Smitty: Absolutely. Well, speaking of impacting lives and influencing others and creating inspiration for others, I have read so many times that your live performances are some of the most enthusiastic and inspirational experiences there are. How do you describe your live performances?
CM: Well, I describe them as pretty much, fun. I just like to have a great time myself and I think what people witness in my extroverted enthusiasm is just my pure bliss to have that fiddle, violin, whatever you wanna call it, underneath my chin playing and to be able to make music alongside my associates. When people can pick up on that bliss and that feeling, then it’s very reciprocal. The audience gives back to me and pretty soon it’s just an exchange….I don’t care how large the audience is either. I’ll still feel as if I’m playing to each individual person out there and make eye contact with them. It’s a very personal exchange. So I think between the enthusiasm and energy and bliss, it’s just nothing but fun.
Smitty: (Laughs.) It sounds like it. I had a conversation with Jean Luc Ponty, great violinist, just an incredible player, and a couple years ago we were talking about the violin and that whole relationship of the artist and the instrument, and he said that he was so comfortable with it because he felt like the instrument being placed under your chin and the whole interaction with it is totally different from any other instrument because he said it becomes a part of you when you place it under your chin. Do you feel the same way?
CM: It’s definitely an extension. It’s another appendage. You have arms and hands, but this is yet another piece of your body at that point through which you’re able to express yourself. Now, I’m doing a little bit of singing with my voice these days, but I’ve always felt as if I’d been singing with my violin for years.
Smitty: Well, that’s gotta be a beautiful thing to experience that. Now, because there’s a whole diverse variety of gigs that you do….
Smitty: .…talk to me about this Party Jazz thing. (Both laugh.)
CM: Well, Party Jazz is a phrase I’ve coined to try to encapsulate what you’ll get when you hear me play. I am known mostly for my original compositions and performing original music by a guitarist named Royce Campbell, and they cover a gambit of different grooves. We do funk, we do Latin, we do some Cajun, we do, of course, some classic standard swing as well, and so Party Jazz is just to give everybody the idea that this is not your ordinary, oh, heady, cerebral, laid back kind of stuff.
CM: And I don’t like to be put in a position to try to make people dance necessarily, however, yeah, we definitely get into the electric slide every now and then and some salsa and so, yeah, it’s quite the party, I guess.
Smitty: Yeah, it sounds like a diverse gig. (Laughs.)
CM: Mm-hmm, and of course I always try to tailor my performances to each different venue. So fortunately I have a large enough book from which to do that, that I can really, oh, kinda musically design my performance. My husband always wondered why I would deliberate so much over a set list for each individual event. “Why don’t you just use the same set list? It would be so easy.” Then it’s like “No, no, this is impossible.” It’s impossible because it needs to be tailored to that specific concert and then the band would go further to say “She makes the set list but never sticks to it.”
CM: And that reason is because I like that reciprocal exchange with the audience.
Smitty: I get it, yeah.
CM: Once we set a vibe with one particular tune, then I wanna take ‘em on a journey and I wanna transcend them through the music by sharing just the wide range of grooves and styles that keeps them surprised and intrigued and I guess I like the word “engaged.”
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely. I like to be engaged when I’m in the audience, so I like that.
Smitty: Yeah, that’s beautiful. Now, you’ve got this whole Brazilian thing working. You’ve gotta tell me about that.
CM: Well, after five CD’s of all original music, I decided to redefine my efforts a little bit and I’d always had a natural resonance with Latin and, most specifically, Brazilian music. I met a gentleman named Roberto Monsalves from Chile and engaged a couple other players, so I had quite an international group: a Venezuelan percussionist, a Chilean pianist, a Puerto Rican percussionist, and threw in a couple middle-aged white guys too, Barry Eason….anyway, between everybody on stage we found this synergy of Brazilian sound that’s really different even though we’re playing traditional Jobim, Airto, Tanya Maria. Even though we’re playing classic Brazilian songs with the violin and the voice together and the international approach on the stage, I think we’ve really come up with our own sound.
Smitty: Well, that’s always beautiful. Talk to me a little bit about this Latin Jazz CD that you did in particular because speaking of Brazilian music, I love this record and you know the whole story of how I came by this record. (Laughs.)
CM: Yeah, you’re not gonna share that with everyone. (Laughs.)
Smitty: No, we won’t do that. (Laughs.)
CM: My bad housekeeping. (Both laugh.)
Smitty: Well, I think it’s a great story. One of these days we’ll get to tell that.
CM: You really have my permission to share. I am what I am and always get the authentic honest Cathy Morris, so there you go.