Mary Hermann García (vocals), Al Hermann (trombone), Antonio García (trombone, percussion, vocals), John Conley (guitar), Wells Hanley (piano), Brian Sulser (bass), C.J. Wolfe (drums)
Each song on the album holds a special meaning for me. And it was an honor to work with the talented musicians on this album. The album is particularly special because it features both my dad and my husband, Tony. My dad is a world-renowned jazz trombonist (and physicist) and my husband is an acclaimed jazz trombonist, composer, and educator. I grew up in New Orleans surrounded by standard tunes, bebop, blues, and Brazilian tunes and am delighted to be able to present this CD of some of my favorites.
I've had the pleasure of working with all of the musicians on this album on live performances prior to this recording. Pianist Wells Hanley and drummer C.J. Wolfe and I had collaborated on a few tunes previously; and guitarist John Conley and bassist Brian Sulser are regular members of our performing quartet. Going into the studio with these amazing musicians was a great deal of fun. All but my dad have ties to Virginia Commonwealth University, where I am a professor and chair the Counselor Education Department. Our engineer, Ryan Corbitt, is also a VCU Jazz alumnus.
1. JOY SPRING
I first noticed this Clifford Brown tune when I heard it performed by a D.C. armed services jazz band at The Midwest Clinic conference in Chicago. Their vocalist sang a “soli” in unison with the horns that I thought was terrific. I began learning the tune and told Tony that I'd be interested in learning a soli for it as well. So he composed the one heard on this track. It's not an easy soli, but it was a lot of fun!
This is one of the first songs I learned in Portuguese. I've been studying Portuguese for several years with my tutor, Laura Ann Singh. It's a beautiful language, and the lyrics of bossa novas are typically much more poetic in their original language than in English translations. The guitar is the anchor of bossa and samba, and I love John's intro as it sets the mood beautifully for the piece.
I remember hearing this song a lot growing up, and it was on a CD I used to listen to when I would drive back to New Orleans from my first job in academia at Mississippi State University. It was almost a five-hour drive, and as I would get closer to New Orleans I would put on a jazz CD to match the mood as I saw the first glimpses of the skyline of my beloved city. It was usually twilight; and as I drove in from the East, the city was particularly beautiful. I have such happy memories associated with this song, so I wanted to include it on the CD.
This is my dad's first appearance on the CD. We recorded all of his tunes in one day so that he could fly right back to Colorado. He keeps a crazy-busy schedule of teaching physics and gigging around the world! One of the legendary Carl Fontana's last CDs was a pairing on my dad's CD, “The Jazz Trombone”; and dad has a number of other CD appearances out.
4. MY FAVORITE THINGS
I am very much an optimist and try to take time to see all of the beautiful things life has to offer. The lyrics to this song fit my philosophy of life. I also love musicals; “The Sound of Music” was one of my childhood favorites. I remember my grandmother taking me to see the movie version when I was young. I would sing songs from this and other musicals for my grandparents in their living room. They were very special to me, and I dedicate this song to them.
This is another beautiful bossa nova. John and Tony came up with this lovely intro and ending in about 30 seconds. The tune is a wonderful opportunity for me and my sweet hubby to share the moment.
6. OLD DEVIL MOON
I was a member of the Brother Martin Drama Club in high school. I even earned a letter for my work with the Club. Considering Brother Martin is an all-boys school, I am particularly proud of this. (I earned a letter in academics at my high school, Mount Carmel Academy, the same year!) I tried out for my first musical at Brother Martin by singing along to this song, which was being played on a cassette tape - it was 1978. I was cast with a singing part! I didn't get to sing this song on stage; so I am excited to sing my version of the song now. It reminds me of the fun I had in high school, and my experience with my friends in the drama club was a highlight of my high school experience.
There are so many great Jobim tunes. This one has such beautiful lyrics. The first verse has particularly beautiful imagery beginning with the setting of a guitar playing in a little bar with a view of the iconic Redeemer statue in Brazil. It is great to get to share this song with my dad!
8. SAINTS/DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS
My dad, mom, daughter, husband, and I are all New Orleans natives; so we know what it means to miss New Orleans! And with the exciting rise of the New Orleans Saints to Super Bowl victory a few years ago, the city had more to celebrate. I came up with an idea to create a medley of these two tunes, starting with a drum cadence that suggests the Saints' “Who Dat” chant, with the link between songs being the “sun” of the first tune and the “moon” of the second. Tony put it to paper, and we hope you enjoy it. With two trombones working the traditional New Orleans jazz lines, what more do we need?!
9. GAROTA DE IPANEMA/GIRL FROM IPANEMA
This song reminds me of being with my dad in the summer when I was young. I used to go with him to work sometimes, and he would play this song on our cassette recorder in the car. I love the Portuguese lyrics and how they convey the feel of the song, but I thought I'd share the English lyrics as well.
10. HOW HIGH THE MOON
This is one of my favorite standard tunes. It was fun to showcase the two active trombonists in my family on this one. I say “active” because my brother-in-law, José, was also a trombonist in his earlier years; and all three went to the same Jesuit High School in New Orleans. I might have gone there myself, if it wasn't boys-only!
Tony and I often sing this duet as a closer to our live gigs. He scat-sings a lot, originally to demonstrate to his students that solo-improvisation starts in your head, not on your horn. But he continues to scat in public because it's fun for him and the audience. This is a bluesy love song for us!
It was a January joy to record Joy Spring for you. The vibe in the studio was always fun, creative, and exciting. As one musician said on record jokingly after the end of a first take: “Well, that swung hard. Should we do eight more takes just to be sure?” We projected our delight into the music of each tune and moved on.
This project is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, and these were two wonderful days. My thanks to all involved with the CD. Special thanks to my Portuguese tutor, Laura Ann Singh.
Antonio García solos on tracks #1, 5, 8 (plunger, right channel), & 10 (cup, right channel), plus as vocalist on #11. He plays percussion on #2 (snare drum), #3 (shaker), #7 (shaker & claves), & #8 (tambourine).
Al Hermann solos on tracks #3, 7, 8 (open, left channel), 9, & 10 (open, left channel).
On #11 Brian Sulser sings along with his bass solo.
All tracks arranged by Antonio García except for #2 & 5 (arr. John Conley & A. García) & #8 (arr. Mary Hermann García & A. García).
Recorded January 7-8, 2013 at Songwire Studios, Richmond, VA; Ryan Corbitt (engineer), Michael Hegner (intern). All vocals were recorded in real-time interaction with the ensemble.