|Baltimore, the city that reads....in bed, and falls asleep at 9pm|
After our successful gig at the Jazz Standard in New York City, I drove down to Baltimore with vocalist Debbie Deane for a duo performance in Baltimore. The venue was An Die Musik, which is a somewhat bare bones theater a few steps away from Peabody Conservatory, in the heart of downtown Baltimore. They have a wonderful 9 foot Steinway, a sound system, and rows of antique chairs which give a sort of intimate parlor feel to the space. It's upstairs from a CD store which features mostly classical music and some jazz. Both businesses are run by Henry Wong, who is a long time music enthusiast. I have to give props to anybody who supports jazz music these days. And more kudos to giving us a Wednesday night. It's a tough sell, but I was mostly hoping to keep the momentum of my lyrics project going.
|Lee Stevens, an incredibly inspirational music educator|
The concert was featuring mostly the same music which we performed at the Jazz Standard, without the great addition of bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Clarence Penn, and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw. It was closer to the vibe we had on our tour of Japan in December. However, we had played more standards in Japan, to suit the Japanese tastes. This Baltimore audience was quite intimate, meaning small (mostly friends of my mother and my former trumpet teacher, Lee Stevens.). It's challenging to play without bass and drums, but there is also more freedom in some ways. Deane sang beautifully, as usual.
It's a little nerve wracking to present my lyrics to audiences whom are accustomed to hearing me play instrumental jazz only. Writing lyrics is an entirely different endeavor. And some of the tunes were settings of my sister's poetry. I think my mother was very surprised but also proud to hear the words of her children set to music. The response overall was very good. I think people these days tend to respond more to vocals and lyrics than long complicated solos. I'm hoping that this project will continue to evolve and be well received.
Sometimes during a concert, the teaching side of me comes out, and I ask if anybody has any questions. There were a few. "Do you write the music first, or the lyrics first, or both all at once?" I replied that it was a mixture, although I wished that I could write as fluidly as my wife Kerry Politzer, who seems to be able to write brilliant music and lyrics all in one shot! (Some people are just TOO talented….) Lee Stevens asked " do you think of yourself as a philosopher?" I guess I would have to answer yes; lyrics give an artist a very clear avenue of self-expression. Since I've been furiously blogging and composing, I suppose this is a way for those two things to come together.
I'm determined to work this project as much as possible. I believe I have mentioned that Deane and I are working on a recording. Deane's vocals are all done and she did a magnificent job. I'm playing all the other instruments, so I need to do some work! Hopefully this project will be out by the end of the year. Stay tuned for more shameful self promotion.