Author: Laurie Early

88 Keys + 88 Years = Barry Harris

Dr. Barry Doyle Harris will be 88-years old next week. Born on December 15, 1929, he has lived one year for each one of the 88 keys on the piano, his musical vehicle—a vehicle that he uses to transport his listeners to jazz paradise. I will let others expound on his theoretical genius, or explain mathematically why his scales and harmonies are so exquisite. I will instead share a glimmer of what has happened in my world since Barry came into my life. I will start this story in the summer of 2008, when I was still studying jazz vocals with Ulysses Slaughter. A friend from the Jazz Foundation of America’s Monday night jam sessions, pianist Richard Clements, invited me to attend the memorial of a dancer being held at “University of the Streets” in the East Village. At the memorial, Richard was playing a beautiful white grand piano, and at a certain point in the program Barry came on the stage area and sang a song that he wrote to commemorate the lives of …

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (IV)

The technical side of this piece began when I read a songwriting book that suggested opening a set of lyrics with the word “And” (which, as we were all taught in elementary school, is NOT an acceptable way to begin a sentence.) So, just starting my poem with this word was a purposeful act of defiance in a grammatical sense, not even taking into consideration the subject of the piece which evolved into its own defiant statement. I have witnessed this violent story in many forms over my lifetime. It is never the same, yet it is always the same. These words were inspired by the melody and they flowed out of my pen and onto the page in a stream-of-consciousness way. They surprised me. Listen to Lament for an Orchid by Billy Strayhorn  – The Dutch Jazz Orchestra This song is also known as Absinthe – click this link to hear Duke Ellington And Again ©2009 Laurie Early And again, he apologizes, as he begs her, please, to give him one more chance. So, she bends, and …

A Burgundy Twilight

I feel a major shift in my life, starting today, October 1, 2017. Without going into details, a nine-year cycle ended yesterday for me. Yes, yesterday I learned many things: revelations about people I know, observations about how love is expressed (or denied), thoughts about how I am (or am not) respected, and a new confidence about my ability to keep going through extreme periods of grief, stress, and rejection. I sometimes see flashes of my future, I know certain things are coming, and I try not to judge them as good or bad. This ability is sometimes very reassuring as it gives me hope. But, there are times I am frustrated when I know something unpleasant is heading towards me and there is nothing I can do about it. And, sometimes, I am just plain WRONG and my “prediction” turns out to be just a negative fantasy. A small case in point, my lyrics for Barry Harris’ fantastic tune “Burgundy”. I wrote them the week following a class where we scatted syllables along with …

Ornithology

September–still warm from the end of summer, yet moving towards the frost. I am thinking of all the wonderful music that is my soundtrack now and I would like to share my lyrics for Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology”. YouTube link to sing along Ornithology music ©1946 Charlie Parker lyrics ©2012 Laurie Early I bet you thought you’d never see me cryin’ you prob’ly thought my heart was just like a stone I tell ‘ya, now that’s no lie but you turned it into sand with your goodbye yes, when you said “we’re through” I started to cry the tears flowed down–now you know why When I THINK of you baby I always cry, must be that sand in my eye (I) tried hard to build a wall around me but when we kissed it crumbled down to the ground You held me, and it fell Baby, you know you had me under  your spell I gave my heart to you, couldn’t you tell? I didn’t want to hear “farewell” Tag: ====== Listen, baby, on my word, …

Childhood, Mindfulness, & Avocados

You might think my title for this month’s post is a strange trio of words, and I agree, but there are threads to tie them together–observation, reflection, and trees. For childhood is where I learned many ways to express my creative soul, when I first learned to explore the idea of mindfulness by observing a single tree. As an adult, I spent a few hours in a large grove of trees, observing the heavy dark green avocados swaying in a light breeze over my head. They were beautiful ornaments hanging under a shady canopy of leaves, fully protected from the desert sun above (that eventually burned my cheeks a bright red.) Years later when I heard a song that had the words “avocado tree” included in a rough translation of the original Portugese, I was reminded of those beautiful trees and that wonderful day. I reflected on the spiritual tranquility I experienced while walking alone there, and I was inspired to write a new set of lyrics in English which also speak to the practice …

London Falling

“Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved?” that is the quote* I blurted last month when I finally arrived at a friend’s house in London and greeted my musical mentor with a kiss on each of his cheeks. I was so relieved to finally get there! It was truly a miracle as I could barely walk. I had fractured my left ankle in an unexpected tumble less than an hour before. Yes indeed, I had fallen on some steps made slippery by the afternoon rain. I landed flat on my face. I don’t remember falling; no slow-motion-mind-racing moments to make corrections, no attempts to avoid the inevitable collision with the pavement. I did not hear any inner thoughts of, “Oh no! I am going to fall!” All I knew, all I felt, was the impact. I lay there thinking simply, “REALLY? … REALLY? …” Had I traveled across an ocean only to land on my face? I wanted to just lay there. I did NOT want to move. I wanted …

I am always singing to YOU

I love creating music; I enjoy the process, the experimentation, working with other musicians, and I really like sharing the final musical piece or song. This month, as I begin the second half of my life on this planet, I have created and now share something else…a new public “Laurie Early – Singer Songwriter Lyricist” Facebook page to showcase all the musical people in my life, projects I am involved in, and links to other things that interest me such as art, writing, science, culture, and creative expression. You will see that as my cover photo I am featuring the street art image below (and my epiphanic thought). My friends might recognize the image as it has already been posted on my personal Facebook page. I created it to accompany a song-clip of when I sang “You, My Love” in a recent workshop class. What especially touches my heart when I listen is hearing Barry distracting me (he sees me start to cry a bit) and encouraging me to keep singing, shouting: “BE in love! THAT’s right! …

Introspection and the Collage Process

I have made paper collages since I was very young, maybe 4 or 5 years old. One of the first pieces I remember making was a butterfly. I used the image of a carrot as the body of the butterfly, but I do not remember what I used for the wings. I wish I could see it again. I do recall that I had to use “baby scissors”. They had small thin embossed metal blades that had little rounded tips so I could not cut myself. I was also given a bottle of mucilage, a plant-based non-toxic glue, which I don’t think they even sell any more. (That kind of adhesive is not very useful in the long run as it turns yellow or brown with age. So, even if I still had that butterfly piece today it would probably look like a monochrome moth now.) I now follow a more introspective practice, using slightly more dangerous tools. I will outline my process here as I have found it to be a very relaxing, contemplative and often …

Stay in the Now

I suppose I should be disappointed, sad, or perhaps even a little angry, about all the unusual circumstances that recently came together, all at the same time, like a “perfect storm”, thwarting my first professional gig (as well as a separate CD recording session.) But, I am not; I feel none of these things. All I feel is grateful. How lucky am I to be working with these amazing musicians in such a beautiful country as Italy? My heart literally pounds from the joy when I think about it! And, if you catch me crying when I talk about it, that’s because I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it all, not because of any sadness.         These two events, a gig in Latina and recording session in Rome, involved a lot of planning over the last year or so, but this arc of creative activity actually began in 2014 when I chanced to meet bassist, Nicola Borrelli, at a house-party in the hills of Rome. (Is there really such a thing as …

Longing for the Roman Moon

Once again, as soon as I rolled my luggage back into my NYC apartment, I was struck with a longing to return to Italy. I am experiencing a feeling of homesickness for a country where I was not born and a longing for friends I did not grow up with. I cannot imagine living without this musical community. Now that these people are part of my life, I must endure this temporary separation from them. I have left pieces of my heart, and hope these traces of my love and respect will keep a little of my energy there with those I adore so very much. Roman Moon Music © Gianni Leone & Francesco Manfredi Lyrics ©2012 Laurie Early                               I let go and I fall silent yearning for you then from darkness recall the bright glow of the Roman moon All those nights you were mine I gazed lost in your eyes hypnotized by their shine star-lights stolen from April’s skies Every moment …