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Posts Tagged ‘George Koller’

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

On June 11 I will be presenting a concert about Mary Lou Williams at the Barrie Jazz & Blues Festival. I’ll be talking about her life and playing her music. George Koller will be joining me on bass, and Nick Fraserwill be playing drums. It’s a fascinating project. In a career that ran from the mid 1920’s until her death in 1981 Mary Lou remained, in Duke Ellington’s words, “perpetually contemporary” and was an especially formative figure on the Kansas City scene of the 1930’s and in New York during the 1940’s. She wrote hundreds of compositions and played in every style from boogie to swing to bebop to modern, influencing several important musicians along the way. Many came to hang out in her apartment.

Mary Lou with Jack Teagarden, Dixie Bailey, Hank Jones, Tadd Dameron and Milt Orent in Mary Lou’s apartment, Aug 1947

Boogie woogie

Here is an example of a rolling octave boogie woogie bass line. (played an octave lower than written)

(click on image to enlarge)

Mary Lou is nothing short of a powerhouse. Her left hand has tremendous strength and stamina. Over the past several weeks I’ve been trying various left hand boogie patterns and trying to sustain them over periods of time. I’m in awe of her.

A couple of days ago I watched Mary Lou Williams 1978 concert from Norman Granz “Jazz at Montreux”. The camera work is great with a lot of close-ups of her left hand.

As the camera zoomed in, I began to notice that her bass notes were being played by both her 4th and 5th fingers at the same time. Two fingers on one note! A revelation! It’s also something I had never attempted before. But as I tried it out and thought about it, it began to make a huge amount of sense. First of all, it doubles the strength of the weakest finger while giving it support. The bottom note needs to be hammered in the boogie woogie style. Secondly, it changes the angle of the hand so that you’re not spreading your fingers out straight, but rather angling the hand to the left, which is way less strenuous. All of the action is in the rotation of the wrist. It didn’t take long before this way of playing began to feel less foreign and more comfortable. I imagined how I could apply it in other contexts. In fact, I had a gig that night and kept looking for opportunities to hammer out a bass note using those two fingers. The tone was strong, heavy and warm.

Do any other piano players use this technique in any style of music? I wonder where Mary Lou got it from and I’m very curious to know who else uses this.

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On April 28- tomorrow, that is!!!- I’m launching my second jazz CD, Two Kites. The title of the CD comes from a fabulous song written by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Fred Hersch calls Jobim one of the great composers of the 20th century, and I couldn’t agree more! It was an honour to record this tune of his.

Two Kites also features Mike Murley on sax, George Koller on bass and Nick Fraser on drums. It was produced by George Koller and recorded by Jeremy Darby at Canterbury Music in Toronto.

There are some major thematic threads that run throughout the CD. First, there is the notion of flight: the birds ‘keeping our hopes alive’ in Distance, the whimsical, flighty flirtation of Two Kites, the laughing winds and the swallow flying freely in Dona Dona, and the images of being carried off by the wind and the heart riding on wings of eagles in Yam Lid. Similarly, Yam Lid (Song of the Sea) uses the sea as a metaphor to represent abandoning oneself to the embrace of the ocean, while Grey Green is about being lost in the sea of someone’s eyes, and Basin Street Blues speaks of taking a boat to the land of dreams. We even did our photo shoot on a beach by Lake Ontario where I could dance, run with kites and feel the wind blowing crazily through my dress.

Here then is your tune by tune guide (with a few brief excerpts)

1. Distance– composed by Glauco Venier with lyrics by the wonderful Norma Winstone. It deals with alienation and the distance between people and all those places “it is best not to go. Not to know. Keep your distance…” Yet when the song starts we are gazing upward at the birds freely flying high in the distance. As we witness these “weightless wanderers” our spirits and hopes are kept alive as we are reminded to “be here now.”

distance excerpt

2. Two Kites– Jobim wrote these flirty and playful lyrics in English! They are not a translation from Portuguese. How can anyone resist a song that begins, “..and by the way have you forgotten to say where you live, what’s your name, what you do?…” It only gets sillier and more delicious!

two kites excerpt

3. Moon in the Sky/My Romance– Maybe Rodgers and Hart don’t need a moon in the sky or a blue lagoon standing by for their romance, but as far as I’m concerned, it sure wouldn’t hurt! “Moon in the Sky” is my own comment on their lyrics.

moon in the sky

don’t need a blue lagoon for my romance.

but I really wouldn’t complain

for a castle rising in Spain.

I kind of love cashmere,

candlelight, merlot and oysters- have no fear

that I’d return

some Tiffany heart, diamond ring, not that I need a thing-

for my romance

could be quite lovely in a cafe in France.

there’s a small hotel

the music is playing, I know it so well

we could be dancing on the ceiling

my valentine and me

for our romance is not some chance…

4. Dona Dona– Take a beautiful old melody, add a dash of Nicholai Medtner and a hint of Maria Schneider and let it simmer. I’ve tried to evoke some of the song’s images — “the calf on a wobbly cart” with an asymmetric 11/4 ostinato, “the swallow high in the sky” through Mike’s gorgeous, soaring soprano saxophone lines, and “the wind laughing” with a shift to 4/4.

dona dona 

5. Grey Green– For me, it all started with Bill Evans. His Portraits in Jazz is one of my favorite records. This original composition was inspired by Blue in Green. The lyrics deal with how we see reflections of ourselves in another person’s eyes. “Can we ever see beyond love and loss dappled in grey green light?”

6. All Fall Down– this is another original composition and the only instrumental on the CD.

All Fall Down excerpt

7. Basin Street Blues– a slow and sultry stroll down steamy Basin Street

8. Ate Quem Sabepronounced ah-te kay(m) sabee.  Until one day, Until Perhaps, Until who knows? I first heard this gorgeous Brazilian song on a cassette recording of Gal Costa. I still have it! Portuguese is a beautiful language to sing in.

9. Yam Lid/LustigeChasidm/Balkan Bellabusta.  Yam Lid. Song of the sea. I have forgotten my loved ones, my family. I abandon myself to the sea. And west wind carry me off to a distant land where my heart can ride on wings of eagles. And on your way back tell my loved ones how happy I am… Yam Lid is followed by the gorgeous Yiddish melody, Lustige Chasidm and wild abandon of Balkan Bellabusta.

10. If He’s Ever Near A beautiful song written by Karla Bonoff. I like the way it brings the album to a quiet close after the boisterous klezmer medley.

If He’s Ever Near 

You can find Two Kites on itunes

or at cdbaby 

Its available at HMV and at Indigo Manulife in Toronto as well as L’Atelier Grigorian.

It was a pleasure to record this CD. Please enjoy!

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