Moving Day today, blessed by the help of good friends, seen and unseen. Your prayers for successful loading, driving, and unloading, with merriment throughout, will be greatly appreciated.
Once I have loaded my steampunk laptop (see previous post) into the gypsy caravan, along with my sister Babette, her dog, my cat, and a teakettle (of course), this is the map we will be consulting:
Map via danmeth.com
We'll be singing all the way.
Another grey day. What to do? Even I can drink only so much tea. Mrs. Peel strolled into her little carry crate hours ago, curled up in a ball, and went to sleep. The crate is in my office, with its door always open; she likes to nestle there when I am at the computer. And indeed, I have been at the computer, trying to create and maintain an illusion called Getting Things Done. Things are never completely Done, especially when I am distracted. I miss my friends in England. In fact, I miss England.
I might need a scone.
A scone is, to me, what a madeleine was to Proust, and what the Tardis is to Dr. Who. But, there is no scone in this apartment, and there is no scone in this neighborhood, either. Without one, how else do I visit England in dream-quick time? It's actually easy.
Poets speak of "the wings of song", and for good reason.
Off I go, with two of my favorite British singers:
…and Maddy Prior.
I'm back. The NY skies may still be grey, there may still be no scone, but the scent of the rain is sweeter, and the inspiration, bright.
About that painting up top…. That will be me and Mrs. Peel, in another 50 years or so.
A rose is a rose, even when it's a McCartney rose. It was many years ago today (or some other day) that not-yet-Sir Paul McCartney pulled a perfect rose from a table centerpiece and tossed it into my hands as I was singing Heart's Desire with my Manhattan Transfer colleagues at the Brit Awards. At least, I think the event was the Brits. I was completely focused on Sir P. I confess that I was singing right to (or perhaps even at) him, and he… well, the story is going into my memoir, which I had hoped to write this morning, but it's too darn hot.
On Sir's birthday, June 18th, I am going to be singing a few of his tunes in Beacon, NY. Not too many, though. I don't want to hurt Johnny Mercer or Willie Nelson's feelings. Cole Porter can be pretty touchy, too. With me will be Tex Arnold on the piano, and because we had such a good time in Washington CT last month, my sister Babette will again be joining me in a few songs, along with guitarist (and nephew) Alex Brown.
The Howland Cultural Center is a very interesting venue. Built in the "Norwegian" style in 1872 as a library, and placed on the National Historic Register one hundred years later, it is now a performance space and art gallery. It's geothermally cooled (which cannot be said of my apartment, alas). I hope to see some of you there. If you are planning on coming, please do make your reservation right away, so as to be sure to have a seat.
By the way, the McCartney Rose, shown above, is a hybrid tea rose, introduced in 1995. It is described as a hardy repeating bloomer (like me and my career!) with a strong and intoxicating fragrance. This pleases me. Though a rose by any other name would smell as sweet in Shakespeare's time, most of the cut roses one can buy these days have no perfume at all. One sniffs a bouquet, and there's nothing.
Heavy the heart that, via the nose, encounters the unscented rose.
Here I am, arriving at the Kennedy Center for the JaLaLa soundcheck, with our drummer Matt Wilson. It looks like an ECM cover, yes? Except, of course, for the presence of people in the shot. I doubt the architect's original vision included the trash bin. In case you are curious, it's a cuppa tea I am holding. Not a very good one, alas, but that is one of the sorrows of being on the road. One endures, and carries on, hoping for a better cup tomorrow.
I don't know who the gent in the blue shirt is on the right. Perhaps he is a member of the Jazz Police, defending the nation against extra choruses of unnecessary scatting.
Those of you with sharp eyes (or good spectacles) may have already read the JaLaLa set list from the Kennedy Center performance on our Facebook page. Here are both the May 16 Birdland set list and the May 19 (DC) setlist , for those who – like me – save their squinting for identifying birds on the wing and dollar bills on the sidewalk.
Birdland, Monday May 16, 2011
1. Spring, Spring, Spring (That Old Mercer Magic)
2.It's You (Boswell Sisters)
3. You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby (Mercer)
4. Come to Baby, Do (Doris Day)
5. Moon River / Moon Country (Mercer)
6. solo - Lauren – Avalon (full band)
7. solo – Laurel – I'm Old-Fashioned (voice and bass)
8. solo – Janis – Begin the Beguine (voice and drums)
9. Crazy People (Boswells again)
10. Unsquare Dance (Brubeck/Kerchner)
11. Killer Queen (do I have to tell you?)
12. Honeymoon Suite – medley
13. It's Sand, Man (Lambert, Hendricks and Ross)
Encore (dedicated to Phoebe Snow) – Dream
In Washington, DC, at the Kennedy Center, we had less time, and decided to forego the solo turns. That set was:
And now the truth is out: we admire our brothers and sisters in the accordion community.
The following day, we were back at the Kennedy to teach a jazz vocal master class for ten very talented high school students from four area schools. The singers were delightful, as were their accompanists. I particularly love teaching in the master class format, because magic invariably happens.
And I love magic! Why else would I be a singer?
There is something special about the sibling bond, and when sisters, brothers, or sisters and brothers sing together, you not only sense it, you hear it. I am thinking of the McGarrigles, and the Roches, of the Boswell Sisters, of Ann and Nancy Wilson, of the Taylor clan (James, Livingston, Kate, Alex). And, of course, the Everly Brothers. The blend of their voices comes not only from practice, but from their blood and bones.
My career has included a hefty portion of group singing – in choral groups, The Manhattan Transfer, Moxie, and now JaLaLa, but it is only recently that I have become one-half of an authentic sibling duo. My sister Babette and I started singing together a month or so ago, and we did our first public performance during my concert at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, Connecticut this past May 14th.
Ladies and gents: The Massé Sisters, with Tex Arnold at the piano.
I have been very busy – singing a wonderful concert in Connecticut with my sister, Babette, performing with JaLaLa gig at Birdland. Tomorrow I travel (much earlier in the morning than seems possible) to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center, where JaLala is part of the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival, and teaching a master for students of the Duke Ellington High School.
But once I'm back home (and after the predicted end of the world on Saturday), I expect I'll have fewer distractions. I'll brew up a pot of tea, and tell stories.
At the junction of dreaming, myth, and The Little Prince is this brilliant piece, Born Like an Artist, on the Jellyvampire blog. Here is a link to the work.
Thanks to Stephanie, reader of Paul Overton's Every Day is Awesome, for recommending it in her comment there.
Because I lived in England when I was little, because I know all the verses of God Save the Queen, because I believe in the healing properties of good cuppa of tea, because I am still as much of a romantic as I was when I thought Paul McCartney would realize any minute that he was The One For Me…
Because I think that "holy matrimony…is an honorable estate"…
Because I have seen and sung a lot of weddings, and mourned for how the ceremonies sometimes fail…
Because of all this, I watched the Royal Wedding. It was beautiful, stately, and joyous.
Now, I know a lot of married folks (and have been one myself), and not one of us has had a wedding like this one. That's allright. What's not allright is that some people, though they love each other deeply, and though they show tremendous commitment to the relationship, aren't allowed to marry in royal or in any other fashion.
Love, long love, requires all you have in you. I believe that every couple – and by couple I mean two people – who have courage enough to pledge to live the rest of their lives for, and with, each other should be allowed to do so with the full blessings of church and state. My church, the Episcopal Church, is walking prayerfully and purposefully toward that goal, for which I give thanks to God.
The most glorious music in the ceremony was Paul Mealor's exquisite setting of Ubi Caritas et Amor, and here it is, as sung during the wedding. The clip is in stereo. Be patient, and let it load all the way before you listen. It is well worth the wait.