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Last Gasp Part Three: Set Two Trouble

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Thought I had the Lazz Last Gasp Set Two sorted.
But I suddenly ran into big juicy trouble with it.


Fred had made me the offer, and set me the task, just before Christmas. Our first window for wrestling with Set One happened at the beginning of February. It didn’t seem to have been a long wait. Neither did Christmas seem so long ago.  But the New Year had already brought me back into messing around with the eighteen-piece “Narwhal” ensemble on the North Shore across the inlet. That’s how I ran into trouble.


Members of this “Narwhal” unit are all disconcertingly young and talented. (Except for way older and less skilled Lazz.) Participation has me teetering on the edges of my competence: having to shut-up and follow directions, attempting to blend smoothly with the other voices, and struggling to sight-read the notes placed before me. The other singers all sight-read. When I brought in a song for which I had voiced the vocal melody in fourths, they had no problem.  When the musical director brought in another with tight close voicings, that was fine also.  My envy is as large as my inadequacies.


Invitation to join the group had come from M.D., Jared Burrows, multi-instrumentalist head of the jazz department.  His plan was for part of this semester’s focus to be songs from Lazz (once again an unexpected and enormous compliment) and somehow suddenly he and I were writing together…


And thus the trouble I run into regarding Set Two is the result of having a pretty incredible brand new writing partner and a consequently unexpected abundance of new material.  Well – seven new songs seems like abundance to me – seven tunes could constitute one set all on their own.


·       A pentatonic Irish-style folk-song on a drone.

·       A laid-back rock-ish groover.

·       A rousing 6/8 gospel-style hand-clapper.

·       A Cahn-Sinatra style swingin’ love song.

·       A 32-bar standard-style moaner.

·       A silly playful tango.

·       And one serious heavyweight epic.


The way we work is quite fresh and new to me.  After I send a finished lyric to Jared, he places an order with his sub-conscious (that’s how he describes it) and the next morning when he wakes, the tune is ready to be written down. He credits my lyrics for the inspiration. Very reassuring to discover that he finds my intentions so transparent – because they all turned out unbelievably close to how I imagined them.  Uncanny. 


The setting for our heavyweight epic was the exception which took more time – maybe two weeks – but it still hit that same E.S.P. target.  My overblown pretentiously dramatic tear-jerker lyrics, full and heavy with meaningful self-importance, had actually caused him to weep, and to develop a moody waltz like that from a romantic French movie – in the style of Michel LeGrand.  Again, it was what I had envisioned – like a cross between Jacques Brel and Kenny Wheeler.  Wow!!  I love it.


And the extra bonus is that Jared - a fabulous guitarist and luthier with deep background in a broad range of different musical traditions - expressed a wish to be part of the project I am working on with Fred.



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Fantastic, Lazz! It appears there is life in the old dog yet and a great new adventure is underway! 


Enjoy the ride!

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As you told me last year, Alistair, I am a fortunate man.


This small avalanche of happenstance comes as a big surprise, however.

Suddenly, I am being respected and asked to participate and lend my skills by others.

But these guys are so far out of my league that I remain amazed by it and still feel secretly undeserving and unqualified and somewhat disbelieving.


It all fills me with headily youthful enthusiasm and exuberance.

Then I try a stroll down the street with that spring in my step and end up leaning on my cane to get my breath back before I reach the end of the block.


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I suspect reverse Dunning Kruger at play. There's probably a name for it.

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