In 20 Photos….Willie Nelson, a High School Reunion, and a Clean(er) Studio.

What I’ve been up to over the summer – in 20 photos.

1.Traveled up a winding road to the top of a mountain in Saratoga, California to see Willie Nelson and Kasey Musgraves at The Mountain Winery.
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2. Got to the top of the mountain and took in the view. Look at that sun!
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3. Gazed into the valley. Thought about my favorite novel, East of Eden.
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4. Checked out the amphitheater. Cool, huh?IMG_6702

5. Sat back and relaxed. Date night, beer, great music, no toddler.
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6. Watched the sunset and listened to Kasey Musgraves. Wow, she blew me away.IMG_7232

7. Watched the legend himself, Willie Nelson. More beer and “Always on My Mind”.IMG_7272

8. I flew to Florida, where I grew up. Usually the first thing I do when I’m in town is get boiled peanuts. If you are from The South, you know about boiled peanuts. Thinking about family and friends in Florida right now, as Hurricane Irma is blowing across the state as I write.IMG_6400

9. I was in town for my high school reunion. I attended The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts high school. Ya know, just like “Fame”. It has changed a lot since I was there. Now they have a sculpture garden.IMG_6500

10. There it is, my old locker. IMG_6504

11. Did I mention a lot has changed since I attended there? Now they have a full fledged jazz recording studio! I went there the first year it opened. We just had a trailer in the school parking lot for a few music classes. It was really impressive to see how the school has developed over the years and the opportunities students now have to develop their artistic talents. IMG_6523

12. They also now have a fully built out theatre. Did I mention our theatre was the un-air-conditioned gym?IMG_6525

13. Every good arts school should have student sculpture in the library. IMG_6590

14. Also, an incredibly cool wire car sculpture. I wish I knew who did these pieces, as I would give them credit here. IMG_6589

15. Oh yes, the reunion itself! You know when you go to a performing arts high school, there will be “A Chorus Line” style kick line at the party. IMG_6649

16. Finally getting around to cleaning my studio.IMG_7769

17. See, nothing on the floor.IMG_7768

18. Last, but not least, the beach. IMG_7046

19. There is always a time for the beach. We sat and watched the waves.IMG_7055

20. Now the real last, but not least. Always time for a hug.IMG_6341

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A new video, my “Why” List, and a messy studio.

It’s amazing how I can’t get the song “Fly Me To The Moon” out of my head. It is such a popular song, although I didn’t really learn it until recently. I’ve added it to my set list to do … Continue reading

New friends. Old renditions.

I’ve been making new friends this week. Musician friends that is. I went to play with a new ensemble, went to hear a great New Orleans jazz band in Oakland, and scheduled a few upcoming meet ups to play with a couple of piano players and other bands. I took this little amp and some new songs with me to play with the new jazz ensemble.AmpChartsI’ve also been doing more research on renditions of songs I’m including in my set list. I went back to one of my all time favorite jazz standards, How High The Moon and my favorite rendition of it by Mary Ford and Les Paul. I just love Mary’s voice on this version and if you watch the video you can see Les Paul using some early multitrack recording tactics, which he pioneered. HowHighTheMoonI’ve also been listening to some older Norah Jones songs. I might have to add my own version of Come Away With Me to my set.

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That’s all folks. Have a great week. See you on the flip side.

 

 

La La Land, Mini Musical Instruments, and Judy, Judy, Judy.

The last two weeks have included doing research on arrangements of jazz standards, learning a digital music scoring program, and a trip to Los Angeles for a bit of vacation.

I have a long list of jazz standards I want to perform so I’ve been writing out the music for them. All of my years playing folk music had me writing song charts for musicians to play with me, but charts for jazz can be a bit more complex. It’s been taking me a bit longer to do them. I’ve been on a re-learning curve, brushing up on my music theory knowledge. In the past, I would have just written out my charts by hand, but I have quite a bit of songs to do so I’m learning a digital scoring program called MuseScore in order to write them faster.

In coming up with how I want to arrange the songs for performance, I’ve been doing a ton of research on how different artists have done them, both current and old renditions. For example, I’m meeting some new musicians this week to play with and have chosen “Fly Me To The Moon” as one of the songs to sing with them. It’s such a popular song that so many people have recorded so there are lots of versions to choose from. Of course Frank Sinatra made it quite popular. But given that I’m not a Frank fan (yes, I did just say that. I’ll probably never be allowed back in NYC after saying this publicly), I dug up many versions of it that I like better. Judy Judy Judy Garland did a beautiful slow version of it that brings a bit of sadness and drama to it. Anita O’Day did a version of it mixing up time signatures and where she kills it leading the band. The technical expertise she had blows my mind. Jason Mraz even did a few versions of it. One where he did a mash-up with “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and another where Cobie Caillat joined him on the mash-up with her song “Lucky”. I’ve linked videos for all of these with the artists names and songs above if you want to check them out. I’ll keep you updated on how my version goes of it.

My short short trip to LA last weekend was for a bit of vacation, where I stayed in a really fun Airbnb with lots of charming vintage furniture and knick-knacks. My favorite was the collection of mini instruments like a tiny piano and a tiny accordion. Since it wasn’t my house and they weren’t my belongings, I didn’t touch them, but I couldn’t help but take pictures of them. Also, always great sunsets and street art in LA. Upon returning to the SF International Airport, there was a really cool exhibit put on my SFMoma of old vintage typewriters. I feel as if I need one, so don’t be surprised if you see one of these show up in my future posts or pix on social media. If you find yourself in that airport anytime soon, you should check it out.

Anyway, that’s all folks. Talk to you on the flip side.

Rachel