Not A Crash Landing
Carmela Tal Baron
Carmela Tal Baron presents "Not A Crash Landing", a garland of songs for all who crave an uplifting ride and a soft landing, a poetic blend of blues, folk, jazz and spoken words that elevates and transforms.
This album was conceptualized and produced by Carmela Tal Baron, who also created the visual design and is the composer and vocalist of some of the songs. The songs in this album were musically arranged by Mark A Berman, who wrote the lyrics and music for some of them and coached the vocalists. The songs were selected from among a largest harvest of recent recordings, including songs that resonate with "Not A Crash Landing", to be featured in the soon-to-be released "A Girl with A Curl".
Following are the names of the songs and of the artists whose contribution has enabled a soft landing for "Not A Crash Landing": 1. "Saturday morning (Spring 72)" - Poem, music, vocals and translation: Carmela Tal Baron. 2. "Not a crash landing" - Poem: David Avidan. Translation: Miron Baron. Reading: Daralyn Jay. 3. "Not a crash landing" - Poem: David Avidan. Music: Carmela Tal Baron. Vocals: Daralyn Jay. 4. "It must be summer" - Lyrics and music: Carmela Tal Baron. Vocals: Margaret Humphreys. 5. "Something is always missing" - Lyrics and music: Carmela Tal Baron. Vocals: Margaret Humphreys. 6. "The collector (Don't leave me)" - Lyrics and music: Mark A Berman. Vocals: Margaret Humphreys. 7. "Awakening" - Lyrics and vocals: Carmela Tal Baron. 8. "Make believe it's just for now" - Lyrics and music: Diana (Gitesha) Hernandez. Vocals: Daralyn Jay. 9. "South-side beat" - Lyrics and music: Celeste Macbeth Dubois. Vocals: Daralyn Jay. 10."Good-bye yellow sunshine" - Lyrics and music: Mark A Berman. Vocals: Margaret Humphreys. 11."Wild is the wind" - Lyrics and music: Dimitri Tiomkin / Ned Washington. Vocals: Carmela Tal Baron 12."What a wonderful world" - Lyrics and music: George David Weiss / Bob Thiele. Vocals: Carmela Tal Baron
Musical accompaniment: John DiMartino (piano; all songs except 7, 11 & 12), Mark A Berman (piano; songs 7, 11 & 12), Lisa Parrott (saxophone), John Arrucci (percussion).
"Saturday Morning", the opening song in this album (poem, music and vocals by Carmela Tal Baron), was chosen by Bob Sherman, producer and host of the famed folk music radio show "Woody's Children" (Public Radio - Fordham University), to open its spring-inaugurating program, "Odds and Ends" (WFUV 90.7 FM, 3/28/2010).
Carmela's note on the birth and evolution of this album:
It was a windy late September afternoon, when I went downtown Manhattan to visit an old friend and a most inspiring poetess from Israel, Dahlia Ravikovitch. Chelsea in the fall was a place she liked to take refuge in. Strange that out of all the people I know, she, who often sleeps into noon time, was the one to wake me up from a nightmarish sleep, on 9/11/2001, after the fall of the first twin tower. "Turn the TV on", she said, her voice so clear on the phone. I turned on the TV and opened the window. Traces of unfamiliar scent were in the air, and a tail of smoke was hanging low. New York has changed forever, but "The Chelsea Hotel", a Leonard Cohen song, was playing softly "as usual", as I walked into the hotel elevator holding a bunch of books that Dahlia had asked me to bring along. She had in mind to create a poetry reading in memory of the avant-garde Hebrew poet David Avidan. It was profound for me to listen to her choices, as we recited for one another poems from different periods in his evolutionary life. Dahlia was in favor of some poems, in particular, "Not A Crash Landing". This enigmatic early poem sounded soundly very timely. It was a few days after 9/11, and Manhattan was still under a surreal spell, lingering after that "crash landing". Slowly transforming despair into resilience, inspired by our meeting, I felt compelled to breathe a tune into the poem. Before the night was over, a new song was born.
When I performed this Hebrew poem-into-song-into-dance for the first time in the East Village, for Dahlia and friends, the rhythm, helped along by rattles, was fast and fiery. It was pleasing to observe the effect of sound-into-motion. Some of the host's friends were singing and dancing to my newly composed "Not A Crash Landing". It was surprising to see how catchy the tune was, even though the emotional landscape was that of poetic discontent. It was October 7th, the day the war in Afghanistan began. Ambivalence and wonder were in the air, as 2001 was rolling into winter.
After my art exhibit, performance and presentation on interdisciplinary art at the cultural center Makor in 2004, I felt the desire to record the English version of "Not A Crash Landing" and other bilingual poems-into-songs. The recording studio of Haim Cotton, a classical and jazz pianist and recording artist, was a good place for such an experiment. Haim's bilingual skills greatly enhanced my creative journey from poetry into song, from tongue to tongue. The end product, "A Strange Heavenly Light" (three poets and three poems-into-songs, a bridge between Hebrew and English), is a 28-minute-long CD, a window in time for English-speaking listeners, to taste the sound of Hebrew poetry, even for those not familiar with this ancient-modern tongue. "A Strange Heavenly Light" is a line from "Not A Crash Landing), translated by Miron Baron. Mark A Berman, who transcribed most of my songs, had a crash on "Not A Crash Landing". He suggested to give the song an American dress and to include it in a collection of songs under this title. His coaching of Daralyn Jay, Margaret Humphreys, and me, grouping us for "Not A Crash Landing", proved rewarding.
Concern about climate changes is expressed in "It Must Be Summer", the song I wrote in late May 2006. Margaret's voice brought the song to new heights. As a songwriter, I enjoy listening to other singers performing my songs. I, too, like to sing other songwriters' songs, as evident from "Wild is the Wind" and "What a Wonderful World", the closing songs of "Not A Crash Landing". The title sounded timely in the early 1960s, when the Hebrew poem was written, just as it did in 2009.
"Something is Always Missing", my poem turned into a song, was included in my first album, "Rainbow Ride", released in 2002, the Year of the Horse. A story I heard from a woman who survived 9/11 adds a special dimension to this song. And so the story goes. While on a top floor of the World Trade Center, preparing for a presentation, she realized that something was missing. It was the DVD she was planning to share. Since she thought she had left it in her car, she went downstairs to look for it. When she reached her car, she recalled that the DVD was actually upstairs. Then she looked up and saw that the first tower was missing. In times of great changes, it is important to listen to small voices of intuition. I feel grateful for my intuition that guided me to ask Margaret to offer her vocal interpretation for this song. I have the same sentiment for her rendering of "The Collector" (Don't Leave Me), Mark's song about a collector who lived happily surrounded by his collection, always missing the true love of his beloved, which cannot be bought and made into a part of his art collection.
Celeste's song "South Side Beat" delivers a poetic, psychological flight to fight "white slavery" within families living in the old south. Daralyn delivers this message with a deeply felt emotional interpretation and a range of vocal skills. Her adaptation of Diana (Gitesha)'s "Make Believe It's Just for Now" balances the lament coming from the south with a song about the ambivalence of lovers on the go in Manhattan.
Mark Berman' song "Goodbye Yellow Sunshine" is a personal lament teasing the listener with an uplifting melody and rhythm. Margaret's vocal rendering might resonate with all those whose experience of earthly delights is now threatened by the uncertainty of survival. "Heaven is Waiting", which closes this lament, can also be interpreted as India, Hong Kong and other emerging places offering potential prosperity to the many would-be global citizens.
The crop of our prolific recording sessions, from summer into winter 2008, offered more timely songs resonating with the theme of "Not A Crash Landing". But since the songs were too numerous to be included in one album, I asked Mark to select his favorites. He selected 12 songs. His selection opens with a salute to Hebrew poetry, presenting itself with a new musical outfit. Mark has transcribed most of the songs I sing: standards, my songs in English, and my Hebrew songs, which he rendered precisely without speaking this tongue. The poem-into-song selected to open this CD is also the opening poem in my Hebrew poetry book "Morning Offering" ("Boker Matana", in Hebrew). It was composed while I was an artist-in-residence in Mishkenot Sha'ananim guesthouse and cultural center in Jerusalem. This 19th century building, its unique architecture reflecting the walls of the Old City of David, has a lot of stories to tell, as the first Jewish building erected outside the Old City. Artists, writers, scientists and scholars have graced this place since the late 1960s, when the border with Jordan was altered. The building overlooks Gay Ben Hinom (valley of hell, in English), a beatiful valley known not only as a hiker's heaven-like delight, but also an old graveyard, with tales of hell to tell dating back to biblical times. I have known this valley since 1961, when I climbed Mount Zion daily as an art student in Bezalel. Where no public transport dared to, artists did. Looking up my old trail again, as the second millennium was three years shy of closing, I saw multitudes of cars going up and down the mountain, while the bells of the church where the Last Supper is believed to have taken place still ring daily, as they did when I was proofreading the manuscript of "Morning Offering" (Boker Matana).
As I was going over the proofs, I noticed a strange mistake: instead of 55 poems, the text said 55 songs. I smiled to myself and thought: 55 songs! Wow, I don't know. But since there was something sonic in the ambiance of the old duplex unit where I was staying, which resonated so well with spoken words, I was inspired to try and sing a few poems out loud into the arches and curves, while doing Walking Meditation around the vast high-ceiling space. I thought about the winged piano of Arthur Rubinstein and felt so grateful to be passing through the same suite he once graced as a guest. The spontaneous long tones and ohms soon turned into "Saturday Morning", the poem-into-song opening this Garland of Songs for All Who Care, a love tribute that does not end even when spring is over.
As I was vocalizing daily, I noticed that Arab men, who were part of the maintenance crew, often chose to take their coffee break under my window. When I opened the door leading to an elongated arcade, to take a walk outside, I saw them smiling. Perhaps I imagined it and perhaps it was so, but I felt that the Mediterranean rhythm of this song transcended barriers of language and cultural differences. This was my first "feedback" to the song, and it did not surprise me that Mark, who transcribed the songs years later, liked this Hebrew song in particular.
I recall this story as one of the many stories I am inspired to share after Derek Sivers, musician and founder of CD Baby, asked me recently what I do for "feedback". As it turns out, every song has a story to tell about inspiration and feedback. I am delighted to share some of my insights with all who care, and I thank Derek for the wonderful he has done, in particular the creation of CD Baby, inspiring musicians and songwriters to create and share the fruits of their endeavors.
The artists participating in "Not A Crash Landing" are from around the globe. They joined together in the melting pot of Manhattan, to express concern and hope through poetry and songs for a safe biosphere for all. Thank you all.
Peace be unto you Peace be with you Or, as the holy Funk of Easy Joe goes: Glide in your stride ShalOm
Carmela Tal Baron
Artists' Biographical Sketches:
Carmela Tal Baron Carmela Tal Baron is a New York-based poet, songwriter and vocalist, whose background is in visual art and design. Her first recorded song, "Turtle Island is in Mourning" (from her album "Rainbow Ride"), was introduced by Bob Sherman on Public Radio-Fordham University as "One of the most haunting and deeply felt reactions to what we all experienced six months ago (9/11/2001).... quite extraordinary song and performance" (Woody's Children: "Six Months Later", WFUV 90.7 FM, 3/10/2002). "Saturday Morning", the opening poem/song of "Not A Crash Landing", was chosen by Bob Sherman to open his upcoming, spring-inaugurating Woody's Children program, "Odds and Ends" (WFUV 90.7 FM 3/21/2010). Other songs by Carmela have featured on various radio programs and TV films. Carmela is also a bilingual writer (English & Hebrew). She came to New York from Israel in 1974. She wrote and illustrated children's books and TV programs, and published two poetry books. Her poems have appeared in various literary publications. She favors interdisciplinary collaborations with poets, writers, artists, musicians, dancers and choreographers. This album is her third , preceded by "Rainbow Ride" and "Paradigm Shift".
Mark A Berman Mark A Berman has been devoted to music his entire life. At the age of 11 he graduated from the youth-program at Juilliard. Subsequently he majored in philosophy and literature. He sang in classical choirs and studied trumpet with the renowned teacher Vince Penzarela. Later he started writing theater and spiritual songs such as "Children's Theater Songs", sung by Leslie Moore and dedicated to Margaret Humphreys, one of the vocalist in "Not A Crash Landing". His classical pieces for piano were recorded by Jenny Undercofler for a double CD in 2002. Most of his compositions were recorded by professional musicians like John DiMartino and Nikki Parrot. He has been helping with writing up music for those who are not able to notate it themselves, like the many songs of Helen Yalof, the song on 9/11 he co-created with Michael Hartheimer, founder of Hospital Entertainment, and Carmela Tal Baron, whose music he helped bring into the light-of-day. Altogether he wrote 23 albums of songs and musical compositions.
Daralyn Jay Daralyn Jay is a performance artist who defies classification. Raised in Atlanta and refined in New York, this singer, actor and dancer has appeared in plays ranging from Shakespeare and contemporary drama to musical theater, in venues such as the National Black Theater, Hartford Stage, Classical Theater of Harlem, and Manhattan Repertory Theatre. She is a regular on the New York jazz scene, as well as a frequent vocal arranger and guest on pop and rock recordings. In addition, Daralyn has several independent films, TV commercials and voiceovers to her credit. Her special skills include dialects and accents, vocals and dancing. She cites the inspiration she draws from collaborating with other artists, as the source of her productivity.
Margaret Humphreys Margaret Humphreys showed great promise both as an actor and vocalist at the University of Southern California, where she received her Bachelor degree in theater studies. She went on to receive a Masters degree in the fine art of acting from Cornell University. Her most notable sung roles were The Countess, in A Little Night Music; Dolores Dante, in Working (book by Studs Terkel), and Fanny Squeers, in Nicholas Nickelby, for which she received critical acclaim. Over the past 15 years her life has moved in a new direction but she has returned to the stage, singing a featured role in the revival of Cabaret at the Brooklyn Heights Theater Plauhouse. She has also appeared in clubs aroung the city with her band, "Asphalt Blue".
Celeste Macbeth Dubois Celeste Dubois has been playing the piano and writing songs for decades. She is also a visual artist and a comedy writer. Heralding from the South (Dallas), where she felt trapped, she moved to New York in 1979 and launched her career as a Jazz pianist. Subsequently she returned to Dallas, where she played Jazz at a well-known hotel from 1981 to 1988. Upon her return to New York, she has produced numerous talent shows, some at Shutters, where Italian food and Jazz by Celeste created hospitable space for potry and songs for many, including Carmela Tal Baron who sang there some of th...