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Archive for the ‘performing’ Category

here’s my October newsletter

This weekend I was in the studio at the CBC chatting with Karen Gordon about scoring and playing for silent movies. I love the CBC and how supportive they are of musicians in this country.

Karen is a wonderful interviewer. It was a total pleasure. Here is the interview. Fern Lindzon Interview by Karen Gordon on CBC Radio’s Fresh Air 20121028

At the end of the interview the CBC aired I Thought About You from my first CD, Moments Like These.

Thank you, CBC.

In the studio with Karen Gordon

 

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I decided to wear pants – for the mosquitos. sandals for the drive, but low boots just in case the bugs were out in full force. A choice of two sweaters to protect my arms from bites, only because I didn’t relish the idea of industrial strength deep woods off for sportsmen for ever on my favorite one. My wool felt Busterish looking pork pie hat, just in case I felt like being Buster at the outset.

I didn’t think about the wind.

I didn’t think about the cold.

I ended up wearing the boots, both sweaters, the hat plus a borrowed coat ten sizes too big.

The brave Barrie folk brought chairs, hot drinks, coats, hats and blankets. They knew it was going to be a blustery night for Buster.

You start with a large patch of green by the water. Heritage Park. Is that a great name for a park by the water? (are you listening, Toronto?) Stakes were driven solidly into the ground to tether the screen in place. It took six people to get the screen up. A giant balloon in the shape of a movie screen – kind of like those plastic jumping castles turned on its side, being filled with air to keep its shape.

 

 

The wind won the first round. But with one hour before screening, the stakes were unstaked and restaked in a more sheltered area, sound system in place, lap top, dvd (for back-up), blue ray and projector set up on the table and keyboard ready to go! Bravo to Robin Munroe of the Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival and to Claudine Benoit and John Arruda of the Barrie Film Festival!!

During that hour I sat in my car memorizing as much of my score as I could. No stand clips were going to hold any music in place. (not that I had remembered to bring them, d’oh!) I was loving the idea of improvising.

We even had popcorn!

It was a beautiful blustery bitingly chilly night, I was dressed ridiculously, my fingers were chilled to the bone, and I loved every minute of it!

Thank you, Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival and Barrie Film Festival!

 

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I feel like Dorothy. All I needed to do was click my heels together three times. I’ve been able to edit and upload videos to youtube all along. I just needed someone to tell me how.

Here’s what you do with a mac:

Open imovie

if the movie is already on your desktop and you want to edit it, click file – import – movies and find the file.

Click on “create a new event” and give it a name

make sure you click “copy” rather than “move” the movie

you will then see the entire movie (frame by frame) on the bottom of the page.

Move the mouse anywhere, hit the space bar and it will play from that point onward.

Select a section by holding down the mouse – find a good starting place, a good ending and once it’s highlighted, you hit “E”

that isolates and moves that section to the top of the page where you can probably do a whole bunch of things to it that I don’t know how to do yet.

Click on “share” and you can export to your desktop or share it directly to youtube. there’s actually that option, and a bunch more.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been daunted by this task.

Now I just need to learn how to edit a few things together, and write some text on the movie. I’m sure it’s not that hard…

Feel free to tell me about it.

In the meantime, please enjoy a couple of videos from my “Two Kites” CD release recorded live at Lula Lounge:

Mike Murley (saxophone), George Koller (bass) and Nick Fraser (drums)

Here’s the title track from the CD, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Two Kites”

Here’s an original instrumental, “All Fall Down”

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preamble.

part one:

what’s the difference between playing tunes and free improv?

nothing.

nothing?

nothing.

but surely…

 

part two:

they’re the same thing. same rules. tunes are free and free are tunes.

the only difference is that when you’re playing a tune the form is inherent.

when playing free the form is extrinsic. it’s still there. you just need to find it or allow it to find you.

 

part three:

look. it’s all about composition. even playing tunes is about composition.

not some rote play the head solo for a few choruses play the head. we’re done.

unless that’s intentional.

or you have 16 bars or 32 bars or whatever and a huge canvas to play with around inside, outside, through, over and beyond the tune.

 

part four:

free playing is composition, too.

it’s just a composition that reveals itself over time

and if the players are truly listening they’re on the lookout for it.

and by the way.

melody, rhythm, harmony, motifs, themes and variations, counterpoint

tonality (now there’s an idea) atonality

it all applies.

 

the gig.

okay. I admit it. I had a few ideas. But they were ideas of intent. Not actual melodic or harmonic ideas. The ideas occurred to me a few minutes before I was about to play. The ideas were kind of like guidelines that I wanted to share with my fellow musicians Mark Segger (drums) and Heather Segger (trombone). I said, let’s make things short. I mean get to an idea, play with it and end it. Then move on. Nothing meandering or aimless. Let’s listen for endings. Even if one part is simply one of us taking a solo, let’s be aware that that’s okay. I even had an idea that it could be like a suite. We could interrupt applause if we wanted to so that it didn’t get too broken up. The weird thing is, the audience got it. They only clapped once, but the next time we gave them breaks in the action, they didn’t clap. they knew. they were part of it.

It was part of Leftover Day Light at Somewhere There, the performance space of AIM (Association of Improvising Musicians) Toronto. It’s a series that goes on every Friday night featuring three groups (or solos) who play one set each. I asked Heather and Mark to join me. I had been playing some of my regular “jazz” gigs with Mark lately, so I thought it could really strengthen how we play “inside” if we did a completely “outside” gig together. I was curious about Heather, having heard wonderful comments about her playing. I also loved the idea of having a few trombone/vocal dialogues. I was attracted to the range, timbre and warmth of the trombone with vocals.

I came prepared. I brought my own mike and amp to sing through, even though I knew I primarily wanted to play the piano. I removed the entire bottom panel of the piano in order to get more volume. I had the advantage of having heard the piano in the first set and was determined to make it louder. I even brought my digital tape recorder to tape the performance, but, well, kind of forgot to hit the record button a second time, so it remained in standby mode. ugh. technology… or maybe it was just Friday the 13th.

While setting up I was talking to the audience about the recent concert I saw at the Vanguard. I thought about the ostinato bass line Geri Allen and Esperanza Spalding played on “Au Leu Cha” and it occurred to me that it would be a good place to begin our set. It was such a fun place to start, that I decided to end the set with it as well.

Here are some things I want to remember:

I love the concept of a suite

I love ostinatos. I’m going to use this one again.

trombone/voice. very cool

a good ending

 

postlude.

one thing leads to another.

A few months ago I had a lesson and breakfast with Sylvie Courvoisier. Over breakfast we talked about free improvisation and form. She spoke about her concept of form as though you start with a fork, move to the spoon and the knife, perhaps the plate. There is some relationship, development and exploration as you move from place to place and branch out slowly,  giving time for an idea to develop and simmer rather than all of a sudden being across the road in unrelated territory. (or worse – my comment – meandering in a sea of nothingness where everyone is afraid to make a move).

In my lesson with Sylvie, we talked a lot about tone, weight and dropping into the keys. Sylvie introduced me to the Taubman Technique and encouraged me to seek out Edna Golandsky. But that’s another blog entry…

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