Tips for Metro etiquette: why not sing?

Today’s Washington Post included this reminder about etiquette on the city’s Metro escalators. Another tip for residents: you can gently sing “Stand Right, walk left, on the Metro escalator…”

If you’re interested in more music about the Metro, please check out MetroSongs, on ongoing project to record an original song inspired by every Metro station. Volume 6 is in preparation now!

The Washington Post
Mar 25 2015

Happy Pi Day!

For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to write a song about Pi until just after 9 am on Pi Day. I managed to to complete writing, recording, and posting it in about 30 minutes, almost in time for Pi Minute (3/14/15, 9:26:53).

The lyrics:

It starts
and it goes on some more
But I forgot

All the digits you see
When a circle
Exposes itself
To your scrutiny

Think of those numbers
We studied in school
This is the one
That’s both figure and food

We don’t know the reason
We don’t know the why
But we do know to say
Happy Pi Day to Pi

Here’s the first quick version of the song, posted just before Pi Minute EDT

New song: Arbor Day (For A Tree)

Here’s a new song for Arbor Day, another in a series of songs for holidays that (IMHO) need more and better songs. When I talk about my other holiday songs, someone will inevitably suggest writing one for Arbor Day. Yes, I know that’s usually intended as a joke, but on the other hand, why not take up the challenge?

This came out more “pop” than earlier songs, perhaps because I wrote it in G major for a change. Here’s a quick recording of the tune, recorded on a hotel piano in Louisville, KY during a business trip. I hope to record a more polished version later on.

Looking back at a year of original music

(Edited Dec. 28, 2014)
In January 2014, I made a new year’s resolution to produce at least one original composition (of some sort) every month through the year. Looking back from December, I consider the resolution fulfilled. I produced something new in 10 months out of 12, including some quality songs (including one album track, in the process of being released). I also generated plenty of ideas for next year, so I aim to keep this going in 2015.

Best wishes for a successful and musical New Year!

Here’s the month-by-month summary:

January: “45 Seconds:” can you tell a musical story in 45 seconds? I think so:

February: “Snow Day:” soon to be released on Aaron Myers’ holiday album “Jazz Holiday”. In the meantime, here’s a live recording of the song by Aaron from earlier this year:

March: For the Facebook group Jam of the Week, I recorded a new melody and lyrics for the bossa nova standard “Black Orpheus”

April: “Are You Out of Your Mind,” dedicated to the amazing singer and teacher (and NEA Jazz Master) Sheila Jordan. Here’s a live recording:

May: Still in progress, “Medical Center,” for the next volume of MetroSongs. Stay tuned for more info about performances and a new recording in 2015.

June: nothing this month

July: I spent a week at the Lake District Summer Jazz School in the UK, where I wrote some chord changes to lyrics by Kerry “Lady” Layton, a “UK based Singer, Performance Artist and Independent Events Producer”.

August: Still in progress: a song about Formal and Informal language (Common Core standard CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L.4.3.C), inspired by Schoolhouse Rock.

September: nothing this month

October: “The Rhythm Of Jazz,” dedicated to the brilliant Israeli musician Nahum Perferkovich, who I had the privilege of studying with briefly many years ago when I lived in Israel.
Here’s my demo recording:

November: Still in progress, collaborating with Jason Mendelson and the MetroSongs band on “Mt. Vernon Square,” also for the next recording, in which we tell the story of a conventioneer in the Nation’s Capital.

December: “The Bar Where I Belong,” dedicated to the soon-to-close Black Fox Lounge in Dupont Circle, Washington, DC. Thanks to Marianne Solivan for the title. If you haven’t heard her sing, you should do so right away.
Here’s Aaron Myers performing the tune at the Black Fox Lounge

Aaron Myers premiered the song on December 19, and I hope to perform it again on New Year’s Eve at the Black Fox, when I’ll join Aaron and the band to close the joint with a final evening of songs and stories.

The Bar Where I Belong

So I was speaking with Marianne Solivan after her gig at Blues Alley in DC, and she said she was going to “the bar where I belong.” I told her that was a great title for a song, and promised to write one. The inspiration happened a couple of weeks ago, when we learned that the Black Fox Lounge in Washington, DC, my musical “home away from home” for the last 3+ years, will be closing at the end of 2014.

The result was “The Bar Where I Belong,” dedicated to the Black Fox Lounge and any other place where musicians “come home” to perform for their favorite audiences. Aaron Myers debuted the song at our Dec. 19, 2014 show at the Black Fox, but unfortunately I don’t have a recording of that excellent performance. Instead, all I can offer is my modest demo track, which I hope delivers the message of the song.

I’ll be back at the Black Fox Lounge on New Year’s Eve with Aaron Myers and special guests, to play our musical farewell to 2014 and to the Lounge.

18th St Theme: All-star edition

I’m thrilled every week to hear my “18th Street Theme” close out the DC Jazz Jam. It was a particular thrill to hear the theme on Aug. 10, 2014, played by an all-star band as part of the jam’s 5th birthday celebration.

That’s Allyn Johnson on piano, Shawn Purcell on guitar, Blake Meister on bass, and Lenny Robinson at the drums, with MC Aaron Myers. Sorry for not noting the horns and vocalists who joined the fun on this version.

Happy 90th birthday Pa

Today, August 16, would have been my father Mel’s 90th birthday. I was reminded of this when looking at the selections from his record collection that I saved from his house after my mom also left us last year.

Mel was a passionate jazz fan for all of his adult life, and had an impressive collection of records (78, 33, and even 45 rpm) going back to the early 1940s. Our father also was a man with strong opinions, as you can see from his notes on this 1956 album “Jazz Recital,” featuring one side of Billie Holiday singing and another side of completely different music featuring Ralph Burns’ “free form” arrangements. “No reason” indeed!

Yehi zichro baruch.

Jazz Recita cover Jazz Recital notes