Sunday, March 5, 2017

11.) I'll Be Seeing You

Well hello there.  The 11th song of the 24 Standards project is I'll Be Seeing You by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal.

I was only vaguely familiar with this song before I heard the - wait for it...- Frank Sinatra/Tommy Dorsey recording.  I fell in love with the tune after listening to that a couple times.  I love how the melody keeps climbing in the last eight bars of the tune.  It is a widely recorded song, although I only found a couple recordings that included the verse; those by Vera Lynn and Tony Bennet.  Other recordings I listened to were Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Cassandra Wilson, Willie Nelson, and Brad Mehldau.   But it really came down to that Sinatra/Dorsey recording for me.  That's the one I hear in my head when I think of this song.

On another note...let the "mind games" begin.  The last two recordings (this one and Stardust) were a challenge.  For some reason I've been getting really hung up when I turn the recorder on.  Part of the problem is that I'm working alone.  In solo piano playing I'm required to make everything happen and I must cover all aspects of the music.   If I'm playing with a rhythm section, I can easily stop playing chords and just focus on playing a melody.  But here I have to spread my awareness fully across the instrument and fully across the entire soundscape.  That may be obvious, but it really increases my respect for the great solo pianists that I've checked out, especially when they improvise lines that are just as beautiful as if they were playing with a band.  But mostly my difficulties are from psyching myself out.  "Ok, I made it through that section, don't screw up the next part..." and you know what happens when you think like that.  In most of these recordings I play my arrangement, and return to the same arrangement after the improvised solo.  I often get a little nervous coming out of the improv, especially if there are a couple of challenging spots in the arrangement.  Oh, the joys of the mind.   It's my basic belief that with good focused work, I can practice my way out of any doubt or distraction.  My focus probably suffers sometimes because I'm so interested in (and often obsessed with!) many other things.  In the end though, I know that a broad range of interests helps the music.  If only I was a better at compartmentalizing.  If you have experience growing fruit trees please let me know.

My usual routine for this project is: 1.) Choose a song. 2.) Research it a bit.  3.) Seek out some recordings and listen.  4.) Write the arrangement of the song, usually focusing on the phrasing of the melody first.  5.) Learn my arrangement. 6.) Practice a complete version with an improvised solo.  7.) Record it.  8.) Post it on this here blog.

It's number six that I think is getting me hung up here.   I think I need to get number six happening earlier in the process to get over these mind games that I'm playing.  It takes awhile to know my arrangement well, but it also takes awhile to intimately know the form of the song for improvising.  I probably just need to take more time to do so.  What's the rush, right?

So there's a snippet of what can go on inside a musician's mind.  Of course there are many wonderful things going on in there too, and I'd be really happy if you think of wonderful things while you listen to this one.