Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Soul Train and Other Music for Children

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Lately, I’ve been watching Soul Train reruns on Centric.  Most of the episodes I have seen date from when I was my children’s ages.  It’s amazing to hear the music and to see the fashions from that time, and realize that that’s what people were listening to and wearing when I was a baby!!  It’s also interesting for me to hear in that music so many musical ideas that I utilize today whether it’s arrangements or instrumentation.  I have often considered that many people my age play what could be described as neo-soul or soul jazz, because when we were babies, funk and then disco were so popular.  I suppose I think about these things more because I have two children, but it’s amazing the extent to which we, as babies, internalize what surrounds us, and then employ these ideas in some form in our work decades on.

I often wonder what music will influence my children the most.  I grew up listening to a lot of Top 40, and that music – country rock, singer-songwriter, r&b/funk/disco, punk – had a strong impact on what I do today, even though I sing a lot of standards.  My older son at almost three years old is already expressing his preferences for music, and not surprisingly, they reflect me and my husband’s taste.  However, there are obviously things about his listening experience that are different from ours.  When we were kids, hip-hop was a nascent music, outside the mainstream.  Now, it’s incorporated into tv children’s shows.  I spent my childhood sitting around a record player, a radio, and a tape recorder.  My son watches videos on youtube and plays with Garage Band, although he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet!!  Someday, I’m sure he will look at me in disbelief as I explain how a record player worked with the needle and the grooves on the record, etc. 

Radio Campaign Update

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Over the summer I sent out a radio mailing as part of the I’m in Heaven Tonight promotion.  I am very pleased with the response this CD has received.  I know I have mentioned this before but given that I’m in Heaven Tonight is an independently produced and marketed CD, I really appreciate the consideration given to this recording.  It has been wonderful to have the support of so many stations that played tracks from my first CD, The Nearness of You, and to correspond once again with some of the Program/Music Directors and DJs at these stations.  I was also excited this time around to get spins from stations that had passed on my first CD and to meet some of the Program/Music Directors and DJs at these stations.

If you are interested in checking out which stations played I’m in Heaven Tonight, I have attached a link to the radio list here.  I’ve been attempting to post this for the past few weeks, but I kept learning about spins that I had been previously unaware of and had to keep updating the list!!  I may have missed a few stations, and I’m sure over the next year the CD will get a few more spins at other stations, but I think this list is pretty comprehensive as it is.

Updated Radio List

“On the Street Where You Live” on A Voice, A Soul: AnimaJazz – Download Available

Monday, September 28th, 2009

There exist in this world champions of standards singing in all of its
various forms.  One of those people is Bruno Pollacci.  Based in Pisa,
Italy, Bruno puts together three online broadcasts – Dubidubidu (a sweetly titled program of Italian jazz vocalists),
AnimaJazz (instrumentalists), and A Voice, A Soul (standards singers
from all of the world).  I am delighted that both The Nearness of You
and I’m in Heaven Tonight have received spins on A Voice, A Soul

in Heaven Tonight
debuted on this program over the summer with “On the
Street Where You Live” (A Voice, A Soul n. 109).  (Yes, I know this
isn’t the most timely post, but I’m doing some post-natal catch up of
some pre-natal work.)  This broadcast includes some very well-produced
tracks with a strong
traditional pop bent.  I invite everyone to listen to this program,
especially those of you who like traditional pop interpretations. 

has made it very easy to access this broadcast.  No more passwords!! 
Just click on the link below.  When you get to the page, go to the left
column and scroll down to A Voice, A Soul n. 109.  Click on this and
the program should automatically start in your default music player.  

A Voice, A Soul n. 109

Great Interview of Chicago Independent Record Label Owners

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Recently there have been a spate of very interesting articles about
music, the music business, and culture in general.  This interview,
conducted by Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune,
is my favorite of the bunch – a really thoughtful, concise, and
articulate assessment of the current situation of independent musicians
and record labels by two Chicago independent record label owners. 
These people have a wonderfully appropriate sense of humor, which you
need in this business, and provide some funny quotes: “rearranging the
chairs on the Titanic,” “You have to have more passion than sense.”  If
you are someone in the business who is in need of a cathartic laugh in
recognition or someone who wants learn more about what it’s like to be
an independent musician and/or someone operating an independent label,
I recommend this quick and enjoyable read.

RIP Chris Connor (1927-2009)

Monday, August 31st, 2009

I’m in Heaven Tonight on Top 50 Jazz Weekly Radio Chart – Roots Music Report

Monday, August 24th, 2009

For the week of August 20, 2009 I’m in Heaven Tonight was #25 on the Roots Music Report’s Top 50 Jazz Weekly Radio Chart.  Apparently last week the CD was #14!!

Interview in Barnard Magazine

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

I am so honored to be featured as “The Salon Music” interview in the recent issue of Barnard Magazine.  Here is a link to the interview:

Karen quoted a comment I made about watching Melissa Sue Anderson singing “Witchcraft” on The Love Boat.  I couldn’t make up something this ridiculous, and thanks to the endless supply of random stuff online, I was able to find the clip.  Watching it now, it’s hard to see what I liked about.  I suppose I just love standards so much, that I would find something redeemable about it:


Can Jazz Be Saved? – Comments on Wall Street Journal article by Terry Teachout

Sunday, August 16th, 2009
Last weekend while looking for a movie review, I came across this
article in the Wall Street Journal by Terry Teachout.  Those of you who
have been kind enough to read this blog know that the business side of
music is a topic I think about and comment on from time to time.  The
challenges to expanding the audience for jazz and standards are both
specific to the genre, but also reflect of the state of the music
business in general and the changing role of music in our culture.  For
the sake of brevity I will just address the issues Teachout mentions in
his article.  Although that’s a joke because I have so much to say on
this topic, it’s impossible for me to be brief!!  Also, when I talk
about “jazz”, I’m talking about both instrumental and vocal jazz, and I
also include traditional pop/standards in my thinking as well.

someone who started singing standards and listening to jazz in the
1980s when it had yet to become re-emerge as a fashionable trend, I am
very aware of the challenges this genre faces, because I have been
living it my whole life.  Most people born in 1956-57 going forward are
not familiar with standards or jazz.  (I use these dates, because these
are the years during which Elvis Presley started appearing on national
television.)  When I started in the 1980s, this group consisted of
people aged 30 and under.  Two decades on this group is now aged 50 and
under.  Given this observation, data demonstrating that the jazz
audience is aging, and increasingly similar to the generational
demographics of other fine arts audiences, is not in the least bit

much as I am happy to see an article about this topic in a major
publication, I have some issues with this article.  Teachout seems to
accept the idea of jazz as “fine art,” whereas I have very mixed
feelings about it.  Unfortunately in this country we do not place much
emphasis on cultural history, so thinking of jazz as a “fine art”
benefits the music somewhat.  It establishes the idea that the music is
worthy of respect, study, and a certain stature.  Institutionalizing
jazz through the types of organizations found in classical music –
concert halls (Jazz at Lincoln Center, comes to mind here) and
conservatories – builds the genre’s legitimacy and gives it a physical
presence.  “Fine art” suggests a certain level of seriousness, and I
believe that it is only natural for those within this genre to want to
be taken seriously. 

the flip side the idea of jazz as a “fine art” only compounds the
notorious insularity of both jazz musicians and jazz audiences.  This
trend of course gathered steam in the 1960s among jazz musicians
rejecting the showmanship of an earlier era, represented by artists
such as Cab Calloway.  Nowadays I am no longer shocked, but I am
disappointed, when I read interviews of jazz artists who openly disdain
today’s popular culture.  It’s just not the way to make new friends.  I
understand what it is like to be passionate about something of which
most of your peers and the society at large are ignorant.  I know that
musicians by and large are anti-social nerds who love to practice,
because I am one of them.  However, I think that insularity, as a
defense mechanism, is really counter-productive.

disagree with Teachout’s acceptance of jazz musicians as artists in a
sophisticated art form, but not entertainers.  Ultimately, audiences
want to be entertained, and that’s no different whether its a rock
concert or a jazz concert or a classical music concert.  I accept the
fact that I am both an entertainer and an artist, and consider the
entertainment part of what I do to be like audience outreach.  I don’t
think that considering oneself an entertainer devalues the music.  On
the contrary I think that being an entertainer involves the audience
more and makes them more interested in the music.  I suppose that I am
lucky, because my work is very accessible.  What I do has a broad
appeal, yet I don’t feel like I am compromising my creativity.  In my
opinion though thinking of yourself as an artist alone, regardless of the kind of music you make, will only limit
your audience, not expand it. 

to the topic of the music itself, I get the impression that when
Teachout talks about “jazz” he is referring to the more traditional,
straight-ahead forms of jazz and maybe some of the stuff considered
more avant-garde.  Based on my experience, I just don’t think that this
segment of the genre will turn the uninitiated/previously uninterested
into regular audience members.  Teachout justly acknowledges that the
kids who were more interested in “California Girls” and “The Tracks of
My Tears” than “A Love Supreme” in 1965, still probably have the same
musical preferences.  Coincidentally, the New York Times published an article
during this past week referencing a Pew Research Center study which
found that, “Every age group from 16 through 64 listens to rock ‘n’
roll more than any other format.”  As I have previously written, “It’s
just unreasonable to expect someone who grew up listening to rock or
r&b or hip-hop or world music to readily take to bebop or retro

Based on my experience as a both a singer and a listener/audience
member, I am convinced that more younger people would be interested in
the hybrid forms of jazz played by musicians today – neo-soul jazz,
jazz ambient, jazz folk – which incorporate the kinds of music which have
been mainstream during our lifetimes.  Hopefully some of the people
introduced to jazz/standards through these sub-genres will then develop
interest in the more traditional, and possibly more avant-garde, forms
of the genre.   Repertoire is also critical in attracting younger
audiences, who don’t know “Our Love is Here to Stay” or “Stella by
Starlight,” but definitely know “Hound Dog” and “Love Me Do.”  I think
that if younger people were aware that musicians sang and played songs
that they know, and not just the standards that they don’t know, it
would attract more people.  Hopefully, while listening to the songs
that they do know, they will hear and become familiar with the
previously unfamiliar standards.   
Another critical element I have cited in the past is the need for
more younger people “to be involved on the business side in every
capacity–booking managers and club owners, radio DJs and program
managers, editors and reviewers, event organizers, personal managers,
publicists, etc.”  Based on my experience, many people on the business
side are men, and an occasional woman, aged 50 to 70+.  Needless to
say, what is cool to a 70-year-old man is usually not cool to a
35-year-old man or woman.  For jazz to reach a younger audience, the
emissaries on the business side must reflect the demographics of the
younger audience.  Maybe this is the wrong assumption, but I think that
younger business people would instinctively know what would appeal
to audiences of their own age.  That said, there are older people on
the business side who are genuinely interested in the work of younger
artists.  However, in my experience the generation gap is very keenly
felt on the business side. 

A few months back I was doing an interview and I commented to the
interviewer that I am more enthusiastic about my own future than the
future of the genre in general, because I understand the generational
reality and I am creating work that reflects my own musical background and
experience.  I agree
with Teachout that jazz will probably never attain the popularity that
it did during the Big Band Era, however I don’t believe that precludes
the possibility that the audience could be larger than it is today. 
I am genuinely of the opinion that younger audiences would be more
interested in jazz, if they were familiar with the sub-genres, which reference the music of their own
time.  Teachout writes about musicians “pitching” the music to new
audiences, but I don’t think that any verbal or written pitch could
suffice.  The music itself is what does the talking.  The road ahead as
Teachout notes is daunting, but there are also many dedicated
independent artists around committed to making generationally relevant
music, who will one way or another
keep this music alive.

“Sometimes I’m Happy” on KAJX Jazztime – Podcast Available

Monday, August 3rd, 2009
“Sometimes I’m Happy” was included on the June 25th broadcast of
Jazztime on KAJZ (91.5 FM – Aspen, CO).  Thanks again to Don Voltmer
for the spin!!  He split this program, titled Jazz Milestones Part 5,
into two parts.  The first half featured music from the late 50s into
the early 70s by some of my favorite vocalists and
instrumentalists – Anita O’Day, Joe Williams, Ben Webster.  The second
half featured contemporary recordings.  “Sometimes I’m Happy” starts at
about 143:15 in this broadcast, but I hope you will take the
opportunity to listen to the entire broadcast:

For those who were in middle school, high school, or college in the 80s

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

The other night I was flipping through the channels, when I came across a
band so retro I didn’t know if it was a real group or a joke.  I didn’t
know what show they were on, but assumed that it was a genuine show as
the ABC logo was on the bottom of the screen.  The singer kept
repeating the word “bulletproof” over and over, so I figured if I
googled “bulletproof” I would find it, and find it I did.

this group is called La Roux, and they are a real music group.  The
song is indeed called “Bulletproof.”  I found their video online.  It’s
hysterical.  Not only does the song “Bulletproof” borrow a lot
musically from “You Spin Me Round,” but it also looks like the singer
has co-opted the Dead or Alive singer’s requisite punk sneer.  It also
appears as if they resurrected part of the set from Olivia
Newton-John’s “Physical” video for this new video as well.  To me, the LaRoux
chick’s vocal approach has more of a contemporary feel to it, drawing from rock and rap, so it’s not totally
retro, but pretty close to it.

and watching “Bulletproof” brings to mind a comment I read in one of
William Safire’s “On Language” columns in the NYT Magazine years ago. 
He mentioned being kept awake at night by young people playing the guitar
in his attic in the style of “another generation’s disaffected youth.” 
At the time I assumed he was talking about young people from the 1970s
and 80s who mimicked folk musicians/singer-songwriters from the 1950s
60s like Bob Dylan, as I knew many people who fit that description.  At
the time though I never fathomed that the disaffected youth of my own
generation would similarly be imitated in the future.  I don’t know why
I didn’t consider this possibility; I guess I was still too young to
appreciate it completely.  Granted, the lead singer of Dead or Alive is
like a watered-down combination of Johnny Rotten and Boy George, but he
still comes across as disaffected nonetheless.

La Roux – “Bulletproof”:

Dead or Alive – “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)”: