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Musicians collaborate on new album

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Steve Koven, left, and Marion Law (Ruth Schweitzer photo)

Singer-songwriter Marion Law and jazz pianist-composer Steve Koven are co-writing a new album of humorous, satirical and serious songs.

Law and Koven are collaborating on the music and Law is writing the lyrics. A versatile vocalist and gifted lyricist, Law has recorded her original songs on four albums. Her fifth album is due to be released soon. Koven has recorded mostly original instrumental compositions on his 13 albums with the Steve Koven Trio.

About a year ago, Law was a guest at Koven’s annual backyard party at his Toronto home and she gave him one of her CDs. A few months later, they began recording in his home studio.

Initially, the two of them collaborated on a meditation album. “Marion came down and started laying down some vocal tracks,” Koven said. “It wasn’t really word based – it was more ambience, atmospheric vocalizations.” With the meditation album completed, Koven suggested the two of them write some songs together.

The video for their first co-write, “Hanging By A Thread,” was released on YouTube in September.

It features a collage of images related to climate change, gun violence and homelessness. As the images go by, Law sings the blues.

She said the song originated with “this wonderful thing on piano, in A-minor,” which she heard Koven play. The words to “Hanging by a Thread” came to her before she left for the studio one morning.

“I had been on Facebook and it was when the Arctic was on fire and the Amazon was on fire (last July) and I was getting bombarded with all these images on Facebook,” Law said. “So I showed up at his place and I was just so fired up and the lyric just flew out of me in about 15 minutes.”

After their “Hanging by a Thread” session, they wrote several songs that focus on the world today. “Not necessarily political issues, but just our awareness of what’s going on in our world,” Koven said.

The song “Look Up” comments on society’s preoccupation with cellphones and social media relationships. “You got 10,000 friends and you’re still alone,” Law sings.

“Dr. Mary Jane” is about medical marijuana and the legalization of weed in Canada, and “Get Over Yourself” is critical of people who are self-
absorbed.

So far, Law and Koven have written six songs, and when their 10-song album is complete, they plan to celebrate with a launch party.

Along with his recent collaboration with Law, Koven released his 14th album this year. Songs My Father Played is a compilation of jazz standards and other tunes that, growing up, Koven heard his father, Irv, play on piano.

Koven said his dad was his first real mentor in music. “Since I was a little boy, five years old, I grew up listening to my dad and mom (Florence, who sang) entertaining in our living room, so I was exposed to this world of diverse music.”

READ: NEW JAZZ ALBUM WAS FORGED IN GRIEF

Songs My Father Played is mainly an instrumental album and includes classics like “Ain’t She Sweet,” “The Man I Love” and “Bei Mir Best du Schon.” The song “Ain’t MisBehavin’ ” features Irv Koven singing a brief, riveting vocal. Koven has reinterpreted the songs, rather than play them the way his dad does.

Irv Koven, 91, has been diagnosed with dementia, but still plays piano at his retirement home. “He plays better than ever. His sense of time is amazing. When he’s playing, it’s like all of a sudden that disease doesn’t exist,” Steve Koven said, adding that music is the last thing that goes in our memories.

 

On Dec 7, Steve Koven’s Project Rex will play the Rex Jazz & Blues Bar in Toronto and the Steve Koven Trio will be at Hirut on Dec. 20. Visit marionlaw.com and stevekoven.com for more information.

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