Musings

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MOOD(S)WINGS Release Announcement

  • 14 October 2015

Last year, in the spring of 2014, a scheduled tour collapsed at the last minute. In this day and age, trying to maintain a career in music, especially Jazz music, is a haphazard task at best. Venues are drying up, the recording business has morphed into a calling card, and the possibility of earning any decent money from recordings and/or publishing are diminishing every day.

Without the affiliation of a college adjunct gig so the student can get a shingle, it’s more difficult to teach privately in this day and age. Since I walked away from CSULB to follow my heart to NYC and back to L.A., there has been no interest in my teaching from the colleges I’ve approached.

Even without the consequences of my transition, most of these happenstances would still be true. Getting paid for your art has never been more challenging.

Playing live dates and selling CDs from the bandstand have become my only way to make a living, (for the time being). And even that is becoming increasingly rare.

So you can imagine how devastating things were when that tour cancelled.
It was at that point that I decided to cope by attempting to do the thing I feel that I do best, record my music again. Even though the earning possibilities have devolved, what else can I do? Aside from playing live for enthusiastic audiences, it’s my favorite thing in this world. I needed to get the creative juices flowing and reverse the downward trend of my attitude.

I have been a professional musician for over 40 years, and while all art is subjective, I feel as though I have something to say, regardless whether anybody hears it or purchases it.

I threw it out into the universe that I was asking for people, (who wanted to hear more music from me), to please help supply the finances to make that happen. I launched the Triple Play crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo. In just a month, we raised over $19,000!
I had hoped to raise $30,000, but the former amount is nothing to sneeze at.
My original intent was to make 3 CDs, (the 3rd would have been a solo bass, download-only release), but as it turned out, we raised enough money to almost make 2. In order to push the second CD over the finish line, I spent quite a bit of my own meager fortune.

The first release was FUTURE CHRISTMAS, released in October ’14. The reviews were some of the best I’ve ever received, and (by today’s standards), it sold! It was one of the biggest sellers on CD Baby during the holiday season, even rising to #1 for a few weeks! But with the system that is in place nowadays, that didn’t mean that there was a big payday for me. At least not yet……..

As I was in the studio with Lucas Fackler mixing the 2nd CD in early March ’15, I received a call from my cousin Steven. He found my sister Barbara prone in her apartment in West Philadelphia. She had passed away. She was 7 years younger than me, we grew up together. We had become closer after my transition. She tried to bring our family together. It was an enormous shock. I was devastated.

When I returned home to L.A. after helping to take care of her things, and the memorial, I was in a bit of a daze. I didn’t work on the project again for over a week. Then I started listening to it again. It dawned on me that the wild pendulum of emotions from tune to tune were shadowing Barbara’s debilitating bipolar condition.

It seemed as though I had already been making a sonic tribute to her, but I felt that the overall mood of the music was a little too dark to do her justice. In addition, because of my being old school, I like to program my CDs to be played in order in their entirety. I needed a joyous piece to follow “My Heart Had Wings”, easily the darkest thing I’ve ever written, but I was in too dark of a space to write anything joyous.

Back in the 80’s, when I was rising through the ranks of musicians in L.A., I had the pleasure of meeting a few other like minded players, who played for love and creativity instead of only trying to punch the studio musician clock. Jeff Linsky is one of those players. So is Jamie Findlay, and from the moment we first played his “Glad Tidings”, I knew I wanted to record it someday. Jamie graciously gave his consent. premium domains . Recording that song was a great solace to me in dealing with the grief of my sister’s passing.

I deliberately arranged the order of tunes on this CD to reflect the wild mood swings my sister experienced. It’s a roller coaster and it is intentional.

I’m trying a new business model with this release. Physical CD sales seem to be a thing of the past, everybody is listening to streaming sites these days, (like Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, even Youtube), and in some cases, downloading. Although some of the tracks on MOOD(S)WINGS are very long, the total number of tracks is 8. That is one track under the number usually included on a CD. In so doing, it lowers the download price from $9.99 to $7.62. I’m hoping that it will create more downloads and that more folks will hear and support this music, as opposed to only listening on the streaming sites, where the royalties are less than fractions of a penny. You’ll still get an hour’s worth of IMHO, some of the best work I’ve ever done.

From the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you who contributed to the campaign, especially Jo Ann and Roberta, the magnificent players – Andy, Randy, Jamie, Jeff and the engineers, Andy and Lucas, Sharon Brackett for her help with the campaign and my new website, Helen Borgers for writing the liner notes, and last but not least, my family. Making this CD has been one of the joys and sorrows of my entire life. I couldn’t have done it without your support, both financial and emotional.

So here it is, I humbly release my new CD.
I dedicate this new CD MOOD(S)WINGS to my sister’s life and memory.
Barbara Leitham, this one is for you with all my heart.
Spread your wings and fly.

Jennifer Leitham
2015

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