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Moments, Memories & Jazz site is my “home” on the internet.

Thanks again for stopping by.  To read a little about me and to see how cute I was at around the age of two, please visit my ABOUT page – just click here.  If you are interested in reading more about the freelance songwriting services I offer – then click here. Even if you are visiting on your phone, at the bottom of this page is a link to “FULL SITE” you can click there to see my latest posts.

-Laurie

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Becoming collage

Magnets and Distractions

My back is messed up. No use in going over why this happens to me periodically. I will accept that it is for me to deal with even though the initial cause was out of my control. Yes, I know what I am supposed to be doing to avoid a recurrence of this pain–yet it continues to plague me. I should avoid sitting for long periods of time in folding chairs. I should get up at least once an hour and walk around. I should not sit hunched over my computer for 6 hours straight. I should lose weight. I should practice yoga more consistently; the list goes on and on.

I understand that other people deal with chronic pain and have much more intense experiences than the few weeks I am disabled by sciatica pain and random back spasms. Perhaps they have ways to deal with it other than the ice packs, ibuprofen, bedrest and stretching exercises I use as my main healing techniques. Mostly though, I wait and DISTRACT myself with work, sleep, music, random mind puzzles, and listening to inspirational videos and other resources online.

Becoming collage

I meant to write a really uplifting post this month, I procrastinated as long as I could waiting for the last hour of the last day to post this. And having finally gotten something written, it now seems like I have devolved into what feels like whining to me. So, in order to add something interesting and positive, I share an excerpt from my old blog “Pig in the Clouds” where I describe how to make little refrigerator magnets.

May you all have happy spines. That is what I want for myself right now, so I wish it for you too.

Pig in the Clouds

Mini Bubble Magnet Sets

The mini-bubble magnet sets are done! I thought about adding little embellishments to the tops of these small round bubble gems, but I just liked them WAY too much the way they were–simple, geometric, but still holding on to an organic energy.  Glass and paper make me very happy.

  • As I was creating these latest mini gem sets I attempted to photograph some of my process.  This was not as easy as I had imagined; balancing the camera; keeping glue off the lens; adding silicone and getting shots before it set; and of course making sure the magnets did not get too frisky and kiss before the adhesive set!  (If this happens I have to pry them apart, clean everything off and start the adhesion part over.)
  • So, after I clean my clear gems, I don’t have photos of any of this part, the first thing I do is pick 5 pieces that will fit nicely in a tin. This will be one “set”.
  • Next, I find a background image I like.  I am generally attracted to textiles and other things with a bit of light, shadow and texture.  I trace each of the 5 gems and cut out the circle-like shapes.
  • Then, I look for tiny images that will “float” on top of the background and I cut those out.
  • For my latest sets I chose pictures of beads and glass shapes.  I love photos of glass – almost as much as I love glass itself.  This may stem from being surrounded by glass globes and other glass objects when I was a child, hanging out at my father’s industrial design studio after school.  Or maybe in an alternate universe I am a glass artist creating melted pieces in my kiln.  (I say alternate universe because I do not think I have the arm or lung strength for that job in this life.)
Okay, back to the how-to…
  • After I have designed a set, I apply acrylic medium to the back of each gem.  I use a cotton swab because I have found too many paintbrush hairs imbedded in previous pieces and they are a pain to remove after the acrylic has dried.
  • In this medium puddle I place the “floater” images FACE DOWN.  Remember. you are working in reverse and when the medium dries it will be clear.  Look closely, you may be able to see that there is a little piece of blue paper near the center of the photo (directly below) where my fingers are encrusted with dried glue.
  • You can continue adding things upside down, keeping in mind that the things you lay down first will appear on top of the things you apply afterwards.  (I meant to add some fibers but could not locate them this time, oh well, will add those to the next sets I make.)
  • When you are done adding your smaller images, coat the front of your paper background–the somewhat circle-shaped piece–with a little medium (it may curl, do not worry, it will relax after the medium has soaked in a bit.)
  • Place the paper circle on your gem (front-side down just like everything else) and rub it gently with your finger, you can add a small amount of medium to the back of the paper now if it makes it easier for you to rub.  Turn the gem over and look for any bubbles of air that may be trapped between the glass and the paper and rub them out towards the edges.  Do not be concerned if medium oozes out too, you can wipe it away with a slightly damp cloth, or wait until it is dry and scrape it off the glass with your fingernail.  After you have rubbed out all the bubbles, apply a full coat of medium to the back of the paper to seal it.
  • Place the upside down gem somewhere safe to dry – you will know it is fully dry when you turn it over and it is clear – the images will POP! While they were drying, I divided my sets with swabs so they would not get mixed together.
  • After they are dry, add a small dab of CLEAR silicone adhesive (caulk) to the back of each gem. It will look white at first but I know you made sure to read the label before your purchase and you bought the kind that dries clear or “translucent”. In this photo you can see my other very expensive “set separating device” a folded piece of torn junk mail. 
  • Into each dab of caulk place a magnet. I know it looks a little messy at this point, but trust me, push it down and wiggle it a bit so that the caulk comes up over the top of the sides a little – this will hold it really when when fully dried (or “cured” in caulking language.)
  • Let them dry – let them dry really well – let them dry upside down for about two days, even longer if they are the large gems and you have used a bunch o’caulk. You want the caulk to be clear and hard so it will work well and stay in one piece, like any child *smile*.
  • Oh, and while they are drying keep them far from your computer, electronics, credit cards, VHS tapes, etc. ANYTHING that would be negatively impacted by magnets. And please, really, keep them widely spaced so they do not kiss before they are dry, so annoying to repair.
  • When you are done you will have some unique little pieces of art to display on your refrigerator, office cubicle cabinets, or other magnetic place in your life!

Authenticity (Happy Birthday Billie Holiday)

Everyone’s got to be different. You can’t copy anybody and end up with anything. If you copy, it means you’re working without any real feeling. And without feeling, whatever you do amounts to nothing.” -Billie Holiday

This quote is so powerful. I had not heard it before this morning and it has pulled up some deep thoughts for me. I think there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between being INSPIRED by someone’s performance, and/or striving to capture a spirit that another artist has managed to achieve with a tune — through their choices of tempo, rhythm, depth of harmonic understanding, etc. (combined with the feelings evoked from within their heart based on their life experiences) — and COPYING.

I also believe it is a valuable exercise to STUDY the work of other artists and to ANALYZE why something they do well is unique and brilliant, … but, yes…it is QUITE ANOTHER THING to memorize and/or copy someone else’s performance and pass it off as your own work.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that some people who do this really believe they are talented and creative rather than just being excellent copiers*.

In the spirit of concern and love for musicianship combined with authenticity, I say to them: “think about it, when you copy another person’s work you are not being authentic with your audience, you are not being authentic with yourself, and ultimately, you are not developing a way to tap into expressing your feelings through the music, through your performance. You are not building an authentic creative process for yourself, just a creative ‘trick’. There are intangible, introspective steps that you are skipping by simply copying. Your ego might be happy about the reaction of your listeners who believe you are fully expressing yourself, but your soul may be left wanting a deeper connection, a way forward that will transform how you communicate the energy of your true self through EVERY song, not just the one you are passing off as totally your creation/energy.”

Happy Birthday Billie Holiday. OFTEN copied, NEVER duplicated, always an authentic expression of her own truth.

7 April 2019 – Laurie Early (songwriter, NYC)


*Yes, I know there must be a better word than “copiers” which to me implies a photocopying machine. I considered “copyist” but in music that means someone who transcribes written music (and I didn’t want to confuse the issue.) “Copycat” seemed a little too juvenile a word, so I nixed that one too. Feel free to comment on a better alternative 🙂

Free Inspiration

 

The best things in life, like inspiration, are free. I walk down a new street and chance to see a poem pasted to a wall. The words inspire me; the random discovery inspires me; the sense of the sublime presented in a crude, common way inspires me. Someone else before me has apparently been inspired to add a red heart on top of the words, their spontaneous red curving lines spilling out onto the wall itself. I take a photo and post it here on my blog because this public display of words and thoughts and art inspires me to post my writings in public too. The domino-effect could continue on and on, depending on who sees it, who values it, who sees something personal in it, who is moved to take creative action.

The poem above speaks of dancing in the square (nella piazza), and I visualize the dancers, eyes locked to one another, performing the tango for anyone who wants to watch. Was the poem inspired by a real dance? I am reminded of lyrics I have been inspired to write about dancing [Let Me Sing This Dance With You]. Have my song lyrics inspired anyone to think of “singing a dance” with someone they love? Each inspirational trigger is like a pebble thrown into a quiet pond, creating concentric ripples. Where will the ripples travel? Who will they reach? What will be created when a handful of pebbles is tossed at the same time–when a group of people create together and the ripples merge into more exotic patterns? That to me is the ultimate “return on investment”. Pure alchemy–lead into gold. I am grateful to anyone who has created something or done something that inspires me to create. That is pure wealth.

Below are just some of the inspirational photos I have taken recently. Some just make me happy and that inspires me to be more joyful each day. Some are what I call “lyrical triggers” because I use them as fodder for my journaling, my visual art projects, and my songwriting. And, some are just plain uplifting or amusing to me, they make me laugh or make me think more deeply; that’s valuable to me too.

Time will tell which of these triggers will transform into a truly meaningful creative expression, but for now, I share the images with you here. Happy Spring! -Laurie

Carousels – Not For Me

This weekend I will be avoiding the luggage carousel by traveling light. I will also attempt to avoid any feeling of traveling in circles as just the *thought* of this makes me physically tired. I long to move forward. Perhaps I am feeling an anticipatory exhaustion because it has been so cold lately, and so very dark in the little room where I work by myself. Perhaps I am mourning the loss of the extra days that are cut off at the end of February, (I feel like I have skipped something important. Is it March already?) Or, perhaps I am just tired of the same-ness of each day so far this year. They seem to circle ’round and ’round on themselves like a merry-go-round where I am the only rider, and a calliope tune droning on in the background is never-changing. This is not a complaint, just a fanciful observation of what I am experiencing.

Tonight I am struggling to gather the physical energy to pack the bare essentials, to plan my journey, and to generally “get my ass in gear.” I will do it. I am not worried. I hold out the hope that once Saturday arrives, and I am up in the air, and off of the larger carousel called “New York City”, I will make a grab at the Universe’s sparkling brass ring and the merry-go-round will stop. I hold out the hope that this trip across the ocean will once again ignite some buried creative impulse, nourish some lyrical seeds, and inspire me to write something meaningful.

I will be carrying these lyrics with me, written for a waltz that waits for me there, in EUR. If I’m lucky, I will have a full lead sheet produced for it by Spring.

NOT FOR ME
©2018 Laurie Early
(EUR – music by Nicola Borrelli)

I had a dream
I thought it was real,
something to hold, to love,
to see, and to feel,
but the dream was untrue,
left my heart tired and blue,
and now there’s no hope left in me.

I used to yearn
to travel afar,
but then I learned
that I can’t follow my star.
So, I sit here alone
in the shadow of Rome
and mourn my dream,
a dream that wasn’t supposed to be,
no, not for me.

I had, a dream
it kept me alive,
calmed all my fears, for years.
It helped me survive,
but the dream was untrue,
so there’s nothing to do
but wait for life to start again.

Perhaps, one day
I’ll see a new light,
some kind of way to pierce
the dark of this night.
Still, I sit here alone,
on these gray steps of stone,
and mourn my dream,
a dream that never was meant to be,
no, not for me.

NYC – A Day in the Moment

Certain things grabbed my attention recently as I traveled from commitment to commitment. Manhattan is full of activity, but I consciously tried to stay in the moment and keep my mind as quiet as possible. Because of this intention to be especially observant, a few small things remained in my mind long after I saw them. I noted them for further reflection, and this blog post is the result.

Navy blue confetti, Wow! One piece has survived, folded and battered, yet still intact. It is stuck to the curb on the street where I live, near the United Nations—far from Times Square where the confetti was ceremoniously released in celebration on New Year’s Eve, more than three weeks ago. How it managed to stay dry, and full of color for this long, through the cold and rain, is a mystery. Blue can be a color of hopefulness, and in this case maybe even resilience.

Each New Year’s Day I take a stroll outside looking for any confetti that was carried by wind as far as my block. I am always surprised that these little shards of tissue paper can travel so far overnight. Sometimes, if there is snow, they melt into it, creating colored patches as they dissolve. This is my way of starting the new year, searching for color on a gray winter’s day. Seeing the little blue square this late in the month felt like another New Year’s Day, a reminder that we can start a new cycle anytime, not just on January 1st.

As I wait for an E train to take me to a rehearsal across town, a trumpet starts to play Besame Mucho somewhere further down the platform. I cannot see who is playing, but I am immediately reminded of conflicting travel memories—thoughts of my trumpet playing friends in Sicily, Rome, and London (How are they? What are they doing? When will I see/hear them again?), fighting for brain space with my thoughts of Besame Muchotime spent in Madrid, and questioning why I never learned Spanish. (Big regret, I should have taken Spanish in school.)

I look up and see I am standing beneath a sign that reads, “Do not wait for trains in this area.” I realize I am an accidental rebel. I do not move. I decide to wait right there for my train.

I filmed this moment of rebellion, I mean revelation, on my phone.
Click on photo for brief video on DropBox

The only thing I wish I had not seen was a sidewalk vendor selling honey-roasted nuts. I was taking a cab across to 55th street and for a few minutes we were stopped at a red light. My window faced the vendor and I watched him stirring the nuts in what looked like a copper bowl over some sort of heat source. It smelled very nice, especially on such a cold day. It was also very relaxing to watch him cook.

Then, he paused and bent down to pick up some nuts off of the sidewalk, 3 or 4 of them that had bounced out of the bowl under his cart. As he stood up again, I assumed he would throw these nuts in the trash, but he didn’t, he threw them back in with the others that had not finished caramelizing.

At first, my “New-Yorker-ish-ness” kicked in and I wanted to shout at him, or report him to the Department of Health, to do something. But, the cab pulled away from the corner, and I started to second-guess myself—I thought that perhaps I had not seen it all correctly. I was left with so many questions: Maybe he threw the nuts into the fire and because of my angle from the cab I did not see that they were destroyed? Maybe, even if he did throw them back in the cooking bowl, the heat would burn away any germs? Would I ever eat from any vendor again? Would I hold all other vendors accountable for the actions of this one? That did not seem fair either. There must be many vendors who would be appalled by this story and tell me about how they maintain a high standard of hygiene for their product. Part of the fun of visiting a city is trying out the street food, I just don’t want to eat food that has actually touched the street—that is where I draw the line.

 

Shift Happens

We can stay “in the moment” all we want to, be mindful and appreciate each passing second–but, even if we do nothing else but count each breath we take, something, something somewhere, is shifting. Shift happens.

As I count down the hours, minutes and seconds to the Gregorian New Year we will all think of as 2019, I am preparing a book to use as my daily journal. A place to write down 2 or 3 moments of each day that made it special, or just different from other days. A way to keep each day from running into the next in my mind, as they seem to be continuous lately, no definition. For me, writing specific events down keeps this misty time-haze at bay.

For 2019, I have decided to also start to keep a little book I am calling “Joyful Thoughts & Happy Things” that I can carry around with me. It will be something I can refer to when unproductive or sad thoughts occupy my mind; I want to be able to immediately counteract them by reading things I have collected to cheer myself up, to intentionally raise my vibration and lighten a heavy mood.

 

 

 

In 2018, I used a large hardcover journal that was published by a friend. The extra content was really wonderful but because it was such a heavy book I could not take it with me on my travels. Then, this past August when we were in London, my dear friend, Anja, bought me a blank book published by the Victoria and Albert Museum with a cover illustration called “The Owl” by C.F.A. Voysey. I had purchased a set of thin “mini-books” that same day and one of them matched the gift from Anja – Voila! an instant “set”.

In the large book, I divided up the pages into 12 monthly sections and calculated that I could fit 365 days if I added a couple of date stamps on each page – so that’s what I did. Today I created monthly cover pages with some space on them so I can later add inspiring words or phrases.

 


As I read through my 2018 journal this evening, New Year’s Eve, I am not surprised to see many things that shifted within me this year, and many things that shifted in my environment. I feel empowered to face 2019 with a new sense of self and purpose. I am prompted to ask myself: “What shift would not surprise me in 2019?” and I think I would not be surprised if my sense of connectedness to my community grew stronger, if my personal goals became more defined, and if more opportunities to be of service to the world became available to me.

My “resolutions” for this year include: continuing self-directed Italian language learning; a mindfulness practice, and taking more actions combined with detachment from the outcome. I intend to simply take joy in the process of life and share as much of this joy with others as I can.

[My main image “HELLO 2019” is a photo of a layout I am considering for my journal’s cover page – I have not made a final decision yet, but that’s okay, I am detached from the outcome (*big smile*)]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current, Flow, Swing, and Reflection

Big Red Swing “Big Red Swing” 1971 Theodore Ceraldi

Some months speed by, like a rushing river flowing through a narrow gorge. But others crawl along, moment by moment, hour by hour, week by week, with the water of life pooling in unexpected crevices, becoming still reflection ponds. The past few weeks have been like that for me, slow and full of reflection. I have not been able to find a personal FLOW, the term I learned from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for an ideal creative state. Flow always seemed to come naturally to me as a child, yet now it seems to be something I have to schedule for myself.

“Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity… The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described… as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

One of my goals is to post something on Moments, Memories, & Jazz each month, and over the past 4 weeks I thought about many topics, but nothing really resonated with me. And, so the month clicked by with nothing drafted of any merit. Each day I made a note on my “To Do List” reminding me to write something. I fully intended to write on a topic that had meaning for me, or at least some entertainment value, but then each day I was thwarted–an external obligation, or illness, or unexpected  crisis became the priority and I would resolve to write something tomorrow. Tomorrow is now today, the last day of the month.

[photo by april m lee]

I was resigned to search for and post something I had already written, but then a fantastic thing happened—an inspiring friend, April M. Lee, of essence7wellness, posted an article called “currently i am” on her blog yesterday. It woke me up! She was writing about how difficult it was to decide what to write about. The same challenge I was facing this month. She wrote, finally, i gave up on all three ideas and decided to just zero in on the present. on what’s happening right now, during this moment in time.” She included a cool activity–a list of writing prompts. I wanted to take her up on her invitation to mark where I am in this current moment (and I wanted to steal her blog post idea!) I immediately wrote and told her I would be copying her. And, now I am! So, I am currently . . .

  • wearing: warm things – items I have now pulled out of plastic storage containers – gloves, hats, sweaters and scarves, sprinkled with bay leaves to keep the insects away during the warm months.
  • eating: oatmeal for breakfast, in a large ceramic bowl that looks like an oversized teacup. It warms my hands and my heart as I hold it close to me in the morning.
  • listening to: YouTube videos of songs I am learning, Lester Young solos, Charlie Parker’s version of Donna Lee, and a couple of original tunes written by friends that I am writing lyrics for.
  • reading: Believe Me an Autobiography by Eddie Izzard. I say I am reading it, but I had to pause because it has a very emotional beginning. Even though he is mainly known as a comedian, he brought me to tears. The rest of his life story (thus far) waits for me at my bedside and I will continue reading it soon.
  • loving: how my 2 (adult) daughters are finding their voices and working towards their goals.
  • watching: as little TV as possible – the news is especially maddening and disheartening right now; I will admit I resort to watching videos of cute little animals when it all gets to be too negative and I need to smile.
  • feeling: empowered to follow my dreams – I had what I now call a “red swing” moment last week. I sat on the swing and reflected that I could do anything I wanted that day. I sat in that feeling of freedom for quite a while before running some errands and heading back home. (I then found out that a chorus rehearsal had been scheduled so I jumped in a cab and the rest of my day was no longer my own,) But, it was a deep thought for me and I know this feeling of freedom was true at that moment and for the rest of my life as well.
  • studying: Italian every day (piano piano / slowly advancing) – I learn via DuoLingo, and the instructional books that are always strewn about my livingroom and stacked in my bookcase.
  • anticipating: my next jazz workshop trip, in Rome, only three months away now; I look forward to being with my friends as we learn, create music, and celebrate each other.
  • planning: on achieving a daily view like the one in the window image above. It is an excerpt from a photo April took on an abandoned property near where she lives. It gives me hope.

So, to close, I want to send a big thank you to April! She inspires me in many ways, not the least of which has been following the process of her move from the USA to Italy, and the construction project she and her husband Eric have shared online as they renovated and personalized “Villa Magnolia” their beautiful Italian home. It has been a joy to watch the transformation of their villa and the surrounding gardens. In addition to being an international risk-taker, she is a certified holistic life and wellness coach with a background in cognitive-behavioral counseling. She hosts focused retreats in her home (for a maximum of four women at a time). The next one is in May of 2019 so, that’s the place to be if you fancy a deep dive into yourself while you sojourn in Tuscany.

Vocalese 101

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly, live.” ~Dalai Lama

Instead of drafting an October blogpost, I focused all my brain energy on completing my homework for Bob Mover’s Jazz Workshop. (Whatever brain energy was left at the end of each workday, which is not much, let me tell you!)

Bob assigned the class “Donna Lee” (click to hear Bird playing it), and he told us all to memorize the head (the first 32 bars).  I was speaking to him on the phone today and I mentioned that I had completed the song but not the Charlie Parker solo. He reminded me that I did not have to memorize the solo, unless I wanted to (which I do want to memorize, of course!) So, I am happy to be done for now and prepared for the November 1st class.  Bob did not seem surprised that I was done, and he laughed when I told him I had written lyrics inspired by a Dalai Lama quote I had read. He quickly interjected, “Oh, so now it’s, Dalai Lee!”

Here are my lyrics:

Yesterday’s come and gone and there is no way you can turn it around or go back and re-live it.
xxx
And the same is true for your tomorrow, you just have to simply wait and see how that turns out, for there is no way to predict it.
xxx
Live each precious moment! Baby, just stay focused on your dreams and you will find that ev’ry vision you’ve had will lead you to the promised land of happiness, and…
xxx
Maybe then you’ll see that you must live right now; yes, only live in today!
xxx
Yesterday’s in the past that’s where it stays so just give up on the thought that you can ever change it.
xxx
It’s today, today! That’s where we stay. This moment is new. Yes, totally new; it’s true.
xxx
Time loves today, today will stay, there won’t be any other way, and naturally time won’t stop and wait around while you just stand there looking dumb, and wond’ring why, the sky is blue; if I love you? or dreams come true?

There are some other lyrics and vocalized versions of the tune, all enjoyable in their own way. Search on YouTube if you are interested in hearing them. For me, the most effective way to learn a melody is to attach words to it. They don’t have to make sense, or even tell a story; but it’s helpful if they do. The melody reminds me of the words and the words remind me of the melody. Each is a mnemonic device for the other.

Here is a good Donna Lee video for learning the melody – clearly played on the guitar in different speeds, gradually getting faster, so you can learn it.

Signs, Guides, and Flow

You Know You Want To

I really had no clue what I wanted to write about this month, until a sudden epiphany yesterday at choral rehearsal, which occurred during a short verbal exchange, that caused me to think deeper about processes I use to navigate my life now. One of the basses was asked to conduct a piece “rubato” (“out of time“) and we began to sing, but, unfortunately, one choral section was reading the music–not watching the conductor. They were not in synch with the rest of the group. I tried to get their attention with my arms, wildly pointing at him (because, I thought, “Maybe they don’t know we are supposed to be following him.“) But they did not see me at all, so I gave up and just sang along until the song was over. I glanced at the conductor and we exchanged a mutual shoulder-shrug, because it was what it was. What can you do?

Overall, it wasn’t really a big deal, just a rehearsal moment, but I really longed for us to be a cohesive group in order to hear the music as it was supposed to be, not syncopated, but majestically unified. After we ended, I told the section that we were supposed to be following the conductor on this piece, and I was sharply told, “YOU can look at him!” This really surprised me; I did not expect this response. I let it go, but was lead to begin thinking about how valuable established “guides” in life, like conductors, traffic lights, mandated laws, and other guidelines are supposed to make life better and/or easier for the collective, the group. There are so many things in life that we have to navigate on our own, painful personal choices that need to be deeply evaluated, and small moment-by-moment decisions that need to be made every day — how nice it is not to have to think so deeply about everything! How nice that I can learn my alto part and then allow myself to be guided by the creative instincts of the conductor. I can sing and enjoy the creation that we are unfolding as a collective.

That was part of my insight – the true creative power of one’s own knowledge being guided to join with others to create something greater, in this case, the song.

Additionally, I thought about how often I now rely on my intuition and observation of signs around me, physical signs (like the images I have chosen to include in this post “RISE” and “YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO”) that seem to appear to answer specific questions I am pondering at that moment, and the intangible signs and directions I see or hear in my mind – based on memories, or intentions I have set for myself, synchronicities that motivate me to choose a direction or tasks over another. I hope I am not being too vague, but it is difficult to write about a “gut feeling” process, or a intuitive feeling in my mind that I can also feel in my heart or chest.

So, as I live my life in a rubato flow, I am grateful for the signs and guides the universe provides me. I find that the more I surrender to these prompts, the more happiness and fulfillment flows to me.

 

Ten Years After

Anniversaries are a natural time of reflection. So I am commemorating ten years of my new life in jazz. Ten years since I was told that I could sing in the jazz style – that I did not sound horrible and that I could confidently go forward with my studies. Yes, ten years since I learned about the Jazz Foundation of America and I met a group of musicians there that became a new family to me. Ten years since I met a certain pianist at the 802 Musician’s Union Hall, a man that I now consider one of my dearest friends. Last month, we counted how many countries we have performed together–Six including the USA. (That is amazing to me since I have only been to seven countries in my entire life.)

It has been ten years since I started studying with Dr. Barry Harris, and through him, was introduced to so many new friends around the world. (I feel so lucky!) And, next month, it will be ten years since I was last able to embrace my friend and teacher, the late Ulysses Slaughter. I miss him so much.

Sometimes song ideas come to me while I am sleeping, fragments, or snippets, motifs and melodic shards, but ten years ago, shortly after Ulysses passed away, he sang this song to me in a dream. I felt like he was telling me that he had done everything he had wanted to do in life, that he had no regrets, that he had other things he needed to do now, but that he would continue to be there to guide me. I woke up, still hearing the song playing, almost like it was on the radio. I quickly wrote down all the lyrics I could remember. One day I will record it.

It is not really in a jazz style; it is a slower, more theatrical kind of a song. But, he was a very theatrical man, lots of drama. These words did so much to soothe my raw emotions at that time and as you read them, I hope you can hear his voice in the statements. I still do.

I’ve Taken My Bow
(It’s Time to Move Along Now)
©2008 Laurie Early

I’ve heard that life’s a stage
and we are but players
Well, my life’s been a musical
each act conquered in layers
but I’ve taken my bow, I’ve taken my bow
It’s time to move along now.

I’ve said all my lines
I’ve hit all my marks
I’ve heard every whispered cue
and seen the footlight sparks
but I’ve taken my bow, I’ve taken my bow
It’s time to move along now.

I’ll miss the company,
the hands, the crew, the show,
the final curtain call
has come for me, yet I know,
it’s all part of the blocking
as I exit to stage right
and now I’m in the audience
watching over you each night

Man! The applause was loud!
I still hear it from the wings
They loved my heartfelt songs
and my soul still sings
but I’ve taken my bow, I’ve taken my bow
It’s time to move along now

Yes, I’ve taken my bow
I’ve taken my final bow
It’s time, to move along now.

Ulysses’ Shoes – September 2008