Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2011

collective remembering.

collective forgetting.

the universal mind. the collective unconscious.

If you’re lucky, you can learn to recognize and identify that which you have forgotten. If you’re really lucky, you follow…

My body always knows long before my conscious mind tells me anything. The electric shock of recognition will start in my spine as my eyes fill with tears.

Forgotten Melodies came out of Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata Reminincenza. but it also came out of Maria Schneider’s Hang Gliding, and Shalom Secunda’s Dona Dona with a stop-over at Yiddish Summer Weimar in Germany. The seed of the idea came out of a spontaneous duet I heard at klezkanada played by Alan Bern on accordion and Christian Dawid on clarinet. It was heaven and earth and everything in between. And I recognized it at once. It was buried so deeply into my past that it preceded my birth. And it felt as though a vibrant and colorful path which I had never noticed before had suddenly come into view.

Forgotten Melodies is an exploration of Yiddish/Eastern European/klezmer music which I have arranged as contemporary jazz. I started the project a few years ago with Dona Dona and with a Canada Council grant to study with Marilyn Lerner, and on March 29 I will be presenting the collection in concert at the Four Seasons Centre for the Arts in Toronto. The repertoire includes some old Yiddish songs and melodies as well as original compositions inspired by klezmer/Yiddish music. I’ll be playing this music with my fantastic band: Mike Murley on soprano and tenor sax, George Koller on bass and Nick Fraser on drums.

I’ve recorded a couple of the selections on my upcoming CD, Two Kites. Here is a youtube video of Yam Lid/Lustige Chasidm/Balkan Bellabusta played in concert at La Belle Epoque and recorded by the CBC for “Canada Live”.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Click here to read my March newsletter.


Read Full Post »

“Like the very first title says, Sherlock Jr is a story about being able to do two things at once: move and entertain, dream and wake, negotiate between our real and our better selves – how we are all, in the end, projectionists and detectives. That art inflects life and vice versa is not a new statement, but a celebration of that fact perhaps bears repeating. Sherlock Jr is a testament to the imaginative impulse, the creative wish- the amount of ourselves that we put into the movies, and what the movies give back to us. For when the lights come up and we’re shoved rudely back into our misfit selves, we find we’re a little better off. Our ghostly flights sustain us. And then it’s time to kiss the girl.”

Edward McPherson, Buster Keaton – Tempest in a Flat Hat

(click to enlarge- Photos by Sonia Recchia/Wireimage for TIFF. This photo was taken at our performance of Sherlock Jr at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto)

a band within a band within a film within a film…

watching/playing, interacting/reading, composing/improvising, listening/creating

In a much broader sense, I have found that when two major projects overlap, particularly when one project is nearly finished and another is beginning, they both benefit. While I was composing the score for Sherlock Jr I was also in the final mixing stages of my CD project, Two Kites. It’s almost as though my creative imagination needed to take a day off here and there to think about something else and be engaged in a different type of brain activity in order to return with fresh ears and ideas. When Sherlock Jr was ending, my Halloween cabaret show, That Old Black Magic Cabaret, at the Young Centre for the Arts was looming, which I think really helped me get over post-show letdown. There simply wasn’t time.

Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on arrangements for my newest project, Forgotten Melodies. This project will have its world premiere at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for the Arts on March 29. Forgotten Melodies brings the exoticism of klezmer/Yiddish/Eastern European music to modern jazz. This project has also inspired me to be in serious practice mode. Right now, most of my days are spent writing, practicing, recording, listening to my playing, analyzing and refining my ideas.

At the same time, I’m also preparing for my Two Kites CD release on April 28. I signed off the final proof for the CD package this week! There are still tons of loose ends to think about for the release of the CD and for upcoming concerts for its promotion.

That’s all I can handle. Two things at once!

Read Full Post »

Last summer I composed a film score for Buster Keaton’s silent film classic, Sherlock Jr.


I first heard about this project on June 8, received confirmation on June 23 and was booked for four performances on Sept. 26 at the brand new TIFF Bell Lightbox. In the meantime, I traveled to Barcelona from June 25- July 6, then was off to Halifax from July 14-18. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to start writing until the last two weeks in July. Even so, I had a few days booked in the studio to mix my new CD, Two Kites, plus three performances including a solo concert at the Burlington Jazz Festival.

I was told that TIFF wanted the score to have a lot of klezmer music. Therefore, I decided that I’d score it for a klezmer/jazz sextet consisting of accordion, clarinet/sax, violin, piano, bass and drums.

I had a deadline, a stylistic guideline, instrumentation, plus an absolutely brilliant 44 minute long silent film.

Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like real parameters!

I often think about the fact that it’s so much easier for me to complete a project when there is an external deadline. Internal deadlines are way trickier. I can slip, get distracted, abandon projects and leave unfinished compositions and arrangements buried in my notebooks or in my digital recording device. (I use a Roland Edirol R-09. Love it!) Or other external deadlines pop up which demand my complete attention, and as time goes by the urgency to finish an earlier project starts to diminish…

Deadlines are crucial for an artist. They really help focus creative energy, keep you moving forward, and give you something concrete to work toward. They also help you keep your priorities in place and say “no” when necessary. When I don’t have a clear goal in mind, I can waste a lot time.

I love deadlines!

Read Full Post »