Thursday, April 19, 2012


Italy turned purple by the time I got back from my 2 weeks in New York - bulging with glicini, fragrant flowers that surge like water out of thick, thick vines. You'd never know these vines had such enthusiasm, so brown and normal most of the time. Now I know their tough grips around porches and gates have just been anticipation for their few weeks each year to let go and be their true, wild selves!

In English, they're Wisteria - it makes sense. Their short-livedness fills you with wistfulness. Makes me more aware how precious this pregnant time is. My belly is popping with boy-flowers. 

Armando my neighbor's been adding some sparkly materials to his house and keeps insisting that I visit the woman next to the Municipio who sells tote bags with my cities on them, "New York!" and "Chicago!" 

Moved out of Brooklyn on my trip, after 16 years in the same apartment across from the women's shelter. Usually the women trade curses on a regular schedule, but this time there was straight silence. Felt like a mourning for the end of something. But once the piano rolled out the door on it's side,

and every last music business book and Main Squeeze Accordion Orchestra mermaid costume was taped up and sent packin', I gave the apartment a hearty thank you for my beautiful years there, locked the door, and felt the waters (of time!) dripping down my back, so cathartically. I put aside my prettiest dresses to bring to Italy, 
and my mics. 

I've been sentimental about closing my teaching business though. I gave my beloved first accordion ever, bought my first year ever in New York, to my beloved first piano student ever: Annabelle.

And she gave me this adorable one for the bambino in return:

Besides moving, the goal of the trip was to record my New York band for my 3rd album, Plexi Lusso. The name is inspired by a plexiglass table in my childhood livingroom (when you got on your knees and looked through the sides, you could see yourself in infinite reflections) and the name of the finish on my accordion ("Extra Lusso"). Early March, following a gorgeous winter concert at spring-named movie theater ("Teatro Primavera") in Vicenza, 

Jimmy Weinstein and I ventured out to Udine again to record the 2nd round of piano and drum tracks to form the foundation of the album. The studio is regarded as one of the best for jazz in Italy, and the endless Fazioli plays like a gold river. 

Giacomo engineered great. He told us his last name means "homeless guy."

Our little casa was a musical candystore in prep for NY, adding organ, saw and harp to Heartache is an Orange, electric guitar and oboe to Linguaglossa, and a new happy R&B-ish ending to L.E.D., my song about my palm-size square light that changes colors. Everything got stuffed on a hard drive and as close to me as my Passport, as Becca and I (my childhood friend who was in Italy for the Bologna children's book fair) hopped on the plane, first! (I've never seeeeen such an eyeroll as when I asked the ultra mascara'ed woman at the gate if pregnant women can board early. I think her eyes actually took a flight and then returned!)

The first bagels were bought for the session at NuNoise, my I'm in Crinoline co-producer Joe Mardin's studio in Chelsea, where the elevator opened to Julia Seager-Scott's borrowed harp. 

Julia and I met at one of my favorite places in the whole world, Interlochen National Music Camp in Michigan. One year after we were too old for camp, Julia came to visit me in Chicago from Toronto, and we toured the Lyon & Healy harp manufacturers, and watched them cover the instruments in delicate gold leaf. We wore matching sweaters and did Italian mud masks from a jar.  

I had written Julia a harp part for Linguaglossa, my song about aeroacrophobia in Sicily, but she said "why don't you write me some parts for other songs too, since I'm flying in?" So Emma and Heartache is an Orange got spruced up, and Julia just *sparkled* on all three. 

Tom Gavin arrived to bless the album with his thoughtful and bombastic guitar playing. 

The next morning, drummer Jeff Davis and I puttered past the city skyline out to Tedesco Studios in Jersey, where we pulled up my first home demo of Everyone's in Love (always had something about it that made me smile), adding drums to lift the energy even higher for the record. 

And this silhouette of skyline’s 
not sweet blades of grass you can 
settle right up to your mouth?
Blow through - 
make a purified sound? Ah…

We pounded out a few more songs, and downed some Greek veggie sandwiches with our engineer. Met up with Jeff again after a weekend and two rivers, in Williamsburg, where he laid down vibraphone at Vibromonk. 

Trumpeter Greg Glassman arrived to blow us away...

then Peter Hess, to add gorgeously layered saxes, flutes, clarinets...

and Matt Renzi, who happened to be in from Italy like me, languished us on oboe.  

Back at NuNoise the next morning to add glowing harmonies by Nicole Scheller 

and more Tom on guitar, including my three favorite intertwining lines on the gentle song, Chris. The afternoon brought in the lovely Karen LeBlanc wrapped in a fantastic beige and bulbous coat with her musical saw peeking out. Here she is playing on Heartache is an Orange. 


The night was lit up with a surprise ticket to witness my friend Raul Midon absolutely bring the house down at Joe's Pub. He played my favorite song, Sunshine, while the waiter brought me extra-bright non-alcoholic pineapple drinks. 

The next morning I chatted with a sassy gold-panted Jersey resident on the bus from Port Authority before arriving for the string session Kaledoscope Sound Studios. 

Uber-kind Randy Crafton engineered the most hardcore of all the sessions, 

with me conducting Mary Rowell, Cenovia Cummins, Kenji Bunch, and Mary's sister Frances. 

Frances brought a cello chair that she invented! 

I finally got to hear the string parts on Lucertole - until now they were just wispy computer strings - but these serious cats engorged every harmony. The song compares Italian tile floors embossed with lizard images to a magic square puzzle, and talks about an untrustworthyness I felt my first full summer in Italy, running outside in my American gym clothes, practically killing all the scurrying lizards, and learning about acquaintances who slept with prostitutes. As the floor tiles move, they click into trysts to cover inner loss, and by the end, they form an image of myself. I question my own trustworthiness in this new place. 

The sessions finished with a big sigh... 

and some Cuban food with my then-pregnant friend Monika (welcome Zachary James!) in a Hoboken joint spiraling with festive Cuban melodies. The rest of the trip was just easy-goin' bubble blowin', with a bubble-maker designed by Annie and Maisie for a Sunday brunch with close friends. 

No rolly-eyes on the way back to Italy, where I found myself playing one of the best concerts of my life, sold-out at Teatrino Zero in Spinea.

I was joined by Jimmy Weinstein and Matt Renzi (who got back to Italy around the same time as me!). 

There was an enormous candy truck camped outside after the show, with gummy lizards and gummy teeth. 

Jimmy and I recreated L.E.D. with a gummy bear.


On Saturday Finni and I are going to the funeral of his young relative Elisabetta, married only 2 years, who started getting strong headaches about a year ago and recently discovered she had brain cancer. Looking outside, the glicini look more purple, cascading with the drenching spring sky.  

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