Monday, January 31, 2011

Welcome February!

Tomorrow is February. Thank God. January seemed to drift in, bringing with it - cold days, packing up Christmas, paying new bills and trying out new ways to organize old stuff. Well, last year's methods aren't working.. time for a change.

That 'change' came with a new computer .. I now operate on a PC with tons of memory. My original computer met with its demise in September.. with it.. all of what I deemed important - mailing lists, gig info, letters, song lists, photos.. [fortunately for me, there are numerous online sites on which, at least, my photos have been stored.]

My biggest gain with the computer, has been the CD/DVD burner. I have uploaded video performances of ANN MITCHELL JAZZ to the computer, edited them and added to my online profiles.

Back to February...

Valentine's concert [see my web] on the 13th with the trio. My fans submitted their valentine favs to include on the concert line up! My daughter has asked to sing a duet with me. I have to admit, the request came as a surprise for me. Kerri and I sang many a duet together before she attended college. During those years, singing with me was not beneficial to her .. she was 'studying opera now.' It's a treat to sing with her once again and I know that our friends will enjoy it too! We have chosen the perfect song ... sorry, not going to disclose that info yet.

Speaking of Kerri, she has been busy preparing for Grad school opera programs. She is a very dedicated, talented musician that would be an asset to any school. Two auditions remain......We're hoping and praying for the best opportunity!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

WHAT A FIND!!!

My husband recently took advantage of the Record Archive July 4th weekend sale. Who could resist 3 used CD's/DVD's for $10?! He came home with a pile of new music.. some obscure... and others that would fill in the gaps in his collection.

You have to understand... we are MUSIC -HOLICS [or better put - collectors]... don’t want to be music junkies, because that has a negative connotation... and music is definitely NOT junk!! So, it’s our healthy addiction.

Our family goes music shopping the same way that most people go grocery shopping. Each one of us has an eclectic, extensive list of artists/bands on cd. Probably Karl's would be the most diverse in our family: underground hip hop, verve, jazz, punk/hardcore . My music is somewhat connected: Broadway Soundtracks, [old] movie musical soundtracks, female jazz singers of the 40's-50's, Big Band, Barry [yes, Barry!], some Mason Williams, James Galway and more. Kerri has opera, classic/punk/indie rock, pop, R&B, Hip and Trip Hop, Electronica and such. Joe collects Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Moody Blues, Bob James, Cheap Trick, Herp Alpert, classical and what he refers to as 'rock done right,' ... too many to name.

It is a genuine thrill for us to come across a recording that is ‘unavailable’ or better yet, a recording of which we were unaware. Yes, they do exist!

Well, as they sing in THE SOUND OF MUSIC... “Let’s start at the very beginning....”

I met my husband IN a record store. Yes, it was a record store! Remember the big, black discs with lines engrooved on them. The lines of which you carefully place the stylus on and begin listening to the recording. Ah.. those lines... you gave reverence to... they held the magic to “the” sound. You never jumped in the room while the music was playing.... never jolted the furniture upon which the turntable was playing your record.... and ALWAYS ran to the turntable [stereo] to turn the record over to SIDE 2. Mmmmm, Side 2. Sometimes the best music on a broadway soundtrack was on Side 2. I digress... back to my story....

My hubby was the store manager for a little known record store originally out of Buffalo, called Cavages. I wandered in one afternoon out of the blue. Joe was determined to give me “good customer service.” I was purchasing HOOKED ON SWING and the soundtrack to the musical GYPSY, with Rosalind Russell. I was embarrassed, number 1 - to be making such a lame purchase... [never bought rock.. never] and number 2 - because I could not figure out if I had enough money. He quickly figured it out the total, including tax, in his head. Wow.. did I feel flustered and dumb! Joe and I ended up having a very long chat... had to be over an hour. I loved my new purchase... unfortunately one of the records ended up being somewhat warped. I was too shy to return it... didn’t want him to think I was chasing him or didn’t appreciate his assistance. But, I did return one day, without the record, and the rest is history. [It’s more interesting if you hear Kerri’s version of the fateful meeting! Another time.]

When we married... our record collections had to be married also. Picture a basic 1 bedroom apartment, with a typical sized living room. The back living room wall, from floor to ceiling... and one end to the other...was his record collection!! Everything was alphabetized, by genre. Incredible! He had been collecting since he was seven years old and fell in love with Herb Alpert. Joe wanted to intermingle his collection - with mine - alphabetically by genre, of course. My records were not ready for that type of commitment. They had just met. Besides, Joe had ‘collectible’ albums... in special sleeves... some still not opened! How could I subject my lovelies to such a haughty collection. I cut a deal with Joe .... my small collection would be in the lower corner of the shelf and I would organize it, or not. Good enough!

So, we kept on collecting. Our children had to have the BEST music collection during their formative years. They had most of Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Joe Scruggs [their peer got into Rafffi.. he didn’t ‘do it’ for us.] Disney, you name it ....wonderful.

Karl got ‘addicted’ to The Monk Monks [The Monkees] when he was about 18 months old. He graduated to Spike Jones... after which our budding music enthusiast required a drum set to emulate the comical band leader.
I think he was four at the time. Kerri’s path was similar, but branched off into Disney recordings, Barbie soundtracks [really? she’s a doll, not an idol!] and Minnie and Me.

Needless to say.. over the years.. our family made the change to update our listening technology to a CD player. No, we did not get rid of the turntable.. or the records and tapes for that matter .. they are still played to this day! In fact, we have a new turntable! (I think Joe has even kept his 8 track collection.)

So.. back to record shopping.... I [or the two K’s] need only express an interest in an artist or band and Joe will do his best to get the collection. It may take a while, but he is devoted to all of our music. The funny thing is, he rarely writes down what he/we are looking for... he is proficient at remembering what everyone owns! I could not even remember a shopping list unless I write it down.

May I stray off for a moment??

After our first date, Joe must have been very impressed with moi.. for he played a specific song, on a specific album ... while gazing into my eyes. Wow! That is the equivalent of being sung to - as far as I am concerned, right? We have been married 27 years and Joe remembers every song that he has played [dedicated] just for me. He still does that to this day. Sundays have been known for his DJ time. All we have to do is reference a song and he jumps into action.. any genre! Yup! He’s a keeper!

Let’s see, where was I? Oh yes, .. finding that ‘special song.’

Joe bought three recordings at the Archive sale that day of which he thought I ‘might like.’ [I think they were sold for $1 each... yeh.. it pays to dig through the dollar bin!!] The first is some Broadway greats by Michael Crawford. Yeh, you know him. He is well know for creating the lead role in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Of course, I expected good things from him. I wasn’t surprised to hear him sing the recently beloved, classic song from LES MISERABLES, “Bring Him Home,” and “If I Loved You” from CAROUSEL. Predictably good.

The next CD is a jazz standard recording by Art Garfunkel. Hmmm ... who’d’ve thought? [All the singers are doing them these days!] Sure, I’ll give it a try. My friend and I used to harmonize to his music with Paul Simon, back in the day. Beautiful. Joe also found a June Christy CD that I didn’t have in my collection. That recording had a song that I recently learned to sing with my band and did NOT have - “Give Me the Simple Life.” Serendipity at its best!

The last CD features Dennis DeYoung, better known as the singer/songwriter and founding member of the rock band STYX - “Lady,” “Babe”. Dennis is singing Broadway show tunes! REALLY??!! Let’s have another, Hmmm...who’d’ve thought? I later found out he did play on broadway. Ok, I’ll give it a try.. Art’s was really nice....maybe this one will be acceptable.

Well, two of the songs that Dennis recorded really knocked me for a loop! The first song, I immediately fell head over heels in love with - “Someone Else’s Story.” The song rang a bell. I thought that I may have heard it before. It’s from the musical CHESS... not a lasting memory of a show, unfortunately. But kudos to the song writers: lyrics by Tim Rice [has teamed up with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and also writers from Disney] and music by Bj√∂rn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, [formerly of ABBA]. I am TOTALLY addicted to this song.

Usually, when I preview an album, I get impatient to hear every song at once. I’ll listen to half of the piece, zipping through every song. I couldn’t do that with “Someone Else’s Story” .... had to play the song repeatedly.. hence the addiction. So, I am reading the song listings on the back cover of the album to get an idea of what other songs Dennis included on the CD. I like to form my opinion about themes/inspirations of the artist by the song choices.

Low and behold, I realized that the last song on the recording is one that I have been singing and yearning over for way too many years! Let’s just say that my first born music appreciator was a babe at the time. “It’s In Ev’ry One Of Us” was included in the John Denver’s Christmas with the Muppets TV special. The song was written by TV music writer, David Pomeranz. I used to sing it to my children when they were babies.

I searched high and low for sheet music. Believe me, this took place years before we had access to the internet. Luckily, the downtown library has an incredible printed music collection. Thank God for interlibrary loan!! [I am a “Friend” and I make donations to the county system.] For a mere 50 cents, I was able to secure a photo copy of “It’s In Ev’ry One of Us.”

In time it became a perfect addition to a Sunday School Christmas Pageant. I have a lusty passion for finding the perfect song to fit any occasion. [music nerd here!] Someday, I will record it.... may even include it on the Christmas album with my daughter that we talk about creating. But that’s another story! Right now I want to surprise my husband with a new recording that he has been searching for.... time to go CD shopping!

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Slightly Out of Tune?"

Most musicians, or people in general that have a ‘good ear,’ are able to differentiate between being “in tune” or “out of tune.”

Below are two definitions that I found to describe a non tangible concept that is pretty abstract.

“..the condition of having correct musical pitch, or of being in key..”

ALSO..

“agreement in pitch..”

So, we have to agree .... I like that!

I have a good ear..... my poor mother was born unable to hear a pitch and replicate it. The plus side to that? She could/can always enjoy most music. Think about that... being able to sit in any concert, all levels... any musical, anywhere that someone steps up to play an instrument or sing the National Anthem..... and NEVER squirm over a note or dissonant chord. What a blessing!

So, this brings me to a song that is in my repertoire.


DESAFINADO (Slightly Out of Tune)

At first, I thought, “.. ok, just another Latin song.”

No, it’s NOT just another Latin song. It is a brilliant work of art! The original text is written by Newton Mendonca, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim -- ahhhh love Jobim! Yes, you have heard of him! Step into an elevator and eventually the strains of BOY FROM IPANEMA will surround your assent to the top floor. That’s right! HIM!

The song is a medium bossa nova, written in the key of F. The first two verses are filled with metaphors that link a relationship to a beautifully written/played piece of music. The melody is filled with extra accidentals to help give that ‘out of tune’ conveyance [ in music and relationships].


Love is like a never-ending melody
Always have compared it to a symphony
A symphony conducted by the lighting of the moon
But our song of love is slightly out of tune

Once your kisses raised me to a fever pitch
Now the orchestration doesn't seem so rich
Seems to me you've changed the tune we used to sing
Like the bossa nova, love should swing


The lyrics in the slight bridge, describe the ‘song’ [ie relationship] with “being different” stating that the words “don’t even rhyme.” The melody, in keeping with the lyrics, has added even more accidentals at this point in the song.


We used to harmonize, two souls in perfect time
Now the song is different and the words don't even rhyme
Cause you forgot the melody our hearts would always croon
So what's good's a heart that's slightly out of tune


Now comes the really brilliant part of the song! [yeh.. music geek here!]

The final verse of the song suggests that the relationship, like a song needs to be tuned. “Tune your heart to mine” .. “join with me in harmony.” As the lyrics/relationship change .. the melody has now found its way to the key of F major, with no additional accidentals!


Tune your heart to mine the way it used to be
Join with me in harmony and sing a song of loving
We've got to get in tune again before too long

There'll be no desafinado
When your heart belongs to me completely
Then you won't be slightly out of tune
You'll sing along with me.



Brilliant! I have goose bumps. That is not just composing..... that is ART! Take the time to look at the music....the words alone do not do it justice. [Let me know if you would like to see a copy.]

Monday, June 14, 2010

What?! No Bridge??

Jazz Standards have a 'bridge'..... probably one of the reasons they are deemed 'standard.'
I am currently working on updating my rep.
Two of the new (to me) songs are about the moon.

THAT, in itself, is somewhat cliche'.. but the songs are popular and timeless.

One of my favorite elements of the traditional standard is the bridge ...or the section that connects the verses in the song. Sometimes the bridge has a schmaltzy melody..

exa. "Teach Me Tonight".. if it weren't for that mid section... I may not have learned that particular song.

"The sky's a blackboard high above you
and if a shooting star goes by
I'll use that star to write I LOVE YOU
A thousand times across the sky."


The bridge in "Orange Colored Sky" is priceless... a veritable FUN spew of words
that literally keeps the singer on his/her toes!!

Do NOT let the pianist run away with the tempo on that song...
you WILL be 'in a spin' by the time you sing the bridge!


"... then the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out,
I went into a spin and I started to shout!..."


The bridge in "It's Only a Paper Moon" is short and trite ... but in all fairness, the song was written in 1933:

"...without your love, it's a honky tonk parade
without your love, it's a melody played in a penny arcade."


....Back to my moon songs...


"Fly Me to The Moon" Bart Howard (1954)
"How High the Moon" Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis (1940)

I read through the lyrics, decided on a tempo, sang through the tune, checked the key
.. then... noticed the structure: AA
[It is generally AABA]


"WHAT?? NO BRIDGE??!! Both songs about the moon, haven't a bridge?!"huh!

OK, then.

I'll let it go .. this time.



Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recently, I had a real musician's moment .. made me feel like a real DIVA. My Trio finished our special midday concert at the Jewish Home ..
a quartet of dancers was preparing to perform next.

I walked through the tables of residents and guests to retrieve my cart...
as I walked by people,
they began clapping for me!
What a thrill! Made me feel like a real movie star!


Friday, February 19, 2010

A Wunderbar Lady

The musical entertainment world has lost a beautiful songstress this week ...
Kathryn Grayson, lovely lady ~ voice, like a nightingale.

She studied to sing opera - MGM snatched her up for shows such as
Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and more. Who cannot forget her feisty portrayal of Lilli Vanessi as she sings " I Hate Men."

You were truly, WUNDERBAR!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

February

Hello February. You have a bad habit of sneaking up on me. Valentine's Day is just around the corner..... many are wondering .. "will I receive ice, flowers, dinner?" Hmmmmmmm

For me, I know that I will be singing in a library. Yeh, a library! Who'd've thought?!
Doesn't that sound like a romantic adventure?
A song list is in order.... don't worry, My Funny Valentine is a given.

Libraries are a fav place of mine - books, books, books
and more books. I hope that I get a chance to
check out the music book section.

If you read my post... share your favorite love song with me.