Some new tracks have been added to the playlist here — those tracks marked with an asterisk are excerpted from my CD, The Music of Kari Musil. It’s available at CDBaby.
These are all tunes I’ve written that have been recorded by the Nova Jazz Orchestra over the past 15 years. Here’s kind of a timeline:
Change at Jamaica (1993) – Written while on bed rest during my pregnancy with my daughter, Angela, it’s the musical version of my memories of living in NYC for a year in 1986. Taking the LIRR from Massapequa on Long Island, where I lived, into the city was fairly mind blowing for me. It didn’t get old, but in fact everything I saw and heard became more and more vivid with each trip. Sitting in my seat looking out the windows of the train above neighborhood backyards and vast industrial areas filled with graffiti-covered warehouses, I was beyond imagining. I was simply taking it all in. It was dirty, it was over-crowded, and somewhere between Freeport and Rockville Centre the noise level on the train began to change dramatically. It was fascinating.
Over the years I’ve discovered that other people have also used this phrase as a song title. I’m not surprised because the Jamaica stop, where the conductor announces, “Change trains at Jamaica for all points north…” is one of the last stops before Penn Station in Manhattan. Shortly after Jamaica the train plunges into darkness as it goes beneath the Hudson River. When you step off the train you’re in the heart of New York City. Wow!
Angela (1994) – Lots of time at home alone with baby Angela and the purchase of an ancient upright piano for $300 inspired this. She and I lived in a tiny apartment in Washburn, Wisconsin.
Silence (1991-92, and 2008) – This tune was composed for a 4 horn, bass, & drums group I played with called BADFIT. I wrote it during the LA riots starring Rodney King and the infamous LAPD while I was a student at the University of Minnesota. The lyrics I wrote were attempting to make a statement about our society, but the music was also a reflection of where I was mentally. My beloved cousin Bill DuPlayee had recently died of AIDS, my marriage was falling apart, and I was beginning to feel musically imprisoned at the U of M. I was amazed that most of my fellow students in the music department didn’t even know the riots were going on. Later on I arranged it for Nova, because everything about the song was still true. Someday I will add a vocalist again.
The Reincarnation of Queen Irene (1992, 2010) – When I was a little kid I would often spend summers at my Grandma Irene’s house in northern Wisconsin. She and I were kindred souls because of our love for music that makes your heart want to dance around the room. I remember spending hours sitting with her and singing the “good old songs” from the 1920s that she loved so much. Once in awhile she would play the piano for me and that was the most magical experience! She played a boogie-woogie style that enchanted my little girl self. I can still vividly picture her at the piano, wearing her trademark flowered dress and string of pearls, the smell of her Jean Nate´perfume wafting from her jiggling arms as she played. I couldn’t dance to that piano music because I was too busy watching her fingers move on the keyboard. She was my first musical role model, and the older I get the more I realize that those moments were imprinted on me. As I’ve matured I also realize that I inherited something else from my mother’s side of the family – mental illness. I usually don’t think too much about why I’m writing a particular piece of music, but this one is definitely inspired by my ancestry. Maybe it’s my auto-biography…?
Incident on the Bus (2008) -
Who Says You Can’t Dance to Bebop? (1992, 2010)