Tag Archives: music

Steven Tyler Selected for Nashville Harmony Award

Musician and philanthropist Steven Tyler of Local 7 (Orange County, CA) has been named the Nashville Symphony’s 2017 Harmony Award winner. He will perform and receive the award at the December 9 Symphony Ball fundraiser. The Harmony Award recognizes the individual who best exemplifies the harmonious spirit of Nashville’s musical community.

Tyler also received the United Nations Humanitarian Award in 2015 for his philanthropic initiative Janie’s Fund (www.JaniesFund.org), which in partnership with Youth Villages, brings hope and healing to girls who have suffered trauma of abuse and neglect. As a member of the Grammy Creators’ Alliance, Tyler is deeply involved in the fight to protect the rights of established and emerging songwriters. He is also a tireless advocate for raising awareness of addiction issues and recovery solutions.

Since its inception in 1985, the Symphony Ball has raised more than $7 million for the symphony. Nashville Symphony musicians are members of 257 (Nashville, TN). Past recipients of the Harmony Award include Local 257 members Béla Fleck, Brad Paisley, Lyle Lovett, Trisha Yearwood, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Chet Atkins, Taylor Swift, Marty Stuart, and Keith Urban.

Dolly Parton Honored with Gary Haber Award

In September, Dolly Parton of Local 257 (Nashville, TN) was awarded the Gary Haber Lifting Lives Award at the 52nd Academy of Country Music Awards. The award honors a country music artist, or duo/group, devoted to improving lives through the power of music, who has a generosity of spirit and is committed to helping others. Since the early days of her career, Parton has used her celebrity to support the causes she loves most. Her Imagination Library has provide more than 94 million free books to preschool children in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2016, she helped raise $12 million for victims of the massive wildfires in her native East Tennessee by hosting a three-hour telethon.

BandLab Machines' Link

BandLab Machines’ Link

BandLab Machines' Link BandLab Machines’ Link series inexpensive audio interfaces let you easily record into a phone or computer without any hardware installation or set-up. Available in three models: Link Analog single input audio interface; Link Digital single input USB audio interface; and Link Digital Duo double input USB audio interface. The impeccably engineered product features high quality Neutrik Combo Jacks for XLR and instrument input; clear sound thanks to internal battery and custom-made copper braid and aluminum-shielded signal cable. Its design works with a wide variety of digital audio workstations (DAWs), as well as the BandLab App, which allows users to record, collaborate, and share music with more than 1.5 million musicians in 180-plus countries.


James Francies

Young Pianist, James Francies, Inspired by Range of Influences

James FranciesTwenty-one-year-old James Francies of Local 65-699 (Houston, TX), is not your typical college student. At the School of Jazz at The New School, where he studies jazz piano performance, he juggles course work with professional gigs, which these days include touring across Europe.

He’s already performed with heavy hitting Local 802 (New York City) members such as Joe Lovano, Houston Person, and Terrell Stafford. Later this summer, he’ll be working on his debut album with Blue Note Records—and simultaneously on a duo album with drummer Eric Harland.

When he was 15, Francies met drummer and fellow Houston native Chris Dave, who was impressed with the young pianist. When Francies moved to New York City, Dave recommended him for The Tonight Show band, The Roots, where Francies subs. From there, more doors opened and he started getting calls from people like Stefon Harris of Local 802. He’s played with the Thelonious Monk Institute All-Star Jazz Sextet, The
Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, and the Texas Music Educators Association’s All-State Jazz Ensemble.

In addition, Francies won the Ruth and Eli Nadel Scholarship Award at Stanford Jazz Workshop (2012-2013), earned a full scholarship to Skidmore Summer Jazz Institute in Saratoga Springs, New York, and was awarded the Moran Scholarship Award from pianist and 2010 MacArthur Fellow, Jason Moran of Local 802.

At 17, he was a recipient of the AFM’s President’s Youth Award. He’s played in the Grammy Jazz Session Combo, the Monterey Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, at The Kennedy Center, and Jazz Standard in New York City.

Classically trained at the High School for Visual and Performing Arts in Houston, he says he got a taste of performing and traveling early on. “I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life. My mom played clarinet and my dad and grandmother sang in the choir,” Francies says.

Francies shares his accomplishments with everyone who has helped him over the years, from his parents, who encouraged him to immerse himself in the rich musical culture of Houston, to teachers, like Bobby Lyle who took him to the next level of improvisation. Francies says, “I thought I should join the union early. I’d be ready to get work and recording contracts through the union.”

His favorite composer is Igor Stravinsky, followed by Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, but his musical interests cross over into broader cultural expression. Francies is just as comfortable playing on Chance the Rapper’s Grammy Award-winning album, Coloring Book (where he played keyboards on the hit single “No Problem”). He’s worked with drummer and producer Questlove of The Roots on numerous projects, plus commercials, film scores, and singles for different artists. 

He views his own art through a global lens, drawing especially on the influence of black culture. “To be a true artist you need to reflect what’s going on now. For me, in different segments of a set, I’ll incorporate different speeches or words. I want it to be a learning experience for the audience. Beyond music, it’s how you carry yourself. Being a young black pianist who travels the world may not be typical. I try to show younger people that you can be something,” he explains.

A perfect opportunity arose for Francies when he collaborated with other musicians on the compilation album, Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone—a contemporary and nostalgic record that echoes Simone’s complex place in the fight for social justice. The album accompanied the release of the documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? Francies composed the opening track, the cheeky “My Mama Could Sing,” sung by Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone.

He’s been named twice to the Village Voice’s annual Pazz & Jop poll for composition and jazz arrangement. He often takes inspiration from what he hears. Most interesting is what he sees when composing. Francies has a form of synesthesia, which according to experts, applies to only about 5% of the population. The most common form is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which people perceive individual letters of the alphabet and numbers to be shaded or tinged with a color. 

He explains, “When I hear a note or chord, I see colors with it. I’ll have different colors in different orders to arrange harmonies and melodies, or harmony superimposed on something else. It’s like a third eye. When I see it, it’s kind of like a flash from a camera inside my head.”

Now, he’s paying it forward. In between New York City and international tours, Francies returns to teach master classes at his old high school.



DoricoSteinberg claims that Dorico is the only scoring software that musicians can compose and arrange freely into, providing the best automatic notation and engraving of any software. It is designed to intelligently adjust notation as you write and includes a 3,000-plus symbol music font. With nearly 1,500 sounds included, Dorico provides realistic playback. The latest update, Dorico 1.1, includes nearly 500 improvements, including piano pedaling with advanced techniques, unique intelligent note spelling for MIDI step input, comprehensive features for precise editing, and expanded import export features.


IK Multimedia’s pocket-sized iRig Pro I/O

 iRig Pro I/O IK Multimedia’s pocket-sized iRig Pro I/O personal mobile interface for iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC, and Android devices lets musicians hook up all their gear to record 24-bit/96kHz pro-quality audio and MIDI tracks anywhere. It features high-quality 1/8-inch headphone/line out with level control and built-in device charging for extended sessions, using an optional power supply. iRig Pro I/O comes with around $500 worth of IK software including AmpliTube, SampleTank3 SE, and T-RackS Deluxe with Mic Room.


Wisdom of the Hand

Wisdom of the Hand: A Guide to Jazz Pentatonic Scales

Wisdom of the HandUsing an open-air concept that asks pianists to imagine there are only black keys, readers are led through 50 etudes and 200 special exercises that will eventually allow them to soar across the widely spaced scales “position playing” and the author’s unique two-octave fingerings. Also included are chapters on rhythm, harmony, timbre, and creativity.

Wisdom of the Hand: A Guide to Jazz Pentatonic Scales, by Marius Nordal, Sher Music Company, shermusic.com.

Roland’s GP607

Roland’s GP607

Roland’s GP607Roland’s GP607 brings a light-weight and maintenance-free mini grand into your living room. SuperNATURAL modeling technology provides high quality, realistic tone, complemented by a premium, multi-channel speaker system for top quality sound whether playing or listening. The new expressive touch PHA-50 hammer action keyboard with escapement provides authentic feel. Bluetooth compatible, GP607 lets you stream music or connect to the latest apps for learning and performance. 3D Ambience technology headphones allow accurate sound and silent practice. The graceful polished design with opening lid comes in ebony or white finishes.


Cloud Microphones

Cloud Microphones

Cloud MicrophonesCloud Microphones Cloudlifter Zi instrument DI and mic activator is designed for guitar, bass, keyboard players, and singers. It maximizes your instrument or mic’s signal and lets you contour your tone. The variable impedance “Z” knob and high-pass filter combine to create massive tone shaping, while the three-position gain switch adds gain (up to 25db for microphones or 12dB for instruments) for a clean signal.


HeadRush Pedalboard

The HeadRush Pedalboard

HeadRush PedalboardThe HeadRush Pedalboard guitar processor delivers diverse classic vintage and modern amp and FX models, including exclusive boutique effects, plus the ability to load your own custom response (IR) files. Other features include gapless preset changes with reverb and delay tail spillover, and a built-in looper with 20 minutes of record time. HeadRush Pedalboard is housed in a rugged steel chassis that features 12 footswitches with their own OLED displays, plus a seven-inch touch display that gives ultra-clear feedback.