Song number twenty is Sweet Lorraine by Cliff Burwell and Mitchell Parish. This is a song I've always liked, but never played. I was most familiar with the Hank Jones recording, from his record Tip Toe Tap Dance. That record was recommended to me years ago when I took a lesson with Geoffrey Keezer. This was back when I was in Eau Claire, WI. Geoffrey is from Eau Claire and his dad was my percussion teacher. Tip Toe Tap Dance is great. Actually I transcribed It's Me Oh Lord from that album and recorded it for one my 12 Films.
Sweet Lorraine is an old sounding song - it reminds me of Fats Waller. My goal in arranging was to honor that sound, but be myself too, and to keep the melody lyrical.
The arrangement was done for awhile, however I had a little life detour when it came to getting the recording done. My grandpa Charlie passed away on Thursday March 29. He was in hospice care from about March 23 I think. Since it was my Spring break, I decided to go to MN for the week. I was able to see grandpa while he was still alive, although he was zonked out on morphine. Still it was nice to be with family for that week. My grandpa and grandma had five kids, my dad being the oldest, and the family is really close. In fact I'm the only one of all the cousins that isn't still living in MN. It's difficult to live far away from them. It's great to see everyone when I go back, but I always feel like I've missed out on what's happening. I feel like an appendage, if that makes sense. We had a nice family reunion at my brother-in-laws micro brewery Back Channel Brewing Co, the day after grandpa passed. I was also able to spend a lot of quality time with my immediate family, including a stay at down at Dream Acres, the off-grid homestead of my brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew. We made maple syrup! We boiled 150 gallons of sap, which yielded just over 4 gallons of finished maple syrup. It was so cool to experience that and just hang out with them. They're special people.
I tried and tried, but I just couldn't get a decent take recorded of Sweet Lorraine before I left for that trip. So I had to keep it under my fingers while I was in MN, and I played it at least once a day there. So my family is primed for this recording I guess. When I returned home I had a sudden shitstorm of gardening to do, I guess since I missed Spring break time at home. Mainly it was that I had a shipment of bareroot fruit shrubs, asparagus crowns, and rhubarb root that arrived and they had to be put into the ground as soon as possible. Let me tell you, planting asparagus ain't a walk in the park - good thing it will produce for twenty years to more!
Finally after I got those plants in on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was ready to get back on the recording horse, so to speak. This recording was a struggle. I was doing takes for several days. There were a lot of mind games going on - a little "red light syndrome". I think though, that the struggle is mainly due to the fact that my standards have gone up. I'm not content with any significant "clams" in my performance, or any really off-sounding phrases in my improvised solo. It's improv, so I shouldn't really care too much. But again, I'm looking to satisfy the grandmothers with my playing of the melodies of these tunes, and I don't want them to suffer through any weird improvisation. I want the solos to fit the vibe and be just as lyrical as the song itself if possible. And I don't have the ability to edit these recordings - to take a solo from one take and melody from another, for example. So I've got to get a good take all the way through. I tend to freak out a bit when I've played a good clean melody and solo, then I've got to play my arrangement again for the out head without messing up too badly. It is very good practice. As long as I keep that perspective, it's all good. This performance isn't perfect, but I thought it had some nice things going on, so...here it is. Four more to go!