Friday, December 20, 2019

The Song Society

It has been a long while since I have posted in our Cabaret Blog. All a matter of disposal time aside having something of worth to say. This end of year missive is sort of a convergence of discussions after our Holiday Soiree and then stumbling back onto a Jamie Cullum YouTube playlist that I have had marked for a long while.

In a nutshell, Katia raised questions about song choices, being authentic or apologizing for choices made. We have made an expectation of our cabaret work that our "art" needs to come from a place of personalization; whatever that means. Another aspect of that refers to being present in that particular moment. It is not the luxury of a studio musician who can continue take after take, or even a theater person who has that same luxury of 8 shows a week to hone a tune.

Enter Jamie Cullum, a Brit who is a huge presence in the Jazz genre. A true troubadour that is a cross between Billy Joel and ... But like our ilk, he is most in his element live and in the room. This brings me to an artist challenge that he started 4 years ago called the Song Society. There are 4 tenets.
1. Find a Song you Love or are Fascinated by
2. Learn and Record within the hour
3. No Previous Preparation allowed
4. Love and Live with the Mistakes

Over the 4 years he has amassed a collection of 18 songs thus far. Looking at the list, it seems a cousin to the work of Postmodern Jukebox that bends genres and styles. But on watching the performances, it is much different. They are not showstoppers, but intimate portraits that are each unique, but truly capture the essence of the artist. You will see pop hits from Arianna Grande & Ed Sheeran. Showtunes from Mary Poppins. Classics by greats like Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits and Ben Folds Five. Each song amazing in their frankness. And of course his talents. It also does not hurt that he is surrounded by a family of musicians that are very comfortable with this process. I am featuring just 2 here in this post. But find a quiet 30 minutes and sample the whole collection.

Take time to read the comments where he frequently chimes in. He encourages other singers to do the same and offer up their versions as well. Back to Katia's original questioning, there is something freeing about taking the risk, committing to a piece you  connect with, and living with the collaboration.

If you are looking for some direction and insight in the New Years, revel in his challenge.


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