September saw the release of a project I began in 2016. The album is called “Mood Swings” and the artist is Larry Wolf, whom I’ve mentioned a few times on this site. He was one of the circle of actors Robert Downey Sr. used for his movies back when Iron Man was just another dog in the “Pound.” It’s mostly a jazz record, with a little bit of Leadbelly. I produced a much of it, played guitar and harmonica, and contributed some BVs. Because Larry is a good actor, he’s such a good musical storyteller. But, this isn’t an actor’s record, this is a seasoned vocalist, digging into the essence of songs you may have heard hundreds of times…or not. Larry also adds some of his own verses and commentary to evergreen standards. What’s gratifying to me is that the reviews have been so positive, with special mentions for the guitar playing in a group with veterans of Jazz artists I’ve admired for years. And if I can share an intimate thought, I did have a moment listening to the rough mixes where I heard myself and felt like I was playing like I’d like to hear someone playing. That may sound silly (and all self-criticism is still close to the surface!), but it’s a wonderful feeling to step into a world and feel like you can do just what you wanted to do within it.
I wrote music for a film in July of this year. The film is about the caregivers to the people in a transitional living facility. The project is by a photographer turned filmmaker named Rebecca Truszkowski and it’s a subject dear to both of our hearts. Her grandmother, and my mother (not the same woman), both spent a good part of their lives caring for mentally ill homeless. What’s so beautiful about this film is that so many of the current caregivers had been clients at the facility before dedicating their work life to offering others a hand up. The music is clean acoustic guitar that tries to reflect the beauty of those who work so hard to provide a loving place from which to begin again for people who’ve been through some horribly difficult situations.
I can’t show any clips until the distribution is set. But I really loved doing it!
My friend, Janet Grey, captured this performance from a beautiful night celebrating Harry Nilsson! Thanks so much to Chris Price for playing the piano that I couldn’t pull off, Lyn Bertles for the string arrangement and all the players! One run during rehearsal and one shot at Molly Malone’s. A good time was had by all!
I recorded this a couple weeks ago for a friend of mine, Larry Wolf. Larry is known for his acting in a number of films directed by Robert Downey, Sr., including Robert Downey, Jr.‘s first acting scene in the movie “Pound.” He’s 83 years old and sounds great. We’re in the process of trying to set him up with his own Facebook page, etc. But, give this a listen and please share some comments that I can share with Larry. It’ll make him happy to know that people are listening. And If you have any ideas of how more people can hear his music, let us know.
Last summer I had the pleasure of being in a band with Ryan Gosling… Well, I mimed guitar for a scene in “La La Land” which opens on Friday in Los Angeles and New York, and nationwide on December 16.
Last night I saw the film for the first time at the dance and music team screening. First, that experience was great…I love dancers just as a culture! And the film itself is great! It really captures what film maker Damien Chazelle describes in a piece on his favorite musicals in Sunday’s LA Times, saying that musicals “favor emotions over logic. They’re not a literal reflection of life — they’re about how life feels.” Sure it’s only a slice of how some lives feel, but for me seeing streets I drive often, especially by the 101 and Vine, it felt like some joyous and heartbreaking aspects of my life as a performing artist in LA.
Actually getting this job lines up with that for me. This was actually my first “sidelining” gig. Sidelining is when they hire professional musicians to mime playing pre-recorded music for a film to ensure authenticity when you see the hands move, basically. So we’re playing the songs, it’s just not us that you hear on the soundtrack necessarily. My girlfriend had told me to submit to an agency for this sort of thing a while back and I thought, “What the heck?”
Anyway, I get the gig based on a a couple photos they’ve seen, I guess, and I’m called for wardrobe. I drive out to Burbank or somewhere, make a wrong turn and end up in a cemetery. I finally make it to the studio and I’m guided to a room with a couple look boards leaning against the wall. I’m alone, so I walk over to give them a closer look. I see John Legend and others in sort of neo-soul looking clothes. I think, “Okay, I get the look they’re going for….” Then I pull out the second board which was behind and see photos of A Flock of Seagulls. “Yikes! I’d hate to be those guys…”
“So we’re going for a sort of authentic 80s look….” says the costume director.
Probably only a few of you would know this, but when I was a young teenager, my band was booked to open for A Flock of Seagulls. We thought it was going to be our big break. KROQ was the sponsor. We had the posters. This was going to be our big break out of Irvine. Then, a week or two before the show, the venue closed and we weren’t rescheduled. A Flock of Seagulls is kryptonite.
But the shoot was good. Ryan Gosling was a good guy, joining us in trying to come up with ridiculous band names, all of which I’ve forgotten now. And I won’t give any spoilers, but I’m curious to hear your feedback on my “luck” after seeing the film.
And the feeling of heartbreak to triumph is seeing this film in a room filled with amazing talent, knowing that it’s getting Oscar buzz, and loving the finished product. It’s a nice result for fun work on a 100º summer’s day (which plays for spring in the film).
I’m very visible in the scene, early in the film, behind my sunglasses. And if you see the trailer, I’m visible at the very end — if you don’t blink… and you know I’m there!
Blink and you’ll miss it, but this still is from the end of the trailer.
I’m in Bar Harbor, enjoying my mom and Acadia National Park! Last week, though, Katie Mitchell interviewed me for the Standing “O” Project’s podcast. Standing “O” is a fair trade music streaming site that you may have heard about from “The Art of the Song” radio show, your music community or me (I was featured last year on “The Art of the Song.” It just went live today!
I haven’t listened to it yet, but I loved talking with Katie in my studio. I was just getting ready for the Harry Nilsson Birthday Concert (which went great — I had a string section, bass and drums accompany me on “The Wailing of the Willow” from Harry’s Aerial Ballet album), and working on some new stuff which you’ll be hearing about over the summer.
I hope you’re having a good summer. I find nature, exercise, and music are the best healers, so I’m grateful to be experiencing them all. Hope you’ll experience some of the same!
This is kind of sweet serendipitous news — as the first week of the Kerrville Folk Festival begins, my song, “Season of Love,” written in celebration of some of the great fun I’ve had there will be featured on “The Art of Song” radio show from 5/25–5/31. The one-hour public radio program “explores universal truths common to all creative expression” and is heard on over 150 stations across North America. This came about through my being asked to join this wonderfully unique streaming service called the Standing “O” Project which was created by the founders of the radio show to showcase musicians and make sure that we get paid for our efforts! You can stream on demand like Spotify or radio style like Pandora, and your membership fees are split 50/50 with the artists. Please join me there, Jason Luckett page, stream the episode from the Standing “O” Project, or find out where it’s playing on your terrestrial radio station!
All this seems really special to me as last weekend I did a lovely performance/presentation at a desert retreat for the LA Writers Group. I’ve been pretty holed up in my little writers studio in Laurel Canyon, looking for new sounds to share. And to tie it all back to “Season of Love,” Kerrville and the Art of Song, I noticed that Laurel Canyon legend David Crosby (whom I met several years ago in Pasadena, not the Canyon) is playing the folk festival! I hate that I’m missing that, but that’s pretty cool!
I’ll be in London next week! Berlin follows, and Paris is after that. It’s mostly to visit friends…but that’s what most of my tours are, as well. It’s an opportunity to deepen and start new relationships with music as the social lubricant. I’ll do one show in Central London next Wednesday and a show at the furthest western reach of the London tube system in Chesham on Thursday evening. Nothing is planned for Berlin, but there will be an invitation only soiree in Paris on August 24. Let me know if you’d like to attend and I’ll forward your info to the host. And I’m always open for a quickly arranged house concert, if you are.
It’s been a long time since I’ve sent a proper newsletter and so I thought I’d catch you up a little. “Women and children first” could definitely describe my year since we last were in Europe. When we got back from Paris last year (a very funny trip exiting the country, in a taxi, the Eurostar to London, a tube to Heathrow, a jet across the Atlantic, and a silly Super Shuttle back to our home in LA) I went nearly straight on tour with Sonia and Disappear Fear playing bass. We got to see a good chunk of the US South, Midwest, and East Coast in just a few weeks. But I was kind of homesick and found it more rewarding to do a school year’s full of shows for children teaching them about water conservation and the environment. We did mostly public schools in Southern California, and it was really interesting to see the varied socioeconomic circumstances. Ultimately, it’s been refreshing to be around kids. Every once in a while I really felt needed for a conversation about life and sometimes I was tackled by hugs!
As that was winding down I started working more with Poe, getting her band together. I really enjoyed the audition process seeing all these amazing musicians in Los Angeles coming through. It’s just beautiful to see how everyone has such a different take on the same material back to back like that. Poe’s music is really great and she surrounds herself with really good people who are a reflection of her. We did a couple shows in June.
In March, Adrianne and I did our first show as a duo and got to showcase the song that we wrote together last year in France. Nick Mancini joined us on vibes. Adrianne and I also continued to do some production work for a trio of sisters’ individual projects.
In a more gender balanced arena, I kept up my monthly three hour Luckett & Friends show at the Left Coast Wine Bar, joined by Nailah Porter, William Galison, Emile Hassan Dyer, Diana Lynn, Brad Dutz, and Andrea Becker, among others. All this has taken some time from writing and recording music of my own, but what’s been coming in pieces is some of my best work, nurtured by these experiences.
So now it’s off to Europe! And when I return to LA in September, I get to make music with Kenny Burrell again on a fundraising show for an initiative called “Giving Back to the Future,” designed to nourish young musicians. I’ll be sure to keep you posted, especially if you’re in the LA area.
A show I hosted for a few months from All Saints Church in Pasadena.
"Sacred Jazz" – Studio ASC #9
An Episcopal Church probably isn’t the first place you’d associate with a good jazz concert. Christina Honchell and Dr. Josslyn Luckett break down why you should and why jazz is a conduit to spiritual liberation and cross-cultural connections.
Here are some links to further exploration on the topic of Sacred Jazz and some of the work mentioned in this episode: