- Influences - Anecdotes:
memories: listening to Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky on my parent's
very precious stereo component system in Patchogue. We were elegantly
attired ballet dancers as we listened and pranced around the living
room behind closed doors - entranced by the music and mom's
meant visiting my very cool teenaged cousin in New Hampshire.
He wore his blonde hair in a high pompadour with a DA down the
nape of his neck, combed with a flair and the flat of his hand.
His bedroom was decorated with color pictures, probably the cover
of 45rpm records, of early rock n roll stars (whom I had never
seen nor heard): Elvis Presley, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker and
the most handsome man I had ever laid eyes on - Ricky Nelson.
Hubert and his girlfriend would take us to get ice cream in his
convertible Thunderbird - with the radio blaring "Itsy Bitsy
Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" or Doris Day singing
"Que Sera Sera" . Of course at the age of 6 I had no
clue what singer those voices belonged to. But the car, my cousin,
his glamorous girlfriend, the sky, the ice cream, and the music
just went into my ear and stayed there. Definitely not our suburban-Long-Island-with-my-parents-and-4-siblings
kind of experience. When I was in third grade we moved to central
New Jersey (Exit 9). A month later President Kennedy was assassinated.
all withstood our father's weekend wake-up ritual: playing opera
full blast on Saturday mornings instead of reveille. There were
chores to be done! Nothing like Figaro or Violetta to get you
up and at em. I almost hate to admit it because it seems
so very super corny now, but my parents watched The Mitch Miller
Show and The Lawrence Welk Show every Saturday night. I must say
I liked the guy with the accordion...and loved the Lennon Sisters.
My dad even bought the record " Sing Along With Mitch" .
That must be where I learned the song Funiculi, Funicula. The
sensory memories that are stimulated by even hearing a song's
title mentioned: the room, the time of day, who else was there,
what you were wearing, what you were seeing.
theater memories were seeing Peter Pan, and The King and I at
McCarter Theater in Princeton, and the Rockettes Holiday extravaganza
at Radio City and Man of La Mancha on Broadway. I still get a
thrill when the lights go down. The theater was a mystical place
where fantasy, magic, music, and creativity all merged together
while the outside world disappeared. We had a few soundtrack LPs
at home...Hair, and West Side Story. We'd sing along and
play-act the shows in the backyard or the living room.
parents were active in the civil rights movement so we had albums
by Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan,
plus Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte. The summer after the Freedom
Riders helped with voter registration in the south, my parents
helped organized a youth exchange visit with a busload of black
teens and young adults from Meridien, Mississippi. Ben and Barbara
Chaney, the brother and sister of slain CORE volunteer James Chaney
stayed at our house. That summer we were listening to Marvin Gaye,
the Temptations, the Supremes, Mary Wells, the Esquires, Sam Cooke
- and learning how to dance the Funky Broadway to Wilson Pickett's
hit of the same name. Everyone was singing folk songs, freedom
songs, or soul songs. Life was good.
gave my first solo performance in fifth grade at a school talent
show singing a Yiddish song about freedom (in English) that I
learned from a Joan Baez record: Dona, Dona. I was the last person
on the program so I never knew if all the applause was for me,
or for the end of the show! Overnight girl scout camp was all
about vocal harmonies sung around a campfire or before meals.
How could voices together sound so exquisite? I didn't know, but
there it was. I would sing in choruses every year in school, and
later in college, too.
was filled with all kinds of popular music: the Doors, Jose Feliciano's
version of Light My Fire, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, The Band,
Marvin Gaye, Blood Sweat & Tears, Cream, Johnny Mathis, Joni
Mitchell, Laura Nyro, Nina Simone, CSN&Y, Blind Faith, Spencer
Davis, Dave Mason, James Brown, Santana, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin,
Vanilla Fudge, The Ultimate Spinach, The Moody Blues, Canned Heat,
Asleep at the Wheel, Jesse Colin Young, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes,
The Incredible String Band, Traffic, etc etc etc. We could tune
in WNEW 102.7FM from New York and listen to Alison Steele the
Night Bird, Scott Muni and Jonathan Schwartz spin alternative
music. Took the train into Penn Station for my first rock concert
at Madison Square Garden and heard Cream's farewell concert - Eric
Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. British rocker Terry Reid
and the Buddy Miles Express were also on the bill. I was in ninth
grade...Wow. Also went to my first jazz festival the following
summer at Rutgers University. Heard Cannonball Adderley, Nancy
Wilson, Blood Sweat and Tears and Jethro Tull! Still didn't
know much about jazz .
attending an alternative high school in Boulder Colorado and the
Penland School of Crafts to study weaving I ended up living in
Greensboro North Carolina. My new friend and roommate was born
and raised in Chicago with parents who listened to jazz, blues,
and vocal groups. That was IT. I was hooked and could not get
enough of listening to Miles, Cannonball, Billie Holiday, Ella,
Carmen McRae, Freddie Hubbard, Mose Allison, Lambert Hendrix and
Ross, Basie, Ellington, The Double Six of Paris, the Hi-Lo's,
The Singers Unlimited, Earth Wind and Fire's first album,
Donald Byrd, Ken Nordine, The King Singers, Nancy Wilson, Al Jarreau,
Bill Evans, Jimmy Rowles, Gabor Szabo, Joe Pass, Oscar Peterson,
Ray Charles, the Neville Brothers, the Meters, Koko Taylor, Buddy
Guy, and so much more...Airto and Flora Purim, Luiz Bonfa,
Milton Nascimento, Jobim... I will be forever indebted to Mandy
Latham Boublitz and her dear parents, now departed, Richard and
Mary Ann Latham.
I left North Carolina to go to school in Santa Rosa, California
I decided to study music. I knew I loved it, but knew nothing
except what singing in choruses and taking piano lessons for a
few years had taught me. My sightreading was such that I could
only get into the big chorus (they turned no one away). But that
changed with the challenge of wanting to get better, no doubt
one of the positive sides of competition. I studied classical
technique with Marvel Gardner, Dr. Curtis Sprenger and Dr. Val
Hicks. California had a strong arts' initiative for years
before I arrived, so the students my age had excellent musical
skills, honed from years of strong programming in the public schools.
They were a big inspiration and the vocal ensembles sounded like
professional groups. Artists like Carmen McRae and Joe Williams
came to give concerts, then presented clinics in our small classes.
I went on to join the concert choir, chamber singers, madrigal
singers, a barbershop quartet, the jazz choir, plus a vocal trio,
and the Northern California Chamber Chorale. We performed works
by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vivaldi, Ned Rorem, Hildor Lundvik,
Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Palestrina, Benjamin Britten (one of
my favorites), Manhattan Transfer, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon,
Thelonius Monk, and so many more.
was a lot going on in San Francisco so I went to see musicians
Bill Evans, Marty Morell, Eddie Gomez, Sir Roland Hanna, Ella
Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Ben Riley, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Ray
Brown, Elvin Jones, Anita O'Day, Art Lande, Jules Brussard, Elvin
Bishop, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock with VSOP and many others.
Since I knew no one when I first moved there I'd just take the
bus ride 50+ miles to the city and then catch the last bus back
north to Sonoma County.
College in Boston was the next move: as a vocal performance major.
I studied with Brian O'Connell, Tom Martin, Maggie Scott, Joyce
Lucia, and then classical technique privately for 4 years with
Marilyn Evans in Brookline. Other teachers were Bill Pierce, Pablo
Landrum, Alex Ulanowsky, Larry Monroe, John LaPorta, John Neves,
Bob Patton, Tony Germain, Jack Lowther, Steve Prosser, Scott Free,
George Monseur, Rob Rose, Phil Wilson, Tom Plsek, Dick Lowell.
I was able to perform all the time, including 4 or 5 concerts
under my own name with vocal group quartets and quintets, plus
bands that included 4-6 horns and 4-5 rhythm section players in
the Berklee Performance Center. I worked alongside musical directors
Terry Wollman, Teese Gohl, Jeff Halpern, and Alex Ulanowsky. Arrangers
included Teese Gohl, Paul Dioguardi, Jeff Halpern, Randy Crenshaw,
Bill Lyons, Barrie Nettles, Alex Ulanowsky, and myself. Composers
included Elyse Wilson, Teese Gohl and I wrote lyrics to a few
of these shows were chosen for the Jazz Beat from Berklee series.
One was broadcast nationally through NPR affiliates. WGBH produced
the series with Music America host Ron della Chiesa as the interviewer.
I was able to have the performance center for two sets so the
shows were quite elaborate with choreography and specific lighting.
For one concert we even scented the programs! Lee and Susan Berk
always attended as did Mike and Cilla Gibbs when Mike was composer
in residence. We had a lot of fun but we worked hard rehearsing
and preparing while still keeping up with a full academic schedule.
Since I didn't have a car for the first 5 years I lived in Brookline
I was often able to catch rides home with Larry Monroe, the Performance
Department chair. He MC'ed all the concerts back then and just
happened to live a few blocks away from me with his wife Rita
and son Josh. I was performing with too many groups and bands
to mention here...but let's just say it was total immersion.
of the more memorable choral concerts was under the direction
of Lithuanian composer in residence Jeronimas Kachinskas. He composed
a piece about his homeland, in conjunction with Steve Prosser.
It debuted at a Lithuanian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, in Lithuanian
to the most passionate audience I have ever performed for...as
the music was all about the beauty of their homeland, which had
been occupied by the Soviets. Mr. Kachinskas was lucky to get
out with his life. I was heartened to hear the newly elected democratic
leader of the newly independent Lithuania on the radio just last
started working professionally in the Boston area around 1979.
My first band was an acoustic trio: Terry Wollman on guitar, Danny
Lavictoire on bass and myself on vocals. We performed all over
including opening for the legendary Sabby Lewis band at Lulu White's
in the South End. Our steady gig was at the Winery down at Lewis
Wharf so a few years. We also performed for a group of elderly
men at a nursing home in Jamaica Plain called the Duplex. Terry's
friend and neighbor David B. Greenberger was the activities director.
The men reviewed our concert in David's publication called The
Duplex Planet (see the reviews page). Clubs, parties, some
concerts - whatever we could find. Opened for blues singer Linda
Hopkins down at one of the smaller theaters near the Shubert,
with Bob Winter, Alan Dawson, and Whit Browne backing me up. What
a thrill. Started singing at the Colonnade with Alex Ulanowsky,
John Lockwood, and Alan Dawson which I figured must be heaven,
or darn close to it. Singer, pianist and arranger extraordinaire
Jeff Halpern and I also put together a vocal-duet cabaret act.
Jeff was the mastermind while I worked hard on his brilliantly
challenging vocal arrangements. We performed in clubs and concert
halls, once opening for the comedian Henny Youngman. He arranged
background vocals for 3 or 4 originals we recorded out at Blue
Jay. Jan Stevens (Prostick), Elyse Wilson, and Terry Wollman all
wrote original compositions for that project. I also recorded
three standards in a duo setting with Alex Ulanowsky: My Romance,
You Took Advantage of Me and Dindi. Lyman Underwood was my biggest
fan and financial supporter for these projects.
heard a trombone coming out of the 1369 Club one chilly fall Wednesday
evening as I walked down the street - in 1980 or 1981. Turned
out to be Gary Valente's big sound playing with D. Sharpe's band.
D.'s girlfriend Nancy was taking money at the door and being the
friendly person she was I was soon introduced to D. since he didn't
have a P.A. system and I did. So, every Wednesday night D. Sharpe
and Bill Frisell or D. and Wayne Krantz or someone else in the
band would come over to my 4th floor walkup above the liquor store
in Inman Square to borrow the P.A. Of course I then ended up singing
two poem/songs with the band that D. had written since he was
so generous of spirit in that way. John Lockwood played bass with
D., Gary and either Frisell or Wayne or later with Tony Pearson
on guitar. D. turned me on to his Korean yoga and taoist teacher
Dr. Lee, who was then teaching in Coolidge Corner. We'd go to
class together a few times a week. D. was a beautiful human being
who passed away much too soon at age 40.
then I have been lucky to continue learning more about music,
the business, different genres, and always there is more and more
and more to learn and know. Nothing takes the place of experiential
learning. You have got to get out there and do it. Whatever IT
is. Being a bandleader and arranger is a painstaking behind-the-scenes
job, but the rewards are many and multipled once you bring the
music to the other musicians. I've been lucky to work with some
of the most creative players in the business. They include the
musicians on this new CD as well as so many others I've intersected
with along the way: Terry Wollman, Brat Hatfield, Elyse Wilson,
Cheryl Hodge, Marcia Guntzel-Feldman, Jonatha Brooke, Olga Roman,
Dominique Eade, Daniela Tosic, Gaye Tolan-Hatfield, Roberta Radley,
Kris Adams, Mili Bermejo, Randy Crenshaw, Bill Lyons, Catherine
Russell, Ed Randol, Makoto Ozone, John Medeski, Bob Moses, Bob
Harsen, D. Sharpe, Jun Saito, Grover Mooney, Greg Badolato, George
Garzone, Dick Johnson, Jimmy Mosher, Bob Hores, Bill Pierce, Stan
Strickland, Greg Hopkins, Ken Cervenka, Herb Pomeroy, Mike Metheny,
Gary Valente, Alan Dawson, Randy Roos, Bill Brinkley, Jerry Bussiere,
Gray Sargaent, Reeves Gabrels, Malcolm Granger, Jon Wheatley,
Wayne Krantz, Bill Frisell, Lazlo Gardony, Bruce Katz, Marty Ballou,
Dick Johnson's Swing Shift, The Ritz-Carlton Orchestra led by
Dave Burdett, the Boston Swing Sextet, the White Heat Swing Orchestra,
the Mike Metheny Group, David Clark, Jim Stinnet, Danny Morris,
John Lockwood, Mike Rivard, Tim Landers, Baron Browne, Chulo Gatewood,
Tommy Campbell, Steve Olenick, Tim Ray, Dave Kikoski, Rachel Nicolazzo,
Alizon Lissance, and so many more. Many of these musicians performed
with me at rooms such as Turner Fisheries at the Westin Hotel,
or The Ritz-Carlton, or during the two years I had a steady gig
at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square Cambridge, or at the lounge
at the Lafayette Hotel or the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Bay Tower
Room, or Kenmore Square's Skylight Room...
and concerts have taken me to Italy, Yugoslavia, California, Idaho,
Key West, Maine and many places in between. There have been TV
and radio appearances both here and in Europe as well as performances
in festivals, schools, parks, nursing homes, and then the odd
jobs. I was once hired to demonstrate kareoke software in the
aisle of a computer store (I hung garlic around my neck to protect
myself). I was shocked to find out the REAL WORDS to Led Zeppelin's
song Dazed and Confused. More recently I did a studio session
to become the voice of a talking baby doll. After saying 20 different
phrases in my sweetest little girl's voice I then did the same
for 1,065 girls names. The computer chip implanted in the doll
can be programmed to insert the name of choice into the sentences.
have taught voice for the past 15 years both privately and as
adjunct faculty member at Boston Conservatory. Feels good learning
as much from my students as I also pass on to them. A recent master's
degree in film studies from Harvard will turn into projects that
merge moving images with music. Stay tuned and look to the Video
page for details about past and future projects including my award
winning whimsical short "i change"; a music video I
produced, directed and edited for the vocal group Tapestry; and
other goodies. Check out the future Links page on this website
for information on other musicians, peace information and events
both local, national and international, human rights information,
and other areas of interest.
will get (even) longer as I feel like adding on.... There are
lots of little stories to tell. Lots and lots. About the time
Peter Yarrow (from Peter Paul and Mary) sat in with my band, the
night Jaco Pastorius came into the club where I was singing; the
nights I sang nose to nose with Hermeto Pascoal at the Tasty in
Harvard Square; the time I got to help choreograph some dance
steps for a video Pat and Mike Metheny were making for their parents;
the day that Makoto Ozone found out he was joining Gary Burton's
band; the day I met Carly Simon on the beach; the night in 1980
when I met a relatively unknown singer named Bobby McFerrin who
was working with Jon Hendricks at Lulu White's in the South End;
the night Alain Mallet's amp died at one of Lee Fernandez's wonderfully
wild parties so he played accordion and my mini-keyed synth all
night; then there was the night Michael Palin and I took a boat
taxi across the Grand Canal in Venice for a dinner at the Gritti
Hotel following my performance at the Stuart Davis opening at
Peggy Guggenheim's museum; and the night I fell down some algae
covered steps into the Grand Canal; etc etc. etc.
of my current favorite music:
Below the Bassline (Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin
with acoustic bassist Ira Coleman, pianist Monty Alexander and
drummer Idris Muhammed). 1999?
After Hours with jazz vocalist Sarah Vaughan, guitarist
Mundell Lowe, and bassist George Duvivier.
Eva Cassidy. What a singer! What an arranger! And
what a guitarist. It's a pity she passed away at such a young
age....check her out. Soulful, joyous, sad. Listen to the CD called
Songbird which is a compilation of her three previous recordings.
She sings the blues, soul, gospel, and jazz standards...all in
her own distinctive way. http://www.evacassidy.org