My writing room sits perched at the very top of our house where I can pretend that I am in a lonely garret, while the Maestro is two floors below in our home studio/spaceship, which is filled to bursting with the baby Schimmel, the Hammond, the Rhodes Suitcase, guitars, drum kit and more keys keys keys of every kind imaginable. I painted my study walls brick red as soon as we moved to our house here on the lake.
That deep dark color feels womblike and enveloping… makes this room safe and warm, while conveniently encouraging my bohemian fantasy. Marco soundproofed the studio and covered the walls with old album covers and ordered vintage Star Trek posters from America; only the original series would do. Atmosphere for his own cockpit. Those were literally our priorities in an empty house.
Sitting at my desk writing; with the faint strains of Marco’s sometimes melancholic, sometimes raucous, yet always sublime notes providing the soundtrack to my day, makes me feel as though everything I’ve ever wanted, everything I’ve ever needed is at hand. Marco is as committed to realizing himself fully as pianist and composer as I am committed to growing every day as a writer. The execution of our disciplines defines us; it is as comforting as it is inspiring to have his company.
NoteSpeak began with that. His compositions, as I sat agonizing over every word in the day’s poem, somehow started to mingle with whatever truth I was seeking to record. We’d meet, as we still do, at the dinner table and compare notes. We trade our work constantly. He is always my first reader, I am always his first listener.
I wrote a poem called A Fazioli while listening to him play and remembering those outrageously tender days when we first realized we had fallen for each other. Fallen irretrievably deep into one another, no coming up for air nor any desire to do so. Every time I see a couple sealed together at the lips… I smirk at the memory of how useless every other person on the planet instantly became to us in our insularity. We were outrageously rude, going out in the company of friends and ignoring everyone present, intoxicated and smug. Speaking our own language that we were inventing. Feeling, like love’s young dream always does, that we were pioneers. At any rate, I wrote that poem…
Hippie Tendencies was clicking along nicely thank you very much and we were enjoying that peculiar band family thing where you hate each other and love each other in one hot steamy mess. We had all sorts of adventures that deserve a few of their very own blog posts for another day. At any rate on H.T.’s second album, we had experimented with combining two songs from Joan Baez and Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack for the film Sacco and Vanzetti. “The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti” and “Here’s to You” are famously based on letters that are attributed to Bartolomeo Vanzetti. Letters written to his father and to Nicola Sacco’s son as they waited to be executed.
We were struck by the parallels of that tragic immigrant story and today’s tragic immigrant stories and decided to pay homage. Ending up with a song that relied heavily on improvisational jazz- though we recorded it we’ve never played it live the same way twice. Rather than adapting or changing the existing vocal melodies we decided that I would not sing it but would speak the lyric, shout it, proclaim it. Rather unexpectedly our interpretation became one of the most requested songs at H.T. shows and we were inspired to continue working in that vein.
So back to A Fazioli… When I gave it to Marco to read he almost immediately composed an accompanying piano score for it. The day we recorded it in the spaceship I recited while he played. The alchemy created as we listened to one another felt like the deepest magic and the song from the first take meshed perfectly. With a recitation, all the signposts we usually rely on to communicate musically are gone, yet somehow we both reached the end of the road that night perfectly in synch.
Each of the songs on NoteSpeak has its own story. Some started from the poem, some began with Marco’s music but from the outset, we were dedicated to making sure that they were one entity. Not poems with background music. Though the music could certainly stand alone, as well as the poems- their worth is exponentially greater entwined, just as our lives are.
So what is Spiritual Jazz ?????????
Spiritual Jazz is a style of Avant-Garde Jazz music which emerged in the 1960s. It is closely associated with the musical and spiritual philosophy developed by John Coltrane in the mid-1960s (manifested as early as his seminal A Love Supreme album) which was passed on to his collaborators Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders.
Stylistically, spiritual jazz is marked by a mixture of jazz with approximations of ethnic music styles (often a blend of styles evocative of African, Indian, and East Asian musical traditions), religious music of non-Christian traditions, and the ecstatic, transcendental aspects of Free Jazz. This radical style was closely linked to various African-American political and spiritual movements, such as the Nation of Islam and Afro-Centrism, the introduction of Zen philosophy and yoga in America, a resurgence of Egyptology, as well as the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
...and what about Spoken Word ???????
Spoken Word is poetry intended for onstage performance, rather than exclusively designed for the page. While often associated with hip-hop culture, it also has strong ties to storytelling, modern poetry, post-modern performance, and monologue theatre, as well as jazz, blues, and folk music.
Due to its immediacy and direct rapport with its audience, this type of poetry often contains references to current events and issues relevant to a contemporary audience.
At its best, spoken word is a powerful, high-energy form of expression that attracts artists and audiences of all ages from a wide range of disciplines and socio-cultural backgrounds.
....uh you identify with hipsters ????
a usually young person who is trendy, stylish, or progressive in an unconventional way; someone who is hip.
a person, especially during the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by a particularly strong sense of alienation from most established social activities and relationships; a beatnik or hippie.
a performer or admirer of jazz, especially swing; a hepcat.
....and one more of Johnny Cat just 'cause he's so cute!