Began playing jazz (upright) bass in a trio, where I also doubled as a vocalist. Switched three decades ago to fretless custom all-wood Steinberger copy (with Steinberger machines & Bartolini pickups). Available sometimes for jazz and ballad work, live or studio. I don't read charts well - pick up by listening.
- Screen name:
- Member since:
- Feb 12 2016
- Active over 1 month ago
- Level of commitment:
- Years playing music:
- Gigs played:
- 50 to 100
- Tend to practice:
- 2-3 times per week
- Most available:
Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow, George Mraz, Rob Wasserman
Steinberger (mod) fretless; Brad French strat copy; Martin D-18; Selmer alto sax; various wooden flutes inc. Irish & Native American; Fender 12-string acoustic; Starfire mandonlin; Roland - Korg - Ensoniq keyboards; various percussion including kit with Slingland snare; Buffet Evette-Shafeur clarinet
Harmonic EcstasyThis is an unrehearsed, straight no frills improv with vocal harmonics... accompanied by a tricked-out pre-MIDI keyboard (standing in for accordion). Live mix as performed; with no post production or EQ except to fix glitches in the recorded signal. A strong vocal & rhythm loosen-up for Parkinsons or other motor/nerve issues... calms down to a steadying finale. (A JJ Fanagh project.)
Born BeautifulSome time back I shared the stage at Newport Folk Festival with Mimi Fariña and several other musical acquaintances - singing together as "The Lyman Family."I noticed then that despite her talent and intelligence, the people around us were relating to Mimi primarily as either "Joan's (Baez's) pretty younger sister" or as "Richard's widow." My later interactions with her reinforced that this treatment was relentlessly grinding her down in some unknown way, and that she wasn't doing well by it. That inspired me to write this song... suggesting some of the heavy price for being the focus of other peoples attractions and projections. A few years after, she and Tom Jans put out a sort of "therapy album" in which she revealed she'd been sexually abused in her youth. Much later I tried to get her a copy of this through a mutual friend, but I'd waited too long. She died from breast cancer that year. Originally I intended this for guitar but my Martin had pulled its bridge after I carelessly left it in the car trunk on a sunny day in Craftsbury, Vermont. So this is the first song I ever wrote for piano. Vocals and piano recorded live in a small hall (I borrowed a friend's saxophone for the break... first time I'd played one since high school.) "Tuba" was my mini-Moog.
Sheela-na-gigI worked for almost two weeks with Irish composer Roger Doyle to compose and record a series of songs for an international troupe of dancer-choreographers, preparing a new piece for the public... during a residency.We experimented part of the day with the dancers, then spent much of the afternoon & evening in the studio - working our "roughs" into final form, including both our playing and my singing. (A JJ Fanagh project.) During this intensive I was inspired to portray the life force giving-and-reabsorbing Sheela-na-gig (whose squatting form can be seen in some Irish and UK locations). Roger didn't want to use this in the dance theatre set... he was a bit spooked by it, so I added some trial tracks to it on my own before he returned and we got back to work on other compositions. Vocals and simultaneous keyboard tracks improvised.(Wasn't used for the final performance.)
A Sound on the Tundra
A Sound on the TundraThis is another improvisation - voice & keyboards simultaneous.It's structure makes it seem as if it were planned or pre-rehearsed, but this was actually done immediately after working on a prior song (and with no idea that there was another song ready to "come out"). I believe this might be about taking risks (together, as a couple) against adversity & in contrast to an "ordinary life."I can't be entirely sure.What I am sure of is that there is a cathartic experience during encounter with a "seed sound" which transforms the couple into airborne beings... meeting one other in some ecstatically divine way. (Vocals & improvisation guided by JJ Fanagh.)
Chief JosephThere was a time before the mid-1800's when Native Americans moved freely with their camps... as weather, migrating animals, availability of gathered foods and social conditions dictated. This movement bothered incoming whites who want to "own" land, exploit gold & other minerals, and prevent access by others. While other chiefs buckled under or fought to the death rather than submit to forced relocation, Chief Joseph took his entire village & melted away into the forest which provoked a huge manhunt which lasted for three months & crossed several states. Only after Crow Indian scouts helped lead the cavalry to him, surprised his hastily abandoned camp & burned it to the ground in wintertime, were they able to negotiate his surrender. Ballad-singer Helen Schneyer asked me to write a song for her based on Chief Joseph's surrender speech. After looking at some of the pictures but not having read the speech, I thought I could do it. Seeing those images disturbed me so much that I interrupted a mixing session to go to the keyboard, quickly set up a patch, and start singing what you hear here... a complete improvisation without any preparation. Helen could not finish singing the completed song without breaking down in tears - so never performed it. (Vocal and keyboard improvisation guided by JJ Fanagh.)
South of the Border
South of the BorderEvery once and a while a totalitarian ruler in a southern country (why is it almost always in a southern country... well, maybe also in a Georgia or a Kosovo) decides the local indigenous people or the peasant farmers are speaking out too loudly. He sends in the army on night patrols to pull people out of their houses, from which they "disappear." Or he sends in his air force to make quick dispatch of a troublesome village. Here (in a Guatemala or Honduras or El Salvador or Columbia) a young door gunner using 2nd-hand U.S. helicopters and war equipment enjoys his job picking off people on the ground. The song is framed by readings of "Ballad de la Guardia Civil" and "El Juanto" by Federico Garcia Lorca, as read by Maria Lopez Blakely (original transcriber of Lorca's poetry manuscripts in New York).
Down & Out
Down & OutThis is my take of an old Jimmie Witherspoon standard... gives me a chance to stretch a bit. Additional lyrics by Bessie Smith (and myself, here and there). All instruments recorded fairly quick & dirty - nothing special. Guitars: Martin D-18 plus a Brad French customised electric.
Moonlight MadnessImprovisation for fretless bass and voice... under the full Moon (quite literally). Put up on the Internet as a tribute in part to the skill of Santa Cruz luthier Fred Carlson and the folks at Bartolini pickups - who together transformed a rather pedestrian Gibson/Steinberger hybrid bass into a lively, "woody"-sounding fretless voice to accompany my own. Live recorded to two tracks by Michael Cerulli Billingsley (michaelbix) at Straight Arrow Recordings, Vermont. (Vocals, and bass improvisation guided by JJ Fanagh.)
In the Thick of It (Pleiadean Howl)
In the Thick of It (Pleiadean Howl)Several years back I was exposed to a sound recording that Swiss UFO informant Billy Meier claimed was made by his Pleiadean visitors. Although rich in microtones and subharmonics, his claim that such "musical communication" could only be made by extra-terrestrial intelligences struck me as unlikely. That he found sound technicians in the U.S. to analyse his tapes, and to pronounce that no "earthly" agency could have produced these notes struck me as naive. Having done a lot of my own work and study of microtonal singing and musicianship - and learning from Hun Huuh Tuur something about khoumei - I was curious to explore this further. It proved very exciting because the experiment to enter the territory proclaimed by Meier actually led to some fairly profound work.This is part of a composition intended for the Irish choreographer Snaggie O'Sullivan. (Improvisation recorded live - vocals JJ Fanagh; keyboards, Michael Bix.)