What a wild and wonderful month September has been! The highlights so far have included the thrill of singing with Jeff Goldblum at the Café Carlyle (more on that in a moment), some riotously fun singing with the gals of DUCHESS, and my burgeoning love affair with the ukulele!
The month will end tomorrow with a bang, when The Great City is, at long last, officially released on Anzic Records. What does this mean, exactly? Glad you asked! The album will be available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, as well as in record stores, if you can find one (a record store, that is). And there is some wonderful press coverage brewing, which I’ll be posting about here, too. If you’re around on Sunday, October 5 at 6:00 pm, please get your tickets and join us at Birdland for the CD release party!
Earlier this month, my friend Alison Wedding, a marvelous singer and songwriter, emailed me to tell me she had recommended me to sing a couple of tunes with her friend Jeff Goldblum at the Café Carlyle. Yes, that Jeff Goldblum. Did you know he’s a good jazz pianist who’s held down a steady gig in L.A. for years with his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra? Needless to say, I jumped at the chance, and as luck would have it, I wound up singing on Jeff’s opening night. The room was packed with press and celebrities: Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, Edward Norton, Fisher Stevens, John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, Will Friedwald, and Bill Boggs were among the attendees.
Jeff and his band were musical, gracious, and a whole lot of fun. I brought my mother-in-law as my plus-one, and we sipped champagne at the bar throughout the band’s swinging, laughter-filled set. About halfway through, Jeff called me to the stage and I sang “Autumn in New York” and “The Great City.” The New York Times and New York Post had very kind words to say about the evening, and I know I’ll remember it forever. I even got a shoutout from Al Roker on Twitter the next day:
— Hilary Gardner (@HilaryGardner) September 17, 2014
The DUCHESS gals were also quite busy this month. We kicked off September with the first installment of our 55 Bar Autumn Residency. There were kazoos, bawdy jokes, ukuleles, and of course, lots of girl-on-girl harmony. The following week, we were delighted when celebrated author, Wall St. Journal columnist, and all-around bon vivant Will Friedwald invited us to sing at his luau-themed birthday celebration. Ukes in tow and sporting leis, we sang a custom arrangement by our friend David Maddux of “Little Grass Shack,” which you can check out in the video at the bottom of this post.
October will include my aforementioned CD release at Birdland, as well a trip to New Orleans with DUCHESS for the Boswell Sisters Revival, where we’ll be performing at Snug Harbor and in a revue alongside vocal groups from all over the globe. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Read: A Year in the World, by Frances Mayes. I re-read this book as a (temporary) antidote of sorts to the wanderlust that has been tugging at my psyche in recent weeks. Mayes’ first-person accounts of art, literature, food and friends in far-flung locales like Portugal, Morocco, Greece, and Scotland (among others) were just what the doctor ordered. A beautiful literary escape.
Listened to: Film Noir, by Audrey Morris. A much-respected music friend sent me this CD, claiming it as his favorite vocal album. Ms. Morris is a Chicago-based singer-pianist whose unsentimental, intimate interpretations of songs from film noir of the 1940s and 50s remind me of Irene Kral and Carmen McRae (two of my all time favorite artists).