Advice to new jazz singers 

Singers: practice with playalong tracks by singing the melody over and over, each time with slight variations. But how do you decide what and how to change? Pay attention to the lyrics. Find a special word, and try singing it a) suddenly louder b) suddenly softer c) longer d) shorter e) with a rougher timbre f) with a scoop or slide g) with a melodic ornament h) with a rhythmic pattern you hear in the drums i) with a different pitch you hear from the piano j) etc., etc., etc. Do this for the whole length of the playalong. Do it again. Take a break and do it a couple of times tomorrow too. And the next day. 

Over time you may find yourself settling into a certain interpretation that is unique to you. You created it -- composed it -- through improvisation. Feels good, doesn't it?

Album progress 

Hey there friends, just wanted to let you know about the progress on the album. Almost all of the instrumental and vocal overdubs are finished. Sara Caswell came in and laid down some stunning violin work. The folks over at Q Division in Somerville have been helping out with tracking vocals. Mark and I have been picking takes and doing some editing at Thornewood Studios. I think one more tracking session should do it!

Of course, then we have mixing to do. And then we get to the part that requires skills other than musical skills - promotion and marketing.

And now for the horn section 

I don't know how we got so lucky, but we did trumpet and saxophone tracking this week with Jason Palmer and Walter Smith III. Normally when you bring in new musicians to a session you have to explain the vibe/mood/approach to everything. Not with these two. They heard the basics and got golden takes right away. Should have taken 6 hours; finished in 3. I can't wait until you hear this stuff.

Lap steel tracking 

Kevin Barry is the master. I went to his house and recorded overdubs on my upcoming record. He played lap steel mostly, but at one point I said, "you know, I'm imagining sort of a baritone guitar sound here," and he jumped up and said, "let me go get mine! I never get to use that thing!" So beautiful. He plays lap steel like a theramin, moving his fingers and hands around in mysterious shapes that result in mind-bogglingly gorgeous sounds. His intonation is so so so SO excellent.

W.A. Mathieu lessons 

Thanks to a Berklee faculty travel grant, went to Sebastapol California to study with W.A. Mathieu. His concept of harmonic experience is changing my musical life, helping this jazzer see beyond 2-5-1's. What a dude this guy is. Absolute wealth of knowledge and WISDOM.

Tracking..... 

Starting work on a new album! This is going to be the best one yet, with unique versions of standards, some original songs. It will blend straight ahead jazz, early 1970s NYC grit, and wide open country spaces.

Piano: Mark Shilansky

Guitars: Kevin Barry

Basses: Marty Ballou

Drums: Austin McMahon