Here is something you should know about me. Modesty aside, I am made of magic. I know some of you are Rationalists and believe in only what you can physically sense. Your imagination(?), your sense of wonder, stops at about the molecular or atomic level.
I believe that we are all of the same fabric. At a quantum and cosmic level, we’re all part of the same expression. Is that New Agey enough for you? We think that our brains are separate from our bodies. Our modern science and medicine is just catching up to the fact that the mind has influence over the body. Heck. We’re just catching up to realizing what we eat affects our body and mind. We think that we are separate from … everything: each other, space, time, etc.
Of course, I also believe that time isn’t linear. In some sense, if we could experience or perceive ourselves from another mathematical dimension, from a certain perspective Time is all now. It’s a point. Forward, backward, fast, slow, dilating, contracted. Okay. Fine. Even if that’s true, what does it have to do with you or me? Beats me.
You may be right. I may be crazy. But I’m just the kind of … what was I saying? Oh right.
I tell you this, though. There are times when things flow. When I’m in a certain “mood”. Things come together; I feel uplifted, and it feels like the Universe — Life — explodes with synchronicity, serendipity, coincidence, opportunity, momentum. It’s a wave of happenstance. I usually don’t stay on it long. Hanging the cosmic 10.
If you know me long enough, you’ll see what I mean. One day I’m going to ride these waves all the way to shore. It’s gonna be something. Come with.
I just got back from the gig at ArtSpring in Silver Spring. With Quineice and Sadie and Lyle. Khadijah and Maceo were holding things down, of course. Hook on the sound board. And a surprise fan in the audience. Good stuff. What a pleasure. I’m a lucky dude to know such good, talented people. One of my favorite things in life is to see my friends — my closest friends, my aces — meet each other. Plus making music together? Oh wow.
Quineice is such a powerful but empathic vocalist and musician. She’s amazing. We didn’t practice for today. We talked via email about a list of tunes. I learned them, practiced, made some very loose lead sheets. Got there and she laid them down like we’ve been playing together for years. She can belt, she can croon, and she can work the energy level of a room at will.
Sadie has a beautiful voice. The word “siren” comes to mind. She’s got a shy thing going on when she performs but she’s an old soul. There’s so much music to her. I think she’s made of the stuff. Composes great tunes or interprets standards in that fresh, beautiful way that great vocalists do. We rehearsed/jammed a few times and what I like to do is just start playing something. Anything. A vamp, a tune. She’ll instantly pick out one of my chords on her Nord. Bam! And she’s got it. Or she’ll start randomly singing, vocalizing over it. Packing up, I’ll intentionally commence to noodling and she’ll start singing something that would bring an audience to tears or to their feet. I am in hog heaven, let me tell you. Only problem is, every time she sings something I’m sitting there wishing that I were recording it.
And Lyle, of course. I’ve known Lyle since college and he’s always been a great player. Some 17 years later his musicianship is off the charts. But he is so underexposed, it’s a shame. You know when people say “consummate musician”? I could write a concert’s worth of music featuring Lyle and you would come away wanting more. I’m serious. Flute, soprano sax, tenor, alto, keys. All those different voices come in at just the right time to say the right thing. He’ll make you, your music and your band sound good — professional and polished — no matter what. Now if I could just get him on retainer.
And Ne’a Posey. Wow. She and her band were on it. You know. You play and then see someone else play and think, “I want to play like that.”
With all of that creative energy floating around I felt inspired to do some cornet practicing when I got home. Excited about the Paruba double-bowled mouthpiece I bought on eBay. Taking a cue of brilliance from Lyle L. and Todd M., I got in the car, drove a safe distance away from the apartment buildings and practiced. I stink. No chops. But it’s fun.
Here are two roughs for tunes that I wrote recently, which will hopefully feature Sadie and Todd, respectively:
The Fountain at Upton Park
Finale 2010 (Music software geek talk)
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve reached a tipping point in music productivity. I make charts for these gigs, right. You get a good group of talented musicians together, put some well-crafted charts in front of them, and they’ll make music out of those things like you wouldn’t believe.
Any recordings you’ve heard from past gigs with the full band? No rehearsals involved. We’re reading charts on the spot. Easy for me since I wrote or arranged them, but the band pulls it together, makes it dynamic. Makes it music.
So I was excited today when I figured out something in Finale 2010. First of all, you can insert chords above the measures to make a lead sheet without attaching it to a note. No more hidden layer bullcrap. That’s one thing. But I had a lot to chart and spent a lot of time last night and this morning tediously entering chords.
But today I got fed up and was running short on time and looked at the online manual to see if there were any shortcuts. And guess what. You can type in the chords now. You just have to know the chord suffix symbol number. So I started to mindfully keep track and captured the Chord Suffix Symbol window and made a PDF out of it.
Magic. Freaking magic.
So now I can type the chords in. Like writing an email (except for the memory lag and hesitation trying to remember those codes). Keyboard shortcuts, ladies and gentlemen.
Plus, you can “hyperscribe”. Got a MIDI keyboard hooked up, right. So for the melody, I can play and it’s transcribed into the charts.
Type in chords. Record the melody.
Lead sheet for a tune in 15 minutes instead of, like, an hour.
I’m a monster! And just in time for Halloween. Go figure.
Joe Squared, Sunday 11/1, 8-11pm
That’s where I’ll be.
- Sadie Flick – vocals
- Todd Marcus – bass clarinet
- Me – guitar
- Devon Petty – bass
- Amin Gumbs – drums
You should be there, too.