January: Looking back, looking ahead

Scenes from Water Island: musicians, sunset, and moments from the beach...

Scenes from Water Island: musicians, sunset, and moments from the beach…

Was it really just a couple of weeks ago that I was hanging out in the Virgin Islands for the Water Island Music Festival?  For the second year in a row, E. and I trekked down to St. Thomas and took a short ferry ride over to a tiny residential island for a few days of music-making with and among extraordinary musicians.  During our (plentiful) down time, we ate fish tacos on the beach, swam in the placid turquoise bay at Honeymoon Beach, and took in stunning vistas as we motored around the island on the locals’ preferred form of transport: the golf cart.

From this...

From this…

Of course, all good things must end.  When our time in the Caribbean was up, we tossed blossoms in the water (to ensure our return to the island), boarded our flight, and returned to snowy streets and icy temperatures.

...to this.

…to this.

Last month also heralded the official Rondette Jazz release of the new CD from the George Gee Swing Orchestra, Swing Makes You Happy.  Trombonist/musical director David Gibson arranged a swinging mix of standards, transcriptions, and original compositions for this album, which has been getting some great press: All About Jazz gave the album four stars, and DownBeat named it a January Editors’ Pick.

Finally, January was a great month for musical match-ups.  In addition to performing piano/vocal duets with Wells Hanley in the Caribbean, I teamed up with pianist Ehud Asherie for an intimate evening of standards at Mezzrow.  Saul Rubin and Noah Garabedian (guitar and bass, respectively) were warm, supportive collaborators when we performed at Saul’s long-running vocal series, and pianist Joe Alterman and I hit the road for gigs in Atlanta and Phoenix.

Official release on Anzic Records on 2/17!

Official release on Anzic Records on 2/17!

Looking ahead, there’s some very big news on the horizon: the eponymous debut CD from DUCHESS is being officially released on Tuesday, February 17!  If you haven’t done so already, you can pre-order the album on iTunes or directly from Anzic Records, and please join our mailing list to stay in the know about some big shows and exciting developments in the world of girl on girl harmony!

In January, I…
Blogged about: The ups and downs of freelancing. Singer-friend Bess McCrary. December.

Watched: Chef.  I love food movies, and this one, written and directed by Jon Favreau, boasts a fantastic cast (John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt) and a really fun soundtrack.

Read: An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler.  A contemporary meditation on eating and cooking well, based on M.F.K. Fisher’s iconic missive, How to Cook a Wolf.  Adler’s prose is thoughtful and elegant, and if you’re even a little bit intimidated by cooking, this book is the answer: there are no complicated recipes (there are no recipes at all, really), just sane, simple ways to make cooking a part of your life.  Above, by Isla Morey.  A harrowing, riveting novel about a 16-year-old girl who is abducted by a survivalist and spends years below ground in an abandoned bomb shelter, eventually raising a son in captivity.  An unexpected plot twist raises fascinating questions about freedom vs. captivity, safety vs. danger, and the nature of forgiveness.

Listened to: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook.  When Ehud and I performed at Mezzrow last month, we wound up playing a bunch of Rodgers and Hart tunes, which inspired me to spend some time with this album.  For straightforward, swinging interpretations that put the songs first, there’s no better resource than Ella’s songbook series.

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