My epiphany: Jazz

November 23, 2008

My epiphany (that I had when I was around 9 but didn’t realize until I was in my late 30s): When I was around 9, I was at a jazz concert of my brother’s. (Everyone in my large family was required to do both sports and music up to high school, and then continue with either sports or music; consequently, I come from a very musical background.)

I’d already been to a zillion shows of all kinds, mostly choral and orchestral. But here was this casual group of guys up there, with some frizzy-headed “conductor” in a sportcoat and casual shoes. And the scruffy conductor just said, “One…two…” while snapping his fingers. Then silence. Then WHAMMO—the sound kicked in. And the conductor walked off the stage!

I could see him setting in the wings, bopping his head in time to the music, but my brother’s group wailed along just fine without him. Near the end of the song, he wandered back on stage for a lackadaisical but perfectly executed cutoff, then gave the cue for the next piece and walked off again.

In that moment, I knew with all my being that I wanted to be that good. I wanted to be such an accomplished musician that I didn’t need a conductor (I’d never seen such a thing before). I wanted to perform with other top-notch musicians who would know how to perform, with room for improvisation and total creative support. I wanted to reach the level where music was not only internalized to the Nth degree in myself, but where I was able to connect with musicians just as accomplished and respond in the moment to whatever they were doing—and in so doing, create art.

While my formal training is firmly rooted in the classical tradition, jazz remains the ultimate expression of musicianship for me. Structured spontaneity, creative excellence, supportive competition, and total acceptance of any performer who’s got the chops. Music trumps all.

In Memory Of Everything

November 23, 2008

Late ’90s. A collaboration with Windfall Dancers. Our informal “Friday sing” group improvised music for an outdoor performance art piece. It was done around Halloween and was terrific fun, though I’m afraid the improv wasn’t the best ever. (BTW, great title, Liz!)

A bunch of stuff with Bryan

November 23, 2008

1986 – 1990s. The joys of living with an aspiring filmmaker (now an Emmy-nominated documentary editor in the L.A. area). We wrote and performed a number of video productions.

I recall an amusing commercial done for a class, a scene I wrote and performed as a send-up of the pretentious artists we knew, a scene he wrote that I performed in that was based loosely on our friends’ lives, and an incredibly pretentious scene I wrote, starred in, and co-directed based on me me ME.

With equipment from CATS, we produced Bryan’s own little bit of college angst, I Am Seventeen, where I was ensconced in a bedroom webbed ceiling-to-floor and wall-to-wall with cassette tape. At the end I wound myself up in it. It was all Very Deep.

Bryan and our friend J.T. they filmed me doing a totally improvised steam-of-consciousness piece as “Cherry Blossom,” a hippie cooking show host. There were a number of other set pieces, both improvised and written, that I performed in during those years. Shameless.

Improvisational Movement Theatre (IMT)

November 22, 2008

AKA Improvisational Story Theatre, 2007-present. Taught by the not-to-be-missed Nell Weatherwax. What the heck is IMT? Nell begins a summary with “You allow your body to remind you of a memory that leads to an image that becomes a story.” It’s performance art, but not the tedious, self-absorbed, angst-ridden sort (unless you like that sort of thing). As a performer, it’s one of the greatest creative highs you can have. Especially when performing with others! If you get a chance to take a class, go!

Circle singing workshops

November 22, 2008

2007-present. Tower of Light Janiece Jaffe creates “structured improvisational” music by lining out four voicings for different sections of a group to pick up. Then different soloists step forward and improv above that. Janiece used this technique extensively in A Midsummer Night’s Romp in the Woods, summer 2007. She is highly influenced by African music and is not afraid to pull in any kind of noise to spice things up. I recommend these workshops to everyone even remotely interested in music.

Community sings

November 22, 2008

1990s. Facilitated by the phenomenally talented, multifaceted, “say yes to everything” Lara Weaver. I learned a lot about improv and about suiting the tune to the singer through these free community workshops. I also learned a lot about teaching, since Lara’s relaxed, positive, flexible style is about as far removed from mine as you can get!

Who is this person?

November 22, 2008

Cairril Adaire is my performance and pen name, devised while doing numerology during physics class many moons ago. I did not get class credit.

My central passion is {ahem} to create transformative experiences through the performing arts. This intertwines the two strands of Cairril-ness, music and spirituality, into an endless dance like the ribbons of DNA.

But it’s not all about priestessing someone through a mind-blowing experience that initiates them into a new kind of awareness, though that happens sometimes. “Transformative experiences” include laughter, nostalgia, silliness, and the ever-popular “things that make you go ‘hm.'”

I sing, I act, I dance like a spaz, I write (music, scenes, and non-fiction), I lead, I priestess, and I collaborate. I am forever in search of what I experienced in my formative years: a community of peers where we challenge each other to greater creative excellence and have fun while doing so.

Why is this blog here?

I want to acknowledge my creative self, have something to refer people to for the Cairril Adaire me, and also have a place where I can blather freely and not have to worry about my day job.