All posts filed under: Jazz

Moments of Silence

Silence can be the loudest sound in the world, especially if you are longing to hear the next note, the next phrase, the next part of the story. And…“Silence is PART of the SONG!” (Dr. Barry Harris shouted this pearl of wisdom at his classroom full of singers a couple of weeks ago.) It is such a simple thing to remember. So true! I saw a similar thought attributed to Thelonious Monk. He is recorded as saying, “Don’t play EVERYTHING (or every time); let some things GO BY. Some music [is] just IMAGINED. What you DON’T play can be more important than what you DO play.” A few years ago I touched on this idea in an introductory verse I wrote for my song, “I Lied to Myself”. It begins, “There’s a limbo in this world where the silence is so loud….” This phrase was my attempt to capture in words the desire to hear someone speak to me again, and that feeling you get deep in your heart when you miss the sound of …

Tips and Tricks on YouTube

YouTube is an inspirational online platform for musicians and songwriters. It is so much more than an online-radio. We know it is an easy, free, way to simply listen to a song, watch a movie, or listen to a “TED talk” but I suspect that many of us do not explore other ways it can serve us and our musical lives. In this post I will list some of the things I do that work for me, but I wonder how other musicians use YouTube, and other free online tools, to assist them in honing their craft? (I would love to hear your tips and tricks. Please email me or comment.) Okay! Let’s get cracking! Tips and Tricks for Musical Studies on YouTube YouTube Playlists: I use the playlist feature every day. You can create 3 types based on the privacy level you want: * Public lists can be seen by and shared with anyone; * Private lists can only be seen by YOU and the users you choose; * Unlisted lists can be only be seen by you and …

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 …

Prelude to Spring – Singing & Learning

Oh man! I have been singing in Rome and having so much fun! It has been especially gratifying this month because I was able to sing a couple of original songs/lyrics that had never been performed in public before. At one of the Barry Harris Jazz Workshop jam sessions, I was asked to sing a Bossa and chose to debut the English lyrics (called “Happiness”) that I wrote for Jobim’s A Felicidade. A couple of people approached me afterwards to tell me how much they liked my English interpretation, so that made me feel really good. It was a difficult song to transform as Portugese is so light and soft, English so harsh. I am glad people still connect to the story in English. Early Thursday morning, before the piano class began, I was able to test out my new lead sheet for a totally original song called “West of the Sun“. I am very grateful to Tomasz Bialowolski on piano and Luca Peruzzi on bass for their gracious assistance. They made the song come to life for me …

Lorena Fontana – A Vision

A couple of years ago I was surprised and honored to get an email from Lorena asking me to review some of her original lyrics before her recording date. She is an amazing singer and composer I met in Rome in 2011. At the time I was surprised she had reached out to me because her English lyrics were so imaginative and grammatically correct (not easy for anyone, but especially when working in a second language) so I did not know how much value I could add to her work. She did not need any real corrections, but we did engage in a wonderful dialog about motivations in the lyrics and questions about certain phrases that she subsequently revised herself. It was such an exciting exchange of ideas and I am grateful to have assisted her in any way during her creative process. She thanked me in the liner notes and that was a nice little thrill to see. Lorena traveled all the way to California to record this CD and she produced a cool video about the trip entitled “The …

Bend to the Light – Lafayette Harris, Jr. Trio

Lafayette Harris’ new CD “Bend to the Light” makes you feel at home with the very first, captivating, musical phrase of his opening title song. He sets the tone with his light, yet strong and resonant sound, then invites you to join him on a fantastic jazz journey through a selection of a dozen pieces: modern and smooth, nostalgic yet hip, well-loved standards, and internationally inspired originals. I have had this CD about 3 months now, and because I have been enjoying it so much, I couldn’t just say, “Oh wow! Everybody, check out this new CD, it’s swell!” No, I needed to write about it, to touch on all the songs, it is just that wonderful of a recording. (I imagine, if I had a car, that this would be a CD I would play as I drove through the city at night, or at sunset along a coast with an ocean view; the perfect road-trip jazz soundtrack.) After the opening piece, “Bend to the Light“, I found “We in the House” especially engaging, Willie Jones III, …

NY Sunset - photo by Laurie Early

Clark Terry Lives

Last month I was writing a post for my music page (something else I was going to share with you for the month of March,) but then, the unexpected happened…Clark Terry passed away. So, instead, I decided to write about him and to dedicate all my creative efforts in 2015 to his memory; a way of thanking him for the inspiration, education, and joy he gave to me and thousands of other people around the world. In terms of inspiration, I am certainly talking about his overall musical inspiration: his incredible trumpet technique; his unique sound; his original compositions; and his mentorship. However, I also include the inspiration he intrinsically exuded as a human being, as a man, as a nurturer, a teacher, as someone who freely shared his knowledge of music and life. He accomplished so many things in his 94-years on earth, and I believe that the energy and love he invested here will live on– through the recordings of his marvelous performances (that we are so lucky to have in this technological age); through the legacy of his compositions (which will forever be played …

Contrafact & Controversy

I would like to share my perspective on music-related things as I see them now, as I am experiencing them now, or as I have experienced them in the past, but I have to admit that I am fighting an urge to start my “jazz blogging” with a full disclaimer about my relative inexperience discussing this complex musical form. I won’t bore you with my issues about sharing my opinions in public, however, I will say that if I am not aware of the full-story on a particular subject, I am open to hearing the perspectives of others. From the outset, I freely admit that I do not know a thimble-full of the history and theory that other jazz musicians and music scholars have spent their lives acquiring. I wish there was a way I could go back in time, to have made more informed choices about my musical studies – but just like everything else in real-time, in real-life, there are no “do-overs”. So, if I am lucky, I will just be able to take …

YouTube, Barry Harris Workshops, and a Favorite Song

To initiate my blog here at WordPress I will start this first “MUSIC” post by sharing one of my favorite songs, Where is Love? by Lionel Bart, from the 1960 musical, Oliver!  The original Broadway cast album of Oliver! was one of my favorite records growing up, played it over and over, sang these songs all the time.  I include the full song lyrics below, as well as a link to my recording on YouTube. In 2009, I setup a YouTube Channel to share original songs, but it seemed like anything that I posted there was not safe. The honest truth is that I have had things stolen by pirating websites who then asked listeners for money to download. I never received a penny. Therefore, I am wary of posting anything else until after I publish a CD of my work. So…for the time being, on my channel there are a couple of songs to listen to and you will see a lot of playlists I have put together as I have been using the channel to create reference lists for myself and other students that study with …