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Getting to know Natasha D’Agostino

May 15, 2017

I remember performing my first ever jazz festival gig in Vancouver several years ago now. Such excitement in preparing arrangements, making sets and feeling “validation” somehow to given a jazz festival gig. Ah yes! Ever since that first time I have loved our Vancouver Jazz festival whether I am performing or attending a concert or workshop. It’s Christmas for this jazz fan what with all those musical offerings available.

I’m not sure what Vancouver vocalist/composer Natasha D’Agostino is feeling about her first official appearance at this year’s Jazz Festival but I imagine there is some level of excitement. I’ve done a short series of interview questions with Natasha which appear below these first preview paragraphs.

In the past, several months I have had many occasions to share the stage with the ever so talented Ms. D’Agostino.  These have been wonderful happenstances for me since, it seems that our two voices have quite a natural blend and I adore the timbre of her voice.  Certainly, it appears that Natasha could blend with almost anyone’s voice because she possesses such keen sensibilities when it comes to music. Her “in the moment” choices of phrasing and colour are simply spot on with respect to the melody, lyric and harmonic structure. Is this because she has come through the Capilano University Music program? Perhaps some of her superb skills have been shaped in that very challenging and complete immersion in jazz studies.

Natasha Karin DUO

Is it possible she already had (and has) the true instinct of a jazz musician; the listening and responding, waiting and communicating with fellow musicians so that “it” is no longer just about the individual. At times, of course it is that too! Natasha has a distinctive vocal sound and she’s been on the scene singing all sorts of gigs and truly gaining the valuable experience of making music with many different players.

There’s something about Natasha’s approach to singing that captures a listener almost immediately and it’s the reason I like sharing songs with her.  It’s not just because she has a beautiful voice. It appears to be more about her candid and honest connection with the song and with the people she’s making music with.  Don’t miss Natasha and her group performing at this year’s Jazz Festival July 2nd 12:00 noon on Granville Island Market Stage. I know this will be great!

Here is the Q & A I recently did with Natasha.

What are some important things you will take with you following your years of study at Capilano University?

Capilano University’s Jazz Studies program was overall a really great experience, and I feel really equipped to pursue a future in music because of the high level of education that the faculty has provided the students with. I remember some of us would get a chart for Nitecap, one of the vocal ensembles at Capilano, and we would look at each other, thinking, “We are never going to be able to do this!” Through the mentorship of the instructors, and the strong community between the students, we always surprised ourselves with what we could accomplish. It is a very growth-minded and encouraging environment. One of my favorite things about studying there, was seeing how passionate our instructors are about music. So many of them are involved in musical projects of their own, and so we students were fortunate to be exposed to so many different things, and there was never any shortage of inspiration to pursue our own creative endeavors with.

When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?

I’ve always loved creating, performing, and singing, but it wasn’t really until the last year/year and a half or so that I started to become really inspired to write and explore some of the musical ideas that I had, and in that process, I found that I love writing music, connecting with people, and having all of the amazing experiences that come with playing music and collaborating. This realization made me really excited and inspired to pursue music and really immerse myself in the journey.

Describe your childhood experiences related to studying music?

I was a busy kid who always wanted to do everything, and so music was thrown into the mix with all kinds of sports and activities. I remember starting piano lessons when I was about 9, and though I only pursued them for a couple of years, I had a really amazing teacher who to this day is one of my closest friends, and so she was always around to answer my questions as I became more curious about it. I became involved in the drama and choir program in high school, and I really loved being a part of the musicals, and singing in the different choirs.

Who are a few of your favourite musicians and what is it about their music making that appeals to you?

I love listening to a wide range of music and artists, but I always find myself coming back to musicians like Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Carmen McRae, Fred Hersch, and Wayne Shorter. The list can go on, and I know I’ve missed many, but these musicians have always inspired me with their endless creativity, and deep exploration of the music.

You are appearing at the 2017 Vancouver Jazz Festival headlining your own group. Could you describe a little bit about what a listener might hear coming to your Jazz Fest show?

I am so excited to be playing at the Jazz Festival this year, and I am even more excited to be sharing the day playing with some of my closest friends. A lot of us have gone through school together and watched each other grow, so it is really special to share this with them. Most of the music that we will play will be my original material, which is heavily influenced by some of the people I mentioned earlier. Wayne Shorter, Kenny Wheeler, and Norma Winstone have notably influenced me, and so a lot of the music is introspective, open for collaborative improvisation, and inspired by a lot of the material released on the ECM record label.

Natasha-FRANKIES

 I know that you are a composer. Do you have a regime whereby you try to create something each day, week, etc?

I’ve definitely had a lot of fun writing and exploring ideas over the last year or so. Truthfully, I’m not very good at being disciplined in this area, and I often work in spurts of inspiration. However, I think when I started writing, I would feel the pressure of having to complete an idea or write something that I deemed “finished,” in one sitting, so that would often leave me too overwhelmed to start. Lately, I’ve been enjoying journaling a lot, and so sometimes I’ll spend just a short time writing down a few ideas I have, and then coming back to them in later sessions. This has allowed for a much more freeing creative process, and it has encouraged me to sit down more often at the piano and dive into the things I hear. Nowadays, I’ll probably sit down at least once a day to do this sort of thing, even if only for a short while!

When you are composing music, do you begin with a melody, a harmonic or rhythmic idea or with a lyric that you’ve written?

Often times when I am writing, I hear the harmony first. I’ll usually sit at the piano and play through a harmonic progression I’m hearing and go from there. Sometimes this is inspired by some kind of rhythmic idea that will influence the phrasing of the melody. I usually find it hard to write lyrics until all the other pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place, and sometimes I’ll feel that everything I want to say has been said without adding any lyrics, so I’ll just leave it wordless. If I am writing lyrics, I often find that hearing all of the other elements together will inspire some kind of image or storyline I want to explore further with text. Lately, I have been trying to come up with more melodies first, and harmonize them later at the piano, to see if that will move my ideas into a new direction.

Are there particular instruments you are drawn to and which you like to include in your ensembles?

To be honest, I’ve never really written specifically for any instrument, and I have been really fortunate to have friends and other musicians who are willing to play through my material with me. I find it really exciting to play the same music with different musicians, and different instrumentations, and then see what that does to the music. Anytime I’ve played with various ensembles, I always leave hearing something I hadn’t heard before, or having an idea that has come to life in the moment, so I love collaborating with a lot of different people, in order to keep the ideas flowing!

 Do you have a practice regime that you apply yourself to on a daily basis?

Lately this part of my life has changed a lot, and especially with recently being out of school, I have been thinking a lot about how to come up with a practice routine to stick to daily. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but as of late, I will usually start by doing some ear training. I started using an app called Harmony Cloud to help, and then I’ll warm up by doing some scales and patterns, and move on to playing a few tunes I know. After that I’ll usually have some specific pieces of music I need to learn or work on, and so I will spend the rest of the time doing that. I’ve been really into transcribing different solos lately, and I’m having a lot of fun reading through the Miles Davis Omnibook!

Are there genres other than jazz based music that you are interested in?

I grew up listening to a lot of music from the Motown label, and I have always loved listening to soul and R&B. Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” is one of my favourite records of all time. I also really love listening to Aretha Franklin, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Carole King. The list could go on! I’ve also really enjoyed getting familiar with Classical music over the past few years, especially some of the 20th century material like Debussy, Ravel, and Schoenberg.

Do you have plans on making a recording? 

Yes! I’m actually really excited about this. I’m working on getting my original material together, and fleshing out some of my ideas, and my plan is to go into the studio sometime at the end of this year.

Are there any gigs you’d like people to know about coming up for you this spring/summer?

There are some fun gigs coming up that I am really looking forward to. One of them is a Jazz Duet Show, with you and an amazing band on May 28th, and I’m also looking forward to being a part of Pascal Saunier’s “Le Destin du Jazz-Club” next month on June 14th. I spent a year living in France in my early twenties, and so I am really excited to work on singing in French, and I’m also very excited for the Jazz Festival show on July 2nd!

Natasha-RED-ONE

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Getting to know 2 master musicians

December 23, 2016

promo-pic-johns

The first time I sang with  John Miller and  John Reischman was in 2006.   Rosemary Campbell selected the three of us to perform together at the faculty concert in Sorrento where we were teaching in Swing Camp. Since that summer we have spoken  of playing music together once again and now finally,  approximately 10 years later, it’s going to happen.   Tuesday, January 3rd in Vancouver  will be the 4th concert of the Joy Of Jazz Concert Series on the Cottage Bistro Stage and this will be a rare and wonderful opportunity to come and hear us perform as a trio. http://www.joyofjazzconcerts.com

 John Reischman (mandolin) is typically busy touring with his acclaimed group The Jaybirds. The Jaybirds have a new recording coming out in 2017. John is a Juno–nominated and Grammy–award winning artist and is regarded as one of the truly great mandolin players of his generation.

John Miller (guitar) is truly versatile musician playing music that includes incorporates swing, country blues and latin jazz styles. He is a prolific composer, a highly respected teacher and he performs regularly in several ensembles in the USA.

These two gentlemen have been playing and recording together for over 20 years. They have recorded three  CD’s together. Seeing them perform as a duo is a truly inspiring experience.

I don’t know these two musicians very well but what I do know after spending time with them and in seeing them in various settings with others, makes me admire and appreciate them; not just their musicianship but how they carry themselves as true gentlemen. They are indeed gentle and funny and thoughtful. How lucky I am to get to sing with them both!

q-a-johns

Here are the 10 questions I posed in early December when we had our second rehearsal for the “Winter Moon” concert coming up in January 2017.

Do you enjoy the winter season and do you celebrate Christmas or Hannukah etc?

John Reischman ~ I do enjoy winter. Not as much as autumn or early spring, but it is nice to slow down for a bit and spend time with family at Christmas.

John Miller ~ I truthfully do not enjoy every aspect of winter.  I’m not a fan of it getting dark around 3:30 or 4:00 PM, and feel much better once we get past the Winter solstice.  Look out for those pedestrians!  I like cold clear weather.  I do celebrate Christmas every year.

Have you a favourite song or instrumental piece about winter?

J. R. ~ I really like the Vince Guaraldi sound track to a Charlie Brown Christmas. Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s night is really nice. I also like the traditional song A Roving on a Winter’s Night.

J. M. ~ I have lots of favorite hymns.  For secular songs, I really like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “Here We Come A Wassailing”.

What do you like about playing music with each other after all these years?

J. R. ~ I still enjoy the same things about playing music with John Miller that I did when we first started. He has a fantastic rhythmic feel coupled with interesting and usual chord voicings, and he is an endless source of beautiful original tunes. Plus he is a great friend and funny too!

J. M. ~ I always feel like playing with John Reischman is like attending a concert as well as playing one, it’s such a treat to hear what he does.  Plus, it’s good to spend time with a good friend

Do you play music every day?

J. R. ~ I’m sorry to say that I don’t. Life gets busy so there’s not always time to play. I do have instruments hanging on the wall to make it easier. Last year I was able to get into a routine of playing/practicing everyday and I hope to get back into that routine.

J. M. ~ I think of myself as playing every day, but I suppose there are occasional days when I do not play.  I should play every day, certainly.

Are there names of any upcoming artists in the world of instrumental music in any genre that you can recommend to listen to or watch for?

J. R. ~ One of the younger musicians I play with from time to time name is Molly Tuttle. She is a triple threat; singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter, and she excels at all three. She is known in the bluegrass world, but her music crosses over into Americana and folk. I’ve known her since she was a little kid so it’s great to see her come into her own. Her first solo recording will be released early in 2017.

J. M.~ I think that musicians I think of as up and coming have often been around for a while.  I really enjoy Classical pianists Alexandre Tharaud and Igor Levit and Jeremy Denk.

When you are performing concerts, do you have any pet peeves about certain things that you think shouldn’t happen while attending a concert?

J. R. ~ Well, it’s always annoying if you are playing a concert and someone is talking.

J. M. ~ I don’t like it when the sound person plays either a recording by the artist(s) performing the show on the sound system between sets, or plays some other music, completely at odds with what the performer does, between sets.  I much prefer the only music sounding at a show being what you hear being made on the stage as it happens.  Having music going non-stop de-sensitizes us to it.

Other than the instruments you play, what might be an instrument that you are particularly drawn to?

J. R. ~ I love the fiddle, and the tone that some get from a clarinet. Uilleann pipes are very cool.

J. M. ~ The piano

What is your favourite place to visit when you are on vacation?\

J. R. ~ I love the west coast of Canada and the US, from the ocean to the mountains, so I’m happy I live where I do!

J. M. ~ A place I can feel relaxed in–I don’t want to be tense on a vacation.

Do you enjoy composing your own music and how do you typically begin that process?

J. R. ~ Yes! I’ve had a bit of a dry spell lately, but I have some ideas recorded on my phone that I have have been reviewing. I think there is some potential there. About twenty years ago I had a lot of melodies come to me when walking. I still walk, but the tunes have not found me!

J.M. ~ I do enjoy composing but don’t have a set routine in how I go about doing it.

Do you enjoying teaching others?

J. R ~ Yes, it’s something I’ve been doing more of in recent years.
J. M. ~ Very much

Thanks to both of you for answering my questions. I look forward to making music in 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Valentine’s Day with John Alcorn in Vancouver…

January 31, 2015

Interview with vocalist JOHN ALCORN  by Karin Plato

John swings

(John performs in Vancouver February 14 as part of the Joy of Jazz concert series at St. James Hall)

Karin. Who are some of your favorite vocalists John?

John. Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, Shirley Horn, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker

K. Are there certain vocalists who have particularly influenced your own style/sound?

J.  See above. For me, Billie is #1; the others follow her.

K. What are your thoughts about what qualities might define someone as jazz vocalist?

J.  Here are some of the qualities that Billie possessed: an innate feel for swing, a natural instinct for improvisation, intellectual curiosity, storytelling (the ability to understand and express text – and explore subtext), a constant need to “tell her truth” in song. These are some of the essential qualities that I search for in other singers – and that I strive for myself.

K.Besides singing and playing the piano, do you play any other instruments?
J. In my early years, I studied violin and tenor sax, but was a dismal failure at both!

K. Were you always destined to be a professional musician or are there other professions that intrigued you?

J. In my teens, I was passionate about the visual arts. First, with painting and drawing (I once fantasized about a career as a commercial artist), then, later, with photography. I still harbour the dream of returning to photography one day, as a secondary creative outlet.

K.Do you enjoy the process of composing/creating a new composition?
J. I love music in general. I also love words. Though I “wear many hats”, I tend to obsess on whichever project is immediately in front of me. So, when I’m in composer or lyricist mode, it becomes my passion – for better or worse. Yes, I love it! Additionally, I believe that each mode of creative expression feeds into the others. For example, exploring the best work of the great 20 th century composers absolutely influences my own writing. Conversely, as I pay close attention to my own song-writing, it only heightens my respect for other writers and inspires me to do my best to honour their art when I’m performing.

K. Could you name a few of your favorite song composers?
J. Of the Great American Songbook gang, Harold Arlen is at the top of my list of favourite composers, along with Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers. The lyrics of Johnny Mercer astound, inspire and move me – always. Stephen Sondheim, though jazz singers rarely explore his work, is really a genius, I think.

K. What’s one of your favorite things about working in the world of music and entertainment?

J. For me, having the ongoing opportunity to explore and perform exquisitely-crafted songs in the company of brilliant, creative musicians is truly a blessing and a gift. I cannot imagine a more rewarding life.

K .Do you have a special regime you follow to keep your voice strong and healthy?

J. I should. But I don’t. Well…I never eat a large meal before performing. Does that count? (lol)

K. If you could choose from the entire world of musicians, who might you include in your dream band?

J.  I already work with them – Reg Schwager and Steve Wallace – my dream team! That said, I am over-the-moon excited about playing with Bill Coon and Darren Radtke in Vancouver!

K. Do you have any plans of making a new recording in the future?

J. We already have one “in the can”, but the release is on hold temporarily. Other than that, I have a long list of recording projects I hope to bring to life someday – including a CD of the songs I’ve been co-writing with Reg Schwager.

K. What do you hope an audience gets or receives by attending a John Alcorn concert?

J. Every time I’m onstage, whether by myself or with other musicians, I try to approach each song as though this were the first time I’d sung it. I search for new meaning, fresh nuance; try to deepen my understanding of both music and text – and share that journey with the audience. This is the goal. I do not always achieve it. However, if some audience members have a flash of discovery, a twinge of real emotion, a new insight into a song they may have heard countless times before – if they believe that they are witnessing and sharing a moment of truth – then I’ll feel that I’ve done my job.

Thanks John. I’m looking forward to hearing you and Bill and Darren in concert on February 14th!

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Have you heard the one about the jazz vocalist who created a new jazz concert series?

October 31, 2014

No really, have you heard about it?  No? Well, that’s probably because it’s not exactly trending news or some hot topic that the general population will care about.  Let me tell you a little something about what this jazz singer (that would be me) dreamed about and schemed about and now is putting into works here in Vancouver.  I have been involved in concerts over the years where I’ve been the producer, promoter, artist, arranger and “poster-putter-upper” This time around it’s true that I’ll be performing as part of a double bill for the first of the 3 concert series and after that date I’ll just be the puttin’ up posters and chairs and enjoying the music and musicians that I admire and appreciate as I try to bring my dream to life. The concert series takes place at St. James Hall in Vancouver and the website for the concert series has lots of information about the entire series: www.joyofjazzconcerts.com.  I’ll write more about that in another post but for now I’ll talk about the first concert which takes place Thursday November 27th.

Jillian Lebeck and Adam Thomas are two extraordinary jazz musicians and together they exist as a unique duo, both vocally and instrumentally. I’ve been a fan of both artists for many years now and I’ve seen them perform in various concert situations and witnessed what I would describe as a special musical chemistry. The mutual affection and admiration for each other is revealed in the music that they play and it’s obvious that although they are both strong solo artists they share a similar language and style when it comes to their vocal duets. Jillian and Adam each have such pure and lovely sounding voices and I feel happy and sad at the same time when I hear them sing. That’s possible in music!! There’s something very natural and unaffected and candid about how they perform a song and I witnessed this last July in my music studio.  I had booked Jillian and Adam to play as the rhythm section for a Vocal Jazz Summer Intensive that I taught and I asked if they might perform a couple of songs together  for the participants. Even in the casual atmosphere of a classroom in the span of just a few moments as they played and sang it was obvious that the magic was there and it was fun to watch the workshop participants’ faces as they too recognized the special shared gift Jillian and Adam have.  New and instant fans were made that day.

So, that’s about the duo work of Jillian and Adam. For the first concert I thought it would be a fun and fresh idea to sing with Jillian and Adam as my band for the first show and sculpt a set around what I might like to share with them and also to include one of my favorite instrumentalists in Vancouver to be on stage with us. James Danderfer plays his clarinet or his bass clarinet and always “brings it” and by that I mean he always has something musical to say with his instrument and he’s always listening carefully  and contributing beautiful melodies and harmonies when I am singing. This approach makes the notion of singing and playing in the moment a wonderful experience. There’s comfort and freedom in knowing that the people you are playing with can ebb and flow in that tide with you. Of course I have been lucky to experience that musical ebb and flow with many great musicians over the years and that’s what makes jazz based music such a thrill at times. I anticipate quite some excitement in sharing the stage with Jillian and Adam and James and I look forward to hearing what the four of us will sound like together.pink karin

Has the band been informed that I’ll have my uke Clooney along for the musical ride? Well…that’s not exactly a trending topic either so it’s possible that they don’t yet know but I’ll be sure to tell them soon…

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“Vancouver July Jazz Summit with Karin Plato”

May 8, 2014

I’m in the finally planning stages for this 5 day vocal jazz workshop in July featuring pianist Jillian Lebeck, bassist Adam Thomas & guitarist Bill Coon. It’s a “from prepare to perform” style workshop for vocalists interested in singing jazz and blues music. Contact me via email for further information: karinplato@shaw.ca

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New York City: Big, Bold, and Beautiful

January 13, 2014

I count myself lucky to have experienced this past Christmas holiday in a very exciting and inspiring city. That would be New York City! I should mention too that I believe NY must also be one of the most “efficient” cities around because even as the snow began to fall at the beginning of what was to become a huge snow storm in NYC and surrounding areas, the city prepared to handle the snow and ice everywhere by attaching snowplows on the front of each one of their city garbage trucks. They were able to clear the streets in this way and then upon the return trip once the roads were passable again, they were able to pick up the trash. It might sound simplistic and perhaps insignificant however in a city the size of NY with the amount of garbage including paper and plastic that is placed out on the sidewalk each week, the efficiency and speed seemed a remarkable thing to witness.

New York was indeed remarkable and of course that wasn’t just to do with the snow removal technique. I come back to my home inspired by all the wonderful art and music and culture I was able to take in. Jazz music, classical music, Musical Theatre and art from classical to modern were some of the things NY had to offer. People, everywhere PEOPLE as the city’s population grew with the days leading up to the ball dropping in Time Square on New Year’s Eve. You could see and feel the excitement on the sidewalks throughout the day even on the more cold and bitter December days. People didn’t care about the cold; they were there to experience the city that makes New Year’s Eve famous. They were there to shop, to eat, to line up for hours waiting to see The Empire State Building, they were going to see the famous sights and there was a joyful spirit in the air somehow. Yes, NY was a buzz of joy and excitement and perhaps it always has that no matter what the season. We didn’t join the throng (that would be over a million people) on New Year’s Eve but it was exciting to be there in the city and get a sense of the sheer number of people that were there to experience the famous ball drop in Time’s Square.

One musical highlight and personal thrill to me was getting to meet vocalist Kate McGarry in person and hearing her perform twice and discovering that yes, she is as wonderful live as she is on all her recordings. I do hope we’ll be able to get her to Vancouver to perform this year. We were able to hear her in a brand new project in which she is collaborating with vibraphonist James Shipp, pianist Vitor Concalves and drummer Ritchie Barshay. They perform an eclectic array of songs including some of Kate’s originals. I love Kate’s original songs. They ring true and they leave an impact on you as a listener. In fact everything she sings leaves an impact it seems. She makes you feel the depth and possibility of the song’s story. Her voice is dynamic and full of expression and yet she is never gratuitous in any way as she sings the song’s story and sculpts an emotional contour. There is never a false note or an ending that disappears too soon and you hear every syllable and consonant and above all you are captivated. Whether she is burning through a bebop tune or caressing a lullaby’s lyric, Kate McGarry appears to sing with ease and precision and freedom and truth. Can you tell that I am a big fan? I am!

Vibraphonist James Shipp is a monster musician with a whacky sense of humor and ease on the stage. He created some truly fascinating arrangements that enabled the group to have a very specific sound suited to Kate’s approach to music making. I think they make a great team and they really began to develop a group sound. Certainly I hope they will be recording some of this fine music. In any event I think Kate McGarry is a jazz vocalist that people need to check out if they haven’t already done so.

There was much more music that we heard but perhaps I’ll go on to the art now. Getting a chance to view some art galleries opened up our minds and excited us about creative possibilities and that will remain a strong memory of this holiday as well. Huge installation art displays such as those on display at DIA were large in scope and at times also in philosophy it seems. Some art seemed to make more sense and more of an impact once a person could read a little bit more about the artist’s intention. Certain artist’s definitely impacted the way I came to see shape, form, contrast, mood and emotion when viewing or walking through and around some of the art installation. One artist, Richard Serra makes enormous and I mean ENORMOUS pieces with metal. You might walk around something resembling a sunken ship or walk through and around a type of path within 2 metal sloping walls where each person walking through will experience their own sensations with respect to space, or lack thereof or height and slope etc. I found this quite fascinating since most of the art I’ve ever viewed has been on a wall or has been a sculpture perhaps smaller in scale than the size of a sunken ship.

One huge hall at DIA displayed a long series of related works by Andy Warhol. Just walking through and viewing an entire room devoted to a series with one painting and all its numerous variations was really quite an experience. It wouldn’t be the same seeing only a few of them on display I imagine.

I loved every minute of being in one of the smaller galleries in NYC too. The Whitney Museum was where I was able to see much of Alexander Calder’s work. Getting a chance to walk through and witness the history of an artist’s work and see where he developed and changed styles and approaches was fascinating. To see that development and change in the works left behind and realize that certain experiences in the artist’s life will have him/her change directions and completely work towards a completely new direction is revealing. Perhaps it reminded me that there is always time to change and follow your muse so long as you are open to it, even if you have been doing something a certain way for a long time.

I suppose in some way being able to view some of the art I saw was a way to shake me out of my box and open my eyes to other possibilities in creativity or creative thinking at least. As a musician I believe this is very useful, this “shaking of the box” or the mindset one might find oneself in. You might not know immediately how this experience will affect your own art but certainly it must. We’ll see as the year 2014 unfolds…

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MY BUDDY…

December 6, 2013

I was sitting at the piano and leafing through song books (of which I have many yes, MANY books) and I was sight reading and singing through potential choices for adding to my repertoire. This is something I do on a regular basis as one can never have enough songs in a repertoire or at least there’s always room for one more song. Nowadays I will sit at the piano and sing and play various songs and then in conjunction with that discovery and experience I will typically go to the internet and there I’ll go see who else has recorded the song and I’ll look for more information about the song; the composers; what show the song might be from if it is a standard. Almost immediately I can find video and audio clips on youtube and elsewhere for me to hear various renditions, both professional and amateur. With one simple click I can do this research and become informed about songs and their origin. This is remarkable to me somehow even though I almost take the technology for granted these days.  I can scarcely imagine my life without advanced technology it seems! Yes, I might not have a technical mind but technology is definitely MY BUDDY!

The world of technology and the internet and software programs have enabled me to be a more efficient musician I suppose. There’s still always pencil and paper for making charts and composing and arranging songs but following that I return to software programs that allow me to create a permanent file that can be altered or revised as I see fit and which can be neat and crisply printed out for my band mates as the road map to the tunes.

So, there’s the beginning stage of sitting at the piano; or maybe just listening to another musician’s cd and being inspired to learn the same song and (hopefully) create my own arrangement to in fact make it “my own”. Yes, I suppose I’d say that it doesn’t make me a better musician. That still comes through practice and determination and a creative spirit I suppose but I for one am grateful that I have my buddy with me helping me along this adventurous ride…

As to the title of my blog entry being “MY BUDDY” . I should note that is actually a song title as well. MY BUDDY was composed by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn and it was published in 1922 and there have been numerous artists who have performed and recorded it including people like Chet Baker, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme and Barbra Streisand. Perhaps I’ll include in my repertoire now too. It is a beautiful song…