Monday, October 09, 2017

The Death Of Simone Weil

If any of you are still reading, and if you're in the Boston area: Thursday night I have a concert that features one of Paula's great epic poems, The Death Of Simone Weil. It was one of her works that was really special to her: Simone Weil was one of her all time favorites, and Paula wrote about her with great clarity and passion.
I found a high school list of things she loved and it included Simone Weil...who she always admired.
The poem is as much about Paula as it is about Weil.
I wrote this music 18 or so years ago. The last time we performed the whole thing (it's 65 minutes) was when a live recording of it (released by Innova recordings) was made in 2001.
I wish it would have occurred to me to put this notice here a few weeks ago, but just in case it's of any interest to you, we will be playing this Thursday night, Oct. 12, at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. Featuring the wonderful voice of Rebecca Shrimpton (who Paula wrote about on this blog from time to time, as she had taken some voice lessons from Becky).
Like everyone that knew her: I learned so much from Paula, and I learned as much about writing music from setting this text as I have ever learned from anything....when I first read it, it sent chills down my spine: I had to try and make it into music.
You cannot imagine how much I miss her.
Anyway, this event will be a celebration of who she was....and sorry for the formatting issues: I am NOT a seasoned blogger.

Monday, March 06, 2017

To any of you still reading, I think you will want to read this article about Paula:

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Just a people may be visiting this site...
Please make sure to find Paula's posts.
None of them from 2016 are hers, only one from 2015.
But all of the rest are.
Please do explore. She had a most unique and special way of looking at the world.
I will continue to celebrate her spirit, and will hope that you, whether this is your first time here, or have been coming here for years, will too.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Paula, me, and Billy....

These pictures of Paula with one of our kitties, Billy (we had declared that Billy was the finest animal in the universe) give a rather historical perspective.
Paula holding Billy when he was a kitten.

And 12 or more years later.

And here's us. I'm guessing around 1987. We were at a friend's farm, while back in Kansas, visiting my parents. WBGH's least 20 years later, maybe more...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

After Aftermathamatican and other bits

It never occurred to me until just now to post some of my settings of Paula's words...I've released a number of CDs featuring her poetry  extensively, with the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra....and have a new one out  soon, with more,with my new, smaller group, OddSong. A name Paula gave to me in a poem...I read this poem to her regularly while she was in the hospital...I probably had seen it, but forgotten about it, and  wondered when she had written it, and found the date, July 6, 2012. On July 2nd, I'd had knee replacement surgery, and this was for me when I was in the hospital. I've set Guiding Narrative, but no recording....and the links here...don't seem to work right. You'll have to copy and paste...

Guiding Narrative

I don't need to tell you, oddsong, that
defense from all perils comes in handy
in whatever forest of the night you find yourself,
so sing on and on, even (or so it goes)
at the grave, even if (as is likely)
there's no one to hear either you or the tree
that will fall on you and crush you, even
before the birds have eaten all the breadcrumbs, even
before you reach the Big Rock Candy Cathedral
where the curate has prepared a supersaturated solution
to all your problems, hope
after hope after hope, my beloved.


The photos, I'm just picking randomly...and sorry, at the moment, I can't access the commercially recorded examples, will be back in the future...but here are some links to some of the music (and these are seeming to require being copied and pasted, instead of just clicked on
This first thing is: from THIS blog post....

I've been working with a marvelous vocalist for 18 years, Rebecca Shrimpton. Paula took some voice lessons from her, and wrote a couple of great posts here on this blog about them...anyway, Rebecca has been singing my music for all of that time, most of it being settings of  Paula's poetry. Rebecca and I wrote this piece together (first time for that) last January: she really liked this post and extracted song lyrics from it...I'm putting on two different performances....they're live, and raw....
Red Sea

This is a setting of Paula's poem about the great alto saxophonist, Julius Hemphill, performed by the rather amazing duo of George Russell Jr and Donna McElroy. Two titles with "red".

The Red Blues 

This is is the JCA Orchestra, performing an early version of How To Clean A Sewer, which includes the last poem Paula wrote for me (summer of 2014), as in: I gave her the title and requested...and when I put it to use, I insisted on changing the last word to "sleep"...
When I was in music school, I suffered from a considerable lack of confidence. I was having regular meetings with one of my teachers, and when I would show him music I was working on or had finished: he would say, "Yeah, I like that", or "that's nice". And I would proceed to tell him what was wrong with it. When I would talk about ambitious projects and he'd suggest that I'd take them on, I'd tell him I wasn't ready.
Finally, one day, he said: "You know, you've got a lot of music in you, but getting it out of you is like cleaning a sewer."
So: that was the title of my piece honoring his retirement.

How To Clean A Sewer

There lie the rinds of things,
there in the shadows,
the indigestibles
that shamed the tongue.

The wind that howls through
that matter horn;
the dervish fire hose;
the cold and smothering clods;

the snakeroots piercing
the clotted gourd 
to god soul truth love hope heal heart --
there is no fix

but in ash-scour and the scent
of windfall lemons
from the grove of the last
dream before you die.

Windfall Lemons, from "How To Clean A Sewer" (2nd of three movements)

To An Angel

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Photo Booth

I don't know if any of you are still out there reading...but if you are, I thought you might want to see some of the photo booth pictures that Paula took of herself. Photo booth, if you're not familiar, is a mac application that lets you take pictures from a camera mounted on the screen. Paula, generally, was camera shy. An introvert. She was fond of making self-effacing comments about her self: she enjoyed claiming that she was: a "crone".
But: she left, taken between 2011 and early 2015, FOUR HUNDRED of these pictures. Laughing,frowing, smiling, scowling, all kinds of moods. She went all photo shop on a few...
She was clearly documenting herself. Record keeping. Creating a history...just for herself, I think.
You can get a sense of what season it was from what she was wearing.

I love these pictures. She's so beautiful in them. And they are so honest.

I'm putting a random selection here, in chronological order.