Estelle Kokot writes about:
– the Pledge campaign for her new album The Sound of You with guest Chico Freeman, produced by Jan Pulsford.
– her Vortex gig on Sunday Feb 9th.
– her forthcoming tour of South Africa.
I met composer/producer/virtual artist, Jan Pulsford, by chance on MySpace in 2005. She has written, produced and toured with many artists, including Thompson twins, Cyndi Lauper, Melanie and Darlene Love. Cyndi’s album Sisters of Avalon was co-written and co-produced by Jan.
Jan and I met face to face in 2010 at my Halloween gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club and in 2011 we became ‘real life friends’ and started talking about working together.
In December 2012 Ms Pulsford introduced me to her long-time writing partner, multi–reed man and composer Chico Freeman. I was over the moon when Jan and Chico asked me if I would like to sing and record a selection of their co-written works. While listening to a couple of Chico’s more complex instrumentals recorded by previous line ups, two tracks stood out as a major musical challenge for me.
The first one is bassist, Avery Sharpe’s brilliant version of Chico Freeman’s composition ‘Evolution‘ on his album Dragon Fly. Why spoil a masterpiece by singing it? Add Jan Pulsford’s lyrics and you’ve got a song. “There’s a sound that I hear inside my heart keeps beating like a bass drum. Seems I’ve found what’s been missing from the link that makes us be at one”
I’ve drawn on my South African roots for many of the arrangements and have adapted a few things that make ‘Evolution‘, in particular, more manageable technically. Part of my learning curve, taking on a project like this, has been to acknowledge my limitations, what this music can teach me and how far I can push the boundaries. At my last Vortex gig I chose to play and sing Evolution by memory and came horribly unstuck half way through, ending up repeating the same line over and over till I could remember what came next and now it’s part of the arrangement!
Secondly, there is Chico’s composition ‘Mys-Story‘. The definitive instrumental version is on his ‘Tradition in Transition‘ album and features Cecil McBee on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, Clyde Criner on piano and Chico Freeman on tenor saxophone. When I heard this beautiful track for the first time I wanted to put my head on my arms and weep. ‘How,’ I asked myself, ‘was I ever going to be able to sing what was already a perfect instrumental?’ Along came Jan again, gave me her thought provoking lyrics and suddenly it all made sense. “Long ago before time started to rush and old was something that other people became”
I am approaching every song as if it was written for me. In some cases with the added verses, they have been. I have to do it this way and I think most singers do. We take a song and we make it ours. Mys-Story is so close to how I feel about my own life, I have renamed it ‘My Story‘.
Jan, Chico and I have launched a Pledge Music profile to raise funds to cover recording and production costs for The Sound of You. Chico is going to guest on three tracks on the album – at least. I feel incredibly blessed and happy about that.
It’s quite daunting to throw this campaign out there into the public domain. We hope that people will back us, and we are giving it everything we’ve got!
Before heading out to South Africa to tour and record with bassist, Herbie Tsoaeli and drummer, Kevin Gibson, I will be doing one more gig in London at the Vortex Jazz Club on Sunday the 9th of February. I will be featuring songs from The Sound of You and some of my own work too. Doors open at 7.30pm – show starts at 8.15pm.