All About “What Living’s All About”

buy What’s Living All About

Chosen by the indie editor of Performing Songwriter Magazine as one of the 12 Top DIY Picks in the May 2007 issue, praised as one of the best CDs he heard in 2006 by the editor of eJazz news in London, and hailed as “fantastic!” in the June 2007 issue of Feminist Review in New York city, What Living’s All About, Alicia’s CD debut as jazz diva and record producer, has a lot of people excited.  The opening cut, “Floozy Tune,” placed in three international songwriting contests, Unisong International Songwriting Contest in 2007, the Indie International Songwriting Contest in 2008, and 100% Music Songwriting Contest.

So what’s on the CD?

Alicia sings twelve catchy jazz, blues, and gospel tunes, ten of them original, including her in-your-face protest song, America the Blues, featuring avant garde guitar hero Nels Cline. Gorgeously (self) produced, with three ensembles of top notch professional session players in an LA studio, What Living’s All About emanates sexuality, spirituality, cynicism, humor, hip repartee, and occasional righteous rage.

Other members of the cast include jazz upright bass legend John B. Williams (Nancy Wilson, Manhattan Transfer, Arsenio Hall Show Band, Tonight Show Big Band) and his red hot R & B vocalist wife Jessica Williams, who forms the gospel choir along with her daughter Vetia Richardson, and her friend Irene Cathaway (with whom she sings backup for Connie Stevens), gospel keyboardist Reverend Harold Pittman (Minister of Music at the Greater Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles), woodwind wizard Doug Webb (who totally smokes on a different instrument on each of four songs), three fabulous top flight drummers: David Anderson, Kendall Kay, and Enzo Tedesco, fluid and cool jazz pianist Rick Olson, two rock-solid, multi-talented bassists: Kevin O’Neal and Chris Conner, versatile actor/vocalist Jody Ashworth, and soulful Liberian gospel singer Francis Nyaforh.

The tunes:

Floozy Tune: A 1920’s trad jazz tune about a girl who runs off with the band. Will make you Charleston, even if you don’t know how.

America the Blues: A love song to America, rallying voters to save her from corporate greedheads. Turn up your speakers and listen all the way to the end.

Aquarian Age Liberated Woman Blues: A free-love hippie girl in her countercultural world.

Zero Gravity: Atmospheric jazz ode to night life in LA.

Doctor Sun and Nurse Water: Gospel blues waltz about the life-giving properties of sunlight and water.

What Living’s All About: Sex. Mid-century modern jazz inspired by the song Fever.

Sometimes It Takes a Long Time: A blues waltz that starts folk, ends gospel, and is uplifting enough be sung at a wedding.

Nature Boy: A spacy, improvised version, for voice, upright bass and percussion. Showcases the great John B. Williams.

Best of the Rest of You: Kick ass blues about the social mores of New Age bobos.

I Could Write a Book: Stylish rendition with classic jazz quartet and shocking revelations read from literary agent Michael Larsen’s book How To Write a Book Proposal.

It’s Not Fair: Jazzy blues bitch slap to an unfaithful lover and former creative collaborator. Great guitar solo by Nels Cline.

Love, Understanding and Peace: Gospel love ballad that reflects upon Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, which Alicia wishes that some Christians would take a little more seriously.

For those familiar with Alicia’s first two CDs, this one may come as a surprise. It has a much lower glycemic index and is not recommended for children. Alicia widens her range as an actress, and addresses sticky issues personal and public. She also collaborates as musician and producer with some of the most gifted players in Los Angeles.  All three of Alicia’s CD covers are about women in ecstatic union with nature; this one is a moonlit, wet, surreal image with soft edges.

Buy the CD from Alicia’s online store

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CD Cover Digital Layout

On Thursday night, April 6, 2006, I met with James Lee, the graphic designer who helped me with the digital layout of my second CD, Living in Hawaii Style, in the spring of 2001. James works expertly with Quark Express, Photoshop and Illustrator, plus he knows how to repair computers. He’s been working the graveyard shift at Wilcopy on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles for many years, but that will end soon. By the end of this year he’ll have graduated a college course in video game design, and I will have to find a new digital layout expert for my next printed project.

I had already painted the cover art and had it scanned, created the lettering on Duralar (translucent graphic overlay film) with a fine point Sharpie marker, gotten the back cover black and white head shot of me scanned into a tif file, composed, and editted the liner notes, obtained a bar code from the staff at CD Baby, and decided that the back cover of the booklet would be a close-up of the center of the cover painting. I had researched at length online the various companies doing CD duplication and had chosen one that offered me a good price and was highly recommended on the CD Baby artists’ website. I had downloaded the templates for the booklet, traycard and disc from the website of the manufacturer, A to Z Media.

James scanned the lettering overlays, converted them from black to white, and placed them as a layer over the scan of my cover painting, and added bleed borders (extensions of the existing colors at the edges, so that when the cover is trimmed, there will be no white edges if the trim is off by a fraction of an inch.)

For the back cover, we began with a background of a scan of a color wash I’d painted with acrylics. Over that James placed the scan of my head shot, which he changed from black and white to indigo and white. He added the lettering overlay of the song titles, also changed to white, and, below that, the bar code and UPC number. He also selected a star from the front cover and I chose where to clone it five times on the back tray card. Then we created the lettering for the two spines in Comic Sans font (which has a handlettered look) in white.

Inside the booklet are ten black and white pages in (very small) 7 point Times New Roman lettering; we had to go small to squeeze in all of the lyrics, acknowledgements and stories that I wrote for the liner notes. We worked for quite a while moving words around so that none of the lyrics require turning a page. It’s a very simple layout, but very legible.

Last, we made the layout for the disk. It, too, is indigo (scanned from a painted acrylic wash) with silver stars and white lettering. For the disk, the ink colors are chosen specifically from the Pantone ink chip book.

James then created a high quality print of the cover art, to size, and cut them out for me, so that I could put them in a CD jewel case and see how the finished product will look. A complete mock up goes with the digital layout on CD to the manufacturer.

I left Wilcopy with three CDs and three mock ups: one set to send to A to Z Media in New York, one set to send to EM Records in Osaka, Japan, and one set to keep as a safety backup.