Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pheaturing Aubrey Johnson

Hello, kids, an welcome to the Phile for a Sunday. How are you? I have a headache, but other than that I am good. Well, kinda good. Okay, let's start with a story about Bill Cosby no longer a make-believe naval officer.  The United States Navy has announced that it is revoking Bill Cosby's honorary rank of chief petty officer in light of recent, highly publicized sexual allegations that it says "are in conflict with the Navy's core values of honor, courage and commitment." Cosby has not yet set his legal team upon the military institution, but it's still early in the day. In order to top "Peter Pan Live!", NBC is commissioning a musical in which Bill Cosby's legal team musically slanders his accusers for 3 hours.  As many people predicted, 18-1438... otherwise known as Marsala has been named the Pantone Color of the Year. Let's hope that "naturally robust and earthy wine red" doesn't prove to be as much of an embarrassment to its family of hues as 18-3224 was last year. I have no idea what that story meant, but maybe this will help...

Nope, still doesn't help.  A New York appellate judge has ruled that, as chimpanzees are not human beings, they are not subject to the similar human rights considerations as their considerably more obnoxious hominid cousins. So, we're all free to treat them as garbagey as we feel like. Yay, humans! President Obama took a break from such lighthearted activities as replacing our Defense Secretary on short notice with some dude named Ash (presumably to address the growing Pokemon threat) to engage in the more solemn duty of the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. In addition to high-fiving Santa, the ancient ritual calls for the President to do the traditional dance of lame dads that dates back to the days of Saturnalia, when pagan dads would embarrass their kids to appease the god of lame jokes.

New meaning to "lame duck."  On yesterday's entry actress Natalie Mitchell said she did some voices in the new "Grand Theft Auto 5" game, and then I saw this story... You can call it Tar-jay like a French aristocrat all you want, but "GTA5" fans will not be lulled into the sheep mindset that Target is not inherently violent. After Australian Target's decision to bow to a petition demanding that violent and sexist video game "Grand Theft Auto 5" be taken off their shelves, violent and sexist "GTA5" fans followed Newton's 3rd law of motion and responded to this action with an equal and opposite reaction. They have filed a petition for Target to admit to their hypocritical ways and change their "violent name and logo." The original petition asked Target to "Please put ethics before profits and make a strong statement that you do not condone sexual violence, sexual exploitation, or the abuse of women as 'entertainment.'" After that petition got over 42,000 signatures, hypocritical Target bent on the issue and removed the game from the shelves. This from a company who uses a bullseye as their logo? Shouldn't they be in support of a game where you can pick up a prostitute, have her perform every sex act available on you, argue with her over whether or not you've eaten asparagus, and then hit her with your car and then light her on fire and then shoot her with a rifle? As the new petition with 2,255 supporters so far states, the "Target name and logo is offensive and promotes violence within the community by encouraging people to aim at and shoot things. It is a gross violation of our visual right not to be accosted by their inflammatory and aggressive marketing technique." So far, the only thing they've shot down is the people's ability to play first-person prostitution and murder simulation video games, but where will that violence end? Who will be Target's next target? Rap music? War biographies? SMH. Sorry, I didn't mean to get on my soap box there. So, remember that Paper cover where Kim Kardashian is showing her ass? Well, someone used that ass for something very creative. This should be a Mindphuck really.

Well, I thought it was clever.  So, I've been talking a lot about that Star Wars teaser trailer since it came out, and I have to say George Lucas didn't like it and changed a few things.

Why is Disney letting him touch it?!  So, there's this company that is making Christmas tags already written out so you don't have to. I showed one yesterday and I will show one today.

Haha.  Christmas is just a few weeks away and you might be trying to figure out what to buy for your loved ones, so I am showing you some real crazy products you can get from Amazon. Check it out...

Sorry, but this 32 ounce jug of wolf urine is not available for Prime. You'll have to pay for overnight shipping.

"Peter Pan Live!"
"Peter Pan Live!" was a 2014 television special and musical adaptation of, one would assume after watching it, a high school production of Peter Pan Live!

Haha. Spread the word, not the turd. Hhahaha. I will say the mum is cute. Anyway, if you spot the Mindphuck let me know. This is an easy one. Alright, guess what time it is? He's a singer, patriot and renaissance man. It's...

Good morning, humans. So... I decided to do a bit of Christmas shopping earlier at a rather pricey New York store. I'm there about 45 minutes and I run right smack into an old flame. One of only two women I have truly loved in my lifetime. A woman who chose a wealthy man (who she never loved) over me. He treats her like nothing more than a trophy wife. She is in a loveless, sexless existence... living in a crystal palace with little or no joy in her world. She spots me and rushes towards my direction with a big smile. Throwing her arms around me in a huge hug, she whispers, "I've thought of calling and coming to your place a thousand times since we last kissed." I thought about just kissing her... I thought about saying... "Then, why DIDN'T you?" I thought about inviting her over to make love right then and there... I thought about many things I didn't do... in the end, I said, "I guess it's true then..." Her: "What is?" Me: "Money can't buy everything." Then, I coldly turned and walked away. I need a fucking drink...

It's 11:11 AM, 68°F and those are some bloody lucky dogs...

The 31st artist to be pheatured in the Phile's Art Gallery is Joshua Bauer and this is one of his pieces...

I love it! anyway, Joshua will be on the Phile tomorrow. 

Okay, back in July I interviewed jazz piano player John Funkhouser who worked with today's pheatured guest on his album "Still." I mentioned I'd love to interview her and he hooked it up. She can currently be heard on the Jason Yeager Trio album "Affirmation." Anyway, I think she's the most attractive jazz singer I have ever interviewed. Please welcome to the Phile... Aubrey Johnson.

Me: Hello, Aubrey, welcome to the Phile. How are you? 

Aubrey: Hi! Doing well, thanks! 

Me: So, five months ago I interviewed John Funkhouser... what a great name he has. When you first heard his name did you think it was a strange name? His name is cooler than Peverett, I'm jealous. 

Aubrey: Haha, I don't remember exactly. It is pretty cool that, with a name like that, he happens to be a musician. I thought it was even cooler when I found out his first three albums are called "FunkHouse 1", "2", and "3."   

Me: Anyway, I interviewed John and I asked him about you as you sing on his album "Still." What two songs do you sing again, Aubrey? 

Aubrey: I sing on "Leda" and "The Deep." 

Me: "Leda" is about a waitress he once met in Costa Rica. Did he tell you the story about her? 

Aubrey: You know, he didn't. I'll have to ask him about that! 

Me: You met John at Berklee, right? 

Aubrey: No, I actually met John through Phil Sargent, Greg Loughman, and Mike Connors... the other members of his current band. Phil, Greg, Mike, and I were all playing together in a band called Rhombus and also as Phil's quartet. We have a couple of records out together, besides this one. Anyway, they introduced me to John and we soon formed the Allective Collective... our band that now sort of doesn't exist anymore because I live in New York. I really miss playing with them on a regular basis! 

Me: You look so young, Aubrey, but you teach there. You must be one of the youngest teachers at Berklee. How old are you anyway, if you don't mind me asking? 

Aubrey: Thanks, I'm 28. I started teaching at Berklee when I was 25. People like Esperanza Spalding and Pat Metheny were teaching there when they were 20 and 19, respectively. Berklee has a great tradition of giving young, talented people a chance. 

Me: I asked John what two questions I should ask you and he said I should ask how did you get to be so awesome at singing. Did you start at a very early age? 

Aubrey: Haha, I started singing when I was four. I sang along with the theme songs to the cartoons that I watched and performed them for my family. I've always loved singing and always wanted to be a singer, so I guess this was kind of an inevitable career path! 

Me: You are a jazz singer, but also sing Brazilian... do you speak Spanish? 

Aubrey: I sing Brazilian music, yes. It's usually sung in Portuguese, which I don't speak, but understand pretty well and have studied the pronunciation of it extensively. I took some Spanish in high school. My brother is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish (and Mandarin), so he helps me out sometimes with translation and pronunciation. 

Me: Have you ever been to Brazil? 

Aubrey: No, I sadly have not. However, I am working with a fellow singer and teacher of voice at a university in Rio de Janeiro on a research/writing project that will eventually take me there. Hopefully sooner than later! 

Me: Is there any pop or rock bands or singers you're into? 

Aubrey: Yes, definitely. I started out wanting to be a pop singer. It's always been a strong influence. I love Bjork, the Dirty Projectors, Joni Mitchell (she spans many genres, of course), Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the band Heart, and lots more! 

Me: John also wanted me to ask you about your uncle Lyle Mays. He said he's pretty awesome. Is he a jazz musician as well? 

Aubrey: Yes, my uncle (my mom's brother) is a world-famous and multiple Grammy-award winning jazz pianist and composer. He is a pioneer of synth and sequencing technology and toured/performed and co-wrote all the music for the Pat Metheny Group for their entire existence. 

Me: That's cool. Alright, where do you live, Aubrey? You teach in Boston so I take it you live in Boston... 

Aubrey: I live in New York five days a week, and in Boston two days a week to teach at Berklee. 

Me: How do you commute? By train? 

Aubrey: I love Amtrak, so comfortable! But I do take the bus sometimes. 

Me: Where in New York do you live? 

Aubrey: I live in West Harlem...

Me: A cute white girl living in Harlem? Isn't that dangerous?!

Aubrey: No, it's not any more dangerous than where I lived in Boston or Michigan. 

Me: Where are you from originally? 

Aubrey: I'm from Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

Me: What do your parents think about you doing all this and your success? 

Aubrey: My parents are incredibly supportive, I'm very lucky. 

Me: Okay, so, you are a vocalist... is that different than being a singer? 

Aubrey: No, it's not. Some people might say vocalist to sound more sophisticated or something, but there's no difference. 

Me: And a composer? Do you write music or just lyrics? 

Aubrey: I am a composer as well, I write both music and lyrics, but I tend to write wordless vocal tunes, and sometimes use the poetry of others in my writing. 

Me: You're working on a solo CD, right? What kinda album is it gonna be? 

Aubrey: Yes, I am. It's going to be mostly original music, with a few arrangements of jazz and pop songs. It will involve my band, which is a sextet of piano, bass, drums, alto saxophone (with doubles on bass clarinet and flute), and violin, with some special guests possibly involved. 

Me: I have to congratulate you on getting a Master of Music degree. Where was that and how long did it take you to get it? 

Aubrey: Thanks, I received my masters from the New England Conservatory, also in Boston. It took me the standard two years, it was a great experience. 

Me: Do you play any instruments, Aubrey? 

Aubrey: Yes, I have played classical and jazz piano since I was seven years old. I really want to learn guitar, and I own a pandeiro (Brazilian percussion instrument), but I have yet to get anywhere with those! 

Me: Okay, let's talk about Gold Company and Syncopation... first of, what does that name mean? Syncopation? 

Aubrey: Syncopation is a musical term which basically refers to rhythms that occur on the "upbeat" or the second half of the beat. I really enjoyed being in both ensembles. Gold Company was my collegiate, 16-voice vocal jazz group at Western Michigan University. I owe a lot of my musicianship and overall professionalism to my experience in that group. Syncopation was a vocal quartet based in Boston, led by Tsunenori "Lee" Abe, which I was a part of for two years. I love being involved in group singing because it calls for a very unique skill set that doesn't often get used in other settings. 

Me: I have a picture of Syncopation here...

Me: Those are two of your bands, am I right? 

Aubrey: No, I'm not in either group anymore. I was involved in lots of different bands when I lived in Boston and am involved in several new projects in New York, though we haven't recorded yet. 

Me: Aubrey, you're very attractive and talented and busy... do you have time for a social life and do you have a boyfriend? He would have to be pretty smart to keep up with you I imagine. 

Aubrey: I am quite busy, but I do find time to hang with friends and see music in the city. 

Me: You have sang at so many shows and places. I only interviewed a few people in 6 years who sang at Carnegie Hall, but you did, am I right? Was that solo? 

Aubrey: I did sing at Carnegie Hall, but it was with Gold Company.

Me: How was that experience? 

Aubrey: It was a pretty amazing, but I do hope to go back sometime as a professional. 

Me: What was the biggest show you performed? 

Aubrey: Ah, that's hard to say. I performed at a lot of large festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada with the Boston-based Guy Mendilow Ensemble. 

Me: Do you ever get stage fright? 

Aubrey: I do, but surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) only when I'm in front of my talented peers or other musicians that I admire. In terms of crowd size, the bigger the better. 

Me: And you performed with Bobby McFerrin... do you know jazz singer Stephanie Nakasian? She was on the Phile twice and performed with him as well. How was it performing with him, and would you call what he does jazz? 

Aubrey: I don't know her, I will have to check her out! Yes, it was amazing performing with him. He is one of the most consummate musicians on the planet and one of the sweetest, most real and open people I've ever encountered. Yes, I'd definitely call what he does jazz. He kind of runs the gamut genre-wise in his recordings, because he really can sing anything, but his mentality and his spirit are that of a jazz musician. 

Me: You were just a little kid when his "Don't Worry, Be Happy" song came out. Did he perform that song? 

Aubrey: No, I've heard he doesn't perform that song anymore. 

Me: Okay, Aubrey, on the Phile I ask random questions thanks to Tabletopics. Here we go... What was your most memorable meal ever? That's a dumb question, Aubrey, I apologize. 

Aubrey: Wow, that's a tough one. It's hard to say, I mean, the obvious way to answer that would be to talk about food, but that wouldn't be a very good story, at least for me. So, when I was living in Michigan I had the pleasure of recording and performing with the great drummer, Jimmy Cobb... prolific drummer, but best known for playing with Miles Davis. We sat outside on a sunny summer day on the back porch of someone's home recording studio in Kalamazoo, ate take-out from some local sandwich shop, and Jimmy chatted with us about his life and his music. That has to have been one of the most cool experiences ever, and since it involves a meal, there you go. 

Me: Great answer. Okay, go ahead and mention your website. When your solo CD comes out will you come back on the Phile? 

Aubrey: My website is When my solo CD is released I'll be happy to come back! 

Me: Take care, continued success, and be safe in New York. 

Aubrey: Thanks so much!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Laird Jim and Aubrey Johnson. The Phile will be back tomorrow with artist Joshua Bauer. Then on Thursday it's Phile Alum Mark Dean from Dark Mean. Next Sunday it's Mike Louttit from Fractal Control and Monday it's singer Lindsay Mac. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. 

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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