December 2011: Tour Diary & the Subtle Slowdown…

Ahhhhh back home again.

Its been a few days but I’m slowly returning to earth and NY, exhausted and rejuvenated from touring with Dutch reedist and composer Ab Baars’ Trio.  I’d been sneezing this for a few months and November 2011 we performed 15 concerts in Europe of all original material call the Invisible Blow.  The pieces, based on poems from folks as far flung as Muhammed Ali, Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams and Charles Bukowski, were a metaphor for the Invisble Blow of life.  Ab was so inspired by the book called On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates that he wanted to celebrate his 20 year anniversary of the Ab Baars Trio by putting together a program using boxing as a metaphor for life and getting older.  The inevitable Invisible Blow that we’ll all face one day. Ab also decided to augment the trio by adding guests such as myself and the great French hornist, Vincent Chancey.

In September, I was in Europe to perform some concerts in Germany and I met up with Ab for a couple days in Amsterdam to talk over the scores for the project. Leaving this meeting fascinated with the concepts he had in mind,  glad too that it would be a great challenge for me.  My voice would need to accomplish all sorts of interesting instructions that I wanted to master.  Wonderful knowing too that we’d have so many concerts to focus on the material, lots of space to explore different possibilities provided Ab as a bandleader was open.  I couldn’t have imagined how open he’d turn out to be.

Early in November, Vincent Chancey and I arrived on the same flight – two days ahead of our rehearsal schedule, some time to ease into the city and our work before beginning to play.  Ab invited the entire group for a band dinner the night before our first rehearsal as a way to break the ice, a way to see how the music will go since it started at the dinner table, meeting bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven, whom I’d known from afar almost as long as I’d lived in the Netherlands.  The opportunity to get to know Martin up close was such a special one since he turns out to be not only an amazing and unique drummer but an insanely funny and special character who kindly and w/o any trouble took care of one of my bags when we were moving around Europe.  He watched it like it was a small child.

From the start of the rehearsals, it was clear that although Ab had strong ideas and direction for the pieces, Martin and Wilbert felt open to challenge Ab’s perspective regarding their particular role or the function of the piece entirely.  Ab reacted to this in a beautful way, listening, usually trying suggestions to see if they work.  He also invited Vincent and I to speak up about what we thought worked or not.  He saw our roles not just as musicians but also composers, integral to the development of the music.  I felt more committed to the music the more comfortable I was to say what I felt.  As we got into the first concerts, Ab loved it when we took initiative and tried things on the band stand.  Before each concert, we talked down the music and Ab would point out things he loved from the night before and new parameters for the concert we’re about to do.  He’d also reinforce any idea he wanted retained.  So no concert was ever the same.  We never knew what he’d ask for or what would be OK.  A nice way of being on edge and keeping the music fresh.

First to Krakow… which I found to be a magical place.  Misty days, cold staying in an oddly palatial hotel with high ceilings and chandeliers.  It was like being in the middle of a spy novel, with my gun at the ready, just in case I was discovered. Walking through the town at night, with its candlelit bars and sultry people speaking a sexy language gave the city a sensual air for me.  Plus our concert there was sold out and hot.  Then it was on to Warsaw…then Berlin.  Berlin I caught a cold that didn’t go away until I returned to NY and that made the tour difficult in spots.  Exhilarating too since I had to come up with new solutions to deal with the pieces. Despite this, the Berlin concert was incredible I thought and we had another full house. German pianist Achim Kaufmann came out to check the show, loved it and hung out with us afterwards.   An early morning call the next day took us to the Austrian Alps. First Ulrichsberg, where we played a lovely concert in the Austrian countryside.  Then off to St. Johann in Tirol, the ski resort town high in the Alps.  This concert was also wonderful and we celebrated Ab’s birthday at midnight with a dance party that Vincent DJ’d from his Ipod.  We drank and danced the night away and walked back to our Chalet of a hotel under a clear night sky full of stars and planets. Knowing we’d suffer on the trip the next day to play in Vienna.

Oh Vienna.  What can I say?  I hadn’t been there in 16 years and as beautiful a city as I have ever seen, its a place with a sinister undercurrent for me.  I can tell you stories.  But not now.  Krakow is sexy, Vienna is sinister. Despite all that. the music was inspired this night and the club, the Blue Tomato, was sublime. Packed house and such an enthusiastic audience for Ab’s birthday concert. Austrian Pianist Elisabeth Harnik made the 2 1/2 hour drive from Graz to hang with us and the parents of an Austrian vocal student I had in New York made it to the concert as well! The worst thing that happened to us on the tour happened in Vienna.  Wilbert de Joode’s wallet got stolen while we were waiting for trams, scrambling to catch our train to Ljubljana in Slovenia. Some bad info had us caught out there and Wilbert suffered the brunt of it. Fortunately he was able to get his credit cards blocked as soon as possible and besides a few personal things, they didn’t get away with much of value.

Safely on the train south the Ljubliana, Wilbert shaken but not stirred we made it in one piece and went to one of the loveliest venues of the tour.  I was sad not to see the city in daylight as it looked incredible from the glimpes I caught and we were taking a night train out of there to go to Romania.  So no chance of seeing it this trip…great concert there as well and a nice turnout.  My cold was in full swing and it was the most difficult concert of the tour for me.  I had to renegotiate everything.  But the solutions were interesting and changed the music yet again.  Ab thought we sounded most like a symphony orchestra on this night.  I was bummed too since I’d been in touch with the promoter there some years before for the FVE.  But in the end he was very happy with the concert and it was good to meet him. He’s a funny guy!

Now the night train.  I’d only taken a night train once before from Barcelona to a little town called Lugo in Galicia (Northwestern part of Spain).  That was OK since it was just two if us and we had an entire cabin and we were’t crossing any international borders. This time we’d go to Hungary through locales such as Serbia and Croatia ending in Budapest to connect to our train to Debrecen, the closest point to the Romanian border in Hungary.  It was the longest travel day we had and with a cold, the enclosed air was a drag. Not to mention the tiny sleeping compartment.

When we got on the train, Martin, Wilbert and myself – all slightly claustrophobic and not quite ready to hit the sack made way to the restaurant car, in the hopes that we’d find something small to eat or drink.  When we arrived there opened up a whole new world, looking like a car out of the Orient Express…warm reddish lighting, beautiful drapes and a mirrored ceiling! The kitchen was open and the chef was willing to make anything on the sizable menu.  The guys ordered a bottle of wine, I drank shnappes and Wilbert and I shared a portion Hungarian Gypsy pork chops which tasted amazing (big lesson on this trip – you can eat WELL on Eastern European trains; Poland’s trains also had good eats!).  The 3 of us hung out, talking about Amsterdam, traveling, the Engels (famous Dutch drumming family) and more.  We could have stayed there all night but got kicked out when we crossed into Serbia.  The restaurant had to close and we had to go to bed.  Strange sleeping in a train…throughout the night, I’d get up (we had about 6 border checks) and look out to see freight car after freight car that we rode between.  No way to know if you were in Boston or Hungary as it turns out. Strange feeling moving along on rail tracks surrounding by Industrial…whatever.

Our final concert on the road was in Oradea, Romania, in the heart of Transalvania.  A eerily beautiful place.  With a special frost that I’ve never seen anywhere – white frost stuck to trees, bushes and grass – in the middle of the day.  On the way back to the border to fly out of Budapest, it was so beautiful to see and I could imagine why Dracula hates the daylight with this blinding light coming from the trees as well as the sky.  Another full and receptive audience, a great hang afterwards with traditional Romanian cuisine. mmmmmm!

On Thanksgiving we all flew back to Amsterdam from Budapest, weary and wired.  Bleary-eyed, I turned in early after Ig’s lovely traditional Dutch Stampot dish that was waiting when we got in from the airport. The next day we played the 2nd to last concert in Den Haag.  Interesting place that filled up and we got a standing ovation!  I felt totally free in the music at this point, leading up to the final concert in the Bimhuis, where we had a full house too!  Full of friends and colleagues and people I hadn’t seen before.  Afterwards reedist Michael Moore spun Latin grooves in the Bar area and it was a great night to end the tour with.  The next morning, an early and final call to record the project at the Bim, san audience.  Following this, Ig and Ab hosted a lunch party at their home as a beautiful end to an incredible time.

I haven’t had a more profound musical experience to date.  I’ve worked alot, toured, been away on long journey’s with new musicians. Some situations were glorous, some where insane and some downright lame.  But this experience was earth-shaking in that I discovered I can do so much more.  And someone I respect incredibly saw that and wrote music to bring that out.  Ab  didn’t do that intentionally perhaps but that’s what happened.  Then there was this unique sonic atmosphere to play in.  Transparent and warm, most of the time.  Then the camaraderie between all of us in the group, we simply got along. There was an openness from the start, the air was clear to say whatever.  How wonderful is that? Getting along, laughing, each person feeling at ease to be themselves. Then the music that Ab wrote which seemed tailor-made to all of the participants involved.  A wardrobe we got to wear and reorganize to our choosing until Ab points out that this outfit is to be worn on this occasion.  It was fascinating to discover how much real music comes out when there is no bullshit.  No competition.   Just sharing.  I feel alive in a way I haven’t felt in a long time, I feel like I’d been given a gift.

Now I am back home…reflecting.  Taking it easy and reconfiguring new things for next year.  No gigs in town this month but lots happening in the coming months.  Shortly you can read about it on the Performance page of the FV site.  I’ll be back with more info closer to the end of the year too.   Thanks for reading and I thank the creator of the universe for Music.

One way of expressing how the tour affected me is to check out the words of Weldon Kees’ called Small Prayer.  This poem was used in one of the pieces we performed and this really resonated with me.  I think with all of us.  Will let you know when the record comes out as well!

SMALL PRAYER

Change, move dead clock

That this fresh day will break

with dazzling light to these sick eyes

Burn glare old sun, so long unseen

that time may find its sound again

and cleanse whatever it is that a wound remembers

After the healing ends

-Weldon Kees

Thank you for reading and Happy Holidays to you!

Fay

Learn more about the Invisible Blow at www.stichtingwig.com

 

You can read a review of the BIMHUIS concert here.  You can check out a picture diary to glimpses along the tour by your truly here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Tracks this Fall 2011

Labor day weekend already.  Really? As slow as I took this summer, I’m still surprised its gone so soon.  That means life is about to pick up in my little music world.

And I’m so excited, feeling better in tune with the effect of music on us humans. I don’t know if I understand better per se, just observing more and filing the results.  turns out subways stations are a great lab to listen and see. A few months ago I wrote a piece based on hearing a cellist in the subway. Then a few days ago, I missed an L train, already late to where I was off to.  Seeing I had to wait 10 minutes for the next train annoyed me but there was this music. A big tall guy with a baby face strumming a guitar singing tunes from Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc. The now quiet platform gave me a seat on the bench not too far from the guitarist.  He went into ‘Creep’ from Radiohead. He just strummed the chords but he slowed the tempo down considerably and sang the words plaintively.  Those words soared and expressed what we all feel we are at times.  I’m glad I had on shades because I choked up. Gradually people moved on to the platform and were just as mesmerized, opening their wallets.  In silence.  Me too.  I’m still carrying around his version of ‘Creep’.  Anyone who thinks music doesn’t matter could observe these happenings.  The molecular structure of the structure you’re in changes shape when music is played within it.

Having some time this summer made it easy to appreciate this more.  Its so important to step back and observe when I can, living in NYC makes that hard. I relished this time since I know it’s going to get busy in what seems to be an exciting period full of new stories and of course I’ll share them here!  For now, I’d like to let you in on some news and what’s in store for the rest of the year.

Next week, I’m headed to Berkeley, CA to teach at the JazzSchool.  It will be my FIRST time to the West Coast to perform and teach a workshop – you can check out all the info here.  The West Coast has offered up a warm welcoming mat, rolled out with a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle by esteemed journalist Lee Hildebrand.  It’s online now and you can read that here! I’ll be playing with bassist Lisa Mezzacappa & guitarist John Finkbeiner – playing some originals and free improv, for sure. The following day, on September 11th, I’ll run a MasterClass talking about the “Creative Option” for vocalists.  There are some spots available. Check here for more info.

Shortly after I head to Germany for a mini “Breezing Blues through Germany” tour with pianist Christian Bleiming, we play a couple clubs and make an appearance on the Coesfeld Jazz & Blues Festival as well.  I’ll meet  musician/composers Ab Baars and Ig Henneman in Amsterdam to start working out the music of the Invisible Blow, the tour I’m so honored to be a part of in November 2011. The Invisible Blow is a celebration of 20 years of the Ab Baars Trio( with bassist Wilbert DeJoode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven), presenting new compositions by Ab Baars inspired by: William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski, Hans Faverey, Anneke Brassinga, Aischylos, Joyce Carol Oates, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Weldon Kees, Robert Creeley, Seamus Heaney. We’ll tour Europe making stops in Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Romania and the Netherlands.  We record the project at the end do for release at a later date. Ab Baars has one of the most gut-wrenching tenor tones, full of brass and knuckles.  And as a composer, his music is some of the most inspired I’ve heard for keeping the urgency of the ‘free’ while writing melodies that outline the structure beautifully.  It’s going to be a thrilling musical ride in which I’m sure I’ll learn a lot, be challenged and inspired.  Learn more about what the Invisible Blow is about, the tour and where we’ll be here.

In between the European forays, I’ll play in the Anthony Braxton Festival, a 4-day extravaganza from October 5-8, 2011.  I’m in The Ghost Trance Choir on October 7th and the World Premiere of Trillium J on October 8th!  All happening at Roulette.  The programming is incredible, so many sides of Anthony Braxton will be on display.  How cool is that?  In addition, Trillium E, the first recorded opera of Anthony Braxton’s will be released in October 2011.  Learn more about that and all things Anthony at the Tricentric Foundation.

The Evolving Music Series will be back up and running in October as well, still at Clemente Soto Velez but temporarily housed in the 2nd floor theatre until mid-November when we resume the Series in the Gallery space. Also check out InGardens, starting up in September through October for the third year in a row. Bring creative experimental music to some of the city’s community gardens.  Keep up with both events here. Later in October, Austrian pianist Elisabeth Harnink comes to town and we’ll continue to develop the trio started at MusicOMI in 2010 when we were fellows (along with UK bassist Dominic Lash).  We’re calling it ReDDeer.  We’ll explain in person why! Please check the PERFORMANCE page on the FV website for firm DEETS.

KAISO STORIES had a great review in Cadence by Jerome Wilson, where he says “Victor is proving to be one of the most extraordinary vocalists on the scene today and here she comes off as actress, sorceress, and temptress, working an area of rough, declamatory improvisations in the tradition of Jeanne Lee and Abbey Lincoln but with her own burning passion and galvanic force.”

Thanks for reading.  Here’s hoping that the tracks you’re making are yours as much as possible.  Love and music.

Fay

 

June 2011 is BUSTING Open and Up

Hey Friends,

It appears that 2011 has reached its halfway mark and I can still remember clearly the beginning of this year!  Time is moving so fast and summer is almost here.  Feels like it is here since temps have hit 90 already and NYC gets ready for its jazz and blues summer with music in bigger and open spaces, where just walking by gets you an earful.  One of the great things of living in this city.  I hope everyone who reads this post and lives here too gets out and takes in as much of it as possible.  I sometimes forget to myself, so busy with work sometimes. But I decided this summer, I’ll try to be out more and enjoy what NYC has to offer. Its a treasure and with funding getting cut more and more, there is no guarantee that all these wonderful cultural events we take for granted will be here in years to come.  Just to name a small sampling, check out Central Park’s Summerstage, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park Bandshell, the Undead Jazz Festival and of course the Vision Festival, of which I am fortunate to be a part for the second year in a row.  And speaking of that, there’s a lot of musical diversity in my gig list this month, because of this city and the vibrant, diverse scene here.  There’s so much going on that I’m going to get right to it!

Coming up in a few, on FRIDAY, JUNE 3 2011 to be exact the FVE hits the early set at the 55BAR.  We had a thrilling night last month on Frank Oteri’s 21st Century Schizoid Music ar Cornelia Street Cafe where the FVE did a double bill with my Jazz Vault project (where we did a complete set of Herbie Nichols compositions) and the FVE performed the new music we’re working towards recording.  We’re getting the music stronger and tighter and we’ll continue digging in this Friday.  So come on down!

FRIDAY, JUNE 3 2011
The FAY VICTOR ENSEMBLE
The 55BAR

FV-voice, compositions
Anders Nilsson-guitar, effects
Ken Filiano-bass, effects
Michael TA Thompson-drums,percussion
6PM-9PM
NO Cover, 2 drink minimum

Then I’ll be on the Vision Festival as part of Vocal Flight with vocalists Kyoko Kitamura and Jean Carla Rodea and bassist Filiano and drummer Tyshawn Sorey filling out the ensemble.  A combination of composed pieces and free music…dancing on the edge.  We kick off the night and what a night it is.

MONDAY, JUNE 6 2011

VOCAL FLIGHT
7:00PM – 8:00PM
Kyoko Kitamura, Jean Carla Rodea, FV – voice
Ken Filiano-bass
Tyshawn Sorey-drums
Abrons Arts Center Main Stage
466 Grand Street between
Pitt St and Abraham Pl
Door:$30  Event Pass:$140  Students & Seniors:$20
nearest subway East Broadway or Delancey on the F, Essex St on the J,M,Z
complete schedule – www.visionfestival.org

On SUNDAY JUNE 12 2011 join myself and percussionist Satoshi Takeshi for an intimate concert at the loft of the Connie Crothers. We’ll delve into words and textures focusing on sound exploration. I had the amazing honor of performing with the esteemed poet and writer Amiri Baraka last month on a beautiful concert put together by percussionist Reggie Nicholson.  The sound of words and drums alone is truly special and I look forward to continue this exploration with Satoshi. Perhaps we’ll have a special guest as well.

CONCERT IN CONNIE’S LOFT
at the home of pianist extraordinaire Connie Crothers
Presents: DUO-Fay Victor/Satoshi Takeshi
SUNDAY, JUNE 12, 2011

3PM
Contribution $10
475 Kent Avenue (between Division Avenue and South 11th Street),
#410 Brooklyn, NY 11211(get full directions in the performance section)

Then PLEASE Save the Date of SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2011 is the CD-Release for KAISO STORIES!!

The record has gotten some great reviews and we’re thrilled at the reception of the music and of Calypso!  So please join myself and Other Dimensions in Music for this special event…

Some words we’ve gotten on KAISO STORIES:

“While the record is steeped in Victor’s heritage, even the accents and inflections she grew up hearing, it’d be a mistake to call KAISO STORIES a calypso record. It’s free jazz with source material and as such is an unusual and wonderful album.”
-Kurt Gottschalk , The New York City Jazz Record

9/10 – “Conjuring up the spirit of Jeanne Lee, Fay Victor speaks, sings, and wails like a horn through variations of eight Caribbean tunes from the 1930s through early ’70s. A wonderful combination, simultaneously true to its origins and entirely new.”
-Laurence Joseph, Montreal Mirror

***** “Victor’s voice sonically melds with Carter and Campbell, becoming a third horn, adding compelling counterpoint throughout. In a civilized world with a forward thinking music industry and curious listenership, in a culture a where Art was as valued as everyone likes to say it is,KAISO STORIES would be a crossover sensation, charting for months and finding a grateful audience that no Improvised music had found before. Until such time, it is one for the initiated to treasure.”
Stanley Zappa, Free Jazz

Happening at The STONE – SUNDAY, JUNE 19 2011

OTHER DIMENSIONS IN MUSIC w/FAY VICTOR
10PM
FV-voice
Roy Campbell-trumpets and more
Daniel Carter-reeds and more
William Parker-bass and more
Charles Downs-drums

www.thestonenyc.com

The last gig of the month goes somewhere else again.  Doing our semi annual double bill hang, myself and Kyoko Kitamura have a very different meeting from the Vision Festival gig, pairing ourselves off with complementary partners.  Kyoko with dancer Mark Lamb and myself with bassist Ken Filiano. Not sure where we’ll go and that’s definitely part of the fun.

DOUBLE BILL: Kyoko Kitamura/Mark Lamb + FV/Ken Filiano
SATURDAY JUNE 25, 2011
5C CAFE
Avenue C and 5th St.
$10 suggested donation

8PM
Kyoko Kitamura-voice/piano
Mark Lamb-spoken words, movement
9PM
FV-voice
Ken Filiano-bass

Phew! With the exception of a couple things, I’m going to take it a little easy this summer gig-wise, focusing on workshops I’ll be teaching in NYC and California in a few months and on a wonderful project with Dutch composer/musician Ab Baars.  Much more on all of this soon. Thanks so much to reading and I hope to see you in the park listening to music or at one of the shows.

Happy coming summer,
Fay

 

Teaching a 4-Day Jazz Vocal Workshop this August!

Dear friends and students,

This coming August 2011, I’m happy to once again to lead the Jazz Vocal Workshop of the New York Jazz Workshop running from THURSDAY, AUGUST 11 through SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2011.

The workshop will focus on subjects such as: Vocal Styling, Phrasing, Repertoire, Ear Training, Improvisation, Fundamentals of Vocal Technique/Vocal Health, Diction, History, Charting your own Course and much more!  Please check here for more info and prices and spread the word if you can as well. Feel free to get in touch directly at lessons@fayvictor.com if you have any questions.

 

CHICAGO!!

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow morning I head to Chicago, IL to perform for the first time, doing a couple of concerts in town with Anders Nilsson and we’re uber-excited!!  I just love Chicago.  About five years ago my husband and I went there for Labor Day weekend just to hang and it turned out to be one of the best mini-vacations we ever had.  Beautiful city, vibrant cultural scene, incredible history and a major hub for that part of the country. Plus going out the hear music was sublime.  Audiences seemed to be there for the music, not any opportunities for themselves.  Audiences also took the music very seriously.  I loved the vibe and the openness in this HUGE city where the first skyscraper was born. I had such a good time that if it didn’t get so darn cold and windy, I could envision myself moving there.

So I can’t say it enough how thrilled I am to be going there and if you have anyone in the nabe, please let them know what’s up and here’s where we’ll be: On THURSDAY, APRIL 8 we’ll play at the Elastic and then the legendary Velvet Lounge on FRIDAY, APRIL 9 performing pieces from THE FREESONG SUITE, the upcoming release of BARE and free improv forays.  We’ll be joined by a couple of Chicago ‘s finest for the proceedings as well – cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm joins us at the Velvet and drummer Tim Daisy (+ reedist Dave Rempis joining in the 2nd set) at the Elastic.

TIMEOUT CHICAGO was generous enough to spotlight our visit here and we can’t wait to get there.

Happy Spring time to you and stay tuned for more postings talking about Trillium E (Anthony Braxton’s opera), upcoming gigs and more.

Best wishes and enjoy the sun,

Fay

Happy Halloween + November 2009 Offerings!

SDC11779

Dear Friends,

Here’s hoping all is well with you on this Hallowed Eve!

Halloween and fright are certainly in the air and I got some of it out my system last night with a great gig at the 55Bar with the ExPosed Blues Duo and cellist Tomas Ulrich.  We certainly unleashed some demons and we hope made everybody feel alright too. Thanks to all the folks that came through – it was a wild and  wonderful night.

And now with November approaching,  I wanted to let you know about some performances coming up in in town.  First up this Tuesday, November 3 as part of the Evolving Voice Vocal Series that I curate, I’ll debut there as a bandleader of sorts.  Lets call it a small collective of 2 with Adam Lane on bass and we’re calling in undetermined. destination. A week before Thanksgiving, guitarist Dom Minasi and I give it another duo go as well at Le Grande Dakar as part of the Infrequent Seams Series run by James Iglenfritz.  We’re there on Thursday, November 19th and on Monday, November 23rd, I’ll be will be at the 55 Bar with the Jazz Vault Project! It’s our first gig in almost a year…looking forward to this reunion. And lookiing forward to seeing you out… Stop by the GUGs page to get more details on the performances in November.

In other news, the FreeSong Suite is doing well – hitting Number #11 on the CMJ Jazz Charts this week and more reviews are coming soon plus the FayVictor.com website seems to have found a permanent layout home.  I mean it. If you’re reading this post…you’ve at least taken a look at the front page.  Categories, features and more will be flushed out in the coming weeks so keep coming by to see the changes and to keep in touch with what’s going on. Feedback is always welcome…and thanks for reading.

Warm greetings,
Fay