Remembering Susannah McCorkle

Today 23 years ago, Susannah McCorkle passed. It was a suicide, after years of struggling with depression, like so many (most?) suicides are. You can read about her life a lot of places, but I liked this profile best. 

I only saw McCorkle perform once: that was almost a decade before she passed, back when the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival was a bigger event, and more big-name acts from around the world stopped by while crossing Canada. McCorkle was charismatic and luminous, her performance fascinating. Her “vocalise” performances of several famous jazz solos set to lyrics of her own devising mesmerized me even then, in my very early 20s, and her rendition of the Artie Butler and Phyllis Molinary tune “Here’s to Life” (here’s the inaugural Shirley Horn version, since McCorkle seems not to have recorded it) caught my attention so much that when fall came, I asked my saxophone teacher whether he had a copy of the lead sheet. He gave me one, and I practiced it, though the chance to play it never came for me.  

I was also impressed with her ability to sing in multiple languages. I’m pretty sure she sang a third of the show in Portuguese, probably including “Waters of March”:

Reportedly this Jobim piece became her theme song in the 90s. McCorkle’s struggled to find the joy she infused into that song, and in the end her depression and a series of career setbacks (after a career where she never reached the ostensible “top tier” of the field) proved too much for her to accept. But I prefer to see her having survived it all as long as she did, and having made such striking music, a triumph in the face of crushing odds. With most singers, I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics of songs, I have to admit: I’m not wired for it, or that’s what I thought till I heard McCorkle, whose treatment of lyrics has a kind of crystal clarity that demands one’s attention. Though she was a complicated woman, reportedly unlikeable to anyone who reads the biography of her life (Linda Dahl’s Haunted Heart)—and what’s more a part of the jazz tradition than being unlikeable in real life?—it saddens me to know she passed alone, leaping from a window. Did she know people would still be listening to her decades later? Could she care? I don’t know. But I’m one of those who is still occasionally listening to her. 

Something Tookish!

I’ve just realized that I never posted about a game I published on itch.io last year. The game is called Something Tookish! It’s not a wholly original game design, but rather a hack of the popular Brindlewood Bay RPG. The elevator pitch for Brindlewood Bay could be summed up as Golden Girls meets Murder She Wrote with a streak of “The Shadow over Innsmouth.” 

Well, as soon as I read through the rules, I immediately started thinking about the cozy halfling game that was going with my Sunday night RPG group.

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14 April–27 April (Sunday–Saturday, 2 weeks running)

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series 2024 Practice Log

This is my regularly updated practice log, mostly for accountability with my saxophone practice. Below you can see my practice for the week. If you’d like to check it out, here’s my goal list of tunes for the year. 

This update is a little behind: I’ve been mired in preparing and grading exams and gotten less practice done than I’d like, so there’s been little to report. (I even considered doing three weeks in this summary, though I decided against it.)

I’m still working on “Four”—trying to get used to playing at at higher tempos—but I’m now also working on “But Not For Me,” a tune that goes back to the first jazz album I listened to, the Miles Davis double album Tallest Trees. I also selected “All the Things You Are” by chance, because the tune came into my head. So I guess I’m working on two new tunes while trying to get “But Not For Me” up to a slightly higher tempo, albeit not the blistering speeds some play it at.   

Below, you can see a log of my practice sessions for the last few weeks.

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Practice Log: 31 March–13 April (Two weeks, Sunday–Saturday)

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series 2024 Practice Log

This is my regularly updated practice log, mostly for accountability with my saxophone practice. Below you can see my practice for the week. If you’d like to check it out, here’s my goal list of tunes for the year. 

I’m still working on “Four” but I’m pretty much happy with my progress on “Skylark.” I’ll be choosing another tune this week. (The second week covered in this post, for reasons covered below.)

Below, you can see a log of my practice sessions for the week.

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