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CALL for SUBMISSIONS!!!
ALL artists! I am
very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING
SUBMISSIONS again. I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of
execution for my trip to Iraq. I will still be traveling all
over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we
will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them. Look
at the guidelines for submission below, please:
MUSIC: All formats
accepted. Snail mail to: Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 5308
65th Avenue, Lacey, WA 98513 The only criteria for music you submit is
that it MUST HAVE high performance energy... if you submit lacklustre material,
it will be reviewed accordingly
POETRY: Poems are
accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail. Poems submitted in any other
fashion will NOT be published. Poetry that includes some reference to
music is granted first priority for publication.
BOOKS: We will review
some books; books about music are PREFERRED. We will NOT return any books
submitted for review. Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.
DIY Announcements: We
will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or
medium... HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS... if you are a corporation,
don't even BOTHER sending stuff... it will be marked and reported as SPAM!
Nation - Issue # 67
INTERVIEW with Judi Silvano
Zzaj: Your music seems to
lean heavily towards improvisation, which obviously makes it very attractive
to our readers. Was it the "jazz" that made you go that way, or some other
Judi -: I grew up in a creative
household where all of the arts flourished. I listened to a lot of jazz and
classical music as I was growing up, and had a background in both classical
and modern dance. So by the time I was in the twenties and moved from
Philadelphia to NYC, I became involved as a dancer in the Loft Scene. There I
got involved in collective movement improvisations and began working with jazz
musicians who were improvising with us. That experience brought me back to my
jazz roots and I started studying and working as a singer in improvisational
settings. The jazz influence ultimately became the motivation for my
experimentation using my voice in non-traditional ways and began my
exploration of composition as well.
Zzaj: Do you do touring?
If so, where? When is the next tour?
Judi - : Yes, I do tour. In the
past 15 years i have traveled
quite a bit both as performer and educator. At first I traveled with Joe
Lovano's ensembles throughout Europe and then I started doing my own tours on
the West Coast and Europe with my own groups. I also taught for several years
in Canada's renown Banff International Center For the Arts, in their Summer
Jazz Workshop under Kenny Werner's directorship. I am planning another tour
to Europe (Paris, Brussels, Rome, Edinburgh) for the Spring 2005 as well as to
LA & San Francisco. Since I've just released my new CD "Let Yourself Go", I
have been concentrating on that work and staying at home, in New York, the
jazz capital of the world!!!! I keep updating my Itinerary on my website, so
your readers can check that at
Zzaj: Who are your musical
Judi - : Ella Fitzgerald was my
first idol and has remained a strong influence, with her amazing ear and
wonderful improvisational ability. I learned so much great repertoire, too,
with her Songbook series featuring so many of the great composers of American
When I started singing jazz in
NYC I met 3 wonderful women in a workshop who became lifelong mentors to me:
Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee & Jay Clayton. Sheila Jordan is still an
inspiration to me in her love of the music and generous spirit and I take her
workshops sometimes just to be near her! I learned a lot from Jay Clayton
about using the instrumentality of my voice and we work together now which is
really fun! And I have been guided by Jeanne Lee's influence through the years
to explore a different way of singing, although I am a soprano and she sang
very low. I feel related to her also by her choice of material and in fact,
her association and recordings with the pianist and composer Mal Waldron were
part of a history that led me to work with him towards the end of his life,
and to study and perform his compositions.
Another important influence has
been Abbey Lincoln. It has taken me many years to really embrace the
interpretation of Lyric as a primary importance of jazz singing, and through
feeling the depth of Abbey's communication I have been able to reach for my
own expression with words.
Zzaj: The Internet seems
to be "clogged" with artists, probably due to easy accessibility to digital
recording equipment. Is this artistic explosion a "good" thing, or a "bad"
thing, from the perspective of quality of music?
Judi - It's really a mixed
blessing! While it has made recording a readily available tool for learning
and growth, which is a good thing, it has broadened the scope of international
exposure to such an extent that it's difficult to choose whom to listen to and
how to get an artist's work to their target audience, which is bad. The
same market forces are at work, however, and eventually artists with something
unique to "say" and of lasting influence will be acknowledged. Unfortunately,
some mediocre talents are being marketed by commercial entities and some very
creative talents are not receiving enough exposure. But this has always been
the dilemma of a creative life, so it is even more necessary for a recording
artist to stay focused on his/her own work and to stay positively motivated in
spite of the social or commercial climate.
Zzaj: For an artist
starting out, what is your best advice?
Judi - : Study everything
related to your instrument and Listen to everything with an open mind. Learn
as many skills as possible and put yourself into a supportive environment in
which to experience a broad range of creative play before you get into the
working world. Realize that you must develop into an artistic personality, it
doesn't happen in a few years, so that each phase of your life will be
valuable and necessary for you to get to the next level. Patience and
determination are as important as your innate talents, so nurture all aspects
Zzaj: Do you believe that
music has the power to heal the things fouled by political pollutants?
Judi - What a great question,
especially in this time period! Yes, I totally agree that music has a healing
quality that can transcend all of the divisions and frustrations that
"civilized society" somehow creates. We are more connected through our senses
and humanity than we are divided by our religion, race, ethnic heritage, gender
or anything else that the mind can think of to mess up the beautiful order of
nature. When 9-1-1 happened in NYC, I decided to create a series of concerts
featuring younger singers to give them a head start, which developed into a
series of concerts that ran in a club in Greenwich Village for 2 years. I
expanded it to include collaborations among my peers and other singers I
admired and it brought the "community" together a little, when we were all so
demoralized by world events. So I have first-hand experience, how music does
have the power to bring people together during timees of stress.
And from performances and workshops that
I've been doing with my group "Voices Together" (3 singers & 1 Dancer) I see
the impact this singing and breathing and moving together has on people, young
and old! It enlivens them!
Zzaj: What is your most
current project? Why are you doing it? What has you most excited about it?
Judi - My newest Jazz CD has just
been released and I am so excited by it for both personal and professional
reasons. The recording is my first all-Standards CD and it came about
because my mother was 79 and she always got excited when I told her about a
new OLD song I was working on! So I developed a list of her favorite songs
from the 1930's and 1940's mostly, and hired veteran arranger Michael Abene to
write some little big band charts for me. The result is "Let Yourself Go"
which was just released on the Zoho Music label.
I got to hire some of my
favorite players and come back to the songs I listened to while growing up,
my mother's favorite songs! The band is wonderful, and includes Ingrid Jensen
on trumpet, Dick Oatts on sax, Rufus Reid on bass, Newman T. Baker on drums,
and of course Mike Abene on piano. He wrote some inventive instrumentation so
I aso have Akua Dixon on cello, Roger Rosenburg on bass clarinet, Mayra
Casales on percussion and Jamie Baum on alto flute.
Considering my mom was a working
mother (she was a registered nurse) so many years ago, the fact that there are
so many accomplished female musicians (plus our recording engineer) that I
could include in this project made it a special salute to her strong spirit.
What i'm most excited about is
that I could not only create a musical gift for my Mother's 80th Birthday, but
I could learn so much about my own expression of this wonderful old material
in a modern context. I feel I have grown musically from the experience.
Zzaj: What is the most
rewarding musical experience you've ever had?
Judi - There have been
many. But perhaps the first live studio recording that I did will always
stand out. As part of Joe Lovano's "Universal Language" ensemble I had a
chance to play (or sing, if you will) with the amazing Jack DeJohnette and
Charlie Haden especially, but also with Steve Swallow, Kenny Werner, Tim
Hagens and Joe, of course, in an amazing recording session for Blue Note
Records. That was a very high experience that I have strived to keep as the
standard for all the work I've been doing through the years since in my
searching and development.
In more recent years, recording
with the great Mal Waldron was an incredibly rewarding experience that I am
still reaping the benefits of! I had long admired his song "Soul Eyes" so
when I had the chance to meet him and told him that, we started a dialogue
about songs and composition. I studied many of his lesser known works for
months and then we went into the studio for a short 4 hours (remember he was
75 years old when we recorded) and recordemostly his songs, with some of my
original lyrics and two of my songs. The result, "Riding a Zephyr" (Soul
Note/ Black Saint Records) changed my life. Playing with Mal opened me to
another way of singing - slower, lower and with more space. I'm rejuvenated
on my journey to discover the beauty and power of communication of the human
spirit through music.
Zzaj: If you had the
opportunity to sing in any venue you wanted (that you haven't performed in
already), where would it be?
Judi - When I was in college I
sang with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, as
a young professional under the baton of Robert Shaw at Carnegie Hall, and as
a jazz artist in opera houses & clubs around the world. The venues I'd most
like to perform in at this moment is the Kennedy Center for the Arts in
Washington DC as part of the Mary Lou Williams Festival and at the Montreal
Festival as well.
Zzaj: Your "words of
wisdom" for aspiring musicians in our readership?
Judi - : Music is a powerful and wonderful tool that can bring great joy
and healing to many people. To be a practitioner carries responsibilities and
work to attain a high level of expression and there is no straight line to
getting recognition for all your hard work. That is why it is so important to
develop a strong inner sense of purpose and to nurture healthy behaviours in
order to support the work and the "playing" of music.
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