All posts filed under: Writing

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 …

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 …

Let It Rain !

 I will be leaving for Italy in a little over an hour from now. It has been a crazy morning of cooking–a huge baked ziti prepared in the dark, (yes, boiling pasta and creating the mozzarella/ricotta filling with just a small hallway light, my apartment is so small and people were sleeping); searching for my “performance shoes”; and, conquering the challenge of getting 2 weeks worth of necessary clothing and technological paraphernalia to fit into one very small carry-on bag (and what the airlines call an under-the-seat personal item.) Just as I thought I had completed every task, I remembered I had not posted here for February, so here is a sneak peek at a song I have been working on for Nicola Borrelli, composer/bass player in Latina, Italy. UPDATE: Here is a link to a rehearsal clip of Let It Rain Let It Rain © 2016 Laurie Early (for Nicola Borrelli) Each cloud has a melody and when there’s a storm I hear a symphony Yes, it’s a song I can’t explain I hope it …

Holiday Cheesecake (Dexter Gordon Style)

The holiday celebration season is upon us! This time of year I am usually scouting the local Italian bakeries for a “Pastiera” (a ricotta cheesecake made with wheatberries) that is sometimes available around Christmas. Luckily my daughter is baking one, and I can scratch that difficult search off my “TO DO List.” So, for this month’s post, rather than dwelling on all the distressing, sad, and confusing things going on in the world, I have instead decided to write about another cheesecake; one that contains no calories at all! Here is the story of my favorite lyrics from 2016 — words I was instantly inspired to write after hearing Dexter Gordon’s tune “CHEESECAKE”. Background: In the middle of July, during a particularly stressful week, a link to “Cheesecake” arrived as an unexpected IM, instant message. What a joy! It exudes such an upbeat, positive energy. I was so grateful to receive it. (Thank you to the friend that sent it to me, you know who you are.) As I continued listening and thinking about what might have made Dexter call …

My Dreamy Man

A friend once posted on Facebook that her guy was “dreamy”. I wondered why we don’t use that word much anymore since its hey-day in the 1950s. My mind must have been pondering this idea while I slept because as I walked to work the next day, this song came into being. Subsequently, it has a nice “walking” tempo. Last year, in Gela Sicily, over a lunch break at the Barry Harris’ Jazz Workshop, I was able to record the song in the classroom.  On this link to our audio recording, you can hear Angelo Di Leonforte’s stride piano interpretation; so fun! My Dreamy Man © Laurie Early I love your face I love your style I love the way you always make me smile You, you, you you are my dreamy man. I love your eyes I love your mind I love the way you always make it easy to unwind You, you, you you are my dreamy man. I love the way you always cheer me up when life gets blue You always help me to …

Dear Lord (Happy Birthday, John Coltrane)

I arrived back from Italy on Monday night; I was totally exhausted, and literally bruised, from traveling back with luggage that was far heavier than what I had brought with me. Yes, I was unwise and brought back groceries for my daughter that turned out to be very heavy. I am not sorry I packed them, but if I had to do it over again I would have taken a taxi to the train instead of pulling my bags from San Lorenzo to Termini. I tell this part of the story to set the stage for the wonderful piece of music that was waiting for me in an instant message. You see, when I arrived home I felt totally numb creatively, but then I turned my telephone back on and John Coltrane’s “Dear Lord” was waiting for me. A jazz friend “across the pond” sent it to me while I was traveling and my phone was in airplane mode. I listened and immediately in my mind I heard the opening line in words–always a wonderful surprise. I …

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (III)

In the early morning of May 31, 1967, Billy Strayhorn made his transition to another realm. In honor of him, and his musical legacy, I would like to share “Lotus Blossom”, the third poem from my series inspired by his compositions. I was deeply moved by the recording of Duke Ellington playing this piece as an impromptu tribute to Billy. I understand that it was accidently recorded after the session for Duke’s album “And His Mother Called Him Bill” was supposed to have concluded.  In the background, you can hear the other band members talking and packing up as he begins to play this intimate solo. Oh! I listened to this recording many, many, many times while I was writing the words below. You can also listen to it here: “Lotus Blossom” on YouTube*. I wanted to compose a piece where the lotus not only described how I personally feel about Billy Strayhorn, his life, the man, the artist, and how he inspires me and countless other musicians, but one that would also describe the natural life cycle of this mystical plant. It was the juxtaposition of these two metaphors that inspired …

Trying to Get Through Spring

There are so many beautiful songs about Spring–songs that cover different aspects  of the weather, the flowers, themes of renewal, loss, and love. I think that the seasons resonate with everyone, at least everyone who lives in an area of the world where they set the schedule for planting, growing, harvest, and fallow. Anyone who has experienced these shifts in temperature, these quarterly phases and physical reminders of life, death and re-birth can appreciate the metaphors of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. The song I want to talk about today, analyze in a way, was written a few years ago. At the time, I was learning many jazz standards, all new to me, while also grieving a loss, so I happened to write a song that reflected my deep sadness, yet reminded me of all the lovely things Spring has to offer. I was especially focused on flowers I had been singing about in the other standards, or flowers that had personal meaning to me from my childhood. So, I will attempt to dissect and explain the song lyrics a little and to indicate …