Monday, January 29, 2007

The Lady Is A Tramp - At Least For A Few More Weeks...

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears! Both of them! It's been ages since I've updated you all on jazz goings on, and there is a LOT of jazz happening.... Check out my February blog for the latest and greatest.

Ella would have been 90 years old this April and the tributes have already started, including the title of THIS entry. Check out my "I Heart Ella" entry for a sneak peek at Verve's tribute project, plus my own personal tribute to the First Lady of Song and my all-time favorite vocalist.

A quick explanation as to my jazz absence... I'll summarize since I tend to be wordy:

September, 2006 - I left my job of 10 years to start a home-based business targeting clients in the jazz community. Scaryfuncrazyrisky.

October - December, 2006 - Said business took off and was tons of fun, profitable, and exciting, yet oddly devoid of jazz satisfaction from a work perspective. All work and no jazz makes Pam a dull girl.

December, 2006 - A string of coincidences led me back to my former employer in a role that provided lots of new challenges in a familiar environment. Scaryfuncrazyrisky again.

January, 2007 - Back at Capital full-time! Training in the new role for several weeks and the brain is too full to take in much live jazz - but my CDs are getting a workout on the 2.5 hour daily commute to West LA.

March, 2007 - I'm moving! After six years, I'm leaving my Glendale digs (affectionately known as "The Tramp House" - thanks, Ella!) and heading southwest near Park La Brea. My jazz radius will shift to include more frequent visits to spots like Catalina's, The Jazz Bakery, The Vic and Vibrato.

Later in 2007....

Be on the lookout, folks. I'm in cahoots with a new friend and we are cooking up some exciting jazz and art-related experiences that you won't want to miss. More to come...

I Heart Ella. *swoon*

Ella Fitzerald would have been 90 years old this April and if I could buy her a present, I would get her a brown and yellow basket, because every time I sing "A Tisket, A Tasket" in the shower, I want nothing more than to get that basket back to her. You should listen to her sing it. You'd want to give her one too.

I love Ella for a lot of reasons, some of which are outlined in the following snippet that I wrote last year. A lot of people love her, and some of the biggest names in jazz and pop are planning to honor her in a tribute album coming out this summer. Check out this fabulous
sneak peek from Verve's website; the link's video footage features folks like Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, and even Chaka Kahn and k.d. lang.

And here is my own little tribute to my very favorite vocalist. Enjoy, and join me in celebrating Ella Fitzgerald all year long!

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To
Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
Album: Ella at Juan-Les-Pins, Verve Records, 1964

Cole Porter rocks. I love his songwriting. And I have the gift of exaggeration, so if I said he wrote like a THOUSAND songs you’d be wise not to take me at face value. But guess what? He did. I haven’t heard them all, and in fact I would wager that some of them are pretty crappy because a thousand songs is a LOT. But some of them are just too marvelous for words (incidentally, that one’s not his). “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” is one of those too marvelous songs, despite the poor grammar.

The song has been sung by zillions of people, from Frank Sinatra to Dinah Shore to Nina Simone, but in my opinion it has never been done better than by Ella Fitzgerald. There is some bias here because I love Ella so much. Ella’s voice is pure and precise, passionate yet drama free – much like Ella herself. In a time when the music scene was teeming with chaos and overindulgence, the First Lady of Song stood out as being singularly non-tragic.

Back to the song. The lyrics are pretty simple (making it easy for good ol’ Porter to write a thousand songs):

You’d be so nice to come home to
You’d be so nice by the fire
While the breeze on high sings a lullaby
You’d be all that I could desire
Under stars chilled by the winter
Under an August moon burning above
You’d be so nice, you’d be paradise
To come home to and love

Depending on how these simple lyrics are sung, however, they can be interpreted in different ways. When Dinah or Frank sings them, the you’ds come across as coulds – a derivative of CAN. You can be so nice to come home to – you can be all that I could desire – you can be paradise – the possibility exists, but let’s be real. How likely is it that you will actually be all of that? You are able to, but I don’t think you really will, and that makes me sad, so the song is melancholy. Not to be confused with Duke Ellington’s "Melancholia," which is sad through and through, up and down, inside out.

But I digress. Back to “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To.” Now when Ella Fitzgerald sings it, the you'ds become woulds – a derivative of WILL. It’s not just possible, it’s inevitable. You will be so nice to come home to – you will be paradise – you will be all that I could desire – I’m just not at home right now. I’m out listening to some hot jazz with my girlfriends. We’re drinking Manhattans and having a lovely time. We even danced the lindy hop and I had to lead since I’m the tallest one of us girls in my high heels. But I will come home afterwards. And you will be there, by the fire, because you said you would be. And you are nice to come home to and love. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. And no matter how sad it sounds when other singers cover it, when Ella sings it, this song is hopeful and triumphant.

Incidentally, I don’t believe that Ella’s version of this song can be fully appreciated unless you dance to it in your living room. In pajamas and high heels. Late at night. After hearing bad music somewhere else. Just ask my sister Kim, who has performed this ritual with me many times. Doing so will ensure that when you finally do go to bed, you’ll wake up certain that there’s hope – people will do what they say they’ll do, and they will be what you need them to be if you just let go and do your own thing. It is nothing short of jubilant.

February - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Really!

People like the holiday season. And folks dig springtime. As for me though, I personally think February is the most wonderful time of the year. Why, you might ask? (I know, you didn't ask, but I'll tell you anyway.) First, the Superbowl now happens in February! YEE HAW!! But let's say you want to have a great time all month long, not just on Sunday the 4th. Well guess what? It's Black History Month - a great opportunity to check out lots of museum exhibits, special TV shows, film screenings and - live jazz! In fact, the Los Angeles Jazz Society is super busy this month, heading out to local schools and providing valuable jazz education to the next generation.

Here are some of the shows I'm planning to check out, although there are many, many more. You know the drill - post a message, send me an email or give me a jingle if you see a show you'd like to attend and wouldn't mind my company. Also - feel free to comment with announcements of shows I haven't listed. Enjoy - and hope to see you out there supporting the music!

Thursday, February 1: JIM DEJULIO QUARTET With Special Guest Bill Watrous 6:00 - 10:00 PM Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport Hotel, Los Angeles. I've heard these musicians before (although not together) and have enjoyed them. True confession time: I'm a Thomas Dolby fan and Bill Watrous actually played on at least one of his albums (Aliens Ate My Buick, for you 80's fans out there).

Saturday, February 4: DAVE AMEELE SEXTET 7:30 PM Café 322, Sierra Madre. Get your pre-Superbowl jazz jones filled and help Dave celebrate his birthday! This is a cute little place that has potential as a jazz venue, and Dave's sextet makes you feel like you're listening to a big band. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 11: ALAN BROADBENT TRIO 7:30 PM Spazio, Sherman Oaks. I've been meaning to catch him play for years and haven't managed to do it. I'm crossing my fingers that this might be the time, especially since I have a billion recordings with him. OK, I exaggerated a little. Millions.

Tuesday, February 13: KEN PEPLOWSKI QUARTET 6:00 - 10:00 PM Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport Hotel, Los Angeles. Ken's a local legend on the reeds and always worth seeing. I heard him in a duo jam session in October with Jeff Hamilton using only a snare drum and a pair of brushes and was mesmerized.

Wednesday, February 14: LARRY KOONSE 6:30 PM Vibrato, Los Angeles. I normally wouldn't venture out in public on "Black Wednesday" under any circumstances, but for Larry Koonse I might brave the couples on display. He's just that good.

Friday - Sunday, February 16-18: NEWPORT BEACH JAZZ PARTY, Irvine Marriott. I went to this event last year and it revolutionized the way I listen to jazz. Amazing performances, great environment, and a hotel full of jazz fans. A great cross section of all of the great straight-ahead artists playing today. Not to be missed...

Friday, February 23: DON MENZA, Charlie O’s Bar and Grill, 8PM, Van Nuys. John Beasley is on piano for this show and is an amazing musician and fascinating human being. Check out his new My Space page: - cool, huh?

Sunday, February 25: BILL CUNLIFFE TRIO 7:30 PM Spazio, Sherman Oaks. It's always a treat to hear Bill play, especially since he splits his time between Los Angeles and Philadelphia (he's an instructor at Temple). Lots of fun and great music to boot!

Again, this is just the tip of the jazz iceberg, so if you hear of any shows, post them here. See you out there in the jazz clubs!!