After the gig, Jim explains to us, using elaborate hand gestures, just how great the videos are going to turn out

Nowadays, a thriving YouTube channel seems to be as important for a performing musician as a healthy discography, and I must confess that my own channel has been anything but thriving for most of the last few years. That is, until now! You may remember my blog post alerting you about my band's gig at the venerable Chicago music venue Constellation back in March. The gig ended up being a wonderful night of music-making, and I now have the professionally-recorded videos to prove it.

We hired an audio engineer (David Zuchowski) and videographer (Joseph Lim) to document the proceedings, and you can enjoy the finished product on, you guessed it, YouTube. So far, I've posted 3 videos, and will be posting more in the coming weeks. Take a moment to watch/listen to each of them below and subscribe to my channel so you won't miss the rest of them. Also be sure to watch the great videos by the other band on the bill that night, Benje Daneman's Life Stories. It was great meeting and hearing Benje, a New York-based trumpeter and composer who has a beautiful sound.


I feel like this tune is a nice encapsulation of the group's aesthetic approach: simple, groovy, a little off-kilter, open for plenty of improvisation, and even a little bit catchy. I named it after the thing I had to do far too often during last year's winter.


This is a favorite of many of the band's fans (and members); if we had singles, this is the one I'd send to Casey Kasem first. I wrote it over a period of a couple of years. It started with a simple gospel-inspired melodic fragment that I couldn't stop playing on piano. It took me a couple of years to work out the rest of the material that would frame that main motive, and the tune ended up going plenty of other places in the process. Once it was finally ready to play, I decided to dedicate it to Thaddeus Tillman, an old friend from my hometown of Tucson who was a great trumpet player and died way too young.

Neptune Morning

This is the oldest tune in the Many Blessings book: I wrote it as a freshman at Northern Illinois University (that would be Spring of 2005, to be exact). Neptune is the name of the dorm where music majors lived, and I decided to name the tune after my daily experience of getting up and entering another day of my college experience, which could be by turns inspiring, discouraging, empowering or devastating. It's also the only tune from the evening's set that's a straight-up swinger.

Update 5/18/15: Two more videos added!

Palo Verde

This song was 10 years in the making. I composed the main 4-bar theme on Christmas Eve 2004 when a good friend gave me a huge book of manuscript paper as a gift, and I wanted to write something on the first page. The tune always stuck with me, after moving from Arizona to Illinois, and I finally expanded it into a fully-arranged composition on the occasion of Many Blessings' first gig at Constellation, in November 2014. I named it after the Palo Verde tree, one of the defining sights in the landscape of my hometown of Tucson.

Little Growl

The initial seed of inspiration for this song was my deep love for the minor 6 chord: my favorite, for its dark complexity and harmonic ambiguity. From there, I ended up writing a simple 16-bar tune with two sections: the first is gentle and a little melancholy-sounding; the second puts some heavy blues lines in unexpected places. I then took the simple source material and wove it into an extended arrangement. While the song is in A minor, it never quite resolves to the tonic chord where you expect it to (a technique shared by Katy Perry and Daft Punk, as pointed out by Owen Pallet).

For all of the above videos, the personnel is: Quentin Coaxum, trumpet; Jim Schram, tenor sax; Daniel Thatcher, bass; Yrs Trly, drums

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