Tag Archives: Tom Wakeling

“THE REBECCA KILGORE TRIO, Vol. 1”: REBECCA KILGORE, RANDY PORTER, TOM WAKELING, and DICK TITTERINGTON (Heavywood Records)

For those of you who live in my aesthetic neighborhood, the sentence “Rebecca Kilgore has a new CD out,” will require no explanation. Cheering, high-fiving, messaging friends, but no explanation.

This is the magic doorway through which you can snag this fine music.

The CD was recorded in 2020, with Becky’s long-time friends and musical partners Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, string bass; Dick Titterington, cornet (on SOMEBODY and STAR only). Here are two samples, for anyone who needs to be reminded of Ms. Kilgore’s ethereal yet solid magic. SOMEBODY JUST LIKE YOU, music by Meredith D’Ambrosio, words by Dan Davis:

and the melancholy BECAUSE WE’RE KIDS, music by Fredrick Hollander, music by “Dr. Seuss”:

Characteristically — our Rebecca lives for song-treasures — much of the repertoire is a series of small surprises, delicate but powerful. Only a handful will be familiar: DEAR BIX, THE GENTLEMAN IS A DOPE, THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL, AZURE, and DAY IN, DAY OUT. The rest are “strangers” that become musical dear friends right off: RUN, LITTLE RAINDROP, RUN / TALKING TO MYSELF ABOUT YOU / OLD SOFT SHOE / I WANNA GET MARRIED / LIKE THE BRIGHTEST STAR / THAT SUNDAY, THAT SUMMER //

Messrs. Porter, Wakeling, and Titterington are sensitive musicians who listen and react — with empathy and intuition. The air is friendly rather than competitive, and their accompaniment is generous, pointing up the beauties of the song and of Rebecca’s interpretation, changing from chorus to chorus but always sustaining the mood. And their solos are wise and sweet: each track feels both spontaneous and composed. This trio’s been working together for ten years, and their working-band intimacy is rare and wonderful. (Beautiful recording by Randy Porter, as well, who knows how to do it.)

I’ve left Ms. Kilgore to last, because no one can follow her. (Except her cat.) She doesn’t shout or howl or stamp to convince you that she is, in fact, a Jazz Singer. No tricks, no gimmicks, no straining. And hers is a mature artistry. The listener never feels that she is in a hurry to get to the next rhyme to land on it with a thump; when there are emotional highs or lows in the lyrics, she doesn’t announce them in capital letters. Her voice remains warm, clear, and unaffected (with casual yet clear diction that other singers could well study). Her swing is easy and unforced, like the companion who walks next to you with a pace unhurried yet never draggy. Most of all , she knows what the song means: there’s never anything mechanical, nor is there High Drama.

Rebecca’s been at The Singing Game for a few years now, and she has a substantial and varied discography. But where other artists begin to repeat themselves: “I had a hit with ________________, so let me find a song that has some of the same mood as ____________,” Rebecca is living anew as she sings. She doesn’t want to repeat herself, for to do so would be to bore herself as well as us. So where, early in her career, she specialized in Light and Bright and Sparkling, she continues to reach out both in repertoire and interpretation so that her performances have the ring of deep authenticity. And I don’t know anyone else singing now who so convincingly can be thoughtful and playful at the same time.

Some singers work very hard to convince you of their Sincerity and to sell each phrase as Memorable. Rebecca doesn’t have to. When she sings, it’s as if a dear friend is sharing a deeply felt story without artifice. Her voice has a speaking lightness: we lean forward to catch the nuances and are happy we did. Like Rebecca, Randy and Tom are lightness and shade, swing and feeling.

The cover says “Vol. One”: I hope for many more!

May your happiness increase!

“MOONSHADOW DANCE”: REBECCA KILGORE, ELLEN VANDERSLICE, and MIKE HORSFALL

I’m delighted to tell you about a new Rebecca Kilgore CD, delicious and new. I’ve repeated NEW in the first sentence for a reason: MOONSHADOW DANCE is not only a new plastic artifact in a new cardboard sleeve, but it contains new music — songs by Ellen Vanderslice, Mike Horsfall, and Rebecca herself.

MSD_Cover

The idea of the singer-songwriter is such a familiar one in the last half-century that I won’t make a fuss about it.  However, our Rebecca has made her wondrous reputation by singing “the Great American Songbook,” which in most cases has meant songs from the late  Twenties to the late Fifties, with some exceptions. And for most CD-buyers and audience members, that has meant a certain amount of comfort.  Rebecca is a happily curious Songhound — she searches out deserving songs whether they are rare or familiar, and they glisten when she sings them.  But at a concert, for instance, I can almost feel the audience sigh with pleasure when Rebecca finishes the verse of a Rodgers and Hart song and tenderly makes her way into the chorus.  “A beloved friend,” is our unspoken response, our happiness at hearing something we have the most tender feelings for.

It is of course possible and even delightful to devote one’s career to singing or playing the familiar.  Louis never got tired of WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH, and Hot Lips Page is reputed to have said, “The material is immaterial.” But the great pleasure of this new CD, MOONSHADOW DANCE, is that almost every song is a new creation by Vanderslice, Horsfall, and Kilgore.

But before any reader panics and snorts, “New songs?  Why doesn’t anyone sing any of the great old songs anymore?” and reaches for a familiar sheaf of 78s . . . here’s some pleasing evidence that “new” doesn’t have to mean “loud,” “coarse,” or “postmodern,”when the songs are written by the masterful Ellen Vanderslice, Mike Horsfall, and our Rebecca:

Not only do you hear Rebecca’s silken voice, but the melody and lyrics are beautifully crafted — no cliches, either musical or lyrical — but with a certain fresh flair, so that a listener doesn’t think for a moment, “Wow, that turn of phrase must have been the cat’s meow or the cat’s pajamas in 1929.”  Rather, this song and the fifteen others on this disc are musically substantial but not imitations of older songs, and the lyrics sound the way an elegant, witty speaker of this century might talk.

A digression about the video: words and music by Ellen Vanderslice, music by Mike Horsfall.  Musicians are Rebecca Kilgore, vocal; Randy Porter, piano; Tom Wakeling, string bass; Todd Strait, drums; Dan Balmer, guitar; Mike Horsfall, vibraphone / arrangement.  The wonderful dancers are Rachel Lidskog-Lim and Jack Lim.  (I am a literal-minded type, so I was relieved that the pasta did not get overcooked and gummy and that Rachel and Jack — unlike me — can cook so neatly that they don’t mess up their formal clothes.)

Back to the CD.  On it, you’ll hear wry portraits of contemporary life (a blues about the civilization and its discontents) that are mildly reminiscent of Portland’s master viewer-at-a-slant, Dave Frishberg, but there are plenty of songs about songwriters’ favorite subject: love.  There’s ONE LITTLE KISS, AEOLIAN SHADE, I’M NOT SUSCEPTIBLE TO LOVE, UM MINUTO A MAIS (ONE MINUTE MORE), TO HAVE, TO HOLD, TO LOVE, ONE MORE TIME TO SAY GOODBYE, and the even more emphatic THAT’S IT!  There’s also what I believe is the first recorded performance of Rebecca’s multilingual fantasy, THE DAY I LEARNED FRENCH.  And I already have found myself humming BIRTHDAY SONG, GENERIC, which has a hilarious punchline.

The instrumental accompaniment from Randy Porter, Tom Wakeling, Todd Strait, Dan Balmer, Israel Annoh, Steve Christofferson, Marco DeCarvalho, David Evans, Mike Horsfall, Tim Jensen, Mike Horsfall, John Moak, and Dick Titterington is first-rate: singer Susanna Mars joins in on YOU MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY.

It’s a very rewarding CD, full of small sweet / tangy surprises.  I predict that some of the “new” songs” will become memorable friends in one or two listening.

Now — if you live in Portland, Oregon, and are reading this early on Sunday, January 31, 2016, you have a special opportunity to enjoy this music in an experience larger than your earbuds: a concert from 2-4 PM, with Rebecca, Randy Porter, Todd Strait, Tom Wakeling, Mike Horsfall and other musicians, as well as dancers Rachel and Tim from the video above.  Details here at the bottom of the page.  Also on that same page you will find links to help you purchase the CD as a disc or download.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get dressed up and cook some pasta.  And MOONSHADOW DANCE will be the entirely fitting soundtrack.

May your happiness increase!

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!

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.