Category Archives: Singing

Parrish Family Quartet Christmas Card 2013

Voices together, voices pure. Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass combine creating a singular sound that is mystically liquid, nourishing one’s drought stricken soul. This beauty, this passion flows, piercing hardened parched crust, invading dark crevices, lighting on seeds. The listener’s joy is now free to sprout, then to burst forth, a lush vibrant green. Free to reach skyward and welcome the sun.

A sure way to warm the heart of a proud father and husband is for his family to make music with him. I am so lucky my family of singers* will indulge me for an annual recording. Whether they realize it, this is their Christmas gift to me, a treasure.

For the past several years our family has, rather than mailing Christmas greetings, offered a video featuring the major happenings through the past year. The soundtrack is always the four of us performing a holiday arrangement. The past couple of years we recorded four-part a cappella singing.

This year we chose an Albert Bert composition/arrangement. He had a family tradition as well. His father (an Episcopal pastor in Pontiac, Michigan)  included a new carol each year in the cards he sent between 1922 and 1941. Alfred continued the custom from 1942 until his death in 1954. His last composition, “Star Carol,” was completed the day before his short life ended at the age of 33.

“Caroling, Caroling” may be his most famous carol. I hope that it will bring you even a tiny fraction of the joy it has brought me. Merry Christmas!

Anna Parrish, age 14 – Soprano
Karen Parrish -Alto
Scott Parrish – Tenor
Mark Parrish, age 18 – Bass/Baritone

*My wife Karen is a trained Soprano and has sung with the NC Master Choral for several seasons, son Mark is studying classical voice at UNC School of the Arts, and daughter Anna attends an arts high school studying voice and theater both in school and privately.

Marvin Gaye – isolated vocal

In studio recordings the whole should be better than the sum of its parts. Often listening to one isolated track is a disappointment – so much is missing; no support or context. There are certainly exceptions. Listen to this vocal-only track from Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” What fantastic time, pitch and inflection. So much groove and emotion. This is a treat, folks.

One of the Greatest Joys

IMG_2019I came home from a quick trip out of town late this evening to find the house filled with young musicians. My son, Mark, was rehearsing a string quartet for his upcoming recital. He had transcribed a piano accompaniment of G. Caccini’s version of “Ave Maria”. Mark will be singing Countertenor on this selection.

Adding a bass, piano and classical guitar, they also sight-read a medley of songs from Les Miserables which included “I Dreamed a Dream” as an instrumental featuring my student Michaela on soprano saxophone and “Stars” with Mark singing Baritone.

First of all, this is no ordinary high school string quartet. The 1st Violinist and the Cellist both study at Peabody Conservatory. The sophomore Violist placed very well in the NC Honors Orchestra even as an underclassman. Awards and accolades abound for all these players. The ensemble was glorious.

Aside from the skill level of the musicians, it warms my heart to have people create art in my home, and I am privileged to be witness to it. Bravo, young artists. Bravo!

Everything New is Old Again

Gregory PorterGrammy nominee, Gregory Porter is a newer voice in jazz, with sounds deeply rooted in tradition. His combo is acoustic, straight-ahead and more than proficient, creating context and support for Gregory’s baritone voice. Very sincere and moving delivery. Very cool.

Jazz News reports: “Blue Note Records and Universal Music Classics & Jazz have announced the signing of singer/songwriter Gregory Porter. According to a press release from Blue Note, ‘Porter has been in the studio with his working band and producer Brian Bacchus recording his third album and major label debut, which will be released worldwide on Blue Note Records this fall.’”

Congratulations, Mr. Porter. I look forward to hearing more!

Oft Overlooked Jazz Singer

ColtraneHartmanOne of my “If you could only listen to 10 albums for the rest of your life” picks, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman ranks up there at the top. Love Hartman’s tibre, love his swing, and love his subtle emotion.

Rhythm section is a who’s who of Bop/Post-Bop jazz: Mccoy Tyner on piano, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones drumming.

‘Trane’s solos are evocative but never overbearing. Tightly balanced ensemble work, to be sure.

Give this cut a listen – Billy Strayhorn’s ode to dispair, “Lush life”.