When I first started playing jazz, one of my biggest dreams was to play at the Blue Note in New York. It was kinda like a joke between my friends, we use to say: yeah right, I’m going to play at the Blue Note when we really were going to play in a small place in my hometown. That dream came true. I played at the Blue Note with some of my best friends and favorite musicians, and under the musical command of my favorite mentor teacher/menthor Darren Barrett. It was an amazing experience working with Darren’s ensemble for an entire year. I really believe that each one of us stepped it up since the first time we played together. After all the hard work and extra hours of rehearsing the challenging music of Myron Walden, there is no better reward than going on a trip to the Apple (New York) and perfom in front of a full house at the Blue Note. This was defenetly one of my best Berklee experiences. ~Ilan Bar-Lavi
I had an amazing time. It means a lot to me to perform with a group that is able to rehearse as much as we did. Also it was a big surprise to find out that Myron Walden would be performing with us as we as Darren Barrett. This was the perfect event to close out my Berklee experience. ~Victor Gould
At trip’s completion, my back-of-the-van benchmates, rhythm section partners Josh (bass) Hari, and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., shot over their thoughts on the project:
What a great trip! It was such a rewarding experience being able to play Mr. Walden’s music with him and with such a killin’ close-knit band. There is also really no other place like the Blue Note in NY, it truly encompasses the history of this american art form. And thank you to Berklee for being hip enough to realize that jazz cannot simply be learned from textbooks, but by playing, hanging with, and listening to the great teachers and students this school brings together. ~Josh Hari
The trip to the Blue Note was a very enjoyable experience. It was great to be around other greats musicians and people. Hanging and playing with Myron was definitely an added bonus to the trip. It was amazing to play with Myron and Darren. Playing at the Blue Note is an experience I will never forget. ~Mark Whitfield
The Sextet, hammering along on Myron Walden's "The Road." From left: Jonathan, Ilan, Josh, and Emile.
On the way back to the club, passing the West 4th subway, I look to my left and there’s guitarist Jeff Miles, sporting a lemurian grin. He’s lent Ilan Bar-Lavi his guitar amp, and so is anointed for the guest list. We cross the threshold a half hour before downbeat, the place is gloriously packed, and we’re extra glad to have seats reserved down front. Continue reading →
Another thrilling van ride. I was much reminded of The Matrix, and Morpheus’s admonition to his crew. “You told me never to get on the freeway; you said that it was suicide,” Trinity reminds him. His reply: “Then let us hope that I was wrong.” Intact but enervated, we arrive in Greenwich Village at the Blue Note.
In live performance on WBGO-FM, the Berklee Scholarship Sextet. From left: Victor Gould, piano; Emile Martinez, trumpet; Jonathan Greenstein, saxophone; Ilan Bar-Lavi, guitar; Josh Hari, bass; and Mark Whitfield, Jr., drums.
So, the guys who are playing live at the Blue Note tonight, the Berklee Scholarship Sextet, are in a tradition of great players who have honed their art in Boston, and then brought their ideas to NYC. They’re here with their professor and mentor, trumpeter Darren Barrett, himself a Berklee and Monk Institute alumnus, and winner of the Monk Institute Trumpet Competition. At midday, we go to WBGO-FM, the NY area’s primo jazz station, where they’ll perform live on the air, for an hour. We’re staying in Midtown, so we’re away in a hired bus to Newark, where the station is perched.