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Catching Up With

Lorraine Feather

By Published: February 14, 2012
LF: I used him years ago. He played a wonderful solo on Eddie's and my tune "I Know the Way to Brooklyn" (which Janis Siegel
Janis Siegel
Janis Siegel
b.1952
vocalist
often sings) on the Dooji Wooji (Sanctuary, 2005) album. I thought the violin would add a nice color for the first Tales recording session, which was "The Hole in the Map," "Off-the-Grid Girl" and "Where Is Everybody?" We loved what he brought to the party so much, and I started hearing him on almost everything else in my head.



Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
Tierney Sutton
b.1963
vocalist
wrote me after she heard the new CD, and among other things said how much she thought Charlie added to the sound. She told me that in working with Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
Hubert Laws
b.1939
flute
she has come to realize that her voice is more like a flute than any other instrument, and that she felt mine was most like a violin.

AAJ: Had you worked with guitarist Mike Miller before?

LF: My husband Tony [Morales] had worked with Mike a lot and describes him as a very original player. Mike is extremely well thought of by all the guys I know. His solo on "Get a Room" is exciting, and he gave the perfect flavor to "Out There" too, the misterioso vibe and what someone called the "AC/DC intro."

AAJ: Gregg Field
Gregg Field
b.1956
most often does the Shelly Berg sessions, right?

LF: Yes. They've worked together for many years, on Shelly's albums and for different artists. As with Shapiro, singing to a track with Gregg playing drums just feels right, and Gregg is always tuned in to what's happening with the song, the singer.

AAJ: "Get A Room" is one of your signature humorous songs that will likely get a lot of radio play—very clever lyrics, a composition that the players really swing on, and a nifty hook. What's the difference in the writing experience for "Get A Room" and a song like "Cowbirds"?

LF: As far as the lyric-writing went, I laughed when writing "Get A Room," and cried when writing "Cowbirds..." to me, the food chain itself is one of the saddest things in the world.

"Get a Room" was completed with Shelly on a stormy day in Tempe, AZ, in a small office at the university—with breaks to go out for coffee, food, cocktails. We also did "Out There" that day. I rarely see Shelly since he's become the head of the music department at the University of Miami, but as I've mentioned, because he writes so fast it works out. That song took up most of our time, and he said he knew it would. It goes to different places—there's that chant section that could have been either shouted or sung. We had so little contact between that time and the recording session, I was astounded it came out as well as it did arrangement-wise... though I should have known, because Shelly is Shelly.

Russ and I listened to several classical pieces I'd downloaded from iTunes before working on "Cowbirds." I loved a certain Grieg nocturne the most and he did too. At first we were going to not use one of the pieces, start from scratch, but when I went to his and Gerry's place to work on that and "The Usual Suspects," he said he thought maybe we should just adapt the Grieg composition. We went line by line, slowly—the lyrics were basically written and couldn't really follow the original melody, so Russ needed to create something new. For example, he added a different transition and harmonies in one spot, where it was awkward for me to sing following the existing changes. When we got together the next day, we had both come up with some other ideas, in my case lyrically. When collaborating like this, the words may change as the melody evolves.

AAJ: How did your collaboration with Stephanie Trick, the brilliant young stride pianist, come about?

LF: A bassist friend emailed me about her and I checked out her videos, was blown away that a diminutive young woman could play stride like that. I emailed her, she wrote back, I sent her a link to my stride cartoon and we exchanged albums. We became mutual fans and decided to meet in Mission Viejo, CA when she was down there in October 2010. We went through "You're Outa Here" [Feather's lyricized version of Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
's "The Minor Drag"] and it was insanely fun. I discovered that she had an extensive library of, among other things, James P. Johnson
James P. Johnson
James P. Johnson
1894 - 1955
piano
music, including 10 versions of "Carolina Shout," which I'd been interested in adapting.

I went and stayed with Steph and her folks in St. Louis last May—we worked on more material and did a short concert there. That's when we decided to do an album serially, making each of the songs available as we went along, so that I could have time to lyricize some new stride works. The first is "Caprice Rag" by James P., my version called "Pour on the Heat," which you can download from iTunes.

AAJ: What is the solo project you are working on?

LF: It's in the very early stages, but is another one with my co-writers. So far, no millipedes, lion-tamers or aliens.

Selected Discography

Lorraine Feather, Tales of the Unusual (Jazzed Media, 2012)


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