Singing Note By Note

I once heard Bobby McFerrin decode all of vocal improvisation with the direction “Start with one note, then go on to the next.” 

As infuriating as it is simple, it is also very true…and addictive. I love the freedom of it, I love the flow of it, I love the art of it, and I love the surprise of it! Though my music career may be done, my musical expression is in full force.

Next Tuesday at The Voice Loft , I will be singing with some of the most inspiring improvisers I have ever known. And I have no idea what is going to happen. 

Rhiannon & Friends

I’ve known Rhiannon for many years, first as a fan (introduced by her work with Bobby Mcferrin’s Voicestra), then as a client (I worked for her producer), then as a teacher, and finally as a fellow performer (when she would come back to guest with SoVoSo, a group we both sang with — mostly in different eras). She is a master teacher, a phenomenal vocal talent, and I am both eager and humbled to work with her again.  I have no idea what she will do.

I’ve wanted to have David Worm‘s gig since I first saw him on stage with Bobby McFerrin when I was 15. It only got worse when I saw him in Bowl Full of Sound and later WeBe3 with Rhiannon & Joey Blake.  Getting to work with him and learn from him up close for a few years with SoVoSo satiated me a bit, fortunately. I am inspired every time I hear him, trust him deeply, and am honored by his trust and friendship. Yet I have no idea what he will do. 

I got to know Ruth Zaporah about 15 years ago, when we were stuck in one of those travel mishaps that you learn to enjoy when you travel often. Let me say she is very much the person you want to be stuck in limbo with. On stage, she moves and responds and dances in ways that are always ruthlessly engaging. As the founder of Action Theater, she has influenced and inspired many, including me.  And I really have no idea what she is going to do.

The Elements are a next-generation group of improvisers. All of us have studied with one or more of the above legends, and we have been developing our identity as a group very intermittently, with an exponential depth and a non-linear path. That’s how it is when five amazingly awesome people get together and sing with all their vulnerability and presence, unhindered by the idea of what’s going to happen next.  We just tried this in a recording studio last Sunday, and that experiment seems to have worked too (stay tuned for news on our EP).

Next? Well, we’ll just start with one note and — find our way from there…