With a nearly 100% focus on vocals in contemporary popular music, listening to instrumental music has become unusual and sometimes difficult. As I listened to Celtic Folk, Contemporary Acoustic String Music, and Swedish Folk Rock at this year’s Lotus World Music Festival, I found myself drifting and searching for melodies, ideas, thoughts, impressions to hang on to. Sometimes the musicians would provide introductions on the songs, their inspiration, or specific sound content and I realized how the depth of my listening shifted and various images appeared. I like to provide insights into my music and the music we perform as it provides a special bond with the audience. So here is some background on the final song of our album “Sheroes” – “I’m A Superstar” written by trombonist Reut Regev.
Reut grew up in Israel and was trained at the Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts in Israel and joined the Israelian Army as lead trombonist. With her husband and drummer Igal Foni, they moved to New York on Artist Visas where Reut made a name for herself with her avant-garde/funk R*time group. They also started a family with daughter Liana. Reut is a member of the Cuban group Cocomama led by percussionist Mayra Casales, who recommended her when I put the Sheroes together four years ago. I love the way Reut performs – her powerful tone, her rhythmic precision, and her outgoing nature make it a joy to watch and listen to her.
During one of our tours we had some time in Cleveland. Reut knocked on my door and asked me for a pencil and eraser then disappeared back in her room. At the next rehearsal, before a performance at the Kentucky Day School, she pulled out a set of hand-written notes. I should add that Reut’s music is deeply rooted in avant-garde techniques, somewhat inspired from her collaborations with Anthony Braxton. Hence, the notes on the page were unusual in format. Instead of the regular song forms they were short segments with directions. Reut explained to us how to follow the guidelines and string the segments together. The result is a hip-hop flavored groove tune based on diminished scales and rhythmic segments. After some experimenting we came up with the idea of a final mic drop – translated into a stick drop by drummer Rosa. Our discussions earlier on the bus had focused on the issues of being a mother and raising a family while building a career as a jazz musician with periods of minimal income and debt accumulation. It’s a very difficult path and often full of self-doubt as we want to provide the best future for our children rather than working with limited resources. On the other hand, it is important to follow one’s passion and realize special talents in order to be a happy and productive role model rather than a frustrated and unfulfilled human being. Hence, we all encouraged Reut to keep following her path and creating her music as she is an extraordinary performer and great writer. With this affirmation, Reut titled her new creation “I’m A Superstar – An Affirmation” – it’s a powerful piece of music – enjoy!