I have a very special friend, Peter, and I like to make him a very special Valentine every year.
Peter is a long-time collaborator whose vision & support led to my Grammy Nominated project “Invention & Alchemy.” If you’ve been to one of my solo shows, you’ve heard me talk about him.
At right is my Valentine to Peter from 2008.
Last year, I was in Iowa, staying with a new friend who’d offered to host me in her house when her concert society booked me for a show. I told her how much it meant to me to make this Valentine, and she took me into her arts-and-crafts room, pulled out box after box of art supplies – from feathers and lace to construction paper and glue — and left me to make my Valentine.
This is what it looked like:This year I wanted to do something different – something he could close his eyes and listen to: a Jazz Valentine of classic jazz love songs.
If this doesn’t sound like the me you know – if you’ve seen my one-woman shows or know me as the electric harpist in rock legend Steve Vai’s band, let me give you a little history…
Long ago, in a lifetime before my signature hip-harp was even a glint of silver on my hip, I played a big concert harp and had a trio called the “Jazz Harp Trio.” I cut my teeth on classic jazz standards: swing, bossa, ballads, sambas. My first albums, on cassette (remember those?!) – were classic jazz standards on harp, bass & drums.
But one thing I never did and always wanted to do was a solo album of classic jazz standards.
So that’s what I’m making for Peter as a Valentine this year — and depending on how things go, we’ll release it as an album. (But don’t tell Peter I’m doing this! It’s a secret – seriously. I know it doesn’t seem secret because it’s in a blog, but he’s not an avid blog-reader so the secret’s actually safe here).
There’s a lot that has to happen to make that possible, getting a good recording being just one of them. Getting the rights to record and distribute the songs digitally is a whole new field we’re learning about – fast!
For now, you can listen to snippets from the rough recordings here.
What you’ll hear is all solo harp, all improvised. You won’t hear the melodies you know in these cuts, because we’re still working out the rights to distribute those – but you can hear the sound and feel of what I’m doing.
And I’d love to know if it’s a sound you like – because if it is, we’ll try to make digital download of this project happen!
Is there some reason you should be exempt from imperfection? The rest of the world has to live with it. The idea is still to make beautiful, or stirring, or exciting, music. You DO that! Those little imperfections, and they are small, just give us other harpists the courage to keep on playing and taking our music to others. We’ve been given this gift; we need to share it.
Mimi – thank you. You couldn’t tell me anything more meaningful than that something I do gives you courage.
Peter is a special angel to all of us here in Grand Rapids. He will absolutely love your Valentine offering! Go forth and create!
…and yes, it’s a most worthy project to be enjoyed by the rest of us.
Thank you Kate! And I forgot to mention in my blog that this is a secret, so don’t tell him!
Go for it!
I would LOVE to hear more of this if possible (I have your CD ” ‘Round the Corner” in my DHC collection).
Jazz standards on a solo harp – this will be like a comfy chair and a cup of fresh-brewed coffee! I wish you the best of luck and really hope that you can release this as an album! And, as my instructor says “Don’t sweat the imperfections – its Harp, it always sounds good!”
How very sweet of you to share this beautiful, heartfelt valentine with all of us! I think Peter will feel honoured and the rest of us will feel privileged and delighted. Looking forward to my very own copy!
Lovely, Deborah. I like this new direction!
Thanks Christa — it’s funny to hear you say ‘new’ direction — since it’s … well, yes, like you said in your next comment — a return!
…or perhaps I should have said, “recapitulation.”
Have enjoyed your music and performances ever since I discovered you performing on a warm summer evening on the wharf in Boston. Look forward to this new set.
This is PERFECT. timing .. I am just getting into the old standards – using Ray Pool’s Gershwin plus many more but want to get into more improv – and plan to add background using Band in a Box. So just to listen to you improvise is just what I needed/wanted for my weekend project. I just started learning New Blues and I THANK YOU for the inspiration you have given me. Go for it!!!
My wife and I first heard the Jazz Harp Trio at Framingham State College. We followed you through Mechanic’s Hall in WOOSTA when you played the lunch crowd. Thoroughly enjoyed your rendition of Take Five and the other jazz standards. I have some of those “tapes” that you spoke of and all of the CD’s. We were pleased to hear you when you started to sing as you have a wonderful voice. We enjoy the stories and still get a kick out of the story of the “blues harp”…it never gets old.
I think that rerturning to some of those standards is a great idea…
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY Thank you for the music.
Soooooo wish this was ready now!!! My valentine would love, love, love this! Looking forward to giving him a copy…….
These snippets are beautiful. My only question is why are you even asking the question?? It seems like such a natural pairing. What an honor to receive THIS for a valentine… I’m sure I speak for everyone who knows your music when I say (speaking subjunctively):
I want this album!!
How charming it is to share this on your blog. I have always felt I knew you through your songs and performance commentaries, and this enthusiastic sharing reinforces that feeling.
Yeah, happy Valentines Day, and thanks for your continuing contribution to my pleasure.
A solo jazz harp recording will be a big hit! Everyone loves the classics and love songs!
Just a tease of the greatness to follow……
Wonderful! Yes, it’s a sound I like, especially the last couple of tracks, smooth and gentle and heartwarming. More importantly, looking at Peter’s picture, I bet it’s a sound he’ll love. Press on!
I love these harmonies which you will use in this JAZZ VALENTINE PROJECT.
Deborah, this is a way to do the best music.