It occurred to me how humans resemble chrysalises ~ in our limited human bodies, struggling to understand infinity with our limited mental capacities. Coastal Salish wisdom teaches that rather than being ‘the end’, death is simply the Great Change. It provides a chance for Spirit to unfold to its greatest potential. And that all things connect.
UNTRAPT is dedicated to ‘King’ Leah Gold and Elizabeth ‘Detonator Beth’ Lawrence, my amazing collaborators in Les Voix Vulgaires. May they rest in peace, and cavort at will!
Throughout the album, Denio takes the listener on a stylistic adventure. No two tracks are the same; there is no one definite genre that can be defined here. The listener is treated to multi-tiered acapella (Northampton), a no-man’s-land between jazz and,,, something else (Mumbai), psychedelic rock (“Convergency Vortex”), forays into Brian Eno-ish ambience (“Washington State”), and other genre defying musical statements. Yet, as diverse as this music is, the entire collection works beautifully together as a coherent whole. Denio’s skills as a composer, arranger, and performer are astonishing.
Prolific composer, multi-instrumentalist and all around fantastic teacher Patrick Grant put out a call for folks to contribute to his new conceptual piece, Points of Seeing. His specs were specific ~ follow to a certain tonality, and record tracks at specific tempi. 20 people responded. Since there were so many guitarists, I decided to create my parts on clarinet, haha!
Patrick released a daily rough mix for the last ten days of of 2020.
Back in the Dark Ages before the Internaught, I played a solo concert at Lounge Ax Chicago. Thanks to Matt Kolata, this slew of my rather strange songs for accordion, bass, saxophone and voice has found the light of day.
Though not perfect, it’s a fantastic testament to the times in which we lived… Clinton had just beaten Bush Sr. in the national election, and I was on a Knitting Factory tour opening up for Negativland.
It seemed to be getting worse and worse. In the last few days of the year, brilliant improvising bassist and impresario Lelio Giannetto succumbed to COVID in Palermo, my boyfriend K left me, and Ugi the sad cat spent the last days of 2020 soaking up Reiki in my lap before we euthanized him yesterday.
The Coastal Salish say that every day is your birthday. I decided that every day must be the New Year as well. My mood started lifting.
This year I’ve discovered that ping pong and music are excellent remedies for soul-ache heartbreak and Quarantin-itis in general.
PING PONG. Portable ping pong sets are inexpensive and available online, and the nets fit on almost any flat surface, so you can play inside or out. My musical pal Annie O’Neill and I have been developing our all-weather nocturnal ping pong skills this year. The balls take on their own personalities with the changing weather. 35 degrees with black ice on the table? Strong gusts of wind? Extra sequoia needles on the table? That adds fun to the game! On New Year’s Eve, we played ping pong under the sequoia with a nice blazing fire.
MUSIC. Even if you don’t normally play, try making some noise ~ unload the dishwasher, listen to the sound of the soles of your shoes on various surfaces (and try skipping or galloping! super fun). Make sounds and explore your voice. Yawn!
Annie O’Neill and I played an actual concert in December in the beautiful StudiO space on Vashon Island for the Vashon Live channel!
Patrick Grant’s new conceptual piece ‘Points of Seeing‘ features 20 collaborators! There are mostly guitarists, so I created a bunch of clarinet tracks according to his specs. Patrick’s been creating new mixes daily from the plethora of material. My favorite mix is called Any Given Moment.
Listen below to an excerpt of my new piece with Roberto Fega, with words from Noel Franklin’s poem Diagnosis. I came up with it a few days after K called it quits on our anniversary, and instantly felt better!
Have you seen the heart / Have you been to the heart / The heart is a fighter, not a lover / brutal as a battle front / it beats our blood
Robert and I call this track CUORE.
Love to all creatures great and small ~ and enjoy this next spin around the sun!
This fledgling crow often accompanies me when I walk to the store. It is always silent. I can hear its feathers rustling as it flies past my head, lands perfectly, turns and looks at me. Again and again. It started following me shortly after my friend and colleague Noel Franklin died unexpectedly in late May, 2020. She was a prolific and brilliant poet and graphic artist based in Seattle, and was living in our home as the Pandemic started. She had been grappling with alcoholism and was diagnosed bipolar in the last years of her life. But that didn’t stop her from creating an impressive body of work. She often drew crows, her animal totem. Some of Noel’s ancestors hail from the Cherokee and Shoshone nations. ww.noelfranklinart.com/Home.html
I took a walk in Seahurst Park in Burien Washington in the week after I’d found Noel’s body. It was our favorite place to ‘forest bathe’. According to Coastal Salish custom, ancestors reside in these woods overlooking the Salish Sea (Puget Sound). This melody took form during that walk, the Salish Sea was a field of sparkling diamonds, and the ancestors were present.
I made a simple arrangement for voice, with accordion and clarinet accompaniment, and my Seattle Composers Alliance colleagues Tara Forth and Steve Kirk further orchestrated the piece. Steve Kirk produced the final mix of the song.
This summer was mild, and I carved out 4 plots for my fall garden, it started warming up and BOOM! The mass of forest fire smoke arrived last week. At the moment, Seattle is one of the most polluted cities in the world. We are praying to the weather gods that soon we can breathe freely again. This weather causes Covid symptoms, yuck.
On a positive note ~ my 27th week of quarantine started out playing an actual live stream concert with the wonderful folks in Hound Dog Taylor’s Hand at the Royal Room on September 12. I was honored to chime in with the likes of Jeffery Taylor: guitar / John Seaman: contrabass and Mark Ostrowski: drums. Super fun!
I’ve been composing songs for cities where I’ve spent more than a month. I meditate on the place, and also use the statistics of those infected/dead in each place to inform the composition.
As my friend Paul Chioketen Wagner says, songs are crafty hunters, waiting around in the atmosphere for the right person to bring them to life. All Things Connect appeared this week. Starting as a meditation on Ljubljana Slovenia, it slowly accumulated Balkan elements (time signature, instruments, melodies), but at the same time wanted to be a living room dance party song. Balkan EDM in 9! Meanwhile, I have been reviewing the wisdom of Chief Sealth, who sagely told us ‘All Things Connect’.