If you know me, you know I have a passion for music. True to my inner fish, however, I swim the melodic ocean simultaneously in two directions. First, I swam a long way singing standards wearing the cap of a piano bar entertainer, cabaret artist, singer for a bebop influenced group, and then as a vocalist/bandleader of a nine piece swing band and a jazz quartet/trio/duo. I got awfully tired, and spent a little time just softly floating. Suddenly, from another shore came a gentle breeze whispering uplifting ideas that wanted to be set to music and shared. So, I changed my course, of course. Oh how I love songwriting. It makes time disappear by the hour in just minutes. Now, I’m recording a whole album of inspirational originals. When it’s released, more people will undoubtedly be visiting my website. I certainly should have my latest album plus some older albums for sale on a dedicated “Store” page. Thinking about this change in my site, got me listening to some of my jazz albums. The next thing I knew, I was having so much fun singing along, I booked a jazz gig! Maybe I’ll throw an inspirational original or two into the sets, and get those two fish swimming in the opposite direction toward each other! Hope to see you there…….. Café Leila in Berkeley on Friday August 16 from 6:30 to 9:30. Cynthia Bythell and The Diggin’ the Downsize Reunion Show with Duncan James on Guitar and Richard Saunders on Upright Bass. We plan to release the previously unreleased album we made years ago, and maybe some old friends will even drop by and play some horn. Fun, Fun, Fun! cafeleila.com
That’s what the townspeople called my Dad. I loved his huge toothy smile. He loved to play with my brothers and me, and he loved my Mom. I remember my parents dancing in the kitchen, holding hands, and sharing little kisses. Yes indeed, Dad was a true family man. My father grew up in poverty, and had worked his way through college with a wife and baby because he wanted to be well-able to support a family. When I was growing up, he worked hard at a locally high profile job, and he worked hard at home too. He was home every night and every weekend. My parents bought bargain houses, we moved in, and my Dad fixed them up around us. A few years later, they sold them for a handsome profit. It was their “put the kids through college” plan. At work, Dad’s secretaries used to love to race him by adding a long column of three digit numbers on an old fashioned adding machine, while he added them in his head. My Father always won. He was obviously brilliant. Everybody knew it but him. He insisted my mother was smarter than himself, turned his paycheck over to her, and followed her every lead… Many many years later, after my Mom passed, I finally got to know my Dad on a deeper level. He told me he had been a blue collar man in a white collar job, and wished he had become a plumber because he could have made just as much money without all the stress of local politics. He said he was glad he had children because he had enjoyed his kids an awful lot. Dad also said he never did figure out what a woman so beautiful and smart as my mother, was doing with him. After spending one day a week with my dad for several years, it was easy to understand what she saw in him. Beyond his apparent intelligence and good looks, and despite a bit of gruffness, he was gentle, humble, loving, straight-forward, extremely generous, and held women in great respect. As an adult, I grew to love my Dad more than ever… Eventually dementia took his mind, but he never lost his smile.
My mom gave me the gift of music. Some of my most cherished early memories include sitting side by side on the organ bench as she played and we sang together. She taught me beginning piano and basic singing technique, put a $50 piano in my bedroom, and set me loose! I was inspired by her beautiful voice as she sang solos in church, and copied her super-fun stride piano style. I internalized a deep sense of rhythm listening to her play jazzy standards on the organ as she very nearly danced on the pedals. In our home, it was not uncommon to fall asleep at night listening to her music-making. She was my earliest musical influence, and I am forever grateful. Mamma also became my biggest fan! She loved me “like a rock”. Surely her supportive presence is with me at the piano as I write, and in the studio as I record. She must be thrilled to hear me making an album of inspirational originals. Writing songs, singing, and playing piano is a huge source of joy in my life… Thanks Mom. I love you always, and Happy Mother’s Day.
Although there are many albums to my credit, this will be the first one that is ALL original. For awhile now, inspirational songs have been falling down on me like a soft spring rain. At this point, I have more than enough to make an album. I feel like a giddy child romping in a field of blossoms wanting to pick more than I need for a bouquet. Nevertheless, recording began on April 1st at Diamond Studio in San Francisco with engineer Dave Austin. He was pleasant, passionate, lovingly honest, and didn’t waste a minute. Dave has got my back. So does audiophile/pianist, Khaleghl Quinn, who listened patiently and intently, offering up highly sensitive musical observation. We made an excellent in-studio team. In addition, there are other folks behind the scenes… My sweetheart, Shelly, always gives me the unabashed perspective of the musically appreciative consumer. And, pianist/piano teacher Camille Escudero, who has incredible musical knowledge, shares her opinions and has watched over this inspirational project since it’s conception. I am blessed by this core of supportive people and many more friends, fans, and co-musicians who tell me what they like. But ultimately, I will always have to be true to myself of course. So anyway, at the first studio session, we had musical fun and exchanged some gentle April Fool’s jokes. But when it came to recording, there was no fooling around!