JUSY ANOTHER DAY
Woke up at 7:00 a.m. psyched and raring to go as today I go into the city to producer-arranger-keyboardist Simone Giuliani's studio, who is producing my newest recording project "Brasilified," to go over some songs, record some flute parts, and for an interview for the Brazilian music documentary series "Beyond Ipanema" with Beco and Guto.
I quietly go into our master bathroom, carefully closing the two doors between our bedroom and the bathroom so as not to wake up Sasha (hubby) who has been performing late nights in the city with saxophonist Steve Wilson on a 4 night stretch at Jazz Standard, and take my shower, washing my hair -- I like to rotate my shampoo and conditioner each wash and today decide to use Inphenom; I love the smell! Post shower, the usual buttering up the skin with moisturizers (currently my favorite body oil is from Indonesian maker Martha Tilaar's spa line), and put on some "war paint" (make up…) to be appropriate for the cameras, nothing ornate, just a little under eye cover (recently I love which I picked up from a Taiwanese night market), PAC's black eye liner fused with their bright green eye powder to outline the top of my eyes, little cheek color by Dior, and Kiehl's neutral lip moisturizer #1 -- I opt to go without mascara and just curl my eyelashes, don't want to look like I'm too made up for a recording session and wanted to look as natural as possible.
I'd anticipated leaving by 8:30 a.m. to make the 10:30 a.m. session, but upon checking my emails discover that Simone has sent a message and, after his late night session programming one of the tracks, needs the session to start a little later. I also discover that Sasha was unable to meet last night with my step-father, Lew Tabackin, who had kindly agreed to lend me his Powell flute and Muramatsu alto flute for today's session, so this buys me a little more time at home to prepare breakfast for my son, Nikita, and make a quick stop in the upper west side to pick up the flutes from Lew and head down to Gramercy to Simone's studio. As I near the city on the freeway, traffic is surprisingly clogged up, adding another hour to the commute, no doubt impacted by the recent Boston Marathon bombing. By the time I make it to the studio, it's already 12:30 p.m.
Simone is already preparing the tracks and is a delight as always, one of the most charming, courteous and sweetest men you can meet; just being in his space makes you smile. The tracks are shaping up beautifully, and he plays me the most recent one he's been working on, Edu Lobo's "Zanzibar" which the record label (Billboard Live in Japan) had suggested I cover for this project which is focused on Brazilian music. I still haven't learned this particular song and make mental notes to woodshed as soon as possible to prepare for the vocal recording, which is to start in less than a week. We decide to start recording flute on Simone's composition, "Things I Say," and as we're setting up the microphone, the door rings and in comes documentary photographer Jun Oshima, who has been periodically shooting footage on me since the beginning of the year for a piece he's doing on me, as well as his friend Daichi Yamato who will be coming by during the recording process to take pictures. We record for the next couple hours on "Things I Say," as well as another of Simone's originals, "Bossamore" -- I'm happy to whip out the alto flute to add its voice as it has such a beautiful sound and I rarely get to play such a magnificent instrument.
After the flutes, we step out for a bite, opting for Simone's suggestion, one of the many Chinese run sushi joints that infest the city, although this one was not so bad. Jun, Daichi and I crack jokes about the sushi menu and the bizarre combination of ingredients inside the "dragon," "Philly," "A.C.C," etc. rolls, and Jun even orders the Philly which has cream cheese and fake crab -- absolutely disgusting looking, but he seems to enjoy it. I stay a little more tame, ordering the tuna and mango roll, as well as the California roll. Simone, who is clearly tired from the lack of sleep, goes for the chicken tonkatsu lunch; the portion is American size. Conversation surrounds Daichi's passion for house music as he compliments me on the many tracks he's discovered of mine, and Simone shares his music career beginnings in Italy playing in a punk band, the U.K. where he hung with the acid jazz crowd and played with the likes of the Brand New Heavies, Courtney Pine, etc. (to which Jun's face lit up as he is an avid fan of the 90s acid jazz movement), and how he came to live and work in New York. As we head back to the studio, we stop by the corner deli for some coffee and tea (I opted for Tazo's Passion tea with honey), and discover that the Bangladeshi man behind the counter is fluent in Japanese. Only in NY.
We come back to the studio in time for Beco and Guto to come for their interview, and there is a changing of the guards as the four (Beco & Guto, and Jun & Daichi) meet and greet, and Jun & Daichi then leaves. While director Guto sets up his camera, Beco and I talk for a bit -- I immediately note the deep and rich tone to his voice which I comment on, and he shares with us that he used to work at a radio station in Brazil, not as a DJ but as a producer, but everyone noticed his beautiful voice and pushed for him to go on mic. Both guys are super sweet and there is an easy rapport amongst all of us. Simone clearly knows them well, and the interview goes without a hitch as they first take footage of us at work recording the flute and fake-recording vocals for the sake of the camera, and then the interview itself. The program series is based on interviews with non-Brazilian artists who have been inspired by and have incorporated Brazilian flavors into their music, which started as a full size documentary that debuted in the Barcelona Film Festival and later at Moma and the Chicago Film Festival in 2009 and has continued as a mini series over the years for a major Brazilian TV network, with interviews of artists and DJs such as Gilles Peterson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Arto Lindsay, David Byrne, etc. I am super flattered to be included in it, and it also allows me an opportunity to promote the new project. They also interview Simone who is a bit camera shy (as handsome as he is!) but is very insightful in expressing his views on what it is about Brazilian music that attracts the rest of us; I kick myself that I couldn't express myself better on camera.
At some point during the interview, Sasha calls; he actually abstained quite well in not calling more often like he usually has a tendency to, worrying about how things are going and checking up on me. It's close to 5:00 p.m. as the interview wraps up and I bid farewell to the three, promising to stay in touch with Beco and Guto as they are going to be in Japan late June to do more filming -- hopefully I can help make some introductions. As I walk towards the parking lot, I flash on Simone earlier asking if I miss living in the city, to which I answered that I miss the creative element with people and being surrounded by inspiring art and music, and I realize that the time spent in Simone's studio and meeting all the interesting people is exactly the element that I've been missing. I feel happy.
An hour and half later, I pick up Nikita from a friend's house where he's been hanging for the day, and we drive to the New Suffolk home of Swiss artist-animator Ellen Goldstein (producer Gil Goldstein's wife), making a quick stop on the way to pick up a bottle of bordeaux and prosecco. The dinner party has already started with her close friends from the hood and I suddenly realize I'm famished -- everything is delicious. It's a potluck and I gravitate particularly towards the kale and chick pea dish as well as the local goat cheese with an interesting chutney condiment. The party is held in Ellen's art studio so we're surrounded by her eclectic creations. The hang includes a graphic artist, designer for a major couteur house, two chefs, animator, advertising agent, architect, etc., and I realize, as I look around the room that, while Manhattan has the creative collective I crave, somehow my area is pretty happening too.
Today was a good day.