was a standards collection called Bittersweet (2002). That was followed by Cole Porter... Old Love, New Love, True Love (2004) and the children-oriented Lullabies for Little Dreamers (2008). Since the early 2000s, Carsillo has worked her repertoire of jazz standards and lessknown songs at Café Claude in San Francisco. She also plays the lounge at Yoshi’s. For more than a decade, she has been involved in a side project, performing as Lola Bombay in a retrolounge act called Project: Pimento that has a theremin as lead instrument. The band recorded Magical Moods of the Theremin in 2003 and Space Age Love Songs in 2007. Lola Bombay is “in hiding,” Carsillo joked during a recent interview with Pasatiempo. “No, really, that band is kind of fun; we still play, including for corporate events.” Lola has a special appearance as well as a special appeal. “Yeah, I try to go heavy on the ’60s hair, although I have toned it down a bit in the last few years. I don’t do the long gloves or feather boas anymore. I want to relate to people. I don’t want to be disingenuous and have it be like a real shticky thing, but we still do a lot of fun music, like Mancini and the Star Trek theme and other ’60s TV themes.” None of the tunes on Sugar & Smoke have appeared on her other discs. What is her process of mining
vibe that listeners would enjoy,” she says in the liner notes. Included on the album besides “Cinnamon & Clove,” best-known in a version by Sérgio Mendes, and “Grass Is Greener,” a Carsillo fave sung by Blossom Dearie, are “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” which recalls Frank Sinatra, and “Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast” by Julie London. In terms of songwriting, Carsillo co-penned the Lullabies for Little Dreamers song “Sleep Little Child” with Stapleton. “I also wrote lyrics to the chords of ‘Boogie Woogie Bossa Nova’ [from reedman Eddie Harris’ 1969 album Free Speech], and I almost included it with this new release. But I had some weird interaction with a lawyer for Eddie Harris’ estate, and I was advised by a lawyer friend to just drop it.” She has the desire to record a live album, but an initial experiment, at Café Claude, was too noisy. “It’s awfully intimidating, but there’s some really cool stuff that comes out and it’s gone forever, pretty much.” Recording in a studio is a whole different ballgame. “It’s more internal, and you work off the vibe of the musicians. It is hard, because even your placement is different, because you can’t hold the microphone. I guess I just try to go inward. I’ve played many concerts where you may have an audience, but
I really do feel like the songs choose me. There are just certain songs that just stick in my head, and they’re circling around in there. Some of them are lesser-known, such as ‘Cinnamon & Clove’ and ‘Grass Is Greener’ from the new album. I love doing songs that not everyone has heard. — Lori Carsillo
songs? How to choose from the thousands? “I know this has been said before by other people, but I really do feel like the songs choose me. There are just certain songs that just stick in my head, and they’re circling around in there. Some of them are lesser-known, such as ‘Cinnamon & Clove’ and ‘Grass Is Greener’ from the new album. I love doing songs that not everyone has heard.” The new album will officially be released in late May on Tru Blu Lu. “That’s my independent label. I do it all here. I use a recording studio in San Francisco, but the mastermind work,” she said with a laugh, “happens in my home office.” Several of the songs boast fine piano solos by Adam Shulman. Filling out the rhythm section are Mike Bordelon, bass, and James Gallagher, drums, and there are occasional contributions by vibraphonist Smith Dobson, altoist Riley Bandy, and guitarist Jay Stapleton. “While my choice of tunes, all of which I love, veered in the direction of the 1960s, my goal was to create modern versions of those songs with a mellow
they’re not focused on you, so you just do it. You don’t have to have the feedback.” Her appearance on April 11 is her third in Santa Fe. It will be “sort of a CD-preview concert” for Sugar & Smoke, although she will sing songs not on the new album as well. It’s easy to expect that a vocalist will channel classic singers onstage, just as an instrumentalist can easily think of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, or John Coltrane. “Occasionally I hear Nancy Wilson, a singer who was one of my early influences. I also have a little Peggy Lee and Julie London in there. I definitely try to do my own thing, but you can’t help it. You hear and you absorb.” ◀
Santa Fe Music Collective
The Lori Carsillo concert is presented by a fairly new nonprofit organization, the Santa Fe Music Collective. Its founders are Linda Highhill, formerly general manager at KSFR-FM 101.1 for nine years, and jazz drummer and music presenter John Trentacosta. For almost a year and a half, since 2012, Trentacosta had organized a concert series to benefit the radio station. “When the big shakeup at KSFR came down last June, one result was a total lack of appreciation for the music series,” said Trentacosta, who has been with the station for eight years and is currently co-hosting its Monday-morning show The Jazz Experience. “After Linda’s resignation from the station, she had the idea to start a nonprofit organization.” It started up in August 2013. The first performer presented by the collective was fluegelhornist Dmitri Matheny at the Museum Hill Café. The organization, which has 45 members as of April 1, also sponsored a workshop in conjunction with the drummer’s jazz-history class at Santa Fe Community College. If a suitable venue is found,the collective will initiate a jazz-documentary video series, which would include discussions before and after the showings. The next concert, after Carsillo, is Jenny Bird on May 16. The Taos folksinger has a new focus: jazz standards. Coming up later in the year are Matheny, Joshua Breakstone, and Ali Ryerson. For more information, visit www.santafemusiccollective.org or call 505-983-6820.
details ▼ Lori Carsillo, presented by the Santa Fe Music Collective ▼ 7 p.m. Friday, April 11 ▼ Museum Hill Café, 710 Camino Lejo ▼ $25; call 505-983-6820 for reservations