Vibes Congress 2015 Recap
The 2015 Vibes Congress convened this last weekend at Malletech’s factory in Neptune, New Jersey, and featured mallet pros and enthusiasts from all around the world. Those of us who were fortunate enough to be in attendance can attest that it was a truly special two days, filled with incredible playing, insightful workshops and presentations, and much creative inspiration. Along with Tony Miceli, David Friedman, Dave Samuels, Joe Locke, Stefon Harris, Ed Smith and Bill Ware, there were a number of additional world class musicians in the house, and each contributed to the event through not only their amazing playing, but also a collective sense of passion for the vibes, marimba, and the creative process itself.
The international vibes/marimba community owes a big, big thanks to Tony Miceli, Leigh Howard Stevens, Tom Meyers and the tireless Malletech staff, who provided a wonderful environment for this unique meeting to take place. THANK YOU!
Saturday night featured an epic jam at the nearby Langosta Lounge, including pairings such as Tony and Joe, David and Stefon, Tom Beckham and Steve Shapiro, Behn Gillece (and yours truly), and many others. The “vibes” were all good—a room full of dedicated musicians and enthusiasts of all ages, appreciating each other’s talents and unique abilities.
The Congress focused not only on the state of the instrument: techniques, theory, musical considerations, etc… but also on the Big Picture: where mallet instruments fit in the modern world, how to integrate them with technology, and how to create greater awareness around the world for these instruments we not only love, but have dedicated our lives to playing.
Some of the highlights included:
Stefon Harris giving us a sneak peak look at his forthcoming ear training ap, and also sharing his personal feelings about music and connecting to other human beings. David Friedman and Dave Samuels reviving their seminal group, Double Image, by performing a rare, duo improv treat for us all. Joe Locke playing some beautiful solo vibes, while demonstrating the exciting new pick-up system which will soon be unveiled by Leigh and the Malletech crew. Ed Smith playing some very creative “prepared vibes” music on the Love Vibe, incorporating various percussion instruments to create fascinating sounds. Bill Ware sharing his personal journey and his very unique approach to the vibraphone. There was much, much more of course… and thanks to everyone who not only gave the presentations, but also contributed comments and feedback throughout the weekend. There was also the opportunity to acquire the music of many artists who were present, thanks to a well-organized merchandise table.
The Congress closed with a passionate, emotional meeting where those still in attendance discussed the future of the event. The consensus was that it was a great success, and that there is a need now for more people to get involved in the planning and organization for next year, in order to:
A) Lessen the burden of the few individuals who did all the heavy lifting to make this happen
B) Spread the word so this great event can continue to evolve and grow in future years.
Once more, THANKS to everyone who made the pilgrimage to Malletech this last weekend. This writer was very grateful for the opportunity to connect with great players from all over, and form new friendships that will surely last for many years to come.