Alicia's Magic School Bus
I am typically asked two questions at gigs:
A) How long have I been singing jazz?
B) How do I know Alicia Pyle?
Well, the answers are very much intertwined.
I met Alicia in August of 2014 at the Taste of the Arts festival through Derek Reeves. I had every intention of leaving the festival after a long day of “mommydom,” and Derek stopped my children and me in the parking lot, strongly encouraging us to stay for the APQ set. We stayed, listened, and were completely immersed in this “Jazz Fusion” thing the beautiful blonde on the keyboard kept mentioning.
At one point, when APQ played their rendition of “Fur Elise,” my son TK, who was 10 at the time, leaned over and said, “Mom, this is the new age of music!”
I of course laughed and thought to myself, “No, son, this song is actually 150 years old.”
Post the concert, the kids were anxious to meet the band. Derek let them hold his electric violin, Jose taught my daughter about the congas, and Alicia was incredibly warm and welcoming. She was like a ray of light, genuine and kind. I was shocked, confused even. “Where’s this lady’s ego?” I wondered. “She literally has every possible pass to be a complete diva—beauty, vocals, and chops! But, nope, not even a smidgen of arrogance.”
We quickly became official APQ groupies. My son even started to wear Brad’s signature fedora. My daughter started to draw Alicia-inspired cocktail dresses. And each of them started to take their music lessons much more seriously.
As a mom, I would rather my children emulate APQ over other mainstream artists—amen? Amen.
Fast forward to late September that year. I attended an infamous APQ night at Club Soda with my nieces. At that point, I was recruiting more APQ fans to experience this auditory delicacy I had found. Somewhere near the second set, Derek asked Alicia to call me up to “sit in,” or in other words sing with the band. I hadn't sung publicly in 3 years, but chickening out in front of my family wasn’t an option. So we did the only jazz standard I knew, “Autumn Leaves.” At some point nerves set it; I forgot the words and started scatting to cover it up.
It was an absolute thrill, an organic thrill.
You see APQ has an effortless musical chemistry. They don’t simply play together; they converse. What you witness onstage is an exchange of musical vocabulary. It is magical and it is magnetic.
Alicia has a saying: “There’s room for everyone.” Her life and career philosophy are hardly exclusive. She embraces the spirit of people. She gathers musicians not necessarily based on ability (howbeit APQ and APQ-Harmonic consist of the highest caliber of talent in the city—just saying), but based on energy and their willingness to serve others with their gifts.
That fateful night at Soda led to Alicia taking time out of her insane schedule to teach me the ways of jazz fusion, building up my confidence as vocalist, and as a person. She invested in me and championed dreams I had long given up on attaining. She is my best friend, my sister, and my fellow musician.
Alicia opened the doors of her magical jazz school bus and welcomed me in to ride along with her and her comrades, who are now my comrades as well. That was 3 years ago, and we are going to ride this bus until the wheels fall off.