Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Road to Bogota`

No musician ever said the 'Road' is easy. This morning we had to leave for the airport at 4:30 am. and I haven't slept yet! We passed through the Lima, Peru airport and I had hoped that I might see my friends Kenny and Lorraine Werner, coming home from their vacation in Peru. Kenny emailed me that he would be there at 4:30 pm. today and we left at 1pm. almost happened!
Bogota` is a huge city and we are anxious to see some of this amazing country. Tomorrow we will present a workshop and a concert at the Ambassador's residence. Time to rest.

Hotel Bertea, Coronel Oviedo,Paraguay

This was my pillow at Hotel Bertea.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Coronel Oviedo Festival

Coronel Oviedo Festival - The dancer who can dance with 10 bottles balanced on her head!!!
we played for the President, the Governor and the Mayor - all televised. An Army band played
an orchestra of children and beautiful dancers. They liked "One Mint Julep" -
Tim and Frederico - the Great Sound man in Paraguay!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yo !!! RoHoJoBo

Have a good concert tonight & safe travels to Columbia.. Thanks for the reporting, keep having fun.. Jo

Kamastro Arte Bar Blow out!

Sean McIntosh, Ro& Ricardo Espinosa
Assistant Public Affairs Officer & Cultural Affairs Specialist - U.S.Embassy-Asuncion, Paraguay

Last night our program began at the Kamastro Arte Bar at 10 pm. This club is a glitzy night club with two floors and a large bandstand with an electric piano. There's very cool art everywhere and some interesting sculptures floating in the air. We met the artist and I'll have to get his name when we go back to Asuncion.
James Russo, the Public Affairs officer and publicist for the post attended and brought his wife Audrey. James is a kingpin in the operations and is doing a great job.
We were told that the gig was 'loose' ! and that we could play as long or short as we wanted to. Many great musicians came out and we did 'blow out' - we absolutely had a blast musically. Guitarist Jose' Villamayor sat in on guitar with us (we met him at the jam session) and Totti Mosel, sat in on drums. Totti is the most famous drummer in Paraguay. This was big fun and the audience was great. We received another encore and standing 'O' from the crowd. The club owner was very gracious with his excellent fish dinner and fine wine - Thank You.

Master Class at Ruffinelli Music Conservatory

Carolina Ortiz & Ro
Ruffinelli Conservatory

May 28th
We were lucky today to sleep in and have time to get our bearings. Tim and I made our way to the local supermarket to purchase some supplies. I finally found a $40. hair dryer and also purchased an iron that will work in the outlets here.
At 2:45 pm. we headed to Ruffinelli Music Conservatory, where the children have classes in music and in English. This was a general 'what is jazz' workshop. I did meet three singers, with whom I left my Vitro Vocal series cd.'s and workpackets. I met the daughter of the owner of the school Carolina Ortiz. We had great questions from a classical pianist, wondering 'how' to get into jazz? These school visits are very rewarding and the kids are great.

"El Contrebajo"

Good to see Bob with a 'real' bass on the first concert.. Good start.. Go Jazziamers.. DJ

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Asuncion, Paraguay

Joel Holmes & Bob Bowen @ IMA
The audience and students at IMA
Ro with Carlos/interpreter

We arrived in Asuncion, greeted by Sean McIntosh, Public Affairs Officer. Sean would be our "go to guy." Sean spent some time in Washington, D.C. and he is a great guy and very helpful. My camera , so far, naturally is not downloading my pics into my new lap top, so I'm going to try to figure out what's happening. Our first day, we met Ambassador Ayalde at the Embassy. Asuncion is a lovely city with beautiful flowers and birds. The Embassy packed in a very full schedule. We performed a master class at IMA Agustin Barrios Conservatory - filled with kids, parents and a translator who plays jazz piano (Carlos). We explained what JAZZ is, played a couple of tunes and heard "David and Jessee" an alto player and his singing girlfriend. (both very good).
Then we were off to CCPA - Teatro de las America's concert hall. We had a great soundman and they had a Jam session prepared with local musicians when we arrived for after sound check... Thank you to all the young musicians who showed their great talent. We heard a young guitarist who tore up some Coltrane with my great band.
Then - 30 mins and right into the concert...I was already Fried beyond tired and all I could think of was : a shower! After quite a bit of grumbling at our dear Sean, I planned the set, composed myself...washed with a wet wipe...and off we went on stage! wow...
Fortunately, the crowd was fantastic. We had a GREAT concert!!! and a screaming standing ovation. Joel Holmes played like their was fire in his fingers...fantastic man and Bob Bowen brought his amazing spirit and musicianship. Tim Horner played his Tail off - and then some. I'm a lucky girl to have such great musicians.

Rhythm Road/ JazzIAm/Passing thru Sao Paul

May 25th -The JazzIam band left JFK about 9:45 am and we were off to our big adventure in South America. We changed plans in Sao Paulo, Brazil where we looked out the window in the airport and imagined racing out of the airport to hang with Brazilians. We all love Brazilians and their music. So instead, we had a drink of Champagne in the airport and toasted ;how lucky we are.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Final Concert ; Bishkek

Tahmina Ramazanov and Roseanna

The last concert finally came. We had a sound check in the afternoon, where we learned that famed folk musician Ruslan Jumabaev would play a couple of tunes with us in our concert. I love to play jazz with local musicians, everywhere we go. They speak jazz, so they don't need to speak English. Ruslan plays a 3 string Kyrg instrument called a: Komuz. Ruslan played "Fever and Terrestris" with us and the audience loved him. This concert was a television program and they had a couple of young groups who won composition contests. Vladimir was the announcer and he made a point of telling me that he is a major Kenny Werner fan. I'll tell Kenny...
After a very brief concert, we were wisked to a cocktail party for finger food and then taken to the airport and put on a plane for a 26 hour journey home. This was probably the quickest departure that I've ever had after a concert. We did enjoy all of the musicians that we met and all of the Embassy people..Thanks to everyone who made our visit so special. On to South America!

The Rain Storm show in Bishkek

I'd like to Thank Michael Rosenthal and Kamila Kojokamtova for all of their help in Bishkek. Also Alita the translator. Michael and Kamila were very helpful, but they could not stop the rain storm for our big outdoor performance and cocktail party. The Jazz Festival in Bishkek is big. They brought in groups from Austria, Turkey and many areas. When we performed in this picture, the rain was pouring and the wind was blowing, but - we played as I watched rain pour into my monitor!

Bishkek Workshop

I donot have any photos that the post has sent from this workshop in Bishkek - too bad, because we met with a staunch, classical music department of pianists. On our visit there was conversation in every school workshop regarding; Classical music versus Jazz music? I don' t think you should go without either one. Jazz is a language and creating new music off the top of your head within a chord structure is not easy. In our school workshop, we did not have a pa. system, good piano, or a drum set. Tim Horner played his cymbal, holding it in his hand! and Dean Johnson got a bass that was in pretty bad shape, and yet he made music on it. I sang accoustically and Joel played One more out of tune piano. The teacher was great, very hip lady. Old and young alike attended and one boy got up and played: Take Five. Another jazz soldier in the making -

The Journey to Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Our time in Almaty was too short. I would love to sightsee in the big beautiful city filled with many beautiful statues and interesting architecture. It was spring, so the flowers were blooming and the mountains surrounding were so beautiful. We were met by Gabrielle early in the morning and loaded into a van with a driver who did not speak English and told we were on our own for the four hour journey - naturally - I was concerned! At the border crossing, we met with guards , guns and wished that one of us spoke Russian. Fortunately, thanks to Mark Cameron, that policy is now changed and visitors will be escorted with someone who speaks Russian in the future..thanks Mark!

Almaty Workshop

This workshop was great. Tim Horner taught his 'span a lang' and tempted all students to get out their metronomes and imagine the hits are on the 'and of 1' or

'and of 3' - Can you do that? Dean wowed them with his amazing soloing and Everyone - always loves Joel Holmes.

Almaty, Kazakhstan Concert

On April 23rd. we caught an early morning flight to Almaty. This is when I met one of my favorite Embassy personnel, Leila Aitmukhanova. Leila is very soft spoken and patient, an important virtue. We also met the amazing Jazz torch organizer, Karla Makatova. Karla is a human tornado, she started the Jazz Festival and she is a force of nature. We checked into a lovely Hyatt and prepared for an afternoon sound check at the beautiful Palace of Youth Concert Hall. This was the best sound that I experienced on this tour. Mr. Zaripov, who runs the program at the school has a great jazz band (he is a trumpet player) and his daughter Valentina is a budding jazz singer. The school big band played an hour and half before our show and they were great. It is always inspiriing to hear other jazz soldiers around the world - we are family.
We played a beautiful set and Ambassador Hoagland was on the front row. He had flown in to announce us in this concert and we thank him so much. Later Gabrielle Guimond from the embassy accompanied us to a jazz club, jam session and we had a great time with her too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Concert, Opera and Ballet Theatre

After a very long day, an excruciating sound check, the successful masterclass, it was finally time for our first concert. I must say that the crowd in Astana was our very favorite of our entire tour.
The theatre was overflowing, 500 people in a 350 seat theatre and they were ready to have a great time. Thank you Astana! I hope we can come back someday.

Master Class , The Music Academy in Astana

April 22nd., we loaded up for an 11 am workshop at the Academy. There were many students, anxious and waiting and very knowledgeable. Our trio first played a couple of tunes and the voice teacher scatted with me. She was Great! Then the instrumentalists went to another room and I was left with a large group of fantastic singers. One of the great joys was getting to know Guldona, the Babushka (which is also a nickname for the Russian revolutionary Catherine Breshkovsky).
Guldona has made Jazz happen in the Conservatory. She frequents the U.S. bringing students and checking out her favorite jazz artists. I loved working with these singers and meeting Guldona.

Ambassador Hoagland hosts a dinner

We could not sightsee too much, as the weather was cold and cloudy. The skyline of Astana is very modern with all sorts of unusual architecture. There's even a museum in the shape of a pyramid, where we found a poster of "JazzIam" advertising our concert on the wall.
We found true warmth later in the evening at a dinner hosted by Ambassador Hoagland. I don't have many pictures from this beautiful dinner because my camera was taken from me, since the Ambassador lives in the Embassy. I do have a couple of pictures of Tim and Joel that Zhanar just sent last night that I'll post soon. The dinner was beautiful and delicious and so was the conversation. The Ambassador is a gardener and he has excellent taste in art and cuisine. He invited four of the most talented students from our masterclass at the Conservatory. One young lady was a singer/television host (she later performed with a friend, in our concert, singing a local folk song; Kamazhai), also a young pianist, a male singer (who they swore is as good as Frank Sinatra) and a female sax player. Marianne, our interpreter left once more without eating one bite, because we had so much good conversation.
Thank you to Ambassador Hoagland for the lovely dinner and an opportunity to sample the local apricots and meet some very interesting people.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Astana - The SOS Childrens Village Visit

We had a lovely lunch on our first day and learned that horse meat is eaten frequently and a cooked sheepshead is a delicacy. mmm...Natasha Franceschi, our Cultural Affairs Officer was a delight to get to know. I admire our State Department employees, they are very brave. Natasha was headed for a new adventure in Pakistan.
We proceeded to the SOS Children's Village, which is an orphanage created by Hermann Gmeiner from Austria. This facility is a good example of what an orphanage could be. The small houses were clean and modern and seven children lived in each house along with a mom who headed the household. We were introduced to the head of this facility and her beautiful Chinese assistant. We were given a tour of the house and wound up in the room with an upright piano. Joel Holmes sat down and started playing "Centerpiece" which I sang and taught to the children. This was great fun and very rewarding to see the family's photo album and listen to what each child wanted to do with their life. I hope to have pictures to post soon of this event.

Kazakhstan Tour - 2009


On April 20th, we landed in Astana, Kazakhstan for a tour that would bring the JazzIam band through Almaty and also Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for workshops and three Jazz Festivals. Kazakhstan is located where the continents of Europe and Asia meet. It is bordered North and West by Russia and China to the East and South by Kyrgyzstan. I was very excited to see this part of the world and to meet local people and learn about their culture. This trip is about 20 hours counting layovers and planes changes. I had already exchanged many texts and conversations with my first and main contact, Ms. Zhanar Kul-Mukhammed (Cultural Affairs Assistant). Zhanar is an amazing whirlwind of a girl who speaks five languages and really takes care of business. (my kind of girl!) I could hardly wait to meet her. We were met at the airport by an Embassy man and taken to the van and driven to the Hotel Rixos President. This was a lovely hotel and we were very happy to have such lovely digs. Our first day, we started the day with an interview with a local journalist. We always had a translator; in Astana, Mary Anne was probably the most amazing translator I will ever work with. She could remember streams of conversations and recall both sides of a conversation; an amazing woman. Our first interview question was: "Why do you have such a pretentious name" ? and of course, I said , "We are a Jazz band, that's all, no pretension." Then he asked, "Don't you think Jazz is a step backwards from classical music"? So - we were on alert, ready and equipped with knowledge of our craft to answer any of these questions. Each member of JazzIam is a serious musician and teacher.