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Mother's Day at Caton Castle - June 1, 2013

 

Three of Baltimore’s most talented jazz artists played to a full house of mature jazz aficionados at Caton Castle’s annual Mother’s Day event, on May 12th. Owner Ronald Scott has been presenting Mother’s Day jazz events for twenty-three years. This year Eleanor Janey and Arthur Hoffman occupied their usual table, and Ms. Janey acted as emcee, introducing Greg Hatza, organ; Brad Collins, sax and vocals; and Bobby Ward, who provided percussion on his brand new set of snow-white Gretsch drums.
The band opened with a high-octane rendition of “Misty,” with lots of head-bobbing, toe-tapping and accomplished chair-dancing by the enthusiastic crowd. It was just the beginning of a joyous, “forget your troubles, c’mon get happy” evening at Baltimore’s “real jazz club.” A soulful “Coming Home, Baby” followed. Paying tribute to the ladies in attendance—attired in their Mother’s Day finery—Collins sang a romantic version of “The Way You Look Tonight.” Then we got back into the groove with a swinging “Just In Time” and a bluesy “Georgia On My Mind” that would have made Ray Charles grin. “Down Home Blues” enticed one couple onto the dance floor, and Eleanor Janey delighted us with her subtly-executed bumps and shimmies. (Where did you learn those moves, Eleanor?)
The second set kicked off with “Moanin’,” followed by “I Thought about You,” “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday,” “Stella By Starlight,” and “Body and Soul.” When the band began to play “Back At The Chicken Shack”—Great Googly Moogly! More than half of the attendees sprang to their feet and danced where they stood, and the other half danced in their chairs. Does it get any better than this?
On the final set Hatza and Ward knocked it out of the park with “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” “This Masquerade” and “Fly Me To The Moon” kept the crowd going before “I’ve Got A Woman” lured two grandmas to the dance floor to captivate the audience with their suggestive, rhythmic gyrations. Forget “Dueling Banjos”; we had “Dueling Grannies!” Thankfully, Collins restored us to our senses with “Tenderly,” before the trio closed with “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Thanks, Ron Scott, for a Mother’s Day never to be forgotten—at least, not by me.
– Gail Marten

By Gail Marten

 Three of Baltimore’s most talented jazz artists played to a full house of mature jazz aficionados at Caton Castle’s annual Mother’s Day event, on May 12th. Owner Ronald Scott has been presenting Mother’s Day jazz events for twenty-three years. This year Eleanor Janey and Arthur Hoffman occupied their usual table, and Ms. Janey acted as emcee, introducing Greg Hatza, organ; Brad Collins, sax and vocals; and Bobby Ward, who provided percussion on his brand new set of snow-white Gretsch drums.

The band opened with a high-octane rendition of “Misty,” with lots of head-bobbing, toe-tapping and accomplished chair-dancing by the enthusiastic crowd. It was just the beginning of a joyous, “forget your troubles, c’mon get happy” evening at Baltimore’s “real jazz club.” A soulful “Coming Home, Baby” followed. Paying tribute to the ladies in attendance—attired in their Mother’s Day finery—Collins sang a romantic version of “The Way You Look Tonight.” Then we got back into the groove with a swinging “Just In Time” and a bluesy “Georgia On My Mind” that would have made Ray Charles grin. “Down Home Blues” enticed one couple onto the dance floor, and Eleanor Janey delighted us with her subtly-executed bumps and shimmies. (Where did you learn those moves, Eleanor?)

The second set kicked off with “Moanin’,” followed by “I Thought about You,” “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday,” “Stella By Starlight,” and “Body and Soul.” When the band began to play “Back At The Chicken Shack”—Great Googly Moogly! More than half of the attendees sprang to their feet and danced where they stood, and the other half danced in their chairs. Does it get any better than this?

On the final set Hatza and Ward knocked it out of the park with “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” “This Masquerade” and “Fly Me To The Moon” kept the crowd going before “I’ve Got A Woman” lured two grandmas to the dance floor to captivate the audience with their suggestive, rhythmic gyrations. Forget “Dueling Banjos”; we had “Dueling Grannies!” Thankfully, Collins restored us to our senses with “Tenderly,” before the trio closed with “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Thanks, Ron Scott, for a Mother’s Day never to be forgotten—at least, not by me.

 

Tim Warfield at Jazzway - January 4, 2013

 

They did it again! At their 49th concert, on Saturday, December 15th, Marianne and Howard Katz brought an extraordinary group of stellar jazz musicians to Jazzway 6004. Our hosts welcomed a roomful of jazz lovers, hungry for seasonal healing, and related the genesis of their unique venue and its goals, which include the showcasing of local musicians and the promotion of jazz in Baltimore. Howard quipped, “We like having a jazz club in our basement.”
This was a magical night. Santa came to Charm City—only he was a lot thinner and wore a really sharp suit. With his mellifluous voice, the sartorially splendid Tim Warfield greeted the guests warmly and enthusiastically, then plunged into the first song of the night, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” performed with ample creative license by these magnificent (and also smartly dressed) musicians: drummer Billy Williams, Jr., bassist Eric Wheeler, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and (a surprise guest) pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Wheeler led with a stunning bass solo before Stafford came bodaciously swinging in. Warfield followed with his hip interpretation of Johnny Marks’s 1949 novelty tune, made famous by Gene Autry. Chestnut’s fingers nimbly flew across the keys, fashioning multi-colored tones and displaying his mastery of the piano. When the cheers, whistles and applause subsided, Warfield’s soprano sax shepherded us to “The Little Drummer Boy.” His increasingly fierce solo was followed by Stafford’s moody, passionate treatment of this holiday classic. Wheeler and Williams, both exuding virtuosity, technique and taste, laid down just the right fills for Chestnut’s elegant improvisations.
“When what to my wondering eye should appear” but the lovely Philadelphia-born vocalist Joanna Pascale, with her ebony hair tumbling over black lace and satin, shod in ultra-high-heeled patent leather pumps.
“O Christmas Tree” took on a whole new meaning in this unique and sublime arrangement. Pascale’s compelling vocal was supported by Warfield’s sweet alto responses and the rhythm section’s flawless accompaniment. A soulful, eloquent rendition of “Let It Snow” followed, with Warfield imaginatively soloing on soprano with rhythms that ran the gamut from swing to Latin, and Chestnut demonstrated his versatility with limitless explorations and hypnotic riffs. Pascale’s arrangement of “Caroling, Caroling” began with an exuberant solo by Warfield, the rhythm percolating and bubbling and Stafford’s notes pouring out of his trumpet like molten lava. 
The program ended with a sophisticated, sparkling arrangement of Claude Thornhill’s rarely performed “Snowfall,” after which Warfield invited Baltimore’s own Baroness, Marianne Matheny-Katz, to the bandstand. He expressed appreciation on behalf of all the musicians who have played at Jazzway 6004. Marianne was radiant as she sang her sweet rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and the audience enthusiastically displayed their  appreciation. 
Then we were all invited upstairs to partake of delicious hors d’oeuvres and the famously delectable desserts that Ms. Matheny-Katz creates herself (blood sugar level be damned!). Thank you, Marianne and Howard, for this remarkable holiday gift. Priceless! 
– Gail Marten 

By Gail Marten

They did it again! At their 49th concert, on Saturday, December 15th, Marianne and Howard Katz brought an extraordinary group of stellar jazz musicians to Jazzway 6004. Our hosts welcomed a roomful of jazz lovers, hungry for seasonal healing, and related the genesis of their unique venue and its goals, which include the showcasing of local musicians and the promotion of jazz in Baltimore. Howard quipped, “We like having a jazz club in our basement.

”This was a magical night. Santa came to Charm City—only he was a lot thinner and wore a really sharp suit. With his mellifluous voice, the sartorially splendid Tim Warfield greeted the guests warmly and enthusiastically, then plunged into the first song of the night, “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” performed with ample creative license by these magnificent (and also smartly dressed) musicians: drummer Billy Williams, Jr., bassist Eric Wheeler, trumpeter Terell Stafford, and (a surprise guest) pianist Cyrus Chestnut. Wheeler led with a stunning bass solo before Stafford came bodaciously swinging in. Warfield followed with his hip interpretation of Johnny Marks’s 1949 novelty tune, made famous by Gene Autry. Chestnut’s fingers nimbly flew across the keys, fashioning multi-colored tones and displaying his mastery of the piano. When the cheers, whistles and applause subsided, Warfield’s soprano sax shepherded us to “The Little Drummer Boy.” His increasingly fierce solo was followed by Stafford’s moody, passionate treatment of this holiday classic. Wheeler and Williams, both exuding virtuosity, technique and taste, laid down just the right fills for Chestnut’s elegant improvisations.

“When what to my wondering eye should appear” but the lovely Philadelphia-born vocalist Joanna Pascale, with her ebony hair tumbling over black lace and satin, shod in ultra-high-heeled patent leather pumps.“O Christmas Tree” took on a whole new meaning in this unique and sublime arrangement. Pascale’s compelling vocal was supported by Warfield’s sweet alto responses and the rhythm section’s flawless accompaniment. A soulful, eloquent rendition of “Let It Snow” followed, with Warfield imaginatively soloing on soprano with rhythms that ran the gamut from swing to Latin, and Chestnut demonstrated his versatility with limitless explorations and hypnotic riffs. Pascale’s arrangement of “Caroling, Caroling” began with an exuberant solo by Warfield, the rhythm percolating and bubbling and Stafford’s notes pouring out of his trumpet like molten lava. The program ended with a sophisticated, sparkling arrangement of Claude Thornhill’s rarely performed “Snowfall,” after which Warfield invited Baltimore’s own Baroness, Marianne Matheny-Katz, to the bandstand. He expressed appreciation on behalf of all the musicians who have played at Jazzway 6004. Marianne was radiant as she sang her sweet rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and the audience enthusiastically displayed their  appreciation.

Then we were all invited upstairs to partake of delicious hors d’oeuvres and the famously delectable desserts that Ms. Matheny-Katz creates herself (blood sugar level be damned!). Thank you, Marianne and Howard, for this remarkable holiday gift. Priceless!

 

Jazzway's Fifth Anniversary - August 1, 2012

By Gail Marten

They did it again! On July 14th, Marianne and Howard Katz celebrated the fifth anniversary of Jazzway 6004 with a concert featuring the multi-talented Warren Wolf on vibes; Anthony Wonsey, piano; Eric Wheeler, bass; John Lamkin III, drums; and special guest artist Delandria Mills, flute. Filmmaker Jon Bevers recorded the performance for a documentary about jazz in Baltimore that he is producing.
Marianne and Howard began the evening with a brief description of the genesis of their unique venue and its goals, which include the showcasing of local musicians and the promotion of jazz in Baltimore. They have given forty-five concerts at their home since June, 2007, including three Art to Dine For fundraisers for the Creative Alliance. During the five years that Jazzway has been presenting concerts, ticket proceeds have totaled $78,000, with $66,000 earned by musicians and about $12,000 raised for the CA. 
The quartet opened the concert with Duke Pearson’s musical question “Is That So?” Mills joined the group for the following tour de force, Harold Land’s “A Night in Barcelona.” Wolf astonished us with the velocity of his solo, and Wonsey adroitly drove us to Spain and back as he traversed the 88 keys of Jazzway’s excellent piano. Wheeler and Lamkin expertly kept us racing along the autopista.
Warren Wolf delivered an amusing monologue, during which he described how he came to know Lamkin, Wonsey and Wheeler. He also shared this information: although he has performed before audiences of 5,000 or more, he finds it mysteriously nerve-wracking to perform in an intimate setting for 100 or fewer.
The music resumed with a passion-soaked treatment of the sweetly poignant “Save Your Love For Me,” by Buddy Johnson, with the musicians extracting every drop of honeyed juice from this succulent berry.
Refreshed, we went back on the road, exceeding the speed limit with an astonishing rendition of “Lover,” a song made famous by vocalist Peggy Lee in the film The Jazz Singer. Wolf, Wonsey, Wheeler and Lamkin played with a jaw-dropping demonstration of skill and musicianship. I imagined a whiff of burning rubber as they accelerated past us toward jazz nirvana.
The musicians were permitted a respite as Wolf introduced his parents Celeste and Warren Wolf, Sr., who thanked Marianne and Howard for their ongoing support of jazz musicians (in particular their son) and presented the couple with a limited edition print of a three-year-old Warren, Jr. playing vibes. 
Mills rejoined the group for Anthony Wonsey’s composition “The Professor,” with its compelling harmonies. Wheeler and Lamkin provided the robust, resilient trampoline on which Wolf and Wonsey executed their exhilarating musical acrobatics.
Marianne and Howard expressed their appreciation to the musicians and the audience; then Baltimore’s own Baroness delighted us with her upbeat, joyous interpretation of Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream.” Jazzway’s fifth anniversary cake was displayed and we were all invited upstairs to enjoy the famously impressive assortment of delicious desserts to die for. Visit www.jazzway6004.org for calendar of upcoming concerts.
– Gail Marten

They did it again! On July 14th, Marianne and Howard Katz celebrated the fifth anniversary of Jazzway 6004 with a concert featuring the multi-talented Warren Wolf on vibes; Anthony Wonsey, piano; Eric Wheeler, bass; John Lamkin III, drums; and special guest artist Delandria Mills, flute. Filmmaker Jon Bevers recorded the performance for a documentary about jazz in Baltimore that he is producing.

Marianne and Howard began the evening with a brief description of the genesis of their unique venue and its goals, which include the showcasing of local musicians and the promotion of jazz in Baltimore. They have given forty-five concerts at their home since June, 2007, including three Art to Dine For fundraisers for the Creative Alliance. During the five years that Jazzway has been presenting concerts, ticket proceeds have totaled $78,000, with $66,000 earned by musicians and about $12,000 raised for the CA.

The quartet opened the concert with Duke Pearson’s musical question “Is That So?” Mills joined the group for the following tour de force, Harold Land’s “A Night in Barcelona.” Wolf astonished us with the velocity of his solo, and Wonsey adroitly drove us to Spain and back as he traversed the 88 keys of Jazzway’s excellent piano. Wheeler and Lamkin expertly kept us racing along the autopista.

Warren Wolf delivered an amusing monologue, during which he described how he came to know Lamkin, Wonsey and Wheeler. He also shared this information: although he has performed before audiences of 5,000 or more, he finds it mysteriously nerve-wracking to perform in an intimate setting for 100 or fewer.

The music resumed with a passion-soaked treatment of the sweetly poignant “Save Your Love For Me,” by Buddy Johnson, with the musicians extracting every drop of honeyed juice from this succulent berry.

Refreshed, we went back on the road, exceeding the speed limit with an astonishing rendition of “Lover,” a song made famous by vocalist Peggy Lee in the film The Jazz Singer. Wolf, Wonsey, Wheeler and Lamkin played with a jaw-dropping demonstration of skill and musicianship. I imagined a whiff of burning rubber as they accelerated past us toward jazz nirvana.

The musicians were permitted a respite as Wolf introduced his parents Celeste and Warren Wolf, Sr., who thanked Marianne and Howard for their ongoing support of jazz musicians (in particular their son) and presented the couple with a limited edition print of a three-year-old Warren, Jr. playing vibes.

Mills rejoined the group for Anthony Wonsey’s composition “The Professor,” with its compelling harmonies. Wheeler and Lamkin provided the robust, resilient trampoline on which Wolf and Wonsey executed their exhilarating musical acrobatics.

Marianne and Howard expressed their appreciation to the musicians and the audience; then Baltimore’s own Baroness delighted us with her upbeat, joyous interpretation of Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream.” Jazzway’s fifth anniversary cake was displayed and we were all invited upstairs to enjoy the famously impressive assortment of delicious desserts to die for. Visit www.jazzway6004.org for calendar of upcoming concerts.

The Significance of The Lyric - February 1, 2011

By Gail Marten
As a vocalist and lyricist, I have been surprised to learn how many of my musician associates are completely oblivious to the words that I’m singing. When listening to and playing music, many instrumentalists tend to hear the orchestration, the harmonics, the rhythmic patterns, the quality of playing, the tonality, etc.  They hear the singer’s intonation, timbre, pitch, expressiveness and phrasing—everything but the words—because they are musicians?
Though many musicians may not hear the words, most listeners do, and they also may feel the pain and joy associated with those words. Vivid memories, impressions and intense emotions are readily evoked from the meanings of lyrics.
I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting and singing with the brilliant pianist and sensitive accompanist Ellis Larkin, who, at age fifteen, had been the first black student admitted to Baltimore's prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music. During his career, Ellis accompanied many famous vocalists, including Herb Jeffries, Joe Williams, Eartha Kitt, Chris Connor, Mildred Bailey, and most notably, the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. 
One summer afternoon in the mid ‘90’s, rehearsing with Ellis at his Baltimore home for an upcoming recording project, he emphasized how important it is for an accompanist to know all of the lyrics to the music he played. He explained the symbiosis of music and lyrics — that knowing the lyrics was essential to understanding and interpreting the song.  Ellis didn’t think much of scatting. “Why would a vocalist want to scat when there are such wonderful words to sing?” He also stressed the significance of the lyric to intelligent phrasing for the vocalist and musician.
Sound engineer Dave Moulton advises musicians and engineers: “Always have a lead sheet with lyrics on it standing by when you mix or are preparing to mix a song…memorize the lyrics…spend some time thinking about those lyrics, wallowing in them. You should make every attempt to go inside the lyrics the way you go inside the music. Let the lyrics resonate inside you. Become one with their images, feelings and associations. Once you have internalized the lyrics, you will be better able to approach the task of mixing the song in which they reside.”
In the summer 2008 issue of Playback, Grammy-winning songwriter Desmond Child emphatically states, "Music is a slave to the lyric... the music is the score to the script...the lyric indicates the orchestration. It dictates the style. It dictates everything."
Dexter Gordon had this to say about ballads. "When you know the lyrics to a tune . . . you have some kind of insight as to it's composition . . . if you don't understand what it's about, your're depriving yourself of being really able to communicate this poem."
Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones proposes: “Lyrics are best when they're mysterious – like listening in to someone else's phone conversation when the telephone wires have crossed. You don't know the history or context. You don't understand the references. So it draws you in even deeper, trying to understand. If you're too obvious and explain everything in your lyrics, you don't get that mystery. So what I do is this: Write out everything I'm thinking, everything I want to say, but then cross out every other line, and write the song using only what's left, even though it doesn't make total sense.” (Hmm…I can’t help but wonder what Alan and Marilyn Bergman would have to say about that…and do you suppose that Cole Porter, Ira Gershwin and Johnny Mercer would concur?)
Some of my lyrics evolve from a question, some tell a story and others employ humor. I often utilize conflict, tension and resolution. Now and then my intention is to intrigue with a seductive enigma. I begin with a theme and let the lyric unfold. Reflection, imagination, empathy and visualization come into play. I seek the sensual, hoping to involve the listener. “Swim with shiny, silver dolphins through Tahiti’s blue lagoons, warmed by orchid-scented breezes…”( excerpt from my lyric “Dream With Me”©). I then sift through what I have written with a fine-tooth comb, refining, revising, enhancing, replacing a word here and there until I am happy with the result. When the listener is touched, inspired or amused in some manner by my lyrics, I have accomplished my purpose. 

 

 

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