in performance: ken vandermark and tim daisy

ken vandermark and tim daisy

ken vandermark and tim daisy

Near the intermission point last night between two extremely engaging sets of improvisations utilizing reeds and percussion at the Downtown Arts Center, Ken Vandermark and Tim Daisy engaged in something of an instrumental car chase. Vandermark set the pace with playful, oscillating pops on bass clarinet as Daisy underscored the animated dialogue with appropriate tension on cymbals. The two would enhance, interrupt and elongate the resulting music. Yet the hushed but harried groove would return again and again – an understated melodic device set in unstoppable motion.

This was one of many unexpected snapshots summoned at a healthily attended opening night concert of a two week tour by these leading jazz and improvisational stylists out of Chicago. Given a performance design that relied exclusively on untitled improvisations, one might have expected anarchy – an unrelenting display of instrumental firepower and melodic deconstruction. But this performance was guided heavily by dynamics, be it in the lustrous, whispery glow Vandermark created on baritone sax and clarinet before the music would mutate and recoil, or the soft rumbles on drums Daisy regularly accentuated with sharp percussive jabs.

Sure, there were a few abstract instances – like a brief, unaccompanied clarinet solo by Vandermark at the beginning of the second set that took pride in zeroing in on a whispery, but deeply irritated tone. Countering that, though, was the solid-as-granite sound he created on tenor sax.

At times Vandermark introduced a perhaps obvious comparison to the champion sax/drums duets of John Coltrane and Rashied Ali. But just when you thought you had his plan of action pegged, Vandermark detoured into the sunnier tenor inspirations of Sonny Rollins. After that, the voices he summoned grew less definable but even more arresting.

Daisy was just as much an instigator last night as he was a musical straight man, from the frenzied percussion he summoned on bowls and gongs placed on drum heads to the rockish strides he summoned under Vandermark’s tenor exploits near the performance’s conclusion.

Place all of that together and you had an evening of daring improvisational jazz that purposely avoided going straight for the throat. Instead, Vandermark and Daisy found improvisational voices that balanced fire with playfulness, patience and quiet, conversational unrest.

Getting the most out of your conference experience; Follow these basic guidelines to enhance your personal enjoyment and professional growth.(INFO TECH)(Special Libraries Association)

Information Outlook June 1, 2008 | Abram, Stephen Every year I republish this “classic” column around conference season. It has been reprinted around the globe and in many SLA chapter and division newsletters. It’s a collaborative effort over many years representing centuries of combined SLA Conference experiences. In this conference issue of Information Outlook, I thought it was timely to proffer the advice again.

The Basics * Turn off your cell phone or set it to vibrate. Relate to folks face to face.

* Don’t forget that wireless connectivity is free throughout the conference venue. Blog, take notes, Facebook, download handouts, and more!

* Survival includes aspirin, Advil, or Tylenol–you’re away from home and shouldn’t let a small pain interfere with your conference experience.

* Bring a personal water bottle (conference venues tend to be very dry) and personal covered coffee container. Our Seattle conference is “green.” Don’t be seen contributing to the 35,000 cups that typically hit the landfill from a conference our size.

* Layer your clothes–you can never tell what the room temperature will be and it’s never consistent. Temperatures and personal room comfort vary widely and there is precious little conference organizers can do about that. It is not uncommon to get evaluation forms back complaining that the same room was too hot and too cold at the same time. Plan ahead.

* Bring at least two pairs of shoes (you’ll need the change and variety).

* Bring an extra bag for bringing stuff home (clothes expand somehow while you’re away).

* Bring an office prepaid courier slip to courier heavier acquisitions, brochures, and materials back to the office (You’re not a mule). Plus, librarians seem to buy books on the road.

* You MUST have business cards. If you don’t have any, create your own on a laser printer or photocopier or have some made up by your employer.

* Wear your name tag high so people can see it. Take it off when you leave the venues. You don’t necessarily want strangers calling you by name on the street.

* Upon arrival, orient yourself. Familiarize yourself with all of the conference locations (conference center, hotels, and special event locations). Know where the coffee is–you’ll be surprised how much you’ll want it. Know where the washrooms are. Nothing is more frustrating than being lost. If you’re lost–ask a local for directions. There’s usually a map in the conference program–study it. It’s amazing how confusing big conference centers can be. For safety’s sake–know where you are and where you are going. Look at the floor plans in your program; they give you a bird’s eye view of what’s often a complex layout.

* If you’re on a restricted budget, bring your own water and snacks. Find a local grocery. Conference snack-bar prices are on par with air port prices.

The Sessions * Always try to go to the Opening General Session–then you’ll have something in common to talk about with new people you meet during the rest of the conference. Indeed, go to all keynotes. These general sessions are designed to be engaging and challenging. This year Dr. Vint Cerf, Charlie Rose and Seth Godin promise to be amazing.

* Create your schedule in advance (at least at the start of each day, but earlier if possible). Include all of the options you might like so that, if your desired session is cancelled or doesn’t meet your expectations or needs, you can hop over to another. Make sure you note the room locations so you can evaluate how much time you will need to get from one room to another between sessions.

* Plan to attend the SLA Fellows’ First-Timers and Fellows’ Connect event to make a few new friends and get a conference orientation.

* If a session isn’t meeting your needs, leave. Your time at this conference is important and you should get the most out of your investment in time, effort, and money. If you don’t see another session you are interested in at that time, then, by all means, head over to the INFO-EXPO exhibits. go to website music notes facebook

* Generally you are “allowed” to attend all sessions including business meetings of the association, divisions, and committees unless these are specifically marked “in camera” or “executive session.” SLA is very open and you should see how your association works for you. It’s also a great way to find out what you might like to get involved in and volunteer to do.

* Make sure you get your tickets early for ticketed events. Again, if you miss-out on an event you desperately want to attend, or you need an extra ticket, check out the message boards in the registration area to see if you can find one.

* If you attend a business meeting and wish to be heard on an issue, you have a right to speak as long as you are in order. Just ask permission and you will be heard. If not, get out your “Roberts Rules” and make them work for you.

* If you want a good seat at a session, arrive a little early. If you’re late, have a little courage and take a seat wherever you can find one. Don’t hover and shuffle at the back of the room or in a doorway. Librarians tend to sit in the end seat of every row and you’ll probably have to shuffle theatre style to get a good seat in a middle of a row. Whatever you do, don’t stand for an hour–you’ll regret it.

* Evaluate programs from many directions: speaker, topic, title, blurb, sponsor, or convenor. If you’re not sure it’s for you, the speaker can usually be asked what level they will be speaking at just before the session begins. Then again, even if you’re at an advanced level on a certain topic, it’s always useful to learn how to communicate about a topic at an introductory level so you can explain it to users and management.

* Don’t forget to take advantage of the pre-conference workshops. You get deeper training there than in some sessions designed to provide only highlights.

The INFO-EXPO Hall (Exhibits) * Again, remember your business cards. You can enter drawings with them. You can have materials sent to you later. You can have contacts follow up later with more detailed information. And, you will look more professional.

* Write on the back of the business cards you pick up to remind yourself what you learned or what you’d like to follow up on later, even if it’s just to visit an exhibitor’s Web site or request a product trial.

* The top three questions to ask …

–What do you have that’s new?

–Can you demo something interesting for me about your new/ enhanced/improved products?

–Are you making (Have you made) any announcements at SLA this year?

* Develop an “elevator pitch” about you and your employer to give in response to booth questions from booth staff. They want to learn about YOU in order to make sure they give you the information you desire in context. Being shy or furtive about your needs denies you the right to ever complain that your vendors don’t understand you.

* Some Exhibitors host hospitality suites for their best or prospective customers. If you’re invited, GO! They’re often fun, and you’ll meet key players in the library world.

* DON’T be tacky or unprofessional. Darting about the exhibit hall looking for free pens and other giveaways while avoiding eye contact with anything resembling booth staff is not the image you want to project.

* Please remember that vendor staff are often professional librarians too. Booth staff frequently include not only account managers but also members of a vendor’s executive team and key training or customer service personnel who have come to the SLA Annual Conference to learn and network.

* DO pace yourself. Look at the map and choose whom you absolutely MUST see and go there first. Better yet–make appointments in advance.

* DO ask as many questions as you like. If a booth person doesn’t know an answer to a question, he or she will find someone who does and get back to you later.

* DO attend vendor demos in the booths. These demos give you an idea of what’s new and often serve as mini-training sessions.

* DON’T assume that the offerings of your old, familiar vendors haven’t changed or that you know everything there is to know about them. This is your opportunity to learn what’s new and different.

* If you have no idea what a vendor does–they’re completely new to you–ASK. This is your opportunity to learn something new. Booth designs are notorious for not telling you WHY you would want to talk to the people there–overcome this barrier by asking.

* Remember that vendor’s staff are people, too. Don’t stereotype and don’t be combative just for the fun of it. Vendor bashing is a sport where no one wins. Be open to vendors’ suggestions, they’ve usually seen lots of libraries and library situations and may have something to share with you.

* DO wear comfortable shoes. There are rarely enough places to sit in the hall.

* DON’T be reluctant to say “No thank you” if you’re not interested.

* DO thank the vendors for the many ways they sponsor the conference and SLA. As a result of their participation, your conference experience is definitely richer and less expensive.

Networking and Social Events * Take time for yourself on field trips, tours, or social events. You are working much longer hours at a conference than you probably do on an “average” workday, and it is just fine to take a break. You’ll definitely absorb more if you rest occasionally. Remember, there are no more “martyr awards” at the conference than there are at home.

* Learn ice-breaker questions. Use them with seat mates, in lines and at coffee stations, wherever. Even if you’re shy, they will often induce even the most recalcitrant and shy person to open up. site music notes facebook

–“Hi, I’m (Your Name Here) and I’m from (Your Town or Library Name Here). Where are you from?” –“What’s new at your shop?” –“See anything new at the conference?” “Attend any great sessions?” or “Learn something new?” * Come to the conference with specific people, institutions and contacts you’d like to meet in mind. Learn the art of the name tag glance to see what networking opportunities you might find. Remember: ALL of the people you’ll meet were in your shoes once.

* You’re going to be in lots of lines (for food, for coffee, for meetings, etc.) at the conference. Take advantage of this by networking with your new inline buddies–don’t just stand there.

* Leave the office at the office–professional networking does not ALWAYS have to have a “pure” business purpose. It’s great to have professional friends and acquaintances who are outside of your normal ‘”box.” It stretches you, and it’s one of the great values of the SLA conference.

* Don’t horde your business cards–they’re not gold in your pocket–they’re like smiles–they only have value when they’re given away.

* In general, assume anyone who’s wearing a ribbon is extra-approachable. They tend to be people who have volunteered to make the conference a success.

* Local librarians staff the hospitality booth–ask their advice about restaurants or sights to see. They know. They live in Seattle. Also, visit the Washington, D.C. booth to plan for next year’s conference that will celebrate SLA’s Centennial.

* Don’t be shy about asking people to join you for dinner or about setting up dinner groups–eating is a great networking opportunity.

* Be nice to students. Welcome them to the profession by treating them as colleagues.

* Always try to go to the conference-wide event party. This year it is on Wednesday afternoon and it’s guaranteed to be fun and you’ll make friends for life.

Getting Involved * Be positive–no one likes a whiner. Librarians will listen because they’re polite but don’t take that as encouragement for bashing SLA, individuals or vendors. People remember positive contributions and interactions far more than negative ones.

* You’ll probably meet your next employer at a conference. First impressions are important. Dress for the job you want.

* Write a report or memo to your boss or team and explain the value of the SLA conference to you. Tell them what you learned and begin laying the groundwork for attending next year’s conference in D.C.

* Volunteer–let people know that you’re interested in trying new things or experimenting with new roles in your association, committee, unit, chapter or division. It’s a classic win/ win situation!

The Association * Please make a point of attending the SLA Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday the and candidate speeches on Sunday. It’s when you can see the real work accomplished by the association’s leadership and volunteers.

* You’ll also likely meet SLA’s Chief Executive Officer, Janice R. Lachance and some of the great SLA staff at this conference. They are always in listening mode–so speak up! Our staff work hard for us every day and especially at the conference. Meet them and thank them for all they do.

Valuing Your Conference Experience Here are the benchmarks I use to evaluate my SLA conference experience:

* I met at least one new person every day.

* I learned at least one useful thing in a session every day.

* I had at least one substantive discussion with a vendor about a new product that I might need.

* I had fun every day.

* These hints owe a huge debt to the SLA Fellows and, in particular, to Dan Trefethen and Susan Klopper, who created a First Timers’ Package for the Los Angeles SLA Conference in June 2002.

STEPHEN ABRAM, MLS, is the president of SLA and is vice president, innovation, for SirsDynix. He is chief strategist for the SirsiDynix Institute. He is an SLA Fellow, the past president of the Ontario Library Association, and the past president of the Canadian Librarey Association. In June 2003, he was awarded SLA’s John Cotton Dana Award. He is the author of Out Front with Stephen Abram and Stephen’s Lightouse blog. This column contains this personal perspectives and does not necessarily represent the optinions or positions of SirsiDynix. You may contact him at


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