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

My 66 Favorite Jazz Standards

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As you know, I’m in the process of putting together a jazz ensemble. I’ve been digging around, figuring out songs to put on the set list. In the process, I’ve been re-discovering some songs I really just love. Songs like “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” by Cole Porter and “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart. Below are my 66 of my favorites!  Why 66, you ask? Well, it’s just how many were really moving me this week. It also had such a nice “Route 66” ring to it! There are probably 1 or 2 on the list that aren’t officially jazz standards (Nina Simone), but I couldn’t resist including them. What are your favorites? Have any recommendations of songs I should add to this list and maybe add to my live set?

  1. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore
  2. I Could Write a Book
  3. My Baby Just Cares for Me
  4. It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)
  5. My Funny Valentine
  6. All of Me
  7. Body and Soul
  8. But Not For Me
  9. You Go To My Head
  10. Round Midnight
  11. Misty
  12. It Had To Be You
  13. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
  14. Blue Skies
  15. For Sentimental Reasons
  16. Take The A Train
  17. They Can’t Take That Away from Me
  18. Someone to Watch Over Me
  19. St. James Infirmary
  20. Our Love is Here To Stay
  21. Straighten Up and Fly Right
  22. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
  23. Ain’t Misbehavin’
  24. Stompin’ at the Savoy
  25. Satin Doll
  26. Blue Gardenia
  27. Autumn Leaves
  28. Lullaby of Birdland
  29. High How the Moon
  30. Black Coffee
  31. Night in Tunisia
  32. I Wan’t a Little Sugar in My Bowl
  33. Summertime
  34. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
  35. I’ve Got a Crush On You
  36. Black Coffee
  37. Come Rain or Come Shine
  38. My Baby Just Cares For Me
  39. Feelin Good
  40. A Tisket a Tasket
  41. Just One of Those Things
  42. Stella by Starlight
  43. Witchcraft
  44. Skylark
  45. Girl from Ipanema
  46. Nice Work if You Can Get It
  47. Stormy Weather
  48. Tea for Two
  49. Cheek to Cheek
  50. (I’ve got you) Under my Skin
  51. Honeysuckle Rose
  52. Fly Me to the Moon
  53. Stompin at the Savoy
  54. PaperMoon
  55. When I fall in Love
  56. Someone to Watch
  57. The Nearness of You
  58. Old Devil Moon
  59. Autumn in New York
  60. Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?
  61. Embraceable
  62. La Vie En Rose
  63. Lush Life
  64. At Last
  65. Birdland
  66. La Mer

Picking jazz band songs and my long-lost vintage shoes.

Remember how I said I was starting a vintage jazz ensemble and I’d be available soon to play weddings, cocktail receptions, and corporate events? Well, it’s starting to come together. I’ve developed a set list, started working with a new guitarist, started a new Instagram business account, and have been going through my closets to find my fun vintage shoes and dresses.

The Set List 

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I grew up listening to so many kinds of music, jazz being just one of them. In college, I had two types of music programs available to me. One was classical and one was jazz. It was never really a question to me that what I would study was jazz. It offered me the ability to improvise, the space to write my own music, and the challenge to expand my music theory knowledge. For this new group, I’m starting with songs from the 20’s – 50’s such as “Misty”, “Round Midnight”, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “You Go To My Head”, but also planning to do modern songs, just done in a jazz format.

The Outfits 

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What do I love as much as the music itself? The Outfits. I’ve been digging through my closet to find all of the vintage dresses and accessories I have, particularly the shoes. Oh, how I missed you dear shoes. I promise not to leave you alon for so long next time.

My Studio

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Launching a new project has made me get my studio in better working order. I had to give it some love, particularly my writing area. I put the song charts I’m actively working on out on the stand and put up knick-knacks of what inspires me. Pictures of my family, vintage postcards with images of cities and architecture, Harvey Milk stamps, the 642 Things to Draw and Write About books, and a picture of the incredibly well designed placemat at one of my favorite places to eat in NYC – Russ & Daughters.

Instagram

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I’ve started a new Instagram account specifically for my business as a musician.  On it, you will be able to contact me directly for bookings as well as keep up with what I’m doing on a daily basis. Find me there @RachelLeeWalsh.

That’s all folks. See you next week.