My evolving approach to improvisation and composition has been a process of “unschooling.” I don’t know what else to call it. Here I’ll try to explain…

I spent so much of my time studying harmony and worked diligently to understand it from multiple perspectives. Indeed, there remains a lot more to study. No one could possibly finish that task.

However, the music that speaks to me deeply is not harmonically complex. It is more earthy, more soulful, more spontaneous than we usually associate with complex music.

I also noticed that when confronted with complex chords in music musicians tend to bury their noses in the printed music and play less emotionally.

Then comes trumpeter Woody Shaw with the answer.

His music almost always sounds organic and soulful. Yet his tunes have harmonic complexity and an incredibly natural emotional curve. I really admire his work.

Crafting tunes that have all these attributes has been my goal of late. My latest recording, Carswell, comes close but there’s a lot more work to do. Meanwhile, you’ll find me working on unschooling my craft and getting to it.

Carswell is ready. Soon to be released!

My new disc, Carswell, is back from manufacturing! All the behind-the-scenes stuff of releasing a record is happening fast and furious. In those few idle minutes, I plan to make updates of progress and release some supplemental material: photos, background info and even a PDF of the music.

The music on this album is a huge step forward for me. I really worked hard on the compositions, taking musical ideas from my past experiences and sculpting them into something new. Those compositions were modified after a few live performances to further fine-tune the emotional landscape of the piece.

Here’s a teaser jpg of the disc cover:

Mellowing demo

I’m considering putting together my new project “in the open” (as it’s called in software development). I don’t mean that it’s “open source” as in FREE but rather that I’d like to include YOU in the process of creating this project.

I’ve already posted a few photos from our session in August. Perhaps you’d like to see and hear some of the source material and listen to the transformation that takes place when a composition comes to life. So here I’m posting a new tune, Mellowing, as both a score and a link to the demo MP3. Once I finish mixing the “final” track I’ll post here about where to get it.

The demo MP3 can be found at http://www.tingjing.com/tg/demos/mellowingdemo.mp3

Thanks for participating!

Feel free to drop a comment or suggestion about how you’d like to see this take place.

Download now or preview on posterous

Mellowing.pdf (133 KB)

Posted by email from tomgullion’s posterous

Photos from Aspect Jazz recording session in Aug, 2008

We had a great recording session in August, recording some brand new music. I’m working on the tracks now in my studio but wanted to share some photos from the session. Richard Bock did an amazing job making us look good – in spite of the bizarre green-painted floor in the studio. The truth is that the studio is mainly a video studio where the green does a good job for masking the weather map (or other graphics) behind the person. However, for us, it left this odd green shading.

Anyway, the music turned out great. We played a gig in Madison the night before. Bopped up to Brett Huus’ studio for the session and had great fun cranking out the music. Musicians included Tom Gullion (saxophone and alto flute), David Cooper (trumpet and flugelhorn), Tim Whalen (piano), Mark Urness (bass) and Dane Richeson (drums).

Tom Gullion Quintet – live in Madison, Wed Aug 20

Tom Gullion Quintet – live in Madison, Wed Aug 20 at the jazz club in the Concourse Hotel

We’re going into the studio to start a new project. Wed, Aug 20th we’ll be previewing some of the material for the recording. Please come out and join us. It’s sure to be great:

David Cooper, trumpet
Tom Gullion, saxophones and bass clarinet
Tim Whalen, piano
Mark Urness, bass
Dane Richeson, drums

Aspects in the studio

We were wildly successful at the recent Driftless Jazz Festival 2008. The group chemistry was incredible: David Cooper on trumpet, Tom Gullion on saxophone, Tim Whalen on piano, Mark Urness on bass and Ernie Adams on drums. Almost everyone in the crowd (and even the musicians) were asking “Why aren’t you guys touring?”

Well, I intend to fix that immediately. We’re going into the studio in a couple of weeks to start a new recording and we’ll be working out tour details soon. I’m even thinking about starting up a small ArtistShare-like site so you can subscribe and be a part of the process. I have some raw video footage of our performances at the jazz festival and I’ll be posting excerpts here soon.

We’ll be producing videos of our recording sessions and I’ll even include charts as desired.

Peace be with ya!

Driftless Jazz Festival 2008

Driftless Jazz Festival 2008 – a regional jazz festival based in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin

After last year’s experiment, we’ve organized ourselves and plan to make this an annual event. This year the Driftless Jazz Festival will feature some great musicians from Chicago, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s taking place this weekend: May 23rd through the 26th.

Friday, May 23
Jazz 101 – Understanding Improvised Music
Jam Session hosted by the Driftless Jazz Collective

  • 7pm, Green Man Music Hall, Free

    Saturday, May 24
    Street Beat Blues – Ted Parrish Trio, Jim Schaffer

  • 1pm, Viroqua Food Coop, free
    Becoming-listener (again!) in Ghana with Davu Seru
  • 3pm, VIVA Art Gallery, free
    Tom Gullion Quartet featuring Ernie Adams, Tim Whalen
    David Cooper and Kelly de Haven
  • 7pm, Green Man Music Hall, $10
    JFar Coretet Poetry Slam
  • 9pm, Driftless Cafe, free

    Sunday, May 25
    Jazz Brunch with Christie Knapp

  • 10am, Drifless Cafe
    Project Fourthstream with Davu Seru, Rich MacDonald
  • 7pm, Green Man Music Hall, $10

    Monday, May 26
    Ted Parrish Trio featuring Catherine Hall Parrish
    Christie Knapp
    Tom Gullion Quartet featuring Geoff Lowe and Rich MacDonald

  • 1pm, Green Man Music Hall, $10