Nicolas Bearde, Singer/Songwriter About Nicolas Bearde, I very recently had the pleasure of presenting presenting him. He's a vocalist and songwriter I've admired for sometime. A founding and current member of Bobby McFerrin's Voicestra vocal ensemble, Nicolas Bearde is recognized internationally as an adept and fearless improviser. I enjoy the fearless aspect of his singing. A jazz recording artist, Nicolas combines jazz, pop, rhythm and blues. A primary member of the McFerrin acapella group, he has also created a notable solo career. Much can be said about him, but what is evident when he sings is that he is doing exactly what he loves and there's such power in it.
Concert Introduction, Lorraine During his warm up and sound check, Nic asked, "Do you think I'll need a mic?" I'd been upstairs during his vocal check but could hear him well and said, "Hey, your voice fills the room just fine. Don't think you'll need a mic at all." How fortunate Nic is to have a voice that sails like it does. Even with William Beatty's electric piano going and the full sound of Aaron Germain's acoustic bass, his baritone voice still takes center position in more ways than just volume. He's been singing a long time and has a relationship with his voice that he can count on. As we watched and listened to him during his performance, he seemed to do so from a place informed by many experiences, life experiences. That came through and sailed in our direction riding on notes, phrasing, expression that snagged us and triggered connection to our own individual histories. I also love it when other established and seasoned musicians choose to be present and whose attention is held by a performance. At one point well known bass player Jim Kerwin leaned over to me and shared, "He's really a stand up guy and quite the musician." I couldn't have agreed more.
Nicolas Bearde, Lorraine, Aaron Germain, William Beatty Musicians as Nicolas Bearde also surround themselves with equally impressive colleagues. William Beatty, on keys made that clear. For five years, William honed his skill as a member of a group led by Jules Broussard and also toured throughout the U.S and Europe with band Indigo Swing. He met Nicolas Bearde when working a popular San Francisco night spot. Also a composer, his work is captured in a CD entitled, Songs of Unconditional Love. Since the early 60's I've embraced the concept of unconditional love.
First Set: William Beatty, Aaron Germain, Nicolas Bearde Bass player Aaron Germain, a Massachusetts native, cut his teeth playing jazz, blues, funk, reggae, Senegalese mbalax then entered the world of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian forro, and other Latin music forms. He'd performed with artists as Yusef Lateef, Stanley Jordon, Andy Narell, John Handy, Mary Wilson, Melba Moore and others. In bass player style, he released music drawing from a broad musical palette, pulling you into a vibration he articulated with such effortless mastery. Days after the concert, Aaron mailed me his CD entitled, Before You Go. I haven't told him yet, but I listened to it as I began cooking the day it arrived. When I cook, it's quiet and I can concentrate. I expected to just hear a few cuts, but with it's opening, he had my attention. What I heard, cut after beguiling cut, was complex, sophisticated, dynamic, nuanced, purposeful, and masterful down-the-center jazz. I was very impressed. We'll probably have a conversation soon about having him back to play some of this work. This is one aspect of presenting I enjoy. Great musicians bring great musicians that open up additional possibilities.
My sophmore album concluded with "Moonlight In Vermont" a lovely classic that can be laid back at my Mother's feet. My mother and her crew loved to have card parties, and oh, how they loved a good ballad. I remember hearing them shouting "Honey, hush!" and finger-popping and whooping. I grew up hearing this song in my head, but never knew the lyrics until the first time I sang it live, back in the 90's. The songwriter, Johnny Blackburn, who was 92 at the time, and living on the Oregon coast, contacted me after I released the album saying, " It was with great pleasure that I recently learned about your CD release that included my song. Logging into your web page, I read the wonderful story of your mother and her card parties, and how they really enjoyed a good ballad. So do I! Your vocal styling and interpretation are just wonderful. Continued success to you, and thank you for recording "Moonlight in Vermont". In our email exchanges, Mr. Blackburn shared his inspiration for writing this song. He had spent some time teaching school at Bennington College in Vermont, and knew a little bit about the lay of the land. When he and co-writer, Karl Suessdorf decided to write a song, they decided to do one about a state, figuring that the state would always be there....so would the song. " The words came as naturally as breathing" he said. Besides feeling honored that he contacted me, out of the blue, he sent me this promotional photo of himself and Margaret Whiting upon the songs' release in 1954, and an autographed score. How special was that??