Joe Holt's Notes
Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter
December, 2011
Vol 7, No 7
                                    Merry Christmas!
Click on the greeting above for a "blast from the past" Christmas performance, from the "Do You Hear What I Hear" collaborative concert at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown, back in 2007. Hope you've enjoyed a wonderful Christmas, and that your holiday season is merry and bright! Looking forward to staying in touch in 2012! 
Featured Performance
SATURDAY 1/14/12: 8pm
Joe performs "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride" at
49 West , Annapolis, MD
(copied from Joe's journal blog):
With a new stride concert concept: "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride", and a successful Mainstay engagement under my belt, it's time to cross the bay, and begin to push out in reach (to an unsuspecting jazz audience). When I finally embraced the concept of offering and promoting a show grounded in (the self accompanying world of) stride piano, I was, honestly, surprised to find just how much serious enthusiasm there is for this. Truth in advertising: I'm not presenting myself as an historical authority, or has one who has memorized dozens or transcriptions of obscure pieces from the first 2 or 3 decades of the 20th century. For me, the pinnacle of stride piano - Fats Waller, and the sophisticated and elegant solo approach of Teddy Wilson, were my first influences, and represent where I came into jazz, as a teenager in the 1970's. This, along with my first musical group being an instrumental representation of the Benny Goodman Trio (no bass, so the piano fills all the space), solidifies my own self-accompanying approach. Instead of concentrating on working backwards (historically), though, I pushed ahead through the decades of evolution of styles, adapting the approach. Though, in this concert, you will hear ragtime selections, and stride classics by James P. Johnson and Fats, we'll also go the other direction, influenced by (among others) the 2 pianists that are most often noted as (obvious) influences on me: Erroll Garner and Dave McKenna. I'm excited to be performing at 49 West, in Annapolis MD for the first time, for their "intimate jazz series". For more information, and to make reservations, please call Elana Byrd at 410-269-0777 or email Hope to see you!


Joe's Schedule
solo piano concerts:
SATURDAY 1/14/12: 8pm
Joe performs "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride", at 49 West, Annapolis, MD
"Pianist Joe Holt is a soloist extraordinaire, an intense musician with terrific chops (who) shows you he means business" - Cam Miller, The American Rag
FRIDAY 3/9/12: 7:30pm
Joe performs "A.D.D. Improvisation" At Germano's Cabaret, Baltimore, MD
Melding his classical background, extensive jazz experience, and a mind that can't seem to sit still, Joe presents an eclectic and entertaining evening of solo piano improvisation.
SATURDAY 4/21/12
Joe performs "A.D.D. Improvisation" at St. Margarets Episcopal Church, Annapolis, MD
"What a joy it was to watch Joe spin his magic spell ... that tickled the keys and the ears at the same time!
James R. Fitzpatrick, Director "Music at St. Margaret's" Concert Series, on Joe's performance of 7/24/11.
Joe also performs with:
SATURDAY 12/31/11: 9pm-1am
Joe performs with vocalist Beth McDonald at The Inn at 202 Dover, Easton, MD
Mike McShane - drums, and Paul Midiri - vibes, join Joe for instrumental dance music, and accompanying Beth for this elegant NYE party.
FRIDAY-SUNDAY, 2/10,11,12/12
Joe performs with the Eddie Sherman Show, for Valentine's weekend at Cilantro's, in Rehoboth Beach. DE
Joe joins Sherman, and his special guests, for a trip back in time, and some good swinging jazz.
special event - He's Steppin Out:
SUNDAY 1/29/12: 6pm - Leonardtown (MD) Church of the Nazarene
Comedian/actor Brian Whitaker joins Joe for this one-of-a-kind performance dramatizing the music from Joe's CD of Bible lesson songs for children of all ages (up to 105): "He's Steppin' Out" 
In the News (blog)
 Striding into 49 West on January 14, 2012

Mailbag/Comment Box

"I cannot tell you how much i enjoyed your performances. when you play, the grey hair and beard melt away and it was as if I was watching a child doing exactly what he had always wanted."

"We had a wonderful evening listening to you play. Love your interpretations and variations of the themes. Fell in love with the Stories Without Words so had to purchase one at the end. We listened to it all the way home on Sunday. Thanks so much for a delightful entertaining evening."


"Joe, A great show and excellent turnout. Thanks for all your efforts to make this a success.  


"You are authentic, open, inviting your audience to experience something alongside you, embracing who you are as an artist and all that you are uniquely gifted to offer the world." 


"Sir, you are insane."    

Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist
(re-printed from my "journal" blog)
Have just typed this status to post on my "Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist" Facebook page:

Ridiculous as it may seem, I have been working for months on lesson 1D: "Being Your Own Editor". With any writing, I can't stop working and re-working until it feels finally settled into place. I just locked page one in to what it should be. Now, the snowball can amble down the hill (the lesson has been written and re-written many times, so it's not like I have no additional content). One thing I'm counting on, is that this process becomes easier (or more efficient) for me over time. This, and the last lesson, have been especially challenging. Be assured that this material is not a simple re-hash of what is already out there, or a parroting of what was taught to me. Speaking the intuitive has been a challenge indeed, but one I continue to believe worthwhile. Thanks for your patience.

Though I can't guarantee that it won't continue to evolve, I am comfortable in finally laying a foundation that seems solid to build upon. Will share the content of the (current) first page with you here:

"Soon after setting up the structure for this course, it became clear that the art of musical interpretation needed it's own space, distinct from the consideration of physical piano technique. It is (at least) sometimes the case, in formal piano study, that proper interpretation is presented as the end product of sound, informed technique. "Do this with your wrist here ... to get that result ... when the notes go the other way ... over there ... to lighten this ... and emphasize that ...". Makes me dizzy. Authentic human expression and communication shouldn't be that difficult. When we want to express something verbally, for example, we don't give thought to the shape that our lips will take, or where our tongue is placed in our mouth; in order to produce a particular sound that communicates the desired meaning/feeling. In other words; (physical) technique, however it is learned, is (generally) not consciously considered in human expression. In musical expression, we practice technique in order to have command over the expression we create. This expression is shaped by musical context and guided from within, most often without conscious thought. As a musician matures, the ease and agility of playing the instrument increases, and the process grows to resemble speaking, in the manner described above. To put it simply; expression happens. Anxiety, agitation, relaxation, tranquility and the breadth of human emotion is evidenced in the manner in which words are delivered, or organized sound in presented. The words or (especially the) notes/sounds do not paint the complete picture. Mature, effective communication considers both the content and the delivery, in a single package, where meaning and context meld it all into focus. When the content of our communication is predetermined from the printed page, however; the process of getting the ideas across expands beyond the straight line. We must first take it in before we put it out, and as such, an ability to interpret (make conscious decisions that, in essence, inform our intuitive direction) is required. According to Miriam-Webster, interpretation can be defined as:
-to explain or tell the meaning of : present in understandable terms
-to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance
-represent by means of art : bring to realization by performance or direction
Have you ever considered any of the above definition as applicable when reading music: that you are explaining it's meaning, in understandable terms, as your performance brings the composition to realization (back to life), influenced by your own beliefs and understandings?"

Words are tough, but eventually, I feel that I can make them work


From the Journal
Dave Schiff before our performance at Nomad's, in Wilmington, DE, on Friday 12/23. I guess I lead a sheltered life. It's been many years since I've done the late night club date thing (there was a time, for a couple of years, when I was around 20, that it was the routine). This was different, though (in my experience): a honest to goodness jazz club - in Wilmington! Nice too, and doing pretty well, it seems. Speaking of doing pretty well, the "Dave Schiff Trio" knocked 'em dead last night. It was a fun gig, and "Jaco" got his share of attention :)
Dave played great, and was really happy about the whole thing. Expect to hear more from the Dave Schiff Trio.

read the journal
Join the
Street Team
 Last month's "Happiness ... A Thing Called Stride" concert at the Mainstay would have not succeeded as it did without the kindness and generosity of my friends. Thanks again to Bob, Kate, Mary and everyone else who helped spread the word, and the enthusiasm. Now, as upcoming 2012 performaces move a bit away from "home base", I'll need your help even more so. The next 2 public/ticketed concerts in Annapolis (49 West on 1/14), and Baltimore (Germanos on 3/9) will only succeed if enough people are (made) aware of me, and are compelled by what they discover. If you know anyone in these areas whom you think would enjoy what I do, please help spread the word about these upcoming shows. Thanks so much! 
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