All posts tagged: jazz

Happiness

I am always pleased to help when someone asks me to create English lyrics for a new song, but when it is a song I have never heard before, a song that really speaks to me, really touches something in my heart, then I am thrilled. This happened last year when I was approached by a friend-of-a-friend, a wonderful New York City singer who wanted English lyrics for Jobim’s A Felicidade. Some of you may be aware that this is the song that opens the 1959 film, “Orfeu Negro” (Black Orpheus). So when I struggled a bit to find a suitable lyric for the last phrase, instead of interpreting the original lyrics, I took a risk and tapped into the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice instead, as the film is a modern telling of their sad love story. It is set in Rio de Janeiro during Brazilian Carnival but perfectly matches the original Greek tragedy’s plotline. I am in love with this song, so beautiful and heartbreaking when you think about the story behind it. Live in the moment! Love now! …

I Lied to Myself – a Song & a Story (Gela Part 2)

When you have a long-term goal, and you are actively working towards achieving this dream, it is one thing knowing that everything happens at its own time, it is quite another having the adequate amount of patience for long periods of gestation, or the stamina to keep up when the pace suddenly spins out of your control.  Last month I wrote a little about my most recent trip to Italy and I would like to say a bit more about my time in Gela, Sicily, and to talk about Angelo Di Leonforte, a musician I met there. He helped me get one step closer to achieving one of my long-term goals.  One of my dreams is to have proper lead sheets and clear demo recordings of all the viable songs I have written. This may sound like a very simple goal but I have found it to be quite challenging due to my limited notation skills. This is embarrassing, but true, and since I cannot go back now and learn all the things I need …

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 …

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 …

Rainy Afternoon

As Autumn approaches, and the storms begin to swirl off the coast of the United States, I am reminded of a particular Saturday in a September many years ago. A time when anything seemed possible, and when the rain was a wonderful excuse to stay inside, listen to music, and enjoy the company of someone important to me.

Crossed Paths

Crossed Paths (inspired by Caminhos Cruzados ©Tom Jobim) English lyrics ©2012 Laurie Early   Vocals in Portuguese – Maria Creuza (on YouTube) When a heart that’s tired of suffering meets a heart that’s new perhaps that is the moment that will end their suffering too. No time for thinking at all now that love, so gentle, has finally arrived. When a heart is longing for someone who doesn’t care, someone who’s never dreaming of your touch Open up, do not fear new arms, kiss new lips with yours, hold him close, press your cheek against his. I was foolish when I thought I knew my little heart And, when it comes to love I’m always fearful at the start. But, together we can care for this love we share, a sweet love just for us.    

Poems for Billy Strayhorn (II)

I am in London this week!  So, of course, I am prompted to post a second poem from my series inspired by specific compositions of Billy Strayhorn, Chelsea Bridge, a London landmark. As you read, you may wish to listen to one of the sax solos that inspired me while I was writing–Ben Webster’s sensitive version of “Chelsea Bridge” on YouTube*. Chelsea Bridge ©2009 Laurie Early There’s a footpath under the Chelsea Bridge Darling, meet me there tonight I’ll be there waiting in the moonlight. We’ll go walking down by the River Thames while the boats go by you can steal a kiss memories to cling to for a lifetime. Do you remember that storm, the day we met last April, when we both ran for shelter from the rain? Our romance made London a dreamland where we’ll never be lonely again. As the river sparkles like stars so high up above I will take your hand, I will give my heart “I love you that’s forever,” this I’ll promise. This I’ll promise under 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, …

Banana Puddin’ Jazz: Jazzy Ladies Night

Post Performance UPDATE:  In addition to  an edited version being streamed to television/internet on BRIC (Brooklyn Public Network), an audience member captured some of the event on their cellphone and uploaded to YouTube – not my best angle, but the sound is pretty clear. On Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, 9:30 PM – Arlee Leonard and I will be singing at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe along with some amazing jazz musicians who just happen to also be women. Miki Yamanaka will be at the piano, Adi Meyerson on bass, and Josephine Josafina on the drums. You know, Rome Neal never disappoints with his Banana Puddin’ Jazz events, so, come on down to 3rd Street, give a listen, and then sing or play in the Jam Session that follows! Tickets are $15 LINKS: Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe 236 East 3rd Street New York, NY 10009 (212) 780-9386 Rome Neal’s Website / email Direct link to tickets

In Remembrance

30 March 2015: Ulysses L. Slaughter, Jr. would have been celebrating 59 years on earth today, if he had not left “All Too Soon”. He passed from this earthly plane in 2008, but I still think of him all the time, especially on days like this, his birthday, for if he was still here, all his friends would probably be loudly singing at his home, eating a ton of soul food, and enjoying a tremendous celebration of his life. One of his favorite songs to sing was, “Here’s to Life”. He told me the first time he heard it was at a friend’s home. They had the Shirley Horn album, and they put it on for him to listen to. He said he lay down on their carpet, and closed his eyes, and was instantly transported by the song. Now, whenever I hear anyone singing “Here’s to Life” I hear Ulysses’ voice, the two are inseparable to me.  I visualize him blissfully reposing on that livingroom carpet with “Here’s to Life” in his ears, mind, and heart.  (Chokes me up every …