A Circle of Friends

If you are a longtime reader of DevraDoWrite you might remember that writer Bill Zinsser is one of my heros, mentors, and friends. I mention him today because jazz singer extraordinaire Carol Sloane reports that she is now reading Zinsser’s book “Easy To Remember, The Great American Songwriters and Their Songs” – a copy of which graces my shelf, of course.

I posted a blurb about Bill Z back in June 2005 (Describing Real People) and mentioned Jerry Jazz Musician’s interview with Zinsser. In August, in response to a query about jazz in China, I posted the first paragraph from Zinsser’s “Mitchell & Ruff: An American Profile in Jazz”

In April 2006, noting some thoughts about memoir I cited Zinsser again (“Writers are the custodians of memory…”) and linked to the NPR piece On Memoir, Truth, and “Writing Well”. Other well-worn Zinsser books on my shelf include:

Bill Charlap is also a friend and a most amazing talent. Several years ago John and I were on a jazz cruise and Bill C did an afternoon concert — part solo, part with small ensemble. To this day I remember being blown away not just by his playing, but by the programming of his presentation, the meticulous crafting that went into his selection of material and the sequencing. Unlike those casual musicians who think that all jazz presentations should be ‘improvised’ — an impromptu jam, tunes called as they go along — Bill C’s approach is deeper, more considered, perhaps even philosophical. Here’s a quote posted a few years ago by Jazz Police:

“I try not to think about the piano per se, I’m not interested in bravura displays. Melody is the most sublime of all the utterances. Harmony is an emotional response. Rhythm is physical. Melody is an intuitive response that carries both the emotional and the physical.” -Bill Charlap

I can’t find an official Bill Charlap web site but AllAboutJazz has a brief bio and there’s this Fresh Air piece on NPR. Or even better see him on YouTube playing In the Still of the Night with Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums.

As for Ms. Sloane, who started this stroll down memory lane, she, too, is a friend. (Aren’t I lucky to have so many terrific friends?!) I first mentioned Carol, the supreme songstress and lover of lyrics, here on DevraDoWrite back in May 2005. If you are going to be in New York this Sunday (August 5th) you can hear her in a free concert at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan near 145th street (Jammin On the Hudson: Songbird Carol Sloane) backed by Norman Simmons on piano (If you’re not hip to Norman, he was a favorite accompanist and longtime musical director for several of our vocal greats including Carmen McRae, Anita O’Day, and Joe Williams — and yes, Norman is also a longtime friend and fellow Libra).

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