Friday, July 24, 2009
The latest responder to my two questions is yet another talented Astoria neighbor, Carol Sudhalter. Besides having great chops on baritone sax, tenor sax and flute, she is the leader of groups which include the Astoria Big Band and the Astoria Jazz Band. With these ensembles she has showcased the music of Women Composers of Queens such as Emme Kemp, Sarah Mclawler and Julie Mandel in a series of concerts supported by grants awarded to her and her band from local and city-wide arts organizations including the Department of Cultural Affairs. Thanks to another grant, Carol's band also presented a Jazz History of Queens, which was narrated by Leonard Gaskin. Furthermore, she has presented several fine Italian jazz performers in the U.S., some of whom are currently working in New York.
Now on to my questions and Carol's answers:
1) Why did you decide on a career in music?
I had NO intention of going into music. My family were all jazz musicians and I think I didn't want to be in their shadow. I loved jazz and followed jazz bands around a lot and had little flings with musicians. But in college I was a biology major with intentions of having a career in science writing. As a kid, I was a birdwatcher and insect collector. The music in my house was Chicago style jazz: Bix, Frankie Trambauer, Bud Freeman etc. Later, in college, I linked into Django, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong. My tastes and exposure were not 'modern'. Even bebop came much later.
When I was between my junior and senior years of college, I had an emotional meltdown and began the long and painful road of psychotherapy. There, I discovered my center, and 6 months later, realized that what I wanted to do was PLAY music rather than follow bands around. I borrowed a flute from a classmate and started picking out the notes and playing along with records as I had always seen my brother and my father do. Soon I was sitting in with local bands. Like everyone else, I had been bitten by the bug, and it was straight downhill all the way, from there! A wonderful, rewarding, creative life with no material gain to show for it. I took up sax much later: first tenor, then bari and alto.
2) What is it you love about jazz that made you decide to focus on that type of music?
Jazz is what I heard at home since I was born. I studied classical piano and sang in glee club in both high school and college, and studied classical flute for 15 years, but always felt that being able to hear lines of improvisation in my head was something that not everyone had, and that if one had to choose, it was best to focus on that special ability. I try not to compare myself with others...Just try to bring out the ideas that are inherent in me, unique to me. I love playing classical flute when I get a chance! In another life maybe I'll do more of that.
I'm excited about my new CD to be released between September and December, recorded with several of my most highly esteemed Italian artists including a very savvy and accomplished 19-year-old pianist from Bari, Carlo Barile; and several New York artists from both U.S. and Japan, such as pianist Joe Vincent Tranchina and woman drummer Kaori Yamada.
The most exciting thing about this project was discovering a studio right here in Astoria with a brilliant engineer who handled the whole thing. It is at 30-80 33rd St. -- walking distance from my house -- the engineer, Slau, handled the whole thing, with kid gloves, lots of TLC, amazing ears and incredible professionalism. I recommend him to anyone. BeSharp Studios, 718-932-3660.
To see an example of Carol in action, click on this link.