June 14, 2024

It all started in early January of 2012, when I was casually talking with my dear friend Ulysses about my dream to make a record. I met drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. and saxophone player Stacy Dillard about five years ago, while participating in The Orsara Jazz Masterclass in Italy. At the time, I recall dreaming about the possibility of playing with these guys, but I didn’t realize this was the foundation of a friendship that would later become central in the recording of my debut album.

During that first talk with Ulysses, at a certain moment I felt as though the entire room lit up for me as he said: “Livy, you know I am a producer, right? I’d be honored to do your record.” He had just started working with Christian McBride after his long relationship with Kurt Elling – and there I was, completely blown away by his offer. I had just finished a tune inspired by a night out in the town with Ulysses and a few other friends and decided that song was going to lay the foundation for this record. Funny enough, that tune was never even recorded and the entire album changed direction drastically.

We had several amazing writing sessions with Miki Hayama and Perennial Dreamer started to take shape last spring. Our recording session at Avatar was set for April and I had narrowed down a set list that represented all the material I had been working on. Ulysses managed to get some phenomenal musicians on this project and soon enough it all started to really come together. Among the featured artists, Gregoire Maret graces us with his instrument on two tracks, and I still can’t get over how fun that session was. It was a 12-hour day; vocally and emotionally exhausting, but also one of the most amazing experiences I ever had.

After mixing the first recording session, I was still not entirely convinced about the direction we were taking. So, I took a step back and had yet another meeting with Ulysses. I came to the conclusion that I ultimately had more to say and we both felt as though the record needed a more homogenous sound. I went back to the drawing board in early fall, wrote a few more tunes, and we all headed back to the recording studio on October 8th 2012. That session really completed the record and the new tunes tied in well with the overall desired sound. The tracks we decided to remove from the final track list are now the foundation of a new record with a much edgier sound that should come out next year.

This record is supposed to take you to a comfortable, cozy place. I wrote and arranged a lot of the songs on here and have included some of my favorite standards to even it out. There are also two songs from Italy and one is a folksong in my regional dialect that my brother and I used to sing with my father while growing up. This is one of my favorite songs of all times; it is a declaration of love, traditionally sung by a male singer, that celebrates women while providing a magnificent portrayal of the region of Romagna.

I also put lyrics to a song written by pianist Hiromi that was of great inspiration to my own personal development as a musician. The imagery that inspired the lyric is drawn from an old legend from Vietnam that describes a rock formation that overlooks the ocean. The rock depicts a woman holding a child and waiting in vain for her lover to return; I am celebrating this image as a symbol of strength, self-realization and determination. In my interpretation, Hiromi’s Purple Valley is that sacred place within all of us that already holds all the answers so long as one is willing to listen.

Kick your shoes off and pour yourself a glass of wine. I hope you enjoy this record as much as I enjoyed making it.

– Olivia Foschi

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