Saturday, January 29, 2005

Alpine Way Gig, Thursday January 27, 2005

On Thursdays I take a long lunch and work late, so that P. can go to her knitting group while I watch B. That has been the routine for a very long time. It just so happened that I had the good fortune to be asked to play at Alpine Way from 2-3 pm last Thursday. Honestly, I couldn't be much happier with how everything worked out. I came home, had lunch, changed into my tuxedo (P. chose the red bow tie), grabbed my cello, music and stand and drove the 2-3 miles across town to the gig, where my one request was a chair with no arms. I began playing about 1:58 in the carpeted dining room, which has very live acoustics. At first, just a few residents were there to listen, but as I kept playing, more and more filed in. Some of them hummed along to tunes that were familiar to them, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a couple of them leaning close with their ears to listen. Everyone applauded after every song (even every movement, in the case of the Bach). And I smiled each time they did. My head felt like it was 5' around--what a great, appreciative audience.
My program included It Might As Well Be Spring (Rogers/Hammerstein) , Java (Freddy Friday, Allen Tousaint, Alvin Tyler), Nina (G. B. Pergolese), Blue Skies (from "Betsy," by Irving Berlin), Sonata for Cello (by R. Romberg), Spanish Eyes (Bert Kaempfert), La Cinquantaine (Air in the olden Style, by G. Marie), Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue (Has anybody seen my girl? by Ray Henderson), Georgia On My Mind (Stuart Gorrell, Hoagy Carmichael), I've Got The World On A String (Ted Koehler, Harold Arlen), Suite No. 1 (six movements, Johann Sebastian Bach), I've Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter), Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel), Too Darn Hot (Cole Porter. Though I can't remember whether I cut this one out for time or not), Star Dust (Mitchell Parish, Hoagy Carmichael. What a great song), Moon River (My arrangement, from Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini), I Love Paris (Cole Porter, my arrangement), Puttin' On The Ritz (Irving Berlin).
When I finished, I put my cello back in its case, and my check with my music.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Works in Progress

Well, as I noted before, this is going to take a while. I have been transposing about a song a day from treble clef to bass clef, all in pencil by hand. Sure, there's probably a better way. Over the weekend, I practiced about 4 hours Saturday and 3 or so on Sunday. I've been working on some popular love songs as noted earlier. Also, P. bought me a book of Scottish and Celtic cello tunes. I spent a lot of time working on some of that. Tonight (Monday) I really need to practice some more. I transcribed most of "If I Fall" (Beatles, 1964) while I waited to take B. home from her ballet class. I feel like I'm on the verge of breaking through to another level of performance. I have worked so hard on flashy classical solos, I forgot the reason people listen to live music. The Burt Bacharach is promising and I am looking forward to learning the other songs too.

I resolve to be better than just gig-ready. I want to be part of elevating cello on par with guitar.

When we watched Master and Commander I was pleasantly surprised to see cello featured.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Love Songs

My boss used to be keyboardist in a band, and he lent me his WP and EM1 fake books, plus Beatles Complete. I looked it all over, marked down some notes and handed them to my wife, who has fantastic taste when it comes to music and movies. Out of all of the collection, she chose 12 Beatles songs and about 10 total from the other two books. That's just the perfect number of songs to add to my program for the future (though I plan to add more classical and more '70s - '80s songs). With a Valentine's gig coming (and a lot of wedding-related gigs a normal part of life for any musician), I was happy to see she picked out a lot of love songs, many of which I would have overlooked, but now I can see how well they will fit in. Here are some of the titles I plan to start working on soon:

* So Far Away * You Light Up My Life * Look Of Love * You've Got A Friend * Spanish Eyes * Strangers In The Night * The Way We Were (I added the last three; Spanish Eyes was a request, though I don't know if I've got the right version)
* I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song * Time In A Bottle * Could I Have This Dance * Woman * Waiting For A Girl Like You (I added the last one)
*The Long And Winding Road * Ringo's Theme (This Boy) * And I Love Her * If I Fell * I'm Looking Through You * In My Life * Here, There And Everywhere * Penny Lane * Across The Universe * Blackbird * I Will * Let It Be * Birthday (I added the last one)

Pretty much all of the songs date from about 1968 to 1982, with lots of early '70s stuff. What it all amounts to is a lot of music for me to transcribe (by hand) and arrange for cello solo, since the original melodies are in treble (not bass) clef. Also, I am arranging for a solo instrument, so I need to consider what elements to include from the other parts, to help capture the hook of each song. This should be fun, since my favorite songs are the kind that really emote, and I sense most of these do that. But oh boy do I have my work cut out for me!