I took a big risk. And I’m not sorry.

March 1, 2012

I took a big risk. And I’m not sorry.


I’d worked so hard for so many years with such commitment to achieve my goals in the struggling double life of an artist-as-a-person-who-had-to-make-a-living. As much as I loved being a teacher and a teaching artist, performing had always been my favorite thing to do. I loved making people laugh, bringing them to feel things, to remember things.


But I resented the time that had to be devoted to asking other people for permission to create something. Mostly because, at the time that I was making the actor’s rounds in my native New York, I didn’t fit into a category of ‘talent’ – not a clear ‘type.’ Fitting into a category of sorts is very useful for a little thing they call employment. I thought I wanted to fit in. I don’t really know now. But I do know that increasingly I came to resent the amount of time and energy to be devoted to auditioning so that I could have the opportunity to exercise my art and craft. I decided to go rogue. J And I ended up being my own producer as well. Which has become an increasing responsibility since I started a band and opened my teaching studio. And really, all I want to do is sing.


Well, sing and travel and learn about other cultures and make friends in the process. This is the goal of my professional life and has been for a long time. Determination to manifest this goal while I was the right stage of life for it to be productive drove me, and well, the time is now, isn’t it?


The cultural exchange producer/songwriter Candace Forest and I did in 2010 in Lille, France, is in my head as a prototype. People offer hospitality and on-the-ground producing to each other in an exchange that involves education and performance. This is something we can do. Even so, it still needs funding for airfares and other travelling expenses. It is time to be educated on how people do these things. It is time to learn more about non-profit status.


I was ready to create something that would represent my philosophy and the mission of my band; an artistic creation that would give audiences a sense of unity, of oneness with each other.


Early this past fall, as I searched for a title for the new CD, I was driving over the Golden Gate Bridge, and I remembered something that our host in Lille had written. She wrote: A la rencontre des musiciens français qui inventent les rythmes et les mélodies des golden gates. Des ponts à danser sur toutes les musiques du monde. (To the meeting with French musicians who invent rhythms and melodies of golden gates. Bridges on which to dance to all the music of the world.)

And the title came to me.


The project which is right now at the center of my existence is called The Bridges Project, and its centerpiece is a recording that we just made 2 weeks ago at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The recording, Like A Bridge, was done live in Studio A, and was also videotaped in broadcast quality video.


I had no idea what I was getting into with broadcast-quality video, and I took a huge risk and funded it myself. I picked up the DVD dubs this afternoon. One is the live switch, switching from one camera to another (there were 5) just like on PBS Tony Bennett Special, in fact, directed by the same guy, Lawrence Jordan. Who is an old friend of my partner. And yet I cannot fathom my good fortune at this, because it brought up the level of everything, including me.


So I took the biggest professional risk of my life, and succeeded because I trusted others and myself.


5 days after that Yoshi’s called. The Holy Grail of Jazz Clubs. The Credibility Club. Upon whose golden doors I have knocked for 5 years, in whose halls I have sat numerous times to enjoy the work of others, just so wishing I could be up there, too. I had stopped calling and writing. I didn’t have the energy. It was like auditioning. I didn’t like that type of energy, that insistence that I was told, led to success. Well, I just couldn’t get myself to do it.


So 5 days after the experience recording at Fantasy had changed the way I viewed myself, Yoshi’s called out of the blue and offered me a Sunday evening, usually a very good time for my audiences, for some reason. I’m a Sunday kind of gal.


We were already on a pretty tight schedule mixing the CD, getting the graphics done and getting it manufactured in time for the April 14 CD release in New York.


So much so, between the CD production and Yoshi’s (and teaching, and getting sick and the rest of life) that I interrupted writing this blog for two plus weeks.



March 18, 2012


UPDATE: Because I trust Candace Forest’s ear, taste and experience, and because I trust Dan Feiszli’s musicianship, ear, and skill, despite my inability to attend more than half of the mixing sessions, the CD is ready for mastering tomorrow. Dan is not only our bass player, but also our mixing engineer on this project, which has practically more engineers than band members, and that’s saying a lot.


And I learned what is an ISRC (International Standard Recording Code), how to register and create codes that, during the mastering process, become encoded into the songs, as identifiers.


Paige Smith is feverishly finishing the graphic design, around Kingmond Young’s photo, getting ready to upload to Discmakers in a few days.


I’m buttoning up all the song rights that have to be obtained in order to legally produce a physical CD, as well as a digital product. Two days ago I got the final go-ahead from the music publishers for Maxime Le Forestier, the French pop star we were so fortunate to meet last June. His song San Francisco will appear on the CD, and both that song and another of his, Né Quelque Part, will appear on the video. For the Malagasy song, I’ve been corresponding in French through Facebook messages with the son of the songwriter Bessa sy Lola. And who located him for me? Jason Martineau the genius geek who co-exists with Jason Martineau the fabulous musician. Only in our amazing world could this happen. I’m really in awe.


I completed hiring on the band that will accompany me at the New York opening. Jason Martineau will come to New York, of course, because I would not attempt this without him. Joining us will be three more superb New York players: Tom Hubbard on bass, Vince Cherico on drums and Mark Vinci on reeds.


And yes, we played YOSHI’S on March 11. We hauled it together in time to present some songs from the CD and some from past recordings. And we had a blast. And people were there to see it.


I’m launching a new website/blog for Like A Bridge and The Bridges Project likeabridge.net


You know the song, The Bear Went Over the Mountain? And what do you think he saw: he saw another mountain.  OMG. Now New York.




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