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Review: My Morning Jacket "Unstaged," Plus Chatting with Erykah Badu and James Tormé

Posted: 06/ 3/11 08:19 AM ET

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Louisville rocked on the cutting edge Tuesday, May 31st, when hometown heroes My Morning Jacket took the stage at The Palace Theater for a three hour performance for Unstaged: An Original Series From American Express. Directed by Todd Haynes, the extravaganza was proudly presented by the partnership of Amex, Vevo and YouTube, incorporating online interactive elements that included previously submitted fan pics of eyeballs and faces via Twitter. Haynes' My Morning Jacket "unstaging" followed those by Arcade Fire (directed by Terry Gilliam), John Legend & The Roots (directed by Spike Lee), Sugarland (directed by Kenny Ortega), and Duran Duran (directed by David Lynch).

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Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

From the concert's opener, "Victory Dance," through its traditional closer, "One Big Holiday," My Morning Jacket siphoned the electricity of the sold out hall and shot it back to their fans. Songs such as "Mageetah," "I'm Amazed," and "Smokin' From Shootin'" were scary powerful; "Slow Slow Tune," "Outta My System," and "Movin' Away" were as moving as anything they've ever played live; and Jim James' outstanding vocals, stellar guitar work, and unquestionable leadership drove the mighty MMJ engine of bassist Tom Blankenship, drummer Patrick Hallahan, keyboardist Bo Koster, and guitarist/vocalist Carl Broemel.

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Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

Basically, the night was a distillation of Z, Evil Urges, and a complete reading of their newest album, Circuital, released the day of the concert. However, this sum was way bigger than its parts in that the show, as a whole, delivered more than any previous concert by MMJ, except, possibly, its four-hour Bonaroo outing. Friends showed up, such as Erykah Badu who, of course, sang on "Tyrone" among others, and Daniel Martin Moore and cellist Ben Sollee who sang on "Wonderful (The Way I Feel)." Also dropping by was Louisville's mayor Greg Fischer to announce the online winning song, "Steam Engine," which turned out to be one of the strongest performances of the night. But "Holdin' On To Black Metal"--with its Cecil B. DeMille cast of lady background singers--was a showstopper, and following Erykah's performance, it helped amp the show to an even higher energy level, as if that were possible. And during the concert break, a short SNL "backstage" skit featuring Rachel Dratch introduced MMJ to itself cloned in retro-goofy outfits which the band appeared in when it returned to the stage.

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Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

For the attending Palace crowd and huge YouTube audience, it had to be intensely satisfying to watch My Morning Jacket evolve from a great alt-rock band to a great American band before their eyes. As for the Unstaged series, it will be interesting to see how far this team of Amex, Vevo, YouTube and Digitas can take the interactive experience in future installments.


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Photo Credit: John Sommers II / Getty Images

A Pre-Concert Conversation with Erykah Badu

Mike Ragogna: Hello, Erykah.

Erykah Badu: Hi!

MR: I loved how you interacted with My Morning Jacket during rehearsal, especially after one of the songs when you reached out and touched hands. That was really sweet. How close are you with this band?

EB: We met a few years ago when they did a cover of my song, "Tyrone." I met them a year before when we were on a documentary together called Before The Music Died. It was a different perspective of what people would understand about the music business--the artist's perspective, and people who are kind of behind the scenes a little more. It was a cool documentary, and that's where I met them originally. We just kind of started listening to each other's music, and I think they're really funky.

MR: They are, and although your styles of music aren't interchangeable, they do blend nicely.

EB: Oh yeah, absolutely. We have some of the same influences.

MR: Who are some of your influences?

EB: The Doobie Brothers--I'm a child of funk--Funkadelic, Grand Central Station, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jimi Hendrix, Chaka Khan...

MR: ...it's funny you put Joni Mitchell in that category because she does consider herself a child of soul.

EB: Oh yes, definitely soul.

MR: When you were rehearsing with the guys, you were playing something that contained percussion samples and something like an electronic theremin, what was the device?

EB: It's called a Roland Handsonic, and I've been playing it onstage for about ten years now. It's like my friend on stage, so no matter where I am, I like to bring those sounds and elements.

MR: You're so rhythmic, do you gravitate toward percussive instruments or to percussion in general?

EB: Absolutely, I'm African. I was an emcee before I was a singer, when I was about ten to sixteen years old, so there was a lot of that influencing me finding my place in the beat--finding my space in there, and achieving that more.

MR: Do you find that the beat pushes out more of what's inside you?

EB: Yeah, that's how I write. I don't ever write words first because that would be poetry. I usually write to the music already done and I find the rhythm in there. Percussively, I write first and then melodically, then I listen to it back and try to interpret what I was trying to say.

MR: Do you find rhythm in things other than music?

EB: Everything. Everything is frequency and rhythm. The sun comes up and then goes down at the same time, like clockwork. Nine months it takes to have a baby, seven days for a period. Green lights and red lights all seem to be syncopated--sometimes I get green lights all the way.

MR: Support of nature, some call that.

EB: That's right.

MR: I guess when you're in the rhythm, you're in rhythm with everything.

EB: Exactly.

MR: Do you find that songs, rhythms and other elements come to you out of nowhere, do they spring from a certain place inside of you?

EB: Yeah. Unfortunately, I don't know where it comes from, but that is fortunate as well, and I don't ever ask. This is just how they made me, and I'm happy to be a part of that--whatever that thing is, I'm plugged into it.

MR: You were singing an impromptu "God Bless The Child" during sound check, and it was very special to hear such a sweet version performed impromptu. And your command of improvisation...

EB: ...it's like "Tyrone." That was an improvisational thing--I was making it up as I was going. It's so funny that (My Morning Jacket) covered that, and it's so funny that that's what I'm known for all over the world. It's like a horrible private joke the universe is playing on me because I've taken so much time and written all these songs, but I'm known for "Call Tyrone..." (laughs)

MR: Nah, you're also known for you own material, come on. (laughs) So, what do you think is going on right now musically in the world? Is there some sort of musical shift, or evolution going on?

EB: I don't know. I'm so far in it that I really can't see what's happening. It's a balance, it seems like. The music business is a balancing act. We're trying to find our way in this new industry where the old model is not working anymore. That also means that there is more freedom in the language of music. With social networking, we are able to stretch out and touch things that we've never touched before. I guess that's what the Age of Aquarius does.

MR: That's what I've been told. What advice do you have for new artists?

EB: Follow your heart.

MR: Of course, but there's so much out there that's distracting and can pull you off course, isn't there? I mean, even following the news...

EB: ...just follow your heart. If you're "distracted" by the news, then that's what you need to write about. Whatever it is, there's no good or bad, it's just following your heart because it never fails you. It usually gets you to the place that you need to be, whether that's a big platform or a small one.

MR: Speaking of big platform, what do you think of tonight's venue here at Louisville's Palace Theater?

EB: I can't wait to see what's happening behind me. I hear it's extraordinary, the lighting... I love My Morning Jacket's set every time they come to town--it's real to me. It feels real, I feel connected, and I'm just looking forward to it. I want to see what you want to see too--the visuals, what happens, what they turn it into.

MR: And it will be interesting to see all of those Twitter eyeballs and faces fans submitted as well.

EB: Yeah man, I want to see what kind of ship this turns into--with the people and the energy too--it's going to be amazing.

MR: Which songs are you singing beyond "Tyrone"?

EB: I'm singing "Worthless Chorus" and "The Day Is Coming." These are two new songs that the audience has never heard, so I can make up some s**t if I wanted to. It's just good to be doing some new, interesting material that I also can relate to.

MR: Also, you realize that tonight's event is pretty cutting edge with fan interaction, staging, and internet broadcasting being coordinated so succinctly. And you've got Todd Haynes directing the show and its visuals as well. What's it been like working with him?

EB: You know, I just got here today. He's very gracious. He's an artist's director. He lets us work things out and block ourselves a little bit, and then he remembers that he's there to incorporate what he's doing into that.

MR: What's on the horizon for Erykah Badu?

EB: I don't know. I'm just in the right now, but I am constantly writing music and working on music. I have another album coming. I'm working with this guy named Flying Lotus out of Los Angeles, California, who is an incredible writer and producer. I'm doing a little secret project, and I don't know what else. I'm working on my own album, of course.

MR: Do you have all of the material together for it yet?

EB: Somewhat. You know, I'm never finished. They have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands, you know? (laughs) But, yes, I'm getting somewhere with it.

MR: Thank you so much for your time, Erykah. It's been a pleasure.

EB: Thank you, Mike.

Erykah Badu with My Morning Jacket Unstaged Set List:
Tyrone
Twinkle
Wordless Chorus
The Day Is Coming

Transcribed by Ryan Gaffney


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A Conversation with James Tormé

Mike Ragogna: Are you there, James?

James Tormé: Mike, I'm here. How are you, my friend?

MR: I'm pretty good. How are you, sir?

JT: I'm doing great. It's wonderful to be with you.

MR: Thank you so much, it's wonderful to be with you too. Love For Sale is your debut album, right?

JT: Absolutely my debut album. It's my first studio, full-length album ever, so I'm obviously excited about getting it out into the world.

MR: Cool. When did you decide to put this together and put it out?

JT: Well, as is the case with many discerning artists, I took a long time developing the album...developing the repertoire, so to speak. I put a lot of time into choosing the songs. When I go to put a song list together, it has seventy songs on it to begin with, and then, I bring it down and down and down. So, it's been about a three-year development on this album, and we were still reworking some things and adding some extra vocal harmonies--The J-Tones, the three girls who sing with me--to a track just three weeks ago. But it is completely done and ready to be exposed to the world, as it were.

MR: It's a beautiful album and you cover a broad range of material. Some of my favorites are, of course, your treatment of the standards. You cover "Autumn Leaves" and you do it in French.

JT: My dad used to do it in French in the mid-'50s. I have a couple of live recordings from the great Crescendo Club here on the sunset strip, which is obviously long since gone. There were these two recordings that he did and I heard him doing it French. I actually speak a little bit of French, where as my dad did not, so I just thought it would be a great idea to do that and then shift from that slow French version into a fast English version. I think it makes for a nice contrast and transition there. Also, I've always loved the song. It's a wonderful song from the great Michel Legrand, so it was not really brain surgery to figure out that I should be on top of that material and do it in French.

MR: Nice. Now, you said your father did the song in French as well?

JT: He did, and then he went into an English version, although it's a little different. My rendition is totally different, but I literally lifted the concept from my dad on that one. (laughs)

MR: Very cool. You also did, "Comin' Home Baby," which is another song that your dad popularized, right?

JT: Absolutely. The funny thing about that is that my father didn't really care for the song at all, so he was in a scenario that I think must be very rare in the artist world, which is to wake up in the morning, see that your song has climbed further up the charts, and be very upset about it.

MR: (laughs) Was he upset about that?

JT: Yeah, very upset, because that meant that he was going to have to do more "rock crap," as he would put it. The Ertegun brothers, who signed him in '62 said, "We understand you. We know that you're a jazz singer and that you should be doing jazz." Then, they promptly came over to the house and presented him with a bunch of Tin Pan Alley re-do's--popular songs from a very recent period, reworked. Of course, this period of time is right in the midst of the rock 'n' roll insurgency, and he didn't really want the songs to do too well because it meant that he would have to do more of that kind of material. I've annexed the song because it suits me much more, and it's really become sort of a signature song for me throughout my burgeoning career. So again, there was no way I could miss out on that one, and we re-arranged it, and I think we did something very special with it. I'm very proud of that cut.

MR: I could picture the split screen--on one side, your dad is singing it with a grimace on his face, and on the other side, you're wearing a grin.

JT: He was grinning, but he was grinning in the way one grins when they are fulfilling a contractual obligation.

MR: (laughs) Very nice.

JT: It's funny how a song can be absolutely like going to the dentist's office for one person and be gold for another. The song totally suits me so much more than my dad--that sort of swinging, '60s version of the future.

MR: That was an interesting period. A little bit later, we started having Michel Legrand and the Bergmans starting to influence popular music. Speaking of them, you do "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life" by the Bergmans, another beautiful track on this record.

JT: Oh, thank you so much. That's another song that isn't as old as people might think. That song came out in a Broadway musical in probably about '70, although it could easily be mistaken for a song from the '40s. It's just a magical gem of a song and one that shouldn't be lost. So, it's a great thrill, again, to rework it. The great John Daversa, who is a great friend of mine, was the lead producer on the album and did a marvelous job with it. Some of the voicings are kind of based on the old Mel Tormé version, and it's a song I certainly know through my dad. I was just happy to be able to put my own stamp on it and contemporize it a little bit, but really pay a lot of homage to the original intentions of the songwriters there.

MR: John Daversa, the trumpet player?

JT: Exactly right. Son of Jay Daversa, another great trumpet player. Between him, myself, and David Paich--who is the son of Marty Paich, the very famous West Coast arranger who did things like Walt Disney's The Lady And The Tramp, and worked with everyone from Sinatra to Sarah Vaughan and Fitzgerald--we have a trifecta of second generation jazz musicians that I have assembled for this project.

MR: Tormé Trek: The Next Generation.

JT: (laughs) Exactly right. It's funny that you mention that Star Trek reference because I grew up with Majel and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, as sort of a second family. Their son Rod Roddenberry, who now runs the entire Star Trek company, so to speak, was my best friend. Later on, my brother Tracy Tormé, who is a great writer, became the protégé and head writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and won the Peabody Award for one of those episodes that he wrote. So, it's very funny that that all ties together if you think about it.

MR: I'll bet you we could find some more connections like that. For instance, I was a big fan of Sliders.

JT: Yeah, my brother Tracy created Sliders and was involved in the initial three seasons on Fox. Then, it became more of a family-oriented, different type of thing when it moved to the Sci-Fi network, and he was much less involved at that point, if at all. But yes, he was the creator and wrote many episodes. Even my dad did a guest role on one of those episodes, where it was a different world and he was a country singer--a country singer who was also a secret informant for the FBI. (laughs)

MR: (laughs) Of course, your father was no stranger to television, with all the specials, etc. that he had done early on, and eventually his Night Court years, right?

JT: My dad had the very first ever afternoon variety television show on American Television, The Mel Tormé Show, which ran from '50 to '52 on CBS. It was really the forerunner of all those other shows that we know and love, from The Nat King Cole Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and everybody. Montel Williams has my dad to thank--it was the very first show like that. He had Peggy Lee on it because it came out of another show they did called, TV's Top Tunes, which was a summer replacement show in the early part of '50. Yeah, my dad did a lot of TV, and he wrote television shows. He wrote episodes of shows like Run For Your Life and The Virginian, and, of course, gave himself very good roles.

MR: (laughs) This is such an education in the six degrees of James Tormé. I love talking about this and about your father, but let's about you again. So, you began this album and it was a three-year process in development, but this came after your winning the Chuck Niles Jazz Music Award, right?

JT: That's exactly right.

MR: Can you describe what that is and how that maybe played a role in deciding your career?

JT: The Niles Award came at a time in my career when I really had the pedal to the metal, and I really wanted to step everything up to the next level of exposure. Chuck Niles was a very beloved voice of jazz on KJazz out here on the West Coast, forever. When he passed, his widow, Tracy Niles, created the Chuck Niles award and competition, which was held at the Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival. I recorded an EP, and it did very well for an EP--I had no label, no management, and no real anything, so I just did everything on my own--was called, Coming Home and had been sent in and noticed, and I became one of the finalists for that. I competed against a couple of very talented outfits, and we were fortunate enough to win. My band is so ridiculous that I kind of thought we'd probably won before I came onstage. My wonderful trio--Ryan Cross, Brandon Coleman, and Gene Coye--was playing, and I just saw the kinetic exchange between them and the audience. I felt like unless I went out there and couldn't make any good noises, we were going to be in a good shape. So, I was fortunate enough to win that and that was greatly instrumental with me getting noticed, along with a ton of radio and internet radio support that I got for that EP, which, of course, is unusual. It was on over one-hundred radio and internet stations even though it wasn't a full album.

MR: That's why I was a little shy earlier when I said Love For Sale is your debut album.

JT: Yeah, I did get a lot of exposure. I was fortunate enough to have a station in New England area--some people out there sort of went nuts. Some people here on the West Coast kind of went nuts for a couple of the cuts also, and that is what led me to be introduced to the man who ultimately signed me, Chuck Mitchell--the former president of Verve Records. He's at E1 Music, which is the label I'm with now.

MR: "Come Back To Me," the Robert Goulet song, is another one of my favorites. It's from the musical, On A Clear Day...

JT: ...exactly right--On A Clear Day You Can See Forever.

MR: Then there's the Barbara Streisand movie version.

JT: And let's not forget the great Peggy Lee version. The Bill Holman arrangement that you hear there is from that Peggy Lee version.

MR: What are you thoughts on American Idol?

JT: You know, I was actually inspired by American Idol--either the first or second season--when Fantasia got up and sang "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?" a song we've been discussing. I stood up, tears welled in my eyes, and I realized that that is what I should be doing--bringing a contemporary, new, fresh look to some of these wonderful pieces of copyright that are there. Also, I wanted to educate, and leave the legacy of those songs to my own generation. Actually, it was an inspiration, although I have to confess that I'm not a huge follower of the show at this point, but I have to be fair and give credit where its due. I had been doing more r&b, writing my own stuff at the time. I was in a residency here at The Viper Room in Los Angeles, doing mostly my own material, which was much more Michael Jackson/Justin Timberlake, and much less what we've been talking about.

MR: Yeah, for me, these shows can just be hard to watch.

JT: I totally understand what you're saying. It's tough to watch the process when it isn't totally organic, the way that, traditionally, people get noticed, but there have been some very talented people who've come up through the show, so it's a double-edged sword, so to speak.

MR: Now, you do some really incredible scat singing at the end of "Comin' Home Baby." Who are your influences with that approach?

JT: My influences, in terms of scat, are really Ella Fitzgerald and my dad. Those are the two people that, stylistically, I osmosis-ized, I guess, being at The Hollywood Bowl for twenty years watching my dad. Ella Fitzgerald was really my dad's favorite singer, bar none. It was amazing when they used to get together, by the way.

MR: Yeah, that must have been amazing.

JT: They were very much the male and female equivalent of each other. Ella was my dad's favorite singer, and I'd be hard pressed to name someone that I'm more partial to. It's a funny thing, scat--you really can't teach it. People have come to me and said, "Teach me. Let me learn how to do it." But it's easier said than done--it sort of has to happen, if you know what I mean.

MR: Yeah, it comes from a place that is both improvisational and inspirational, right?

JT: Yeah, but as my dad used to say, "The one thing that is paramount is that you know the melody upside down and right side up." You really have to know the melody inside out and that allows you to embellish, to extemporize on it with freedom. Then, you can explore everything that is available in every moment of the chord progression. Now, I have a slight disagreement with my father on that because I've sat in with some Brazilian outfits where they call me in and I go on a twelve minute scat odyssey over music that I have no idea, really, where they're going to go. I think that if you have a certain level of improvisational ability, maybe you don't have to know the melody backwards and forwards, but it certainly helps.

MR: I've heard the theory that there is a certain junction point, when all of the musicians are playing together live, that is like kicking in the door. Then, all of a sudden, that well of inspiration is opened up. It seems like when that happens, everybody is just perfectly in sync with each other, and they know that whatever they do, it will be the right thing for that moment.

JT: Well, you're absolutely right, and it's a joy to function on that level. I was just playing last night in L.A, at a club called Trousdale--I'm doing a month there. We got into some zones last night where we even surprised ourselves, even though we're used to playing together, obviously. We delight in becoming one mind, as it were. I'll just turn around and look at Brandon Coleman on keyboards, and he just gives me that look like, "How did you know what I was going to do?" There's some kind of hypnotic, subliminal thing that goes on with jazz musicians that I think is unique to the jazz genre. Because it is such an improvisational genre, you lean on your ability so much and that muscle becomes quite well schooled. It just becomes a well-oiled machine where you can just go places where none of us knew what we were going to do, yet it happened.

MR: Now, you were influenced by people like Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire, right?

JT: Absolutely. My father obviously was influenced by a slimmer section of American music history from maybe the early '30s through the late '40s, whereas I was influenced by all of those things plus everything that has come out since. I have an interesting mosaic of artists who have definitely made an impact on me--people like Todd Rundgren, Elvis Costello, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Steely Dan, James Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt. Then, on the jazz side, other than my father and Ella Fitzgerald who I've mentioned to you already, people like Carmen McRae and June Christy have had a big influence on my singing. It's an interesting texture that you have, when you have all of these influences that are feeding the well, so to speak. I hope to be able to reflect those things when I record.

MR: You split your growing up between the U.K. and the West Coast, right?

JT: That's true, and that affected me very much too because I had Jamiroquai, The Brand New Heavies, The James Taylor Quartet, and Incognito, which were all outfits that prided themselves on really using uniquely live instrumentation--real horns, real woodwinds, real strings. On my album, by the way, there is not a single machine--it's all acoustic, which is something I'm very proud of, especially in this day and age where it's challenging to get things like that made, but I went for it--I went for gold, Mike.

MR: (laughs) And you got it. What was it like in the studio working with these guys?

JT: Oh, we had so much fun. We all share so much commonality, in terms of our musical loves and also the reverence for the legacies that we come from--me, John Daversa, and David Paich. I had some other wonderful people involved in the album like Tricia Battani, who helped out on vocal production. We just had a lot of fun and yet were taking what we were doing very seriously and wanted to make sure that we passed the legacy on in as beautiful a way as possible. I think everybody really enjoyed the process. There were challenges--I revisited at least a couple of the songs because I decided after being done with that song that I wanted to do something a little bit different. John Daversa was no joke, man. He was very strict with me. On the one hand, he kept me on a very specific course, and on the other hand, allowed me not to feel penned-in because I like to experiment a lot. Within provisions of the time and what we could do, though, I had to kind of limit that and stay on this course that he would help keep me on. So, I walked the line on that and I think it worked out. I'm just really grateful for the response that we've already had.

MR: I have to ask you at this point, what is your advice for new artists?

JT: My advice would be, first of all, stick with your vision. If you believe in it, and you really feel it, that is sort of five-sevenths of the battle. Having that authenticity that comes from doing something from within you, and that is along a course that you have plotted, I think is very important--not to kowtow to outside forces too much. At the same token, you have to walk a line sometimes to get music made, so you just have to keep your original vision in there.

Also, I would say don't be penned in by your training. I used to say that my father was a great musician and I'm really a musical person--another double-edged sword. But I think it's an advantage for me as a jazz singer because I'm not confined by the hypothetical bookend of having too much training. That makes it possible to explore every possibility without thinking, "Ooh, I can't do that. I shouldn't be doing that. Nobody does that. That's not technically correct." There is a freedom to keeping a part of you that is almost in a child-like sense--I consider myself a grown adolescent.

The third thing I'd say is some people are fortunate enough to have the support of their family and then there are a lot of people whose families look at what they're doing and they're rolling their eyes. I say to those people, I kind of had some of that dynamic, where coming out of show business, a lot of my family was like, "You're not really going to beat your head against a wall being a jazz singer and living out of a suitcase like your father, are you?" I would say, hold on to your dreams, don't be discouraged, and be your own best friend when it comes to that. Keep doing it, and it will work out.

MR: Beautiful. James, was Mel your mentor when you were growing up?

JT: Very much so. We sang together. He knew that I had a ton of him in me, so to speak--the genetic manifestation runs strong. But by the same token, I've really developed so much more since then. It's a shame--I'm sure he's watching from wherever he is. He definitely encouraged me and he actually executive produced my first few recordings. "I'm going to send you to this recording studio, and you'll work with these people." So, he definitely gave me that chance, and was open, saying, "This is your dream. You're not aspiring to be a serial rapist or porn star."

MR: A porn star.

JT: Yeah, in other words, "It's an astute dream and it's something valuable and I'm going to encourage you." That meant everything to me.

MR: It's so great to have had that kind of influence, Mel Tormé being--I'd like to hear it from the son's lips...

JT: ...oh, The Velvet Fog.

MR: Sweet. I've always loved that term. What a smooth, beautiful, incredible voice he had, and James, I know that no one likes to compare themselves to other legends--and this one being your father--but you have a lot of your father in you, in these recordings especially.

JT: You're very kind. I'm a person who doesn't run from that legacy--I embrace it, and I'm thankful to be in the same sentence, so thanks, Mike.

MR: You're very, very welcome. We have time to talk about one more song. What would that be?

JT: This song, "A Better Day Will Come," is a song that was sent by a totally unknown songwriter to my dad about forty years ago on a demo tape. That man's dream was to have one of his songs recorded or published by someone of note. He never did have a song published, and he passed on to the next dimension before that could happen. I discovered this song, literally in a box of tapes at the time of my dad's death while going through things. It was on a baby tape that had me as a two year old with my mother and father. Then, when the family posterity ended, this incredible music came on. It was low level recording, and some of them were just clips and ideas for songs. Anyway, I discovered a click of an idea for a song called, "A Better Day Will Come." I added a little to it, reworked it, and finished it, so to speak, and we sent it in, and it just won the John Lennon Award for songwriting in the jazz category. It's an incredible story, and I'm sure the writer, Carl E.K. Johnson, is looking down with great pride. So, that's a very special song.

MR: That's a great story, what a really sweet thing for you to have done.

JT: Thanks. It's really a thrill to have the song be recognized like that after all this time.

MR: Thank you very much for spending this time. I look forward to seeing what comes from you in the future.

JT: Mike, a total pleasure to talk with you.

Tracks:
1. Let's Stay Together
2. Love for Sale
3. A Better Day Will Come
4. Passin' By
5. What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
6. Rock with You
7. Autumn Leaves
8. Come Back to Me
9. Comin' Home Baby
10. Reminiscing in Tempo
11. One or the Other
12. Soft Songs

Transcribed by Ryan Gaffney

 
 
 

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