Friday, May 6, 2016

Introducing 24 Standards

Hello readers and welcome to my latest home recording internet sharing project.  This is the next in a series of similar projects that have transpired:

May 2010 through April 2011:  The Daily Improvisation Project
May 2011 through April 2012:  The Weekly Extended Improvisation Project
May 2012 through April 2013:  The Weekly Composition Project
May 2013 through April 2014:  The Messiaen Project
May 2014 through April 2015:  12 Films With Music
May 2015 through April 2016:  Hiatus...

These projects began as self studies and that notion remains at their core.  However, they evolved to become quite fulfilling and important elements of my artistic output.  The Daily Improvisation Project and Weekly Extended Improvisation Project files have been taken down because they were taking up too much space on my web host's servers.  But the outlines of those projects remain.  The rest of the projects are fully archived and are viewable and listenable in their entirety.

This past year was a break in the internet projects.  If you've been following my stuff, you probably know that my wife and I relocated to from Brooklyn to Beacon, NY.  I've told the story before (see the 12 Films With Music blog for a post on this), so I won't go into detail here.  I'll just say that it was a major life transition - changing location, becoming a homeowner, getting to know a new community, finding work.  And most significantly, learning what it means to be an artist living in Beacon, NY.   This has been a period of gestation and re-orentation, but it wasn't void of music by any means.  I've been working on a solo piano record which you'll hear about soon enough.  It's been an incredible and challenging journey, and I've learned so much in the process.

They say you're a product of your environment.  For me this is definitely true.  My 14 years in NYC shaped me in so many ways.  And the last 9 months of life in Beacon have done the same.  Beacon is in some ways similar to Hopkins, MN, where I spent my entire childhood.  The towns are about the same size, and both have nice Main Streets, among other similarities.   Because of this and other factors, I'm feeling much closer to how I felt in Hopkins.  It's a welcomed change.  My wife Akiko and I travel to the city three times a week to teach lessons, so we still spend a good amount of time there.  But my time in Beacon has been wonderful.  I'm really enjoying a new set of environmental influences as well as some mental artistic space.

Now onto the 24 Standards Project.  This is the part of the project were I speculate as to what will happen.  I've almost always been surprised at how differently things develop in these projects.  My speculations are often pretty off, which is fun.

Last summer we spent about two months moving around the region, subletting and staying with friends, waiting to close on our house.   It was a stressful time because there were so many wildcard factors at play and because we really didn't have a home base.  But it also was a time of freedom.  Life was somewhat on hold.  During this time, for no particular reason, I began working out some stuff on some Standard American Songbook tunes.  I wrote some solo piano arrangements.  It was enjoyable, and I learned a lot by doing it.  That period was the seed for this new project.  As Spring is upon us now, it's time for that seed to germinate.  It's time to launch this project.  I am ready to find out what I've got in me within this format, and share it with you.  I missed sharing work on a regular schedule this past year.

This project will be structured somewhat differently.  Rather than follow a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule of posting, I'm am simply vowing to do 24 pieces.  That's two a month for a year, if the timing works out that way.  Maybe it will get done sooner than a year, maybe it will take longer.  But I'm interested in getting to know the songs I choose very deeply.  So I wanted to leave the timing flexible so that I can take more time if I need it.  Simply stated, I Jesse Stacken will record and share 24 Standard American Songbook Tunes on this here blog.

I've decided to manage the recordings with YouTube, embedding videos of audio recordings into the blog posts.

I will notify you of new posts via Twitter, and my Facebook Artist Page.  If you have a Blogger account, you can also follow the blog and see updates whenever you use Blogger.  But the best way to get notifications, if you should like them, is to sign up for email notifications by entering your email address in the field in the margin on the right.  This email list is separate from my newsletter email list that I use to send out concert announcements and things.  I actually have no control over the blog email list- I don't know who's signed up and I don't ever see your email addresses, so have no fear.   Note that in the emails you get, you'll be able to read my comments, but the YouTube embedded player will not be included.  You'll have to click on the post title or the blog title in the email to visit the blog itself where you'll find the player.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to sharing this experience with you.  Check back soon for the first post of 24 Standards.

Akiko, Minnie, and me at Little Stony Point in Cold Spring NY - Thanksgiving 2015

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