Monday, June 30, 2003
The end of June, sayonara...
This painting is of the "nozen kazura", or "Chinese Trumpet Flowers" in English...
They bloom all through the summer here, hanging down on vines all over the place...
I went to see the "Asylum Street Spankers" at Club Quattro, in Shibuya, last night.
The less that's said about it the better-
I am NOT a music critic, I just know what I like.
Maybe it was because I had to stand in high heels the whole time in the hot, unventilated-more-smoke-than-oxygen- room,
They all could play, but it was not my type of music...
The thing that made the night all worth it was stopping off at "Sam's" record shop. They have a whole store of great R&B, Gospel, Soul, Rap, & Jazz, and of course... Blues.
CD's, LP's, cassettes, even a used section.
I got the new reunion "Crusaders" CD; "Rural Renewal".
I like it.
I have always liked the "Jazz Crusaders" so when I saw this CD, I was glad.
It has that signature "Crusaders" sound; tight and funky- with a mellow, seasoned, tempered feel about it-
not hyper or annoying.
If I had a car, I would think this a great CD to listen to while driving...
Joe Sample is as happenin' as always, along with Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, Freddie Washington, Steve Baxter, Dean Parker, & Lenny Castro.
Ray Parker Jr., Arthur Adams, and Eric Clapton do some guest tracks...
Also got the new Etta James CD "Let's Roll". An expression comes to mind- "let's not, and say we did"...
I love Etta James, I always have, but the hard ass to the bitter end approach just gets so old after awhile.
I would love to see Etta tone it down a bit, and do something more
Maybe that's not her style, but I guess as a vocalist myself, it would seem the wealth of experience one acquires over a lifetime doesn't need all the hoopla - Just simply tell the story, in musical economy.
It's just my opinion.
I'm presently thinking of some new ideas for my gig at "J" August 8, Friday.
I want to get a beautiful acoustic sound.
I have always thought it "corny" to sing "pretty"-
I don't think that singing with soul, swing, and economy of instruments is "corny" any more.
My gig at "J" will be just me, piano, guitar & bass,
and I've got some great ideas for some tunes and arrangements...
Stay tuned to my website for more details.
On the left, to see and hear more...
Roll out those lazy, hazy , crazy days of summer.
Till next time 'Mela
Friday, June 27, 2003
50 X 60.5 centimeters
gouache on canvas
This is my newest canvas, finished at last!
I remember the day I started this project, early in May-
I was out photographing the violets on the ground in this cobblestone wall,
and a little girl came over to me...
She introduced herself as "Moka", and commenced to tell me she was living in America since she was two, and has now returned to Japan.
She was walking along the road she would have to walk to go to her new school.
She looked perplexed, while asking me:
"What are you doing? "
I told her: "I am a painter, and I'm photographing these flowers because they are screaming for my attention"...
And now my screaming violets...
I watched my son leave for his first night at work. He is now working part time after school, and I was so overcome with emotion.
I kept hearing swells of "Sunrise, Sunset" from "Fiddler on the Roof"...
A break in the rainy season, a preview of the heat to come...
Till next time... 'Mela
Sunday, June 22, 2003
I never knew what to expect- just the usual preconceptions-
The tragedy, the Oscar, the "nose", Mrs. Dalloway...
But I certainly never expected to be moved to a point of reflection
I was haunted by "The Hours".
I knew it was a movie I should see alone, I just didn't know why-
Maybe because I don't like to be seen weeping, or maybe it's far too personal to share-
The experience of watching this film I felt was pure indulgence,
allowing myself to feel things that have been just below the surface.
Although there are a few points I disagree upon in terms of point of view,
for instance I disagree that living in the suburbs is "avoiding life".
I believe life is not to be avoided- that any and all choices we make allow us the life we lead- be it to "avoid" or not.
The collection of actresses and actors, and their each and every role was astounding. Completely mesmerizing.
I have heard people say that Nicole Kidman didn't deserve the Oscar, that the other two actresses; Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore's performances out shown Kidman's. I think they were possibly the best three performances ever. Ed Harris's role was also very strong- as well as the child actor that played him as a child.
Phillip Glass's music was so beautifully insistent.
But the speech Nicole Kidman's character "Virginia Woolf" delivers to her husband at the Richmond station bound for London, while making her "getaway" just took my breath away. For this, I say, Nicole- you have earned your prize...
I must go and see this movie again, I feel I've only tasted all the flavors, not savored.
It is far too rich a film to not experience again.
Kind of like trying to see all of Paris in one week's time.
A perfect way to bring in summer.
I will coach today.
I dislike using that word, really.
But a better word fails me .
I can't teach voice, it wasn’t taught to me.
I can only watch, listen, and make suggestions, and perhaps direct a small bit- but one's singing voice is a personal thing.
It takes years to hone it... to season and tune to all of life’s personal experiences, emotional, spiritual, and physical- plus having a bit of talent from God never did hurt much.
I heard once that gifts from God are compensations...
and are given to help a person make do with life's troubles.
I can't say.
My life has been guided by my gifts, but I think it has also been guided by others' gifts to me.
I wonder what Virginia thought of her "gift" as she filled her pockets with large stones...
She probably could never know how her books have affected people further down the road, how her life in all of its entirety was so important even if to her it was unbearable.
"Even crazy people like to be asked"...
We are all important players.
Till next time... 'Mela
Saturday, June 21, 2003
I'm loopy on medium fumes...
Gloss to be exact, gloss medium.
The health warning on the bottle says to use in a well ventilated area, but gee,
I pretty much think I got dosed even working outside.
But not to snivel-
I have finished my canvas at last!
On this longest day of the year, it is done!
A funny coincidence that "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" is also in bookstores today...
I wonder where in the hell it will be sold.
I've waited this long, I guess I can wait longer.
I don't like waiting on long lines,
or mob scenes...
My son has landed his first job!
I am very happy for him, it's a part time after school kind of thing-
same as I had at 17.
Time certainly does march on.
I'm hoping to enjoy this first day of summer by going to see a movie.
I'll report back after I see it-
I'll give you a hint though, it's about 3 women...
I'll be photographing my painting when the varnish dries.
Creation is a wonderful feeling...
[or is that varnish fumes?]
Till next time... 'Mela
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
I visited Edward's yesterday.
He is a wonder, I'll tell you that.
He can make a person feel like continuing breathing in and out, and with my combination of migraines / TMJ ,
this is saying a lot.
I only got hip to acupuncture last fall.
It is an alternative method of handling stress, and pain.
Edward is the best.
The place is in Setagaya [Sangenjaya] and when you walk in the smell of the moxa
incense is prevalent.
But the aura of calm permeates,
and to me, this is of the utmost importance.
Edward is so precise and gentle with the acupuncture- but he also gives a shiatsu and pressure point massage that completely shakes those persistent energy blockages loose.
He has a team of helpers that work with him.
It is an hour well spent, truly a treasure...
Things are less tense around my house.
My son took all his allowance money and I gave him the difference, and we went together and bought a new TV. The old one was losing sound- it was originally bought second hand to be used only for playing nintendo games on.
Time has marched on since those days- my son has his own room, and so do I.
It was definitely time to upgrade.
Amazing, TV's now...
This isn't a "plasma" TV or anything, but the sound is great, in stereo, the picture so clear- playing nintendo on this is a 'heightened" experience...
My son is happy, and we are communicating a bit better lately.
But on a sadder note,
our purple parakeet died.
Emmy [short for "Amethyst" ] was the second of the original 2 parakeets left to us by my friend Xanthe,
when she left with her family for Hawaii.
They had become such dear friends to us.
Xanthe trained them from chicks to trust people, and they really did trust us.
First Iggy went, now Emmy.
I have their pictures in a frame on my son's window ledge where we kept them.
I have gotten so accustomed to that little birds presence- I still look in the room to see him, but only the picture remains...
I went to see Mike Price a while back. He had a show of "A TRIBUTE TO BUDDY RICH" at BFlat Akasaka. It was very good. Mike was in the first trumpet chair in the Buddy Rich orchestra for 2 years, so he has a lot of enthusiasm for this project, and the featured drummer, Inagaki-san, was hap-nin'!
I've been painting for days !
Such beautiful progress to this slow, problem solving puzzle...
"The birds on every tree
are all so neighborly
they sing where ever I go...
I guess I'm just a lucky so and so " -Duke Ellington
Till next time... 'Mela
Friday, June 13, 2003
I'm taking a short break from my canvas...
Stretching my body and my mind.
I get going sometimes, and don't realize that hours have past, except for a nagging sensation in my neck that says: take a break.
I feel such a potency today-
a creative whirlwind.
The wind blows Frankincense and Myrr through my room.
Any and all storms will blow away, in time-
but I have me.
Me is good.
Me is home.
At long last,
I've come home.
I'm sayin' goodbye to Hollywood.
Not the glorious little hamlet with wonderful streets like "Tamarind Ave."
or "Poinsettia Street"-
That was my first big adventure place, my own personal "OZ"-
I could never really say goodbye to that-
I'm saying goodbye to fakers, braindrains, and people with pins aimed at my balloon...
The wind also blows in change
'Till next time 'Mela
Monday, June 09, 2003
A sedate Monday morning.
The air is in a San Francisco kind of mode:
Secretive till after noon, then the sun burns through.
Hard to know how to act- Will it rain? Will it clear?
Will I find a million bucks in a rogue suitcase sitting on a park bench?
The possibilities of another day.
Changing my mood, assessories, and nail color,
but not my mind.
Oedo line, here I come.
Shufflin' off to Azabu-Juban, to see the good doctor
and visit Nissin Meat Rush.
Is that not a splendid name for a supermarket?
A lot of things come to mind while hearing this title, but last on the list would be the perusing of
swiss cheeses, bagels, and ripe enough peaches...
I love this store, though.
They have a Celestial Seasonings herb tea section with every possible type there is.
I like Strawberry -Kiwi.
Don't even get me started on the frozen stuff.
It's fun to shop there because it's the closest thing to being in a regular supermarket in the U.S., and the prices [for Tokyo] aren't bad, and there's enough space there to actually push a shopping cart without running over someone's toe.
Sometimes I think people should possess a license to push a shopping cart.
But given what HAS a license to drive, it's not a comforting thought.
I feel a minor rant coming to the fore, so I'll briskly change the subject.
I haven't found my "summer song" yet.
The one that stays with me all summer till the end of August, and lingers on...
Like a summer fragrance.
Mine's " Dolce Vita "- Christian Dior.
Songs and fragrances to me just make the everyday so much more memorable.
They give it ummmph.
So when maybe a few years go by, I hear a song, or I smell a fragrance, the mood of that time is brought to mind...
The birds outside are screeching, not a pretty tune-
must be time for me to fetch my "super soaker".
They're not just for kidsplay anymore-
Nature's little "referee".
Also, a very Happy Birthday to my stepdad, Al.
Have a beer for me!
Saddle up my Palomino...
'Till next time, 'Mela
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Now THIS is what I call June weather-
A lilting breeze makes the curtains do a harem dance...
I think I'll put something loud and classical on and paint while the light is happnin'.
I got a gig this Saturday, which cheers me up considerably after having my original Sat. & Sunday gig cancelled.
I really HATE when agencies use this "technique" to reserve your time : first check to see if you are available, then ask you would you want to do such and such a date, then say- "pencil it in" - which means they reserve your time, but with no obligation to pay a cancellation fee if the gig folds, and the gig ALWAYS folds-
Disreputable scurvy knaves...
Anyhoo I got a house party this Saturday night with a great guy and buddy of mine, Victor Savoy.
He did a "Frank Sinatra Tribute" with Mike Price and his big band a while back, at the AKASAKA B FLAT which blew me away.
Victor is a pianist as well as singer, and we will do some duets and singles.
I'm looking forward to it...
This kind of weather seems to lend itself well to parties, I hope the trend continues!
I'm seeing the ajisai [hydrandeas] becoming more prevalent, this is usually a sign of the rains to come.
Amazing flowers, ajisai.
Depending on the acidity of the soil they are located in, determines their color- a beautiful light cornflower blue to deepest magenta or violet...
I have a book on Dizzy Gillespie, photos and such, and there is one photo that I love.
While on tour he's holding his trademark horn in one hand, and in the other, a hydrangea branch, just standing behind stage, waiting to go on , and lost in the moment.
A nice photograph...
Well, I'm going to flip on Mischa Maisky's "Bach Concerto's" and have a go at my canvas...
It's been a long time...
"Another bride, another June
another sleepy honeymoon
for making whoopie " -Gus Kahn
Till next time... 'Mela
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Well, I'm home, completed my tour of duty.
It was a great experience for me.
Kei Shibata, my pianist for this engagement, took this photo of me at "Tableaux Lounge", with his kei-tei phone.
He will also appear with me at my upcoming gig at the Foreign Correspondents Club on Saturday, July 19.
This is my first photo with my shorter hair...
I am glad to be home.
The rain lifted early this afternoon, so I was able to get home and dry.
I have some household catching up to do- so I'll close for now...
I will miss my friends at "Tableaux"...
Till next time... 'Mela