‘I am always writing (or dreaming I’m writing)’ | Interview with Jane McNealy

It’s about Jazz, it’s about musicals and song writing. It’s the colourful world of Jane McNealy. This is our discussion with the artist.

Describe your sound in three words please!

Earthy Post Modern

You recently re-released the song “This Can’t Be The End,” originally written in 1968. What do you think are the major developments in Jazz music between now and then?

The earlier influence of Afro Cuban jazz was still prevalent when I was starting to write in the ‘60s but the groove had evolved to more of a jazz/funk/soul feel; a back beat groove, the beginnings of synthesizers and brass to accentuate the pulse.

However, improvised music (jazz) was becoming less heard as the pop spectrum fused with R & B, folk music, hard rock, heavy metal, etc. Ultimately, analog music dissipated, over-shadowed by the squeaky clean, soulless, transition of digital music, where we mostly are today. Jazz isn’t a relic of the past, and it can still captivate a dedicated audience, but even with superstar prodigies like Wynton Marsalis only time will tell how long that will last.

You have collaborated closely with many artists such as Alice Kuhns and Harrold Battiste. Do you want to share a really pleasant memory from your work and time together?

Harold Battiste infused me with the cultural influences of jazz by introducing me to the humanity of improvisation. Nothing stays the same. Be inventive. My fondest memories were of us jamming together. He on alto or soprano sax, while I sang and played something I had just written.
Alice Kuhn’s knows more about musical theatre than anyone alive. She can sing the lyric to every song written from the early 1900’s on. Fiercely driven and intellectual, I think I keep her grounded while she educates me. Every collaborative experience with her has been unique and memorable.

Which is the one musical you would suggest to a total beginner? 

I would say the musical “The Fantasticks” by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones. It’s a charming, simply staged, romantic comedy. The melodic score and compelling lyrics drive the story. It was one of the longest running off Broadway shows.

You have set up your own record company, named Lo-Flo. If you could change something in the music industry, what would that be?

Everything in the business has evolved so much since I first started writing. You could walk into a publisher’s office off the street, and sit down and play a song. Nothing is easily accessible any longer. There should be more music forums online for writers, musicians and publishers to be able to interact. Musicians need a platform so well-known artists and producers can access their work.

What kind of music do you like to listen to at home?

Generally, I listen to my own music because I am always writing (or dreaming I’m writing.) I have had a lifetime to listen to and learn from other people’s music.

In what ways has the pandemic affected your creative process, if at all?

Because of the pandemic my record company team has had to work at home. With the silence and the simplicity of day-to-day life I can concentrate and write more effectively with no one around. I think I’ve become more productive than ever.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

People who don’t know me might think of me as just a songwriter. I have scored movies, and have finished a piano concerto I’ve been working on since 2011.

Thank you Jane!

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