Throwback to Jazz Country
Jazz Country was released in 2014 and features my friends Jesse Lewis and Matt Aronoff. We had been performing together as a trio for at least 3 years before we recorded this and these arrangements came about over that time. We had a lot of really exciting special guests join us for the session; Nellie McKay sang and played ukulele, Marty Ehrlich played alto saxophone, Anat Cohen played clarinet, Nadje Noordhuis played trumpet, Oded Lev-Ari played piano and Gary Versace played accordion. Matt Wilson produced the session and Oded Lev-Ari did all the post-production work. We recorded at Sear Sound in NYC with Brian Montgomery engineering and mixing and Mark Wilder mastered.
Working with Jesse and Matt on this record was an absolute joy and we had a great time performing these tunes live for audiences across the States and Canada.
There are so many favorites on this one. I love all the guest performances on this record. Each one was a pleasure to work with and brought such beautiful musical ideas and great vibes to the session. Gary Versace’s accordion work on “Penguin Dance” delights me to this day.
As I mentioned, we had been working on these tunes for a while before going into the studio so we were very comfortable with each other and the music. I’m so glad we decided to record Jesse singing on “Calling You.” It’s something he started doing live and I loved it so much. When it came time to record, I knew I wanted to capture it on record as well. Jesse’s work on this makes my hair stand on end every time I hear it. Beautiful.
Matt’s solo on Smile is maybe my favorite bass solo ever. It’s beautifully melodic and it’s rare that I can sing along with a bass solo but this one gets me every time.
Small world connections:
Dominique Eade was my voice teacher at New England Conservatory. I fell in love with her tune, “Go Gently to the Water” after hearing her perform it. I wanted Oded to be on the record and thought it would be a perfect duet for us. Oded is known mostly as an arranger, composer and producer but he plays the piano so beautifully. It was such a pleasure to be able to play this tune with him. Also, to sing a tune by a woman who inspires me so much and taught me so many valuable lessons was really special.
I mentioned that I recorded a Nellie McKay tune on “Lovefool” and I was so excited when she agreed to be on this record. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years and this was a dream come true.
“Song for the Mira” is a song I grew up singing in choirs in Toronto, Canada. It was inducted into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame this year.
Behind the scenes:
“Wallflower Lonely” features Nellie McKay on ukulele and yours truly on saxophone. In case you didn’t know, I actually went to New England Conservatory as an alto sax player. I decided to focus on my singing by the end of my time there but continued to play occasionally. I wanted to try to play on this tune and we recorded it at the end of a day where no one was really left in the studio. Luckily, Matt Aronoff was there to give me guidance as I recorded. He mostly told to me to play less. If you are a musician you understand how wise and helpful those words can be. Thank you, Matt.
“Je Danse Avec La Neige” is a tune that I wrote lyrics to with music by my friend Aaron Kotler. He called me a few months after I had Ethan and asked if I could write some lyrics in French for a commercial pitch he was submitting. I was starved to use my brain after 2 months of baby-land and said yes immediately. I needed some help with the grammar but managed to wipe the cobwebs out and get these lyrics happening. It was for a Macy’s commercial so the working title was “Macy’s Backstage” for the longest time. We didn’t get the commercial but I’m happy because it meant I got to keep the tune for myself!
Check out this Spotify playlist of the versions that inspired our takes on these songs.