Love & Leave
OC Pop: Ming breaks music mold By ROBERT KINSLER Special to the Register Singer-songwriter-guitarist Ming has a simple mission. To make music that is as enriching for the audience as it is for his talented trio. 'I've been playing music as long as I can remember,' said Ming, who grew up in Washington, D.C., and moved to Southern California to study jazz at Cal State Long Beach. Last May, Ming set out to carve out a career as a solo artist, singing original songs at area open-mic nights. But within a few months, the Costa Mesa resident had teamed up with San Clemente bassist Garrett Wolfe and Lake Forest-based drummer Mike Riney, winning over audiences at venues such as the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, the Ugly Mug in Orange, the Liquid Lounge in Long Beach and the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest. 'We have great chemistry,' Ming said of the three musicians. 'We have a (common) goal and work toward it.' Ming will celebrate the release of the group's debut CD, 'Love and Leave,' with a show at the Blue Café in Long Beach on March 17. It will be the latest leap for an artist (whose band name is the same as his own moniker) who embarked on an original-music career less than a year ago but has already opened for acclaimed artists such as the Stanton Moore Trio and singer-songwriter James Intveld. Ming fuses jazz, folk, blues and jam rock together in an improvisational brew that owes a debt to a wide range of artists, such as the Dave Matthews Band, the Police and Dave Brubeck. On 'Love and Leave,' material includes the bluesy ballad 'Happiness,' the folk rock 'Big Lie' and funk-tinged rocker 'If Heaven Has No Place for Me.' 'We're a live band, and we wanted it (the new CD) to have that feel,' Ming said. 'We did it in a span of three days. We had to pick five songs we feel express our music. ... The difficult part was to keep the length of each song down.' Indeed, Ming noted that the trio never plays a song the same way twice. Improvisation is a key ingredient in the group's style. Ming said the band enjoys the process of exploration that allows a song to 'morph' into something new every time it is played. 'For us, we felt some frustration we didn't fit that mold,' admitted Ming when asked about the current state of popular music, which mostly revolves around radio-friendly production and formulaic commercial hooks. 'Even if we don't get to a level of mass success, we're enjoying the ride and touching people.' Ming is a Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist quickly developing a local following and a reputation for being one of the best Southern California Acts with the regular help of Upright Bassist Garrett Wolfe and Drummer/Percussionist Mike Riney. They have made regular appearances since May 2006 at The Blue Café, The Rainbow Bar and Grill, The Rhythm Lounge, The Coach House, DiPiazza's, The Ugly Mug, The Gypsy Lounge, The Moxie Java, The Sol Grill, The Liquid Lounge, Taco Beach, and SoBeCA to name a few with more venue's and performances being scheduled on a regular basis. Ming's music is best described as an accessible blend of Acoustic (real, raw, untouched, organic); Rock (rhythm, drive, soul, intensity); and Jazz (color, improvisation, spontaneity). Each performance varies from the previous to the next as the trio engages in musical conversation drawing in listeners and sending us on a sonic journey. 2007 has recently seen the independent debut EP release, under the JML Records label, entitled "Love and Leave." "My goal as an artist is to entertain, to reintroduce improvisation and exploration, and to enrich lives through my gift. On a deeper level it is a challenge to you to listen to your own calling and to break the mold; to look at those around you and love them more deeply; to live in the absolute moment rather than being in a constant state of worry for tomorrow. This is my release and I wish for it to be yours."