Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in travel, style, and food. Hope you have a nice stay!

Sunflower Music Festival





Eldar SuitEldar Djangirov
Described by Dave Brubeck in the New York Times as "a genius beyond most young people I’ve heard" and described by the New York Times as "a blend of musical intelligence, organizational savvy, enthusiasm and prowess that was all the more impressive for seeming so casual…an ebullient impressionist.”  Chick Corea noted that Eldar has “a sparkling command of the instrument - new horizons for music,” and All Music Guide stated that Eldar’s “playing is, simply, flawless.”  Downbeat magazine stated that "his command of his instrument is beyond staggering.”
Eldar has been on tour since his first record with Sony in 2005 and has built a catalog of 5 records with the Sony, one of which is Grammy nominated.  He has extensively toured throughout Europe, Asia, North America.  He also recently released 2 records through the acclaimed New York City based label Motema. He released the album "Breakthrough" which reached #2 on the JazzWeek Chart and has had great recent national press publication coverage in USA Today, Huffington Post, Grammy website, New York Times, and Keyboard Magazine.   Eldar’s videos and tracks have garnered millions of streams.  Eldar has performed at numerous major jazz festivals around the world such as Tokyo Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Playboy Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival and ect.  He has performed at numerous venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and Hollywood Bowl to concert halls and jazz clubs across the globe.  Eldar appeared on national TV performing at the 2000 and 2008 Grammy Awards, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, CBS Saturday Early Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Eldar has recently released a new live album entitled World Tour Vol 1. A compilation of takes from his recent touring, the record covers a wide range of performances from across the globe with trio and solo tracks sure to impress.  Clips from Tokyo, Philadelphia, Windham, Montreal, Atlanta, Washington DC, Tongyeong, San Diego and Oakland are captured in front of live audiences.

IMG_3996 (2)Luques Curtis Luques Curtis was born 1983 in Hartford, CT. After having formal training on piano and percussion, he found himself wanting to play the bass. Luques studied at the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts, Artist Collective, and Guakia with Dave Santoro, Volcan Orham, Nat Reeves, Paul Brown, and others. While attending high school, he was also very fortunate to study the Afro-carribean genre withbass greats Andy Gonzalez and Joe Santiago. With his talent and hard work he earned a full scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College Of Music in Boston. There he studied with John Lockwood and Ron Mahdi. While in Boston he was also able to work with great musicians such as Gary Burton, Ralph Peterson, Donald Harrison, Christian Scott, and Francisco Mela. Luques was also working with his brother Zaccai Curtis and form a group called Insight.

Now living in New York City, Mr. Curtis has been performing nationally and internationally with Artist such as, Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch, Ralph Peterson, Christian Scott, Sean Jones, Gary Burton, Stefon Harris, Donald Harrison, Orrin Evans, Albert Rivera, Elio Villafranca, Francisco Mela, and others. He also co-owns a record label called Truth Revolution Records along side his brother. Together they have three releases, the most recent being "Completion of Proof". Luques was also part of Brian Lynch's Grammy winning CD "Simpatico" and Christian Scott's Grammy nominated CD "Rewind That". You can hear him on Gary Burton CD "Next Generations"; Dave Valentin "Come Fly With Me"; Sean Jones "Roots","Kaleidoscope",and "The Search Within"; Albert Rivera's CD "Re-Introduction"; Etienne Charles' CD "Folklore"; Orrin Evans' CD "Faith In Action".

Todd_1Todd Strait Todd was raised in Topeka, KS, and became involved in music in elementary school playing trumpet and drums. Eventually braces pushed the trumpet out of the picture and it's been drums ever since.

Todd began gigging locally while still in 7th grade, mainly with his father's group. During his last year of high school he became involved in the 1979 "Louie Bellson/Slingerland National Drum Contest" where he eventually finished in second place at the Las Vegas finals. The scholarships gained from this experience enabled Todd to pursue his dream of moving to the NYC area and studing with Ed Soph in 1980.

Upon relocating to the east coast Todd free-lanced in and around NYC and the Tri-State area, then joined Marian McPartland's trio in 1982 playing in New York City clubs and traveling occasionally with her across the country. In 1984 he also began playing with guitarists Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel. In '86 he joined Woody Herman's Thundering Herd for a 3 month cross-country stint before returning to NYC.

1990 found Todd relocated to Kansas City where a string of important connections were born. Besides gigging in KC and St. Louis with local favorites and visiting "stars", Todd toured nationally and internationally with Kevin Mahogany from 1995 until 2000, with Karrin Allyson 1995 until 2009, and with Eldar from 1999 until 2008 (See the discography page for related recordings, 3 of which were Grammy Nominees).

In 2002 Todd relocated again, this time to Portland, OR. A typical year of travel consisted of between 200-250 days on the road (between tours with either Eldar or Karrin) so Todd was not around Portland much those first 7 and a half years. But in mid 2009 he finally decided to change gears and stay put for awhile.

Now he is enjoying being away from airplanes and playing with local greats such as PDXV, Greg Goebel's Trio, Warren Rand, Dan Balmer, and Randy Porter, among many other wonderful musicians in Portland and Seattle. Todd is also building a student base here in Portland. Besides serving as adjunct drumset instructor for UMKC in Kansas City,MO, from 1990-2002, Todd has been a faculty member for several summer jazz camps across the country over the last 20 years and is looking forward to his 10th consecutive year at the KU Jazz Camp in Lawrence, Kansas, this summer. Last year he joined the staff of YMA (Young Musicians and Artists) which holds two week sessions on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, OR. He will continue to serve as one of several adjunct drumset instructors at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, OR, during the school year as he has since 2003.


Break the Ice: 4 ways to better cold calling

Have You Had Enough?