1. How was for you the experience to work with the OJM?
I first heard the OJM when they were on their US tour with Kurt Rosenwinkel, and so I was familiar with the band and delighted when they asked me to participate in their first Jazz Composers Forum. This is an amazingly ambitious project: commissioning, performing, and recording new music from eight different composers from all over Europe and North America! It was an honor to be included. My music is extremely difficult to play, and it's very easy for players to get frustrated or burned out during long, intense rehearsals, but everyone in the OJM was in it to win it. I'd never been to Portugal before and it's one of the most stunningly beautiful places I've ever visited — and the peixe grelhado and vinho verde did not disappoint.
2. Can you define the piece you wrote for them, All In?
As I was in the course of writing the OJM-commissioned piece, I learned that the great trumpet player and educator Laurie Frink had died. Laurie appears on the first album I recorded with my own bigband, Secret Society, and she performed with us on several occasions, including our debut at the Newport Jazz Festival. She was a friend and mentor to many of us, and I was shocked and saddened by her unexpected passing. Those emotions began to work their way into the piece and when I was done writing, I decided to call it All In and dedicate it to Laurie. (The title works on multiple levels and has multiple implications, which I think Laurie would have appreciated.)