Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Music is Everything War is Not. Amen!


Last time I wrote, we were getting ready to play a week at the Blue Note in NYC. We double billed with Anita O'Day the first two nights. I got to meet her and hear her just a little. She still swings like crazy. I read her book “High Times, Hard Times” awhile back and looked all over for it to bring to ask her to sign ... she graciously gave me another copy and signed it. I read part of it again - what a life! I admire her tenacity & talent.

Then Thursday through Sunday we played alongside one of my favorite singers and lyricists, Jon Hendricks. What a force he is! I've been a huge fan of Lambert/Hendricks & Ross ever since I started listening to jazz. He and his band (along with his wife and daughter) sounded wonderful. I asked him to sit in with us and he did several times. What a thrill for me (and everyone else there)! Would love to do more with him someday. My band sounded good as ever, Danny, Bob and Ron Vincent. The lovely pianist Peggy Stern was with us for the weekend.

I sang a tune on an upcoming Fred Hersh CD - we'll let you know when that's out. It's just him at the piano with different singers. This album is an AIDS benefit CD. What a pleasure to work with him and be a part of that.

Off to Colorado then, to Telluride via Boulder to see a good friend and do some hiking - Beautiful!!! The Telluride Fest was lovely, even with the rain. What a magical place! Also heard some great music there: Cedar Walton, Larry Coryell, Astral Project, and the latin band Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana. A real JAZZ FESTIVAL!! My band - Paul, Danny, Bob and Todd were on fire!

On to Omaha for some family time and also to play a benefit for Habitat For Humanity. My father is on the board and we (all) raised alot of money for this great cause. It's always special to have family at your gigs too ... all my neices and nephew, both sisters, Dad and Ardi plus many good friends. Then, on to Seattle where I also have family - my Mom's brother who sells CD's for me when I'm at Jazz Alley along with Bill too. Jazz Alley, one of our favorite venues - along with a great radio station, KPLU-FM ... another 'home' for us. Pleasure to work with Danny, Todd, Bruce Barth and Jeff Johnson - very groovy band!

Then to San Francisco (maybe I'll live in that beautiful city someday ...) At the Plush Room in the York Hotel. Loved this place! And great to be in 'the city' for a week, even took a cable car - charming. Oscar Brown Jr. and Paula West were doing a concert in SF while we were there and they came to our gig. I am a huge fan of Oscar's and was honored to have him there. He sang with us and knocked everyone out (Paula did too). What an amazing talent he is! Also great to see Wesla Whitfield, Mike Greensil & Orrin Keepnews, among others in the audience.

Was home for a few days, then on to Rochester, NY to record a couple tunes on Clay Jenkins' new record. He's one of my favorite trumpet players and I'm honored to be on his new disc (with a great band). Then to the Chicago Jazz Fest after that - another favorite city. Too bad it rained but it was still a thrill to be there and folks were very good sports! Another REAL Jazz Festival!

It's been great having (taking!) September off. Nice to be in 'my' city for more than two days at a time. Got to hear some good things. Among them: Kurt Elling at Birdland, Luciana Souza at Joe's Pub and saw a wonderful Broadway play - 'Take Me Out' -great!

Now off to KC for some rehearsals and see/hear some friends. Then on to Europe. Odd and exciting to think that the next time we perform will be in ROME! Then The Azores! Next, Madrid, Paris and Berlin. Many new places for me. Hope to see you all out and about somewhere. And I'm still hoping for PEACE. Someone said, “MUSIC is everything that War is NOT.” Amen!

Thanks for listening....

Monday, July 21, 2003

Life's Great Joys

Hi folks -

Where to begin? I can barely remember where I was YESTERDAY let alone a whole few month! Here goes...

May 1st we were in KC at a cool old refurbished theatre - The Madrid for the Ozanam Guild, a benefit for at risk children. Always great to be in KC. Then on to The Green Mill in Chicago, also one of our favorites - a very spirited place and crowd with one of our favorite club owners, Dave Jemilo. Also had a lovely meal at a friends great restaurant: Oceanique - yum! But we do like to eat well whenever possible. One of life's great joys and something that helps makes all the travel bearable.

Then back to KC for another good cause - The Coda Jazz Festival in the GEM Theater at 18th & Vine to help older musicians cope financially. Jazz Greats like Clark Terry, Jay McShann, Claude “Fiddler” Williams (and his lovely wife Blanche), The Scamps, and Bobby Watson among others were there. My band sounded swingin as usual (Danny, Bob and Todd) with the wonderful Steve Wilson joining us.

Then Brazil! Haven't been there since 1993 I think. What a special place. Both clubs were great - Bourbon Street in Sao Paulo and Mistura Fina in Rio. The folks who took care of us really did just that. Wonderful food, times, and crowds. I'd forgotten how beautiful Rio is. They were also very warm and enthusiastic when we played brazilian music.

Then to St. Paul, MN for a musical and historic tribute to a lovely and important man there: Leigh Kammon who is a radio jazz legend. My friend Bill McGlaughlin (another radio legend!) co-hosted with me which is always a great and interesting show. Also got to see my Mom and sister there. Then played in Worcester, MA for WICN-FM fundraiser which they had to do because war coverage interfered with their on-air drive. (Recently bought a good button 'War Lacks Creativity' Amen!)

Next, Steamers - another favorite club and owner - Terence Love. Had my 'KC guys' there - a real creative force! Then to Feinstein's @ the Cinegrill in Hollywood. This new room at the Roosevelt Hotel is lovely... (Also got to meet Sally Kellerman at one of our shows!) Saw so many LA friends and had a beautiul suite with a lovely piano in it! This is a great thing for me! I could actually PRACTICE (or just play) on the road - nice. Then to Canada: Montreal and Vancouver - both excellent festivals. (Drove with Bill from NYC to Montreal to see the Adoronacks, wish we would have had more time for that - beautiful!)

Then to Europe ... First stop was the Royal Albert Hall in London where we opened for George Benson for two nights - amazing place (almost 5,000 people per night). He and his band sounded really good. I had Danny, Bob, James Williams and Joe LaBarbera with me - great group. Then took the 'Chunnel' to Paris to hang until we went to Milan (another train which we loved) Played the Blue Note there for three days - really a nice club. It was HOT there too ... so when we got to Holland for the North Sea Jazz Festival, what a pleasure to step into that cool air. This fest is huge and not just a jazz fest - lots of things going on. Fortunately we played in a lovely theatre so folks could sit down (civilized!) and stay. Other venues were not like that. Heard a little of John Abercrombie - dug that band. It's a lovely place and I'd like to go back.

Then on to Santander, Spain (by the sea - another lovely place). Such a warm and enthusiastic crowd. Also wonderful hosts at this fest. Randy Brecker and the YellowJackets had been there just before us. This is when I found out that my dear 95 year old Grandmother died back in Omaha. We will miss her terribly. She and my other grandparents helped raise us.

Bob and Joe left us there, Danny and I went onto Montreux, Switzerland. This is also a huge festival with so much going on (again, not all jazz). I was part of the “Concord Voices” concert along with Diane Schuur, Patti Austin, Neena Freelon, Monica Mancini, Peter Cincotti and Curtis Stigers. It was an extravaganza! And a stunning environment. Also was on the judging panel for the vocal competition - good singers from all over. Also really dug hearing Geri Allen trio accompany them. Danny and I did a workshop as well so it was busy.

Then back to NYC for one whole night and on to LA @ a lovely outdoor venue at Marina Del Ray. Wonderful crowd and setting. Now getting ready for a week @ the Blue Note here in NYC, a double billing with two favorites: Anita O'Day and Jon Hendricks. Then to the Telluride. Colorado Festival, followed by Omaha, Seattle, San Francesco and ... yes, we're getting around.

Thank you for listening and hope to see you out and about.


Saturday, May 3, 2003

Wonderful Creatures

Hi there...

Last time I wrote we were just on our way to work with Matt Catingub (conductor, arranger, musician extraordinaire) and the Florida Orchestra. Just took Danny with me on this one as Matt had his very good rhythm section. Really a great sounding orchestra!!! Working with orchestras is certainly another type of performing experience which I really enjoy. Then, onto West Palm Beach. We met up with Paul, Bob and Todd for this.

Driving from Tampa to West Palm we stopped at a wonderful bird sanctuary. Since I'm a 'fledgling' birder, watching them so closely is fascinating to me. (Didn't know pelicans nested in trees - what wonderful creatures.) Gig in West Palm was good and we hosted to a lovely after-party @ our friends, the Aspers. Back home to NYC to help celebrate Marian McPartland's birthday at Birdland. Lots of wonderful players showed up and I sang one of Marian's tunes with her (Twilight World) which was very touching for me. (Talk about 'wonderful creatures' - Marian's one of them!)

Next day, to Spivey Hall in Atlanta - loved this great old hall, and the audience was amazing. Played in Pittsburgh next (just now flew over it again! ahhh...the road) at Dowe's on 9th - always enjoy that club and Pittsburgh audiences too. Reading PA next at the 'Burke's Jazz Festival - double billed with the wonderful Cyrus Chestnut trio.

Then onto another favorite club, Jazz at the Bistro in St Louis. It's a treat to be at a (good) club for several days in a row with favorite players. It gives us a chance to try new material (actually had a rehearsal!) and get a real groove going for the whole week. Since I was so close to KC, I went to my 'hometown' (going there several times this month) to help my friend Beena open her new club - Jardine's. We invited so many KC players/friends - that was a real great night of music.

Saw my family in Omaha and then on to Minneapolis (all 3 cities were 'hometowns' so I got my FIX!) for more family and also played and did masterclasses for my sister's kid's schools there. Now THAT'S work! How I admire teachers! The kids were good though and seemed to dig it.

Finally back home to NYC for a whole week. While there, I did an interview for Jazziz Magazine with Diane Schurr and that evening performed a couple tunes with her at the Blue Note. One tune was for her upcoming CD on which we sang a tune together called 'Stay Away from Bill.'

My good friend Ann Hampton-Callaway joined me (and Bill :) which was great fun. Diane and band sounded fantastic- really enjoyed that. Then onto Philadelphia - another fun club, Zanzibar Blue. (The staff there is a great group of people!) After our Sunday performance there, we got to hear an amazing gospel choir who were in the audience. We started to talk and then they started to sing, then we all did til about 2:00 AM. That was a special night - what energy and talent ... hope to do something with them someday. (Their minister of music's name is Tamira Devlin - she's a FORCE!)

Philadelphia has a rich heritage that I really love. We also did a small tribute to Nina Simone, I loved her unique style (and of course, Coltrane songs too) Yesterday, I did a performance/interview with Ann Hampton-Callaway at 'Sirius' Radio-cable. We'll let you know when that will air.

All for now, onto KC again for the Ozanam Guild benefit, then the Green Mill in Chicago, back to KC for the Coda Jazz Fund benefit and later this month - Brazil!

Thank you for checking in and I wish you all PEACE....

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Back to Reality

Hi folks ...

Here we are well into a new year. Our political climate is just as scarey as ever, if not more. I'm fervently hoping that PEACE will prevail over war, heartache and destruction.

I had some down time in Hawaii - which was lovely. Went to the Big Island - Kona for a few days, then back to Honolulu for our performance at the Academy of Arts with Danny, pianist Jim Howard, bassist Bruce Hamada and drummer Noel Okimodo. It was great to add Noel. He added a lot to whole groove, and the rest of the band sounded wonderful as always. Back to reality - jury duty- (someone's gotta do it!)

Then to Texas - first Houston's Sambuca Jazz Club, then to Dallas' Sambuca (actually the one in Addison. Fun and lively places, nice people and incredible food! Played with Danny, Todd and bassist Gerald Spaits, all swingin and I enjoyed meeting new listeners - THANKS for coming.

On to The Kennedy Center's Jazz Club and Ram's Head in Annapolis. Both very good clubs, great crowds and the snow didn't stop people from coming! Danny, Paul, Bob and Todd sounded great as ever.

Also had a 'blindfold test' while there for JazzTimes (May issue I think?). Interesting to see what is chosen and good to hear other artist's projects. It's hard to keep current when working and traveling yourself so much.

Back home to NYC and the one of my favorite places - Birdland. Played with Danny, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Ron Vincent. We had a great time. (MORE snow!)

Now it's to warmer 'climes' with the Florida Orchestra with Matt Catingub conducting, looking forward to that.

More later and thank you very much for listening.

Monday, January 13, 2003

A Lucky Girl

Hello, and thank you for checking in.

I guess I'll start where my very trustworthy webmaster (Dean :) says I left off, around late November. We had several 'mini tours' in 2002 and this was one of them - Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester areas. In Cleveland, we played a supper club called “Night Town.” One thing I remember is the airline losing my luggage and having to borrow something to wear from our road manager - Kim. (Lucky she's a girl :). Never having been to Cleveland before, I was pleasantly surprised by our crowd - a very enthusiastic bunch asking why we'd never been there before?? Nice people! Luggage was waiting for me at the hotel after the gig hmmnm ... just in time.

Then off to (didn't exactly shuffle) to Buffalo in our big - HUGE! - white van. Fall colors mostly gone but still pretty country from the road. Danny, Bob and Ron Vincent were on for this run (with Kim). The 'Sphere' Complex in Buffalo was a very cool place, go there if you can. Also a great crowd and the pr! esenters treated us like royalty (which NEVER hurts and is ALWAYS appreciated! :) - felt pretty magical all around.

Off to Rochester next day to play the Montage Grill - another nice supper club. They acquired a piano since we were there last, it was rather challenging however. Our friend Clay Jenkins (great trumpet player now teaching at Eastman) came in and sat in-always wonderful. He brought in pianist Harold Danko and it was a treat to hear him too.

Back to our respective homes, I doing many interviews daily and getting ready for Japan. Played a private holiday party for 'Piaget' jewlery in Tokyo. They even asked me to wear some of it during the shows, which I did gladly - beautiful! It was in an historic old castle, with tatamis and screens, etc. Got to see some BEAUTIFUL snow in Tokyo one night with our new promoter friends Yukari & Akiko walking home after having Korean Bar-b-que. Bruce Barth, Danny, Bob and Todd were with me on this. Took the bullet train to Osaka to play at Mr. Kelly's there for a couple nights, also played several other clubs in Osaka area and Kobe. Bullet train back to Tokyo (who booked this!?) And onto Singapore (LONG day) for a concert on December17th. Met another very nice promoter there, concert went well (got through the funny light 'design'!) - very interesting but too short! Would like to have stayed there longer.

Back home for two whole days and off to Omaha. I was 'honored to be honored' (!) as an outstanding UNO alum at their winter commencement. They were going to ask me to speak but thankfully asked me to 'sing my speech' instead - with the UNO big band. So, there I was complete with cap and gown, singing “Hello Young Lovers” & “Pack Your Suitcase Blues.” It was a pretty cool experience.

While there we played at North High for a “Music in the Schools” Fundraiser. My friend Therese (used to be our drummer in the all-girl rock band 'Tomboy'!) is band director at North (and my father also went to high school there!). Bill McGlaughlin also came along to work and conducted the string band. A very nice experience all the way around.

Then off to Catalina's in Hollywood. Great week there, wonderful crowds and there are always many magical moments at Catalina's. Bill Cunliffe on piano with Danny, Bob and Todd (my Mom & Bill too!). You also never know who will drop in - Billy Dee Williams, Garrett Morris, Jim Carey, Richard Thomas ('john b! oy' - nice guy!) the singer/songwriter Stephen Bishop...many others. Putter Smith too - who sat in and sounded beautiful along with other musician friends.

One beautiful clear LA day, we (my Mom, good friend Michael, the whole band, Bill and I, and Todd's family too) went to the beach. This is one of our favorite things to do - enjoy whatever the area around us has to offer. We also enjoy great food of course, so we went to a very cool place for lunch called The Reel Inn. Wonderful fish and can eat outside - very reasonable, funky, fun place along the Pacific Coast Highway. Great fun.

Since being back in NYC, I auditioned for a Coca Cola commercial (interesting!) and just taped a Hallmark Pilot program called 'Hallmark Cafe' with my band, Peter Cincotti's group, and BB King. B and I sang one tune together. He is a dear man. The famed producer Phil Ramone ran the show - very well done, we're all are hoping it is picked up.

Heard Mark Murphy at Birdland - great! Also Paul Motian's group at The Village Vanguard - inspiring. In that sense it's great to ... to be home so I can hear other folks. There's nothing like hearing live music to re-ignite all kinds of things within.

Looking back on 2002, it was a very busy year - traveling alot, happily getting to know new audiences.

'In Blue' is continuing to do well and this also helps get our other 'stuff' out there and heard too. I thank all of you for your interest and support, you help make it all possible and worthwhile.

Let's all hope and work for Peace. Until next time ....

With Love,