All posts filed under: Life

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 …

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 …

Small Beginnings

I have been called a “trouble-shooter” and a “self-starter” which in American business terminology are ways of saying that: I look for problems before they happen (or as they begin to occur), and I remedy them. And, I don’t need a lot of external management; I can usually determine on my own when to start working on a project, how the work should flow, and other factors to get the desired result. These are two recognized qualities in adults, especially in a business/work environment, and it occurred to me recently that these character traits have evolved since I was a baby. I wondered…Did curiosity and my love of patterns turn into an ability to recognize glitches and irregularities? Was I born with a natural tendency to study things on my own and to transform this internal “timetable” into a creative discipline? It is so easy to remember all the difficulties I have faced, but today, as I sit here pondering various discoveries and experiences I had as a child, this mini-revelation has filled my mind …

Random Things About Me

So, hello, hi there! Here is something a little unexpected, a summer “fluff” post that you will hopefully find entertaining and maybe even educational about what memories are stored in my mind. It is a list of 16 random things about me. They are in no particular order, *smile*. 1. When I worked in a corporate setting, at approximately 3 PM, almost every day, I hiccuped.  Usually just one, and then it was over.  I have no idea why.  At the office, a colleague who sat next to me always noted the time and commented on how close to 3 PM I was. (Since I began telecommuting a few years ago, the 3 PM hiccup is no more. I still hiccup now and then, but not on a strict schedule.) 2. My favorite TV program is Eastenders. “Trials and tribulations impact lives in a close-knit community in London’s East End”  I love it!  I have been watching it since 1987.  I found it on a UHF channel before I had cable – it was one of the few things I …

Roses in Rome

Ah, yes, this photo is my first red rose of Rome, I refused it at least 3 times, yet, still, my friend bought it for me anyway. The vendor stood close to us, hovering over our dinner table at a local family-run restaurant. I had never experienced that before, salesmen coming inside a restaurant with bundles of flowers for sale. Of course, I thanked my friend, but at first I secretly wished he had not given it to me; I started to stress a little.  We had only just met, why did he want to buy me a flower? How would I keep it from wilting while we ate? Where would I keep it in my little B&B room? So many stupid worries that never came about. It did not wilt as I had feared and I ultimately found a good place to display it in my room, in a drinking glass on top of a little black counter-top. It stood there, perky, all week, next to a TV I watched for about 15 minutes one day. (I …

Journey of Imagination

To celebrate its 100th birthday in 2011, The New York Public Library hosted “Find the Future” which included an amazing exhibition of artifacts at their 42nd Street building, a really cool interactive event (a overnight scavenger hunt in the library for a lucky few), and corresponding online game. One of the aspects of the online game was to respond to writing prompts and then entries would be read and commented on by other “players”. In response to one of the prompts I wrote “My Worldwide Creative Journey: to visit, see, absorb, learn, and/or sing!” I have updated and changed the piece a few times in the years since I first drafted it, and I still enjoy the idea of it, this imagined journey; it reminds me of all the wonderful opportunities I still have to explore this planet. I find there is nothing like a change of venue to spark my creativity and to move me into a more “in the moment” mindset. I detach from my expectations and learn to enjoy what is right in front of me. Yes, before I go on …

The 7 Deadly Sins – A 2016 Resolutions Exercise

Wow! It has been a very full year–travel, music, friends, family and many creative moments. One of the things I am most proud of is that I was able to post at least one article here each month. Starting and maintaining a personal website was one of my 2015 resolutions and I intend to keep going! Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact me with encouraging comments. For 2016, from the many possible promises I could make to myself, I decided to focus on resolutions I could commit to that would nourish me as a person and as an artist /musician. I started by contemplating my 2015 achievements, and analyzing my attempts at achievement (otherwise known as brooding over my mistakes and failures.) Then, for some reason known only to my subconscious mind (is that redundant?) in the middle of this thought process I remembered something I saw recently about the “7 Deadly Sins”. Now, totally sidetracked by this concept, I will share a few random thoughts on these sins to close out 2015. Hopefully, at the end of …

The Gela Jazz Festival

Last month I was fortunate to be able to travel to Italy for a couple of weeks. So many wonderful things happened there! Yes, too many cool things, so I will break up my account of the trip into several posts here at “Moments, Memories, & Jazz”.  GELA 2015 The first leg of this trip was a week in Gela, Sicily, to attend the Barry Harris / Stjepko Gut jazz workshops, held September 14-18, 2015,  and to participate in the 4th Annual Gela Jazz Festival held each evening at the Teatro Eschilo. These two interconnecting events were organized by Loredana Melodia, a singer, “super-jazz-woman”, and someone I am lucky enough to now know as a wonderful friend. Professional and amateur jazz musicians from all over the world traveled to be students in Gela. Each weekday we gathered at a school near the center of town to take jazz theory, rhythm, vocals, and improvisation classes. The first class in the morning was with Stjepko Gut, trumpet player, conductor and internationally recognized teacher of workshops and masterclasses. He got us all in …

9/11 Tribute Song – This Unforgiving Town

This Unforgiving Town (My Lagan Love – 9/11) ©2003 Laurie Early/ASCAP The Hudson flows along the shore Where orchards of steel grow. Each gleaming bough contains a tale Of lives and loves below. And every wave sings out its song For shattered hearts needing repair. Who will be dressed in sorrow’s gown In this unforgiving town? As sunlight wakes the morning sky Our innocence a memory. An axeman wears a selfish smile As he fells another tree. The city’s armor takes the blows But yet the human damage shows. Who will be saved? And who will drown In this unforgiving town? When twilight rolls upon the day A dusty night time looms. A flood of tears won’t wash away The pain caused by these wounds. And so we’re called to higher ground Because it’s there that love is found. Who will be brave? And who’ll be brought down In this unforgiving town? My Lagan Love, the melody that inspired this song, is over 500 years old. I have changed the Irish Traditional up a bit …