Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Enjoy your day off!


Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV

Quote of the Day:
Calculon: That was so terrible I think you gave me cancer!
From Futurama Season 4: Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV!
Also from that episode:
Cubert: Relax, Dad, we just invited a few friends over.
Farnsworth: Hmm. There's something wrong with your story but I can't put my finger on it. [He gasps.] Of course! You don't have friends!


Straight Ahead '05

Wow, I've been posting a lot. Anyways, I give you Straight Ahead, 05-06 edition!



As of this last Friday, I have in my possession something that I have not had since I was little:
Ice skates!
I can't remember how to stop, but there's a rink a 1 minute walk from my house, so I'm going to try to skate every day (if at all possible). Hooray for skating!


Sojourn. A brief stay. This is the name of my new blog - something a lot different from this one. Go here.


Back in the Peg.

All right everybody (all 15 of you who read this blog). I'm officially done school for the semester, and as of last night, I moved back into my house in Winnipeg.
Let's party.


Sound Advice

From The Book of Useful Verse:
Sound Advice
When in danger or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream, and shout!


I'm done again!

Well everyone...at 2:15 this afternoon, I officially finished my last Prov exam of the semester! I'm sticking around here for a few days to hang out, but I'll be home for Christmas fairly soon. Looking forward to seeing all of you again!


At last!

Some good news for y'all,
I just finished my last paper of the semester! I have a few little things to do yet (1-page assignments and a journal), but that's it, folks!
For all of you in Winnipeg, I'm really looking forward to being home for a while. Everyone - we need to get together over Christmas.
In other news, the government randomly decided to tack on an extra $1000 to my student loan this last week. I was really happy (mostly because everything was taken care of before), so I can maybe buy some Christmas presents...
Anyways, today Straight Ahead (the school jazz band) is playing at Southland Community Church in Steinbach. Tomorrow and Saturday is the Festival of Christmas Praise here at Prov, so I'll be busy. More good news, though DHS (my and Jer Wat's funk band) got asked to play at Youth Encounter! I'm very excited.
Anyways, off to class!


And we're back

Wow - it's been a while since I've posted. Oops. I've been pretty busy lately with schoolwork and all that - many papers and projects due, one of them being a 6-minute-long orchestral piece I wrote. That took up a lot of my time - probably 15-20 hours at least. But it's done now.
To those of you back in the 'Peg who might be reading this (or Landmark), I have not forgotten you - I've just been super busy, and I don't have a car to visit you with. Keep in touch, the semester's almost over.
Random thought of the day - if you spin clockwise, why does it fix your dizziness to spin counterclockwise?


Spring Concert '05

I found some old pictures on my computer that I thought you guys might enjoy. They're of the Prov Spring Concert in April of this year.



It snowed today. Which was good, because:
I got to sleep for most of today (field ed and football were cancelled),
I didn't have to play football (I love football, but we had 3 games in a row this week),
I got to talk to Amber (hooray!).

It's early, but I think I'm going to sleep soon. I've been fighting a vicious cold since last week, and I think the cold's winning.


What else is new?

Well, nothing really seems to be new. I'm settling into life at Prov. Amber's still gone. But - the jazz band is going to absolutely rock this year! We have a bunch of non-Prov ringers (Prov doesn't have enough people to field a full band), and they're way better than me. I mean waaay better. We had our first practise last Thursday, and we ripped it up. Life is good.
I'm settling into life as a College Singer - I don't mind the repertoire so much anymore. And it's nice to be part of a large group again. I don't feel like I have to carry the group anymore. Life is good.
In other news, I'm going to Saskatchewan for Thanksgiving, to meet up with some family. One of my cousins who I'm going to see is getting married this Easter, and I have been asked to be a groomsman - hooray! Life is good.
Until we meet again...

My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2 NIV


School of ROCK!

Just a quick FYI:
School of Rock ROCKS!
Apart from some glaring musical errors that only a serious musician would catch (a cello is NOT tuned like a bass), and some that others would (They're going to see classical music...Mozart, Beethoven, Enya...), this movie was freaking hilarious. See it. Now. Well...what are you waiting for...I don't see you watching it! GO NOW!


New stuff, back at school

Hey everybody,
Well, I've been back at school for a week already, and things have already changed. Here's the first major thing:

School is pretty good - I'm in a lot of theology classes, so I'm doing papers already! I also was accepted into the Instrumental Ensemble for french horn playing, and into College Singers as first tenor (probably section lead, but I'm not sure). Dyed my hair today on a whim.
Nothing else is really new - I'm living in dorm, but I checked out Prov House for the first time last week, and I'm really wanting to live in there...or anywhere where I can have a place to myself.
Other big news - I got asked to teach at the '06 Prov Arts Camp doing the vocal ensemble. Cool, eh? I'm not totally sure what that would entail, but I'm very excited.
More news to come as it arrives!


Heart attack!

So I'm sitting here at home, practicing French horn in preparation for Instrumental Ensemble auditions, and all of a sudden, wham, my middle valve is sticking straight up. This is 90 degrees more up than it should be. Turns out one of the strings that attaches the valve to the key came loose. So I almost have a heart attack, thinking that the horn isn't going to work, and that I won't be able to take it to get fixed before I go back to Prov...and all that other junk. Luckily, with about half an hour of effort, I finally figured how to restring it, and it works just fine now. Phew.
As a side bonus of taking up french horn again, my trumpet chops are nicely improving, especially my range. (Warning: Trumpet geek talk ahead)
Because the partials on a french horn are so close together, it is a fairly difficult instrument to play - the level of lip control you need is much greater than, say, a trumpet. As a general rule, the smaller the brass mouthpiece, the more difficult it is to control. Oddly enough, the french horn mouthpiece is the smallest mouthpiece you'll ever play on (excepting a piccolo trumpet, but I'm not sure if those use a regular trumpet mouthpiece or not). So, the increased control needed for a french horn means that on a trumpet, my range has greatly increased, and my tone is nicely improving. I hope this keeps up for the whole year - I was hitting double G's today (2 octaves and a 5th above middle C).
(/trumpet geek rant)

24 hours and counting...

Well, I go back to school tomorrow. Am I excited? You bet! I can't wait to head back to the school, see all my friends I haven't seen all summer, get to eat at the same time every day, get back to music...you get the idea.
Oddly enough, I have already started work for the jazz band. I'm running auditions this year, so I have to do some prep work - i.e. photocopy audition music, keep in touch with Ed the director, put up signs, and so forth. It's good, though - any extra money is always appreciated. I picked up some charts from my high school the other day for the band to do. They're all charts I've done before, so if need be, I can conduct/direct/whatever you call it for a jazz band.
Hopefully this year will be my best yet. I'm planning on making it so, especially because of some stuff that I have planned - most notably, me helping out even more with the jazz band. Ed is going to work with me towards the end of me being able to lead the band on my own. I'm really excited about this, kinda nervous at the same time, but I know I can do it.
Anyways, I may be out of touch until I get hooked up with internet again on my computer, but that probably won't be too long.



Well, today was a really good day. I got off work early (3-ish), and I raced home, and I managed to get a hold of Amber! She's in Germany now, which is 7 hours ahead of Manitoba time, so it was 10:30 her time when I managed to finally reach her. We had a good 3-hour chat, and I feel so much better now. It's been almost a month since I've actually been able to speak with her. We've emailed and snailed, but there's just no substitute for actually speaking with someone. That's why I almost completely detest MSN Messenger - it's not an actual conversation with someone, it's closer to playing a video game. Yes, I actually do use it, but mostly to keep in touch with people it's not feasible to speak to in person, or on the phone. Or to check my MSN account quickly.
In other news, Matt Neufeld and the Danger Trio f. Gabriella Zurzolo are performing at the Morden Corn & Apple festival this weekend courtesy of Corpell's Water. It's our last jazz gig of the summer, and I'm sort of looking forward to it, because it's where I get to play jazz, but not completely, because it's gonna be bigger than the Winkler harvest festival, where I had to play for nearly 2 hours solid. I have to practice. Lots.
Anyways, come out to see us, and to have a great time.
School day count: 12 days till Prov. Woo-hoo!


Winkler jazz gig

So, yesterday I got up at 7 a.m. to play in the Winkler Harvest Festival Parade. It was a blast, but it was probably the most difficult jazz gig I've ever had - for one main reason: we thought the parade was an hour long, but it ended up being 45 minutes longer than that. So...we ended up playing for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Without any breaks. About halfway through, my chops felt like they were totally blown, but we had to keep going. At the end of the parade, Darren's (our bass player) fingers were black and raw, Francesco's (sax player) chops were totally blown, and it took me a herculean effort to make a good sound on my trumpet that was in tune. I had a mad ring for quite a while.
The parade went well, apart from that. We played:
Watermelon Man
Blue Monk
Take The "A" Train
Everybody Needs Somebody intro
1 Hour Funk (a Matt Neufeld original).
We'll be playing at the parade in Grunthal next week, and at the Morden Corn & Apple Festival the week after that. Look for us on the Corpell's van.


New CDs

All right:
CDs purchased in the past two months or so:
Spyro Gyra: The Deep End
Spyro Gyra: In Modern Times
David Benoit: Best of David Benoit 1987-1995
David Benoit: Right Here, Right Now
Chris Botti: Night Sessions
Those of you who are familiar with the jazz scene may take a look at those CDs and realize...they're all "smooth jazz" or something close to that. I know that smooth jazz is something often shunned by "real" jazz musicians, but I can't ignore these talented musicians.
For the record, the only completely "smooth jazz" CD I bought is Chris Botti. The other two possess something...different. Spyro Gyra are not actually a smooth jazz band, they were just taking fusion to the next level, way back in 1979 when they released their HUGE hit "Morning Dance". They were credited with starting "smooth jazz", but, as evidenced by their recordings, are definitely not a "smooth jazz" band. David Benoit is definitely a "smooth jazz" artist, but his recordings possess a fire and flair that do not lend themselves well to Wal*Mart background music. For those not in the know, David Benoit is an excellent, excellent pianist. The reason I don't classify his stuff completely with smooth jazz is that his recordings absolutely reek of soul and R&B flavourings, and I love it! The fire that you can feel in the early bebop recordings is there, and that's what sets David Benoit apart.
The CD that I want to review here is Spyro Gyra's The Deep End. Ever since purchasing The Very Best of Spyro Gyra, I've been hooked. I was pointed to Spyro Gyra by my friend Meagan Reimer, and I've been hooked since early this spring. The bandleader, sax player Jay Beckenstein, is absolutely amazing, but the band is not just about him - the rest of the members are incredibly important as well - the group is not a dictatorship, or a democracy, but it is communism in its purest form - everyone contributes what they have, and strengths balance weaknesses.
My favourite track on The Deep End has to be Monsoon. This is track #3, and it starts with a somewhat Eastern-flavoured groove, and turns into what I call a slow burn, a slow rock feel (MM=75-ish) that sits and just simmers. You can feel the energy, but it's simmering, not boiling. The first time I heard this, I was blown away by the pure passion and emotion that lies in this chart - it's most evident in Beckenstein's sax playing, but it's always easiest to project emotion into an instrument that is fueled by breath and air than one powered by strings, skins, or electricity. Anyways, I can't even begin to describe how powerful this tune is - you have to check it out for yourself. In fact, buy the whole CD. There is not a single track that I dislike, and it's varied enough to keep you coming back for more every time. My other favourite tracks are Summer Fling, Eastlake Shuffle, Wiggle Room, and Chippewa Street, although if I could write all of them down, I'd do it. I'm just too lazy to write them.
Anyways, I haven't had a chance to listen to all of my new CDs (In Modern Times, Right Here, Right Now, Night Sessions were just purchased today), but I will try to remember to review them when I have time.


Grow RPG

If you like online games that are actually challenging (puzzle-type games), then this is for you.



Well, today was another day of "firsts" as I tried paintballing for the first time. I started by dropping about $170 on gear, and then the fun began! I ended the day off with numerous cuts and bruises (lots of bruises!), but I had a great time. Unfortunately, my (cheap) gun broke, so I have to return it, but luckily the guys had a spare. Paintball fun!
In other news, Sarah #2 and I had a good chat tonight. Mostly about Harry Potter and stuff - there is so much good stuff in there, I just might reread the book. Ah, forget "might", I'm going off right now to read some.


More things

Well, Amber's gone. Life isn't the same. Oh well - guess I'll just have to deal with it.
In other news, Matt Neufeld and the Danger Trio (my jazz band) are playing in Steinbach's Pioneer Days parade tomorrow (Fri the 29th) at 10 am. Be there, or be a quadrilateral.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Rewind time to last Wednesday. I arrived home from work to find that my copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had arrived in the mail. I knew immediately that I wouldn't be getting much sleep that night. I went over to Amber's for dinner, and then we went to BDI and hung out at her house for a bit. I returned home at midnight, and promptly cracked the book.
4 hours later, I finished. I was so tired I didn't know what to think, except I had realized that this was an absolutely fantastic book. And I can't wait for the conclusion. Read the book (after you've read the other 5, of course, else this one won't make too much sense).
The ending is what makes the book, of course. I won't give anything away, but the rest of the book can seem a little dull and stuck-in-the-mud, but it all makes sense once you reach the final few chapters. This drudgery in the middle of the book I find is perfectly necessary, and is worth slogging through.
Read it now!


New DVDs

All right, got my first paycheck from Corpell's Water: here's what I bought:
The Fifth Element on DVD
Futurama Season 4
Both of these are excellent purchases, Futurama's just been taking up lots of my time finishing it all. I have yet to be disappointed by any episode.
Oh, and for the curious, here's a picture of Amber and I. For anyone who reads this (as far as I know, it's only Aaron) and is curious, we are officialy dating. Yeah, that's right.


Happy Fireworks!

The new Homestar Runner short is awesome! Check it out here!


Canada Day

Well, it's Canada Day once again...and I'm sitting at home, enjoying the chance to sleep in. Yes, I do know that it's 10 in the morning. When you get up at 7 every day, 10 is a real treat! I do have a reason to get up, though - I'm going to a friend's house to play Twilight Imperium - it's kind of like a cross between Axis and Allies, Settlers, and Star Wars. It's pretty cool, though - this will be the third time I've played it.

On a completely different note, I've become part of an online composers' community over the past few years. You can visit my homepage here, and view all the scores that I've published. You do need a special program to view the scores, but it's free and easily downloadable.


Some webcomics

Here are some webcomics I think you guys might enjoy...
Something Positive
Sore Thumbs
Penny Arcade
Mac Hall


Ahhh...it's summer. I just got back from camping with a bunch of friends, and let me tell you, it was a great weekend. We spent most of Saturday on the beach (where I quickly proceeded to sunburn nicely), we played football and volleyball, some frisbee, went swimming, and ate an inordinate amount of junk food. I know, it's the good life. I had to leave early, though - I needed to play with my church's worship band this morning, I'd promised to do that several months ago. Oh well, it's not like that's the last time I'll ever go camping.
I seem to have a major case of writer's block right now - I haven't written any music for some time. I wonder if the large quantities of ozone in the air at work have anything to do with that? Hopefully it will all get better soon - I need to start producing if I want to record an album (and maybe sell it...).
It also just hit me today that Amber's leaving in just over a month. That kind of puts a damper on our plans - it's hard to build a relationship with someone when they're several thousand kilometers away, and separated by millions of gallons of seawater.
On the bright side, though, my family went out for steak today to celebrate my brother's graduation. It was good steak.

Current music stuff

Okay, so, here are the songs I'm currently working on:
Song for my Father by Horace Silver
The Chicken by A.J. Ellis
Pick Up The Pieces by the Average White Band
Blue Moon by Rodgers & Hart
Haitian Fight Song by Charles Mingus
Mr. P.C. by John Coltrane
Killer Joe by Benny Golson
Summertime by Gershwin and Hayward

Songs in my repertoire (all that I can currently think of):
Fly Me To The Moon by Bart Howard
Blue Monk by Thelonious Monk
Straight, No Chaser by Monk
Watermelon Man by Herbie Hancock
It Don't Mean A Thing (if it ain't got that swing) by Duke Ellington
Route 66 by Bobby Troup

There are lots more that I know and am working on, but these are the main ones.

Accept No Substitutes

Welcome to the Straight Ahead Jazz blog - the personal blog of Matt Neufeld. Here I share random tidbits about stuff - usually music related, or other completely irrelevant stuff. Have a look, write some stuff down, but generally, have a good time!

Oh, and a picture of me, too.