July 2007 Newsletter

hello, all…

wow, i should’ve sent this out way before now. because i meant to, i really did

but, you know how it is…you make all these plans to work on your website, but before you get a chance to, you have to record your next CD. so you decide to go ahead and record while simultaneously figuring out how you’re gonna pay for it ’cause you’re not on the maxjazz label anymore. and then, after listening to each take 100 times, you make all the decisions about the CD – what to name it ("experiment In truth"), the colors to use (all of ‘em), who’ll do the graphics (todd reid), which photographer to use (fernando aceves), which tunes to put on it (7 originals and 4 covers), figuring out the mechanical license stuff (uh…yeah), proof-reading the copy 100 times (that’s right. 100 times) – yes, once you make all the decisions, well, you gotta go back on the road again, but then, just before you do, you find this house you absolutely love but your realtor says you must move quickly on it before someone else buys it so that means you have to move out of your house while you’re on the road and your husband closes on the new house while you’re on the road, but before you leave to go on the road there are all these boxes you’ve packed and stacked up to the ceiling and then you discover you packed some of the clothes and music you need…

oh. you mean you don’t know about that? well, let me tell you – life’s been full of living. just sweet, sweet living.

and this little letter will be short and sweet, too. because all i want to do is tell you just one thing:

WE JUST RELEASED OUR NEW CD, "EXPERIMENT IN TRUTH"!!!!

it’s self-produced and, for now, self-released. the only place you can purchase it is at my website. just click the link at the top of this newsletter and you’ll be taken to my e-commerce page where you can order "experiment in truth". while there, you can also order or download the single, "this is (not) a protest song". development of the website is painfully slow and so there are no track samples for "experiment in truth" yet. but they are on the way! however, in lieu of the track samples, below is a brief description of each tune. but first, although thelonius monk has been quoted as saying, "talking about music is like dancing about architecture", i’m going to tell you the story of how "experiment in truth" came to be.

THE RECORDING

on november 4-6, 2007 kevin bales (piano), rodney jordan (bass), quentin baxter (drums) and i recorded in a circle onstage in the recital hall at the college of charleston in charleston, south carolina without recording booths or other obstacles. the concept behind "experiment in truth" isn’t new; but self-produced and self-released as this album is, it was new to us. we knew with certainty, however, that we wanted a sweet, rich, yearning, kinetic, authentically live sound without stopping and starting countless times to ‘get it right’ as is typically done in a studio. aside from jack mccray, who wrote the liner notes, there was no audience.

THE CONCEPT

you won’t find any botox injected into our music to prevent wrinkles; no makeup to hide what some may consider flaws. what you will find is our truth – or, rather, what we believed our truths to be as a group at the time of this recording. we wanted to keep the ‘truth’ of the sound – its honesty and openness – without processing it and making it sound so ‘teched-out’ that we wouldn’t recognize ourselves anymore.

THE PROCESS

the process of surrendering to the emotion of a song, becoming vulnerable enough to get to that place, is much like falling in love; it sometimes involves stumbles and fumbles, tender surprises and eye-blinking amazement – a ‘wrong’ note here, a voice crack there, a missed phrase, a missed lyric, a missed chance and then…an open door to discovery. the paramount thing was not to disrupt the process. it was the emotion, the feeling, the truth of the story we wanted to experiment with. i absolutely did not want those ‘blemishes’ taken out, as they are an intimate part of the whole, completing each satisfying, musical lovemaking episode.

THE STATEMENT

also, we tackled some issues that won’t likely make the list of favorite topics put to music. though i have opinions, i don’t have any answers and i don’t have any statements to make. i just wanted to pose the questions, bring up the issues, open the door, turn on the light. if there is one statement being made with this CD, it is this: ask the questions.

THE QUESTIONS

what constitutes abuse and rape and force? what is my music hiding from? what is it hiding behind? who am i trying to please? and why? how do i deal with this homeless person’s outstretched hand? can words really be profane? or only our actions? am i enjoying being on the road like this? is this what i truly want? why do i keep letting him/her back into my life? why am i going through all these changes? am i strong enough to weather them all? is there such a thing as too much truth in a song? does my art reflect the social issues i claim to embrace? why or why not? who will take up oscar brown, jr’s torch? who will echo nina simone’s courage? can one vocally recreate within a musical context being in the throes of passion and still have it played on the radio?

THE SONGS

WEEKEND an abused wife, an intruder, rope, a blindfold, a…fantasy?

VERTIGO a re-arrangement of my own tune. crazy out. even after listening to it 100 times, i STILL laugh out loud every time i hear it! this is the way ‘vertigo’ should have sounded the first time around, but didn’t. more about that another day…

I AIN’T GONNA LET YOU BREAK MY HEART AGAIN* a gorgeously heartbreaking ballad i learned from a bonnie raitt album. both bonnie and i are scorpios!

TURN THE PAGE* i LOVE bob seger’s music. on this one, it’s just me and the bass. some things all musicians have in common, regardless of the genre.

STRONGER THAN YOU THINK i wrote this song ostensibly for my son when he was in prison. then i realized it applied more to me than to him.

RIM SHOT why do drummers only use the rim shot when an instrumentalist is soloing?? i got sick of that sh*t and wrote a song so all i could hear from quentin was the rim shot and nothin’ but the rim shot, so help me…

CARAVAN* just listen to this female version. the guys really got into it (no pun intended). ’nuff said.

COLORADO RIVER SONG a softshoe feel inspired by my very first weekend river trip after i moved to colorado. didn’t know how to swim, had never been camping, never been in a boat and certainly never in a river. i was so excited at the prospect of all these new adventures, however, that i composed the song in the car on the way to the river before i even got in the water. and the guy i went with? married him last year.

THIS IS (NOT) A PROTEST SONG inspired by my own experience and the experiences of two members of my family. my small way of trying to draw attention to homelessness and DO something about it instead of just walking on by, pretending i don’t see…

SOME OTHER TIME* ah…kevin’s solo breaks my heart every time i hear it. we play this tune near the end of almost every live performance. it’s so lovely…

O NINA! – fifteen years old in 1970 and angry as hell. mama couldn’t get through to me no matter what. then she brought this album home… well, just listen to the story. it’s all true. and it’s my ode to nina, written in an airplane somewhere over minnesota one month after she transitioned.

* the four cover tunes. lyrics to all the original tunes are included on the insert of the CD.

i love this CD. i hope you do, too. if you feel any connection with this music, if it touches you in any significant way, please tell 10 of your friends about it. and please, let me hear from you. i’d love to know what you think…!

be gentle with yourselves,

rene marie

july 2007