Since launching this website, its occurred to me that I’ve started telling a story halfway through the tale. Today I begin sharing earlier sections of my creative evolution; how my singing in theatre, cabaret and liturgy all led me to singing jazz, which then prepared me to enter the world of experimental sound and music composition.
This CD, entitled Something New, was recorded early in my transitioning to jazz from earlier vocal forms. After working several years in theatre, I no longer could tolerate waiting for the perfect dramatic casting trifecta-i.e. when the director’s vision and my onstage relationships with other potential co-actors might meld with my aching desire to be creatively alive in performance. My growing musical repertoire from my theatre and cabaret work led me to discover open jazz jams all over Chicago and I learned while sitting in at these clubs and bars the beautiful spontaneous musical creations that could arise. The theatrical improvisational skills learned while training at Center Theater with Dan LaMorte, Sylvia Guiterrez and Dale Calandra could now be thrillingly redirected, playing with other musicians in the crafting of something new, deliciously spontaneous and ephemeral. Hence, the name of the album’s title tune.
I am sharing here excerpts from the album, which is now only an archival item, not to be purchased anywhere. I hope the listener finds these musical excerpts still relevant. As I listen to them 14+ years later, I often hear all the missing discoveries that have come to me in in performance since recording these tunes. Consider them an audio snapshot taken at the beginning of my travels as a jazz vocalist.
The original CD came about over the course of two separate recording dates with two different ensembles. The entire recording took place at Sheffield Studios in Hammond. Mike Sheffield’s engineering background at that time was primarily in rock – we were the first to bring jazz to his site.
The first recording group included Hunter Adams on keyboards, Buddy Pierson on bass, Denny Natarelli on drums and Bernard Scavella on saxophone.
The second recording group included Neal Alger on guitar, Darren Scorza on drums, Rocco LaBroi on bass and Scavella on saxophone.
STOLEN MOMENTS – I first heard the lyrics of this tune on a duet album performed by Carmen McRae and Betty “Bebop” Carter! My theatrical nature loved the dramatic story of the singer’s conflicted love for someone already in a relationship.
HONEYSUCKLE ROSE – I have always loved the sassiness and alliterative values that Fats Waller pieces contain.
YOU STEPPED OUT OF A DREAM – Originally written as a ballad, we had fun swinging this one.
MY FUNN(K)Y VALENTINE – Another tune where we needed to reset a traditional ballad into a new, funnky groove.
MEANING of the BLUES – The Leah Worth’s lyrics for this song composed by Bobby Troup is sheer musical poetry. Listen to how Neal’s work responds to and illuminates this sublime marriage of music and text.
SOMETHING NEW (c) – the sole original work on the album. Music composed by Bernard Scavella, whose solo begins this excerpted section. I wrote the lyrics.
INVITATION – They mystery of these lyrics match perfectly the unexpected turns of this melody, which were the double whammy that compelled me to record it. Once again, Neal’s work is sublime in setting the scene.
YOU GO TO MY HEAD – I loved the suggestive allure of these lyrics and the languor of the melody. That the lyrics were originally banned from early radio because the censor found them too suggestive only made the song that much more attractive to me.
LOOK OF LOVE – My love for this song goes back to my impressionable adolescent days when it first served as the sound track in Casino Royale. I loved that movie. When I don’t hear Dusty Springfield singing it in my mind’s ear, I hear Sergio Mendes – we played Brasil 66 every day.
MOONLIGHT in VERMONT – Little did I know when I first recorded this song how I would come to love the state of Vermont. Another song with strong poetic and onomotopoetic values – all beautifully manifested in Neal’s gorgeous guitar work.