Sweded two minute take on San Jose’s Joy Dawn Hackett doing bubble version of Esperanza Spalding ‘Ebony and Ivy’

While this was loading I was checking out the original versions: reminds me of early Stew and The Negro Problem which became “Passing Strange” plus Enorchestra Brian Eno “Taking Tiger Mountain” plus Nicole Mitchell / Lisa Harris “Earth Seed” based on Octavia Butler; the lyrics called to mind Ariel and Prospero from “The Tempest” plus the Sylvia Plath version about horses plus Emily Dickinson plus I want to see Ma Rainey story on Netflix.


The young San Jose musician, a product of San Jose Jazz education outreach efforts and San Jose State music department training, does a livestream from her home studio for SOFA festival, online. 

First she records two vocal parts, harmonies. Then she grabs her bass. She is at an M-Audio keyboard; (I want to say that the first time I saw looping was Howie Day in Providencd at Lupo’s…)

I don’t know the tune, but its good to know that Esperanza Spalding is an influence. Technology can enable people but can be a crutch. And just as not everyone with a camera is a photographer or auteur, just having gear does not make you an artist or musician. But this person who I had never heard of until yesterday — from a blast about another online event via the San Jose Museum — gives me hope. By the way the song is “Ebony and Ivy” not the more well-known title.

And my label project, Lions With Wings, has me trying to experiment with artists of various stripes as a producer, or funder, or instigator. 

Maybe there could be a version of Joy Dawn Hackett “Ebony and Ivy” for Lions With Wings.

Others in my woodshed or spy list:

Zach Ostroff especially his Jack Johnson/Jamie Cullum originals;

Jacob Collier, who I read about in The New Yorker;

Remi Wolf and Jared Solomon although obviously they are on a major label; I knew his dad since about 1978 and met her mom about 8 years ago; she’s come a long way since I saw her at Philz doing “Someone that I used to know” which was new then. 

Dan Horne, doing Canned Heat and a leading Phil Lesh interpreter;

Aubrey Johnson, who I copped from a Dave Douglas podcast; which might but has not lead to a study of the Lyle Mays role in Pat Matheny band.

I won’t say her name but there is a high school student, K-, in the 650 who has done 100 online shows for nursing homes, and was covered in the San Mateo Journal;

Will Magid, from Palo Alto who loves Turkish music and Don Cherry;

Tom Foley, who is Dar Williams’ nephew, who did a Matt Nathanson riff at the Sunday Farmer’s market in the donut hole of quarantine;

Valerie Troutt; come Sunday, which someone said is a prayer as much as a song; which reminds me that I should make a set list for the stream in these pages of a Ellington concert at the Mitch, Mardi Gras a year ago, what a long year; Valerie meanwhile released some content on bandcamp and Slow and Steady platform;

Erik Lawrence and Howard Johnson, looping or spliced version of Eric Dolphy “Serene”; which makes me also want to shed with Little Feat, the Band, the Last Waltz; and randomly: RZA for “Ghost Dog”;

Molly Tuttle, who played in my series 16 months ago and has been ascending like a meteorite — I’d love to hear a solo version on guitar of Prince “When You Were Mine” — she does a verse on a jazz guitar with Lake Street Dive;

“Hadestown” — by Anais Mitchell and company, which includes a young Dartmouth grad, especially since I’m a fan of Todd Sickafoos, its musical director who has produced three different album versions of the original material; 

Dayna Stephens’ “The Duke” on “Peace” cd, and how it relates to the Dave Brubeck version, and Ellington, and Sonny Rollins “The Bridge”;

Actually, my nephew Ben Davis was showing me something on that based on having taken Julian Lage’s seminar, so I will bookend this list with that.

Good luck, Joy Dawn Hackett and all of the above. 

I don’t really have to understand music for my job; I just have to find people who understand music. Its like the joke that you don’t have to outrun a hungry bear, just outrun one other guy on your trip, if attacked by a bear. But I am using my down time during the pandemic to woodshed and listen to the music, and I guess I am taking some risks, or embarrassing myself, with dipping into the crates, doing A & R, artist and repertoire. For booking shows per se, I just need to know that they sold $10k box office at The Independent but are willing to play for $3,500 at The Mitch. And I am maybe getting too much of a kick out of hearing people’s click tracks and rough mixes. It’s like the old saying that if you build a better mouse trap you don’t have to grab them by the….

Keep on swingin’ y’all. 

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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