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The Art and soul of Music – part 1
Tilly & Debra each at their Pianos
Tilly Loves Music, especially Jazz! On this past Tuesday Tilly had pleasure of interviewing Debra Mann who is a lovely Jazz Musician. She is a singer and pianist who began classical piano studies at age six. She went on to study at Miami Dade Jr. College, and graduated cum laude from Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Ms. Mann has also had training in voice (both classical and jazz studies), advanced jazz improvisation, and composition (both with the renowned Charlie Banacos). She has been described as: “‘A voice that wraps itself around a microphone like a soft feather boa’” - Rebecca Parris, Eight-time Boston Globe winner, ‘Outstanding Jazz Vocalist’ … “A wonderful gift for communicating emotionally when she sings. Her songwriting – an obvious melodic gift, and such a gift is rare.” - Michael Scott, professional composer, Warner Bros. Music
We are honored to share a bit of the interview with you here today. We did take some liberties in paraphrasing for we spoke for about an hour!
Tilly: We have been thinking, and chatting, about Public Art for the past few weeks here in the Land of Botaniumus. Do you think of Music as Public Art?
Debra: Yes- it can be. Music is available in so many different mediums/venues, i.e. on the street, on a public P.A., so many places are possible. In a city you often can’t walk down a block without hearing a musician playing. Warm weather brings out the public and the musicians with organized Concerts in Parks. In today’s world there are no more Boom Boxes, they have been surpassed with personal headphones, it seems like we have enclosed the music. (We both are a bit sadden by this.)
Tilly: Do you “transform” into your music when you are performing?
Debra: Yes-it’s a process. It begins even before I even leave the house. As I am getting ready to go, putting on my make-up, loading the car, driving to the site, while I drive I am doing vocal warm ups, and finger exercises on my knees. It is all part of it! (Tilly and I feel a sense of excitement and joy in her voice, that I am guessing she feels as she prepares.) When I get to the place, I am mentally prepped. Then the music starts! I am given over to a greater power, tapping in to be a vessel for inspiration – ego must get out of the way – it’s a place that is just about the feeling of the music. I am transformed (and hopefully) the listener is as well.
Tilly: You said to me that Jazz means to you that one lets go, you see/feel what happens, and all that affects the music. Your music is fluid and free-flowing – rigid rehearsals are not part of your Jazz. It is more improv. We love that and wonder how does that work in a performance setting?
Debra: As we play everything effects where we go with the music. It’s alive and we go where we feel the music and audience takes us. The immediate response, the moving and shifting based on EVERYONE, the musicians and the audience. That is the beauty of a live performance!
Tilly: Do you write your own music?
Debra: I am writing more and more –lyrics and instrumentals.
I have made it a part of my day. I write everyday. I am so prolific I almost have to put the brakes on! I typically write a set of chords first. Lyrics can take over and drive. I am writing more and more instrumentals, and I may or may not embed lyrics into them later. When I perform, I sing and play jazz standards, primarily, as well as some originals. I hope to perform more originals as I continue with this outpouring of writing…I am loving all this writing and hoping to perform and record more.
Tilly: Where can we hear you play? (The Interview was performed over Skype but Debra lives in RI, Tilly is hanging out in RI for a bit, these listing are for the local New Englanders!)
~ Friday, May 27, 2011
Debra Mann Piano and Vocal with Bass player Frankie Rizzuto at
The Lobster Pot
119 Hope Street /
Bristol, RI / 02809-2047
~ Sat, May 27, 2011
Debra Mann Trio at
Live Jazz at the Vineyard Bring your friends and a picnic, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon in the summer!
582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871 / 1-4 pm
401) 847-3777 http://www.greenvale.com
~ Sun, May 29, 2011
Debra Mann Trio at
Ocean Cliff Hotel & Resort
In the Safari Restaurant
65 Ridge Rd, Newport, RI, 02840, (401) 841-8868
Tilly: Debra – it has been a pleasure- thanks so much!
Stay tuned for part 2 ! Watch in the near future for more, for we had a fascinating conversation about Art that you hear, verses Art that you see.
Debra Mann Website : http://www.debramann.com