Tag Archives: Randy Porter

SHE BURST INTO SONG: REBECCA KILGORE, ROSSANO SPORTIELLO, NICKI PARROTT at the ALLEGHENY JAZZ PARTY (September 22, 2014)

Rebecca Kilgore has been one of my favorite singers for more than two decades now.  But life is full of surprises, delights that catch us happily unaware.  At the Allegheny Jazz Party last month, our Becky stepped to the microphone and announced that she — with the help of two dear friends — had written a song.

And then she sang it.  And it was delicious.

The song is THE DAY I LEARNED FRENCH, and she really did dream that she had mastered the language.  When she awoke, she wrote down the melody and sketched out some lyrics.  Mike Horsfall added the harmonization, and Ellen Vanderslice contributed more clever lyrics to give this Kilgore-fantasy its charming shape.

I am thrilled to be able to share this song, and Rebecca’s sprightly performance, with you. And let us not forget those two international jazz masters, Rossano Sportiello and Nicki Parrott, who add their own je ne sais quoi to it all:

For those who — as I do — delight in the spiffy, stylish lyrics, here they are.

 

THE DAY I LEARNED FRENCH

Verse:

One night I lay me down to sleep

I said a pray’r and counted some sheep

But something strange occurred that night

Was I insane? Let me explain…

 

Refrain:

Oh, the day I learned French, I recall with delight

How I woke with a start, feeling ever so smart:

I’d learned French overnight!

And not just parlez vous I knew French through and through

When so sweetly, j’ai dit “oui completely, the day I learned French

 

In a tiny boutique, lingerie from Paris

Seemed to fit parfaitement in the life of une femme

Who could parler so free

And it’s simply magnifique, to discover I could speak

Like a native, creatively phrasing, the day I learned French

 

It was easy, comme ça, comme ci, voilà, voici, j’ai appris

Merci beaucoup, s’il vous plait, alors, le fait accompli!  [to CODA last time]

 

I looked up at the sky, et j’ai vu le soleil

It was shining so brightly I knew this would be a spectacular day

And the birdies sang cui, cui! They were speaking French like me

We were swingin’ and singin’ the Spring in, the day I learned French

CODA:

You can try this at home, if your slumber is deep

You don’t need an excursion or total immersion, just drop off to sleep

And as quick as un, deux, trois, you can dream in French, voilà!

It’s amazingly, dazingly crazy, the way I learned French

It’s easy voici: Merci beaucoup, à bientôt, adieu

Le fait accompli!

 

Music by Rebecca Kilgore and Mike Horsfall
Words by Rebecca Kilgore and Ellen Vanderslice
Copyright 2014 Cherry Pie Music, PO Box 29103, Portland OR 96296

This isn’t the trio’s sole creation.  Non.

In late July, some of Portland’s finest jazz musicians gathered at Dead Aunt Thelma’s Recording Studio in Sellwood to record fresh original material. Project partners Rebecca Kilgore, Ellen Vanderslice, and Mike Horsfall teamed up to produce 18 original songs, with each partner contributing melodies, harmonies and lyrics to the collaboration.  For the recording session, they brought together a dream team of musicians: Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, string bass; Todd Strait, drums, with guests David Evans, tenor sax; Dan Balmer, guitar; Jon Moak, trombone; Tim Jensen, flute and alto flute; Israel Annoh, percussion; Steve Christofferson, melodica; Mike Horsfall, vibes and arranging. Special guest Susannah Mars performed a duet with Rebecca on “You Make It Look So Easy,” and contributed vocal harmonies on “A Christmas Lullabye.”

A CD release (details to be announced) is just one of the ways the team hopes to make this sparkling new music available.

And something festive nearer at hand: Becky and friends will be releasing a Christmas EP with 3 original songs.  The title cut is “It’s Getting To Be That Time Of Year” with words and music by Ms. K.

May your happiness increase!

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“JUST IMAGINE: CLASSIC JAZZ AT CLASSIC PIANOS”: REBECCA KILGORE, DAN BARRETT, PAOLO ALDERIGHI

Stampa

I am very happy to announce a new CD by the Rebecca Kilgore Trio (Rebecca, vocal and rhythm guitar; Dan Barrett, trombone, piano, arrangements; Paolo Alderighi, piano) — on Blue Swing Fine Recordings 014.  Recorded at the end of 2013 in Portland, Oregon, it’s called CLASSIC JAZZ AT CLASSIC PIANOS, the latter half of that title referring to the congenial place where the Trio performed and where the disc was masterfully recorded by Randy Porter.  Click here to hear samples.

It’s a delicious session, with Rebecca singing (and playing rhythm guitar on a track or two), Dan on trombone, piano, and providing arrangements, Paolo holding everything together on piano for these selections: OH, LOOK AT ME NOW / DADDY, WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / JUST A LITTLE BIT SOUTH OF NORTH CAROLINA / SONG OF THE BLUES / JUST IMAGINE / THIS IS MY LUCKY DAY / ALMOST IN YOUR ARMS / I’M IN A LOWDOWN GROOVE / I’M RHYTHM CRAZY NOW / THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN / CRY ME A RIVER / SERENADE TO SWEDEN / SOFT WINDS / MIS’RY AND THE BLUES.  Connoisseurs of Song will note the wonderfully varied repertoire, with loving connections to Billie Holiday, Sammy Cahn, Jack Teagarden, Charles LaVere, Annette Hanshaw, Jean Goldkette, Joe Bushkin, Frank Sinatra, Lester Young, Anita O’Day, Sophia Loren, Fletcher and Horace Henderson, Julie London, Jim Goodwin, Duke Ellington and more, but this isn’t a history lesson.  Rather it is fresh buoyant Music — a rare commodity.

I was doubly privileged to be at the recording session and to be asked to write something for the CD, which also has notes by Dan and Becky. Here’s what I wrote:

More often than not, jazz is asked to blossom forth in inhospitable places: the noisy club where musicians must compete with the bartender’s blender, or the recording studio, a maze of headphones and wires. Imagine a quiet room, shaded as if an Edward Hopper nightscape, with three musicians, two grand pianos, the only other people a recording engineer, himself a musician; another man taking notes. It was no fantasy, for this all happened during two December 2013 sessions in Portland, Oregon, in a back room at CLASSIC PIANOS, where three friends gathered for warm, intimate musical conversations in the name of classic jazz.

Becky, Dan, and Paolo believe that music, created on the spot, can bring joy in the moment and renew us in the future. They gave each of the songs they had chosen its own life, reflective or ebullient: the poignancy of DADDY, the bounce of CAROLINA, the swagger of RHYTHM CRAZY, the romance of COINS, the melancholy of MIS’RY AND THE BLUES. Many of the songs have associations with Annette Hanshaw, Anita O’Day, Jack Teagarden, Julie London, Billie Holiday, Ellington, Charlie Christian, Trummy Young, Sophia Loren, Joe Bushkin, Lee Wiley, Fletcher Henderson. But these sessions were no “tribute,” no “repertory” re-creation, for the musicians brought their own personalities to this project, adding new melodies to the ones we know.

When Becky sings, we hear a gently compelling honesty. Yes, we admire the way she glides from note to note, the creamy naturalness of her voice, the way her smallest melodic embellishments enhance the song, her infallible swing. But what sets her apart is her quiet determination to share the song’s emotional message candidly, fully. Becky doesn’t overstate or dramatize. She doesn’t place herself in front of the material, but she opens the song for us, so that we feel what its creators hoped for.

Hearing Dan, I think, “That is how any creative player should sound: forthright, assured, subtle, inventive.” Like a great musical conversationalist, he always knows the right epigram to add at the right time. I can guess what some other musicians might play in their next phrase, but Dan’s imagination is larger and more rewarding than we expect. His reading of a melody is a joy; his improvisations are witty, pungent. The trombone can be a buffoon or a bully; in his hands it can be divinely inspired, even when Dan’s aural messages are earthy indeed.

Becky and Dan could float or soar all by themselves, and they’ve proved that many times in concert and on recordings since they first met in 1994. CRY ME A RIVER on this disc, majestic and mournful, is proof. But recently they have called in an Italian sorcerer, Paolo Alderighi, who generously spreads rich sound-weavings, Garneresque threads glittering – lovely orchestral tapestries, neither formulaic nor overemphatic. His solos gleam and chime.

In duet, Dan and Paolo are a model of creative conversation in jazz – empathic, intuitive, concise yet fervent. And when they sat down at the two pianos to accompany Becky for MIS’RY AND THE BLUES their contrasting textures were a delight. Completely original, too – neither Evans and Brookmeyer nor Ferrante and Teicher, but splendidly themselves.

What we call The Great American Songbook sometimes weaves helplessly towards songs that, if their lyrics were actual speech, would be legal documentation of domestic abuse, self-inflicted destruction. Over time, Becky has turned away from these famous masochistic outcries. But this disc shows her playing bravely in the dark, getting in a lowdown groove, calling out to an absent lover, creating rueful and vengeful tears. This isn’t a major life-shift in all things Kilgore, but a willingness to expand her repertoire into classic songs based on real life-experiences. She is having a good time being so sad for a few minutes: like Basie, she keeps the blues at bay by playing them. Or it might be her own particular jazz homeopathy practice, where dark cures dark.

These sessions produced lasting music, the rare kind that emerges from a devotion to the art. What a gift to us all!

JUST IMAGINE is now available here.  You can also purchase copies directly from Becky, Dan, or Paolo at their gigs — the most personal way to do it.  I’ve seen them with Sharpies after a session, so going home with an autographed copy is a real possibility.

I understand that JAZZ LIVES readers sometimes skip the text and look for the tasty music video. In this case, the sound that Randy Porter recorded of Rebecca’s floating voice was so lovely that it would do everyone a disservice to post one of my session videos.  But I think I will be forgiven if I post Dan and Paolo’s memorably dark and lovely SERENADE TO SWEDEN as a musical appetizer.  Thanks to Randy, it sounds even more glorious on the CD:

Intimate, refreshing, and warm music.

May your happiness increase! 

“I HEAR THE MUSIC NOW”: REBECCA KILGORE and RANDY PORTER at the PIEDMONT PIANO COMPANY (Oakland, California: Jan. 31, 2014)

A few nights ago, Rebecca Kilgore and pianist Randy Porter gave a delightful duo-concert at the Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland, California.  Randy was performing on a brand-new Yamaha CPX piano, and Rebecca brought her own beautiful instruments: her creamy voice, her wise, light-hearted interpretations.  And although Becky is always heralded as “an interpreter of the Great American Songbook,” she has a very expansive repertoire, going back seventy-five years and forward to contemporary music by Nellie McKay.

Here are some highlights of that evening.

Sammy Fain’s I HEAR THE MUSIC NOW:

Nellie McKay’s I WANNA GET MARRIED:

The Rodgers and Hammerstein edgy declaration of thwarted love, THE GENTLEMAN IS A DOPE:

Dave Frishberg’s ZANZIBAR:

Johnny Mercer’s JAMBOREE JONES, with its roller-coaster tongue-twisting lyrics:

and the lovely hip lullaby, thanks to Mercer and Harold Arlen, HIT THE ROAD TO DREAMLAND:

My ears, as always, were focused on the Kilgore magic — gently gliding through the lyrics, making them even more meaningful, gently improvising, making the melodies shine . . . but our Mr. Porter is astonishing: his command of the piano, his touch, his harmonic depths and always-surprising but beautiful inventions.  And what a beautiful place Piedmont is . . . wonderful-sounding instruments everywhere.  And they have regular concert performances from a wide variety of artists: click here.

Don’t you wish your local piano emporium had a Kilgore recital on the calendar?

May your happiness increase!

THROUGH MANY LANDS, BECKY AND RANDY JOURNEY, BRINGING MELODY

From Portland (Oregon) to Oakland (California) to be precise.

Rebecca Kilgore and the fine pianist Randy Porter are coming south for a duet concert on Friday, January 31, 2014, at 8 PM.  They will present “a wide variety of songs from the Thirties to the present, celebrating the musicians they love, including Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Dave Frishberg, Lyle Ritz, honoring composers famous or obscure. Tender or exuberant, Rebecca and Randy team up for a memorable program.”  The place? Piedmont Piano Company, 1728 San Pablo Ave. (at 18th), Oakland, California. To reserve tickets, please call (510) 547-8188.  Their website is www.piedmontpiano.com.  Tickets are $20.

I’ve only heard our Becky for the last fifteen years or so — which is enough to form an opinion of her as a peerless singer and interpreter of songs. I just met Randy in his home town, heard him play, and admire him immensely.  These two have been working together and their concert promises to be a treat for Californians — or denizens of other states as well.

And, by the way, a concert in a piano company will feature a spectacular instrument, good sound, a small, quiet audience . . . so don’t wait, because these events sell out, as I can testify.

May your happiness increase!

KEEP AN IDEALISTIC POINT OF VIEW

Very good advice from Charles LaVere, delivered with sweet sincerity by Jack Teagarden:

I know I am name-dropping here, but (as a born hero-worshiper, it might be permitted me).  I have been in the entirely exalted company of my heroes — Becky Kilgore, Dan Barrett, Paolo Alderighi, Randy Porter  — for a recording session, a club date at Ivories, and a concert at Classic Pianos (here in frosty Portland, OR).

Dan Barrett began to play this song — IT’S ALL IN YOUR MIND — on the piano and we both worked our way through the lyrics, Dan leading the way.

What other song has the words KEEP AN IDEALISTIC POINT OF VIEW in it, expressed with such tenderness and optimism?  (And it’s not jokey — “keep your sunny side up” — but secure in the faith that rescue is possible, that good things come to those who are on the path meant for them.)

I hope the world is never heavy on your heart . . . but perhaps learning this song will be a good spiritual probiotic just in case.  Blessings on La Vere, Teagarden, Kilgore, Barrett, Alderighi, Porter, and my new Portland friends. Their love — expressed in music and other ways — makes it easier to keep my idealistic point of view, to float hope on the waves of change.

P.S.  The “Classic Jazz at Classic Pianos” concert is happening tonight — doors open at 7 PM.  That still leaves a good deal of time for people to get there . . . music that will make the heart light!

May your happiness increase!

REBECCA KILGORE, HER QUARTET, HER CELESTIAL SELVES

When I sat down to spread the good news, I was reminded of an unpublished e.e. cummings poem about the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet (known to those who know as the RK4):

the rk4

is back for more

don’t

blink

don’t

snore

get out

the door

Cummings was right.

The RK4 (the group formerly known, under an old regime, as B E D) is going to be playing for lucky motivated Californians in November 2012.  The group is our Becky (vocals, guitar); Dan Barrett (trombone, cornet, vocal, mischief); Eddie Erickson (guitar, vocal, banjo, more mischief); Joel Forbes (string bass, dark raptures).

They are one of those rare jazz groups that understands their audience: so they move from a heartbreaking ballad to vaudeville fun, from virtuosity to sweet swing.  The audiences don’t fidget; they’re busy being entranced and the evening rushes by.  The RK4 doesn’t get as many opportunities to appear together as they should — by rights, they should have their very own Sunday-evening television show, with guests — so this is not at all an ordinary occasion.  It’s rather like one of those celestial happenings . . . . if you miss the Perseid meteor shower, there won’t be one in three days.  So do go if you can!

Details:

Sunday, November 4, 2012:  The Norris Center for the Performing Arts, Palos Verdes, California: “Cabajazz” with the Rebecca Kilgore Quartet — Rebecca, Dan Barrett, Eddie Erickson, Joel Forbes.  The Center is located at 27525 Crossfield Drive, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274, and it appears that the RK4 will be doing two shows — an 11:30 AM one with brunch; a 5 PM one with “Supper”.  More information here.  Or call (310) 544-0403.

But wait!  There’s more!

Becky’s home town is Portland, Oregon, where she gigs regularly.  On Friday, October 19, it will be Western Swing Night at the Bijou Cafe, 132 SW 3rd Avenue in Portland (503.222.3187).  Becky will sing with James Mason, fiddle; Doc Stein, steel guitar and dobro, Pete Lampe, string bass.  “Dancers very welcome!”

On Saturday, October 20 (do you see a pattern here?  I hope I do.), Becky will be appearing from 8-11 PM at Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant, 1435 NW Flanders (also Portland: 503,241,6514)  with the wonderful David Evans on reeds, Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, string bass.  And Becky will play her rhythm guitar on both gigs — a real asset.

But wait!  There’s more!

Perhaps there are some JAZZ LIVES readers who have only a dim notion of just how remarkable our Ms. Kilgore actually is.  I don’t know how this could happen, but I am assuming the possibility.  So just to really make sure that no one is in the dark, here is a performance by Becky, Dan Barrett, Rossano Sportiello, piano; Jon Burr, string bass; Ricky Malichi, drums, from the September 2012 Jazz at Chautauqua.  Appropriately for my vision of Rebecca Kilgore as a rare phenomenon, someone who is wholly herself — and we are glad — the song is I SAW STARS:

For more information, you can always catch Rebecca here or  here.  “Celestial” is putting it mildly.  Don’t blink, don’t snore . . .

May your happiness increase.