It had been two years since I released Dreams & Shadows, and I was eager
to get back into the studio. I had been performing steadily in the intervening
years and was inspired to make a recording that reflected my creative journey
so far, while also paying homage to artists who had done so much to inform my
sensibilities. My goal was to craft something even more personal than I had
done before, and to create a musical ambience that expressed the joyousness of love, inevitable loss, tenderness, humor, and
The arrangements needed to be
spacious and modern. It was a no-brainer
to ask Alan Pasqua to collaborate again since we had worked together on my last
two projects. His playing is virtuosic and full of heart, and his arrangements are
open and richly harmonic. Instead of
adding flashy contrivances, he lets the song speak for itself.
The other musicians on this
recording – Darek Oles, Steve Hass, Larry Koonse, Bob Mintzer, Bob Sheppard,
Walt Fowler, and Alex Acuna – all contributed so magically with deep
communication and empathy. Producer Barbara Brighton, who is a dear friend and
with whom I also worked on my other projects, was on board to help me deliver
personal readings of these tunes that are so special to me, while Associate
Producer Geoff Gillette contributed his engineering talents and musicality.
With my collaborators in place, I
set about to find songs that are not typically offered in a jazz idiom, such as
Wonderful Wonderful, which was a
huge hit for Johnny Mathis in the late 1950’s; Avec le Temps, a very popular 1970’s French tune from which I took the
CD’s title, Under a Painted Sky, from
English lyrics written by my husband; and Till
There Was You, which was indelibly etched in my brain when my parents took
me to see The Music Man when I was a
kid. I heard something that moved me in
each of these songs.
Of all the jazz vocalists who have
inspired me, I pay homage to some of my favorites on this recording. They have all left the planet too soon, but
have left it a far more beautiful place.
Abbey Lincoln’s depth and spirit
are heard in every raw note she sang and every song she wrote, including And How I Hoped for Your Love, her sad song
about finding and losing love.
Shirley Horn had a remarkable gift
in her ability to sustain emotion and meaning through her very generous use of
space. Her repertoire was a deep well of outstanding material, including The Great City,
a hip tune that conveys a snarly warning to innocents venturing into Manhattan.
Blossom Dearie’s girlish voice was
inimitable, her delivery wonderfully conversational and effortlessly witty. Her
beautiful rendition of Don’t Wait Too
Long, a song about an older woman and a younger man and the brevity of
life, motivated me to try and capture the song’s poignancy, ache, and
Carmen McRae wrote Last Time for Love and actually
accompanies herself on her live recording of the tune. I couldn’t find another recording of it by
anyone else, and here pay homage to one of my favorite singers with one of her
Although An Occasional Man was a big hit for Jeri Southern in the mid-50’s,
I first heard it on a TV commercial. It’s
about a woman skinny-dipping on a deserted island. It’s a sexy song that just makes me smile.
The imagery of A Little Tear is beautiful, and I love the metaphor of the tear that
falls on the hand of the beloved holding all their memories of tenderness.
Café is a dream of a
woman walking to meet her old lover. When she meets him, time stands still; and
then, suddenly, as in all dreams, the moment ends and we are back to reality. I
love how Walt Fowler’s flugelhorn and Alex Acuna’s percussion sustain the
dreamlike quality of the lyrics.
Alan and I were both enthusiastic
about including Whisper Not, a classic
written by the great Benny Golson and Leonard Feather with a cool, timeless
The last tune is Sack
Full of Dreams, an optimistic, beautiful song made even more beautiful by
the interplay of Alan and the incredible Larry Koonse on guitar. It is a wish for peace. It is what I wish for all of us.