When you have a long-term goal, and you are actively working towards achieving this dream, it is one thing knowing that everything happens at its own time, it is quite another having the adequate amount of patience for long periods of gestation, or the stamina to keep up when the pace suddenly spins out of your control.
Last month I wrote a little about my most recent trip to Italy and I would like to say a bit more about my time in Gela, Sicily, and to talk about Angelo Di Leonforte, a musician I met there. He helped me get one step closer to achieving one of my long-term goals.
One of my dreams is to have proper lead sheets and clear demo recordings of all the viable songs I have written. This may sound like a very simple goal but I have found it to be quite challenging due to my limited notation skills. This is embarrassing, but true, and since I cannot go back now and learn all the things I need to know right now, I have decided to rely on musicians who have the skills needed, skills that complement mine. I will continue to focus on writing new songs and to hone the skills I do have. I want my creative process to continue to be joyful, not stressful.
In preparation for this September trip, I enlisted the help of Isaac Raz, a gifted musician in New York, to transcribe a half dozen totally original songs (music and lyrics) and to transpose and transcribe a few songs where I had written lyrics but the key was not ideal for me to perform. This work took many months as our schedules did not permit any marathon writing sessions. Because Isaac has a wonderful ear and intuitive sense, he was able to accurately translate the chords in my brain onto paper! I am very grateful to know him and to have him as a friend. As soon as my trip was booked, I printed out a bunch of copies and packed the lead sheets in my suitcase with the hope that I night be able to sing them to a couple of Italian friends who had asked to hear some of my work.
As I mentioned in my previous post, in Gela, I attended daily workshop classes and then in the evenings there was the public “Gela Jazz Festival”. On Tuesday evening I performed “Close Your Eyes” during the jam session portion of the festival, and the pianist at that moment was Angelo Di Leonforte. I did not know at the time that he was not familiar with the song because he played it perfectly from the iRealPro printout I had brought with me. It was just an outline of the changes, no frills. I lucked out, because this could have been a disaster. (Note to self – only use lead sheets with melody line included.) I found out the song was new to him after we had left the stage and I went to thank him for his lovely accompaniment. During our conversation my songs came up and he asked to see the lead sheets I had brought with me. He seemed to like them very much and graciously offered to spend some time with me the following day to try playing a couple of them. I was over the moon, as I did not expect such a generous offer of time from someone I had just met.
The next day, during our lunch break, we were able to record 2 of my originals, “I Lied to Myself” and “My Dreamy Man” as well as a demo (in my key) of lyrics I wrote for Alfonso Deidda’s “How Could I Forget Your Eyes“. I attach a video link and lyrics to the first song below. Granted, the digital recorder was not ideally placed and I over-sing it a little, but hey, we were in the moment and Angelo’s wonderful interpretation of my leadsheet made me cry a little when we were through. (I hope to have something to share about the other two songs we recorded as soon as I can.)
So, for me, the years of prepping just a handful of my songs, which at the time seemed like an eternity of small steps and great pauses (and waiting, waiting, waiting) became a rapid succession of events in Sicily and Rome as I was able to share these hastily recorded demos with friends that were interested in hearing them. I do not know where these songs and this creative work will lead me, but I do know that it has brought me incredible joy knowing and working with some wonderful people, creative, inspiring, musicians. And, I thank them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
What can I say about Angelo Di Leonforte? Well, first of all he gives me hope for the future of jazz, the future of jazz in general and jazz in Italy. It is fantastic to see someone so young and talented living his dream, continuing to draw from the wisdom of jazz masters as well as his own sense of aesthetics.
Since meeting him I have learned that he is a sharing, nurturing person and those are wonderful qualities to have, but as a musician, composer, and teacher, I think it makes him that much more special. Not everyone shares their knowledge, not everyone is eager to spend their time or attention on others, not everyone sees or listens to the larger story, but I believe he does.
If you take a short look at Angelo’s online presence you will see that he shares not only his thoughtful piano performances, and his personal story, but he also shares his creative method. On YouTube he recently posted that he will be sharing “a series of videos where I’ll show the things I studied and the steps I followed to study improvisation.” He continues, “It’s important to have a plan of study and a method to study jazz improvisation. I’ve always said that Jazz improvisation is a science and it need to be studied like a science.”
And, lastly, personally, I have to say that Angelo is aptly name because I do believe he is an “angel”. In my life he arrived on the wings of jazz and I am lucky to know him and I have already begun working on another project especially for him, so I feel heavenly about that too.
I Lied To Myself
©2012 Laurie Early
There’s a limbo in this world
where the silence is so loud
and I feel like I am all alone
even in the city crowd
I wait to hear a word from you
I search for signs that you’re around
but, you don’t seem to need me now
so I don’t hear a sound.
I lied to myself, I said, “I’ll be okay”
I lied to myself, the day you went away
I told my shattered heart
you did not need to stay,
but I lied, to myself
I lied to myself, I said, “the time was wrong”
I lied to myself, for I’ve loved you all along
I tried to keep on singing,
but I cried with every song
yes, I lied to myself
And now my heart’s in pieces
scattered on the floor
Each sunrise brings new longing
for the face I adore
but words won’t make it better
if you don’t love me anymore, so, why lie?
Why do I lie to myself?
I lie to myself awaiting your return
I lie to myself for this fire helped me learn
that love with you ignited ashes
I thought would never burn
so, I lie, I lie, I lie and I lie and I lie, to myself
I know there is no other way
to keep you with me
one more day…
So, I’ll keep lying to myself
I’ll keep lying to myself.
My next post will (hopefully) focus a little on the wonders of Jazz and friends in Rome.