzed about - the support team and products really ROCK! and their charting Web Services are serving our needs. If you're considering charting and graphing products, be sure to evaluate the suite of products and services.


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Workshops

Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Workshops - I would LOVE to attend this workshop - the price seems very, very reasonable but, dang, unless it starts raining time and money, dang again, I'm going to have to save it for a "Rainy Day" or maybe when "My Ship" comes in...I'll stop there (the "Someday My Prince Will Come" analogy would definitely be going too far!).

From what I've read on the website about this workshop (and the info is wonderfully laid out; they cover all the logistics from travel to curriculum), it's really quite unique. I especially appreciate that this workshop is oriented for players of all ages, particularly adult players!

I've been jamming with various Aebersold books for a long time! I have many of his recordings on vinyl/record but am now re-purchasing new volumes on CD. It's still very satisfying to play this way - to improvise, imagine, experiment, etc.

Although nothing can take the place of playing and interacting with other musicians in person, playing along with some of the greatest rhythm section players on the scene (as Aebersold play-along records always sport) the Aebersold materials are a wonderful way to supplement the never ending learning process of improvisation.

Most Jazz musicians (be they students, pros or hobbyists) have an Aebersold record/cd or two - if you don't have any, I highly recommend them!

Rob Birdwell

P.S.: if there was any way I could swing it, I'd be at this workshop! It seems like it would be fun.

Monday, February 02, 2004

MSNBC - Justin, Janet not only boobs at Super sleazefest

MSNBC - Justin, Janet not only boobs at Super sleazefest - my sentiments exactly! What a silly thing - but was it really an accident?

I have no problem with these particular entertainers - I even thought Justin displayed some depth and talent on his recent SNL appearance. Unfortunately, none of that was evident from his performance at the Super Bowl with Janet Jackson.

Why on earth would these two allow themselves to be put into such a situation? (Money? A good cause?) Why would they ever agree to showcase such a mockery of dancing and singing?

Let me say that I only tuned in to the super bowl for only 5 minutes (but why would I need to see anymore?); in between "gigs" I guess you could say - just long enough to see what the score was. I was vaguely interested (I used to enjoy football as a kid) and since a bass player friend had a small wager on the game I wanted to see if he'd be $100 richer or poorer (might affect his mood at a future gig!).

So at the time I tuned in, Janet and Justin were doing their little dance (but "dance" is far too generous of a word as there was nothing artistic about it), the mob was cheering and, well, since I don't really watch much TV, it all seemed very spooky to me. But I watched on with amusement to see where this monstrosity of an excuse for "entertainment" (masquerading as a tribute to literacy?) was going and awaiting a display of the score.

As the number seemed to come to a close (what a relief), I couldn't believe what I truly looked to me like the incident was planned though; that the intent all along was for this very thing to happen. It happened very quickly, without time to see any reaction of course, since the camera cut away, but that was my impression. But come on folks - if you show up to a swimming pool in your swimming trunks, someone's probably going swimming - right?

The damage control from the armies of attorneys, advertisers and executives was entirely predictable. Anyone over 6 years of age could predict that words like "malfunction" and "unplanned" would be offered.

Anyway, not a big deal, but it's in the news and seems to be at least one dimension in the very broad world known as the "arts."

Beam me up quick Scotty!

Rob Birdwell

Friday, January 30, 2004 - Create A Band Online - Create A Band Online - Wow! This is a very cool and creative offering!

One note: the band did seem to fall apart after about 5 minutes of jamming without switching loops. Ah, but that's entirely forgivable as it happens all the time with most "real" bands anyway!

My highest recommendations to - well done!

Rob Birdwell

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


JAZZ MUSICIANS' PROTOCOL (by Ken Watters) - a very nice reminder list - after reading through this I found myself saying "opps" as I've stepped in a couple of these blunders once or twice (especially playing a solo again after I've already taken one! nothing like trying to redeem oneself - some of that may be slightly forgiveable though, depending on the venue, audience, or lack of one!). I loved the suggestion about trying not to develop a contempt for the audience - ha!

Wise words of advice and insight for the working musician - and not just Jazz musician - I think these comments and advice are applicable to just about all gigging musicians regardless of the style of music they play.

Rob Birdwell

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

iRiver iHP 140 Jukebox

iRiver iHP-140 Jukebox - I've been looking long and hard at the specs on various Jukebox audio (MP3) player/recorders. I had a brief moment to experience the iRiver iHP-140 for myself and was impressed with its sleek look, small size, great sound and it's amazing features, especially the ability to copy files without any special software (just drag and drop your audio library/files to the HD via USB), and ease of navigation options.

The iRiver iHP 140 looks very promising, especially for a musician who currently records gigs with a MiniDisc unit. Although I'll need a powered mic, it just may be possible to take this unit to gigs. The built in mic seemed plenty good to my fairly discriminating ear. Like MD recording units it seemed to be picking up everything (room/computer noise) - nothing like listening to one's own music library, only to be inspired. What a great way to capture those little hummers of ideas (that's how I do a lot of writing, by singing riffs, licks and often strange musical fragments into my cell phone voice notes - one can't have enough devices to capture those fleeting gems!).

The key purchase points for me (and I haven't purchased yet but will strongly consider it) are ease of use/reliability, storage capacity (40 GB seems pretty good), ability to record audio, small size. This device meets those demands with high marks - plus it sports the ability to navigate in a way that works best for me, either from the ID3 tag data, or by the file folder, and I believe by various other categories. Nice. The FM radio is also nice. The optical IN and OUT are very nice. Noticing a theme here?

The price (rhymes with "nice" but currently around $450 US, or maybe even a bit higher as of this writing) is probably worth it. But when the price comes down (hopefully), that will be even nicer!

However, it's time for me to hang hang up my red sweater, take off my white sneakers and head up to bed...please sing along with me:

"Would you be mine, could you be mine - won't you jukebox!?"

Rob Birdwell

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Fixing scratched CDs

Fixing scratched CDs - I found this article to be interesting. I presently have a CD of music tracks and backups that I can't access! ARG! I'm going to try this for one of the less important CDs to see if I can recover the data!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Clinic with Bobby Shew

Clinic with Bobby Shew - this is a good article. I'm especially interested in the reference to the yoga book, "The Science of Breath."

Yep, air, air air.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Musical Web Jam over the Internet

Web-jam - over the holiday break I've had a bit of time to enjoy myself, time with family, and even time to practice (I love to practice, really!). Over the holiday (December 27, 2003) I was thinking how cool it would be to jam with friends or other kindred spirits on-line. The trouble with that, besides time zone, stylistic, and language logistics, is that musical "jams" are often fleeting. When playing or rehearsing in person we have the liberty of eye contact, dialog, etc. So although in-person is the way to go, the mere idea of being able to play with musicians around the world is enticing.

Undaunted, I found a place to Web Jam! I navigated to The Web Jam site (a German site with parts in English) and dowloaded the backing track, got out my flugelhorn, loaded up SONAR 2, and began the process of jamming along.

I emailed a link to my MP3 file (it was about 8 mb) and the result, after some very nice mixing by the "Web Jam Master," was this groovy little Web Jam Mix with Rob's Flugelhorn!

I really liked the backing track chord changes - they were challenging to play over and that made it fun too. I'd like to produce some play along tracks like this too and host some of my own web jams or whatever I end up calling them. Meanwhile, I'll look foward to the next Web Jam offering to hear how the tune evolves.

Rob Birdwell