JRB Plays JRB

Guest Blogger: Jason Robert Brown, composer of The Last Five Years and 13Take a look at his blog!

My editor at Hal Leonard, the estimable Rick Walters, called me in 2010 with the idea that we should do a book-and-CD folio of me playing accompaniments to my own songs, with a male and female edition. I thought it was a fantastic idea, and now it’s finally out in the world!

Here’s the great news: If you’ve already got the sheet music, you can purchase the tracks (individually or collectively) on iTunes. And if you don’t have the sheet music, you can get any individual song on SheetMusicDirect.com, or you can order the book-and-CD package from Amazon or at your local sheet music retailer!

I’ll put links for all the songs at the bottom of this blog, but first, here’s an excerpt from my introduction to the book:

My favorite musical theater composers have all been formidable pianists: Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Frank Loesser, Cy Coleman. When I was supposed to be learning Bach and Mozart for my piano lessons, I was instead spending countless hours playing through West Side Story and Sunday in the Park with George, relishing the challenge of reproducing the sounds I heard on the original cast albums and movie soundtracks. Meanwhile, I was writing songs inspired by my pop heroes: Billy Joel, Elton John, Carole King, Stevie Wonder – again, a group of pianists of great technical facility and truly individual style.

Over time, I developed a very specific personality of my own as a pianist, something that doesn’t sound quite like anyone else. Of course, anything that is unique is going to be difficult to reproduce, and so it is with the notated piano parts of my songs. I work very hard to ensure that the written accompaniments really represent what I might play on any given day, and so there is a lot of detail – to some pianists, a daunting level of detail indeed. For twenty years now, I’ve had singers tell me that they can’t find pianists who can play my songs “right.” It’s hard enough singing my material properly under the best of circumstances, but when the accompaniment isn’t correct – when the singer doesn’t feel supported by the pianist – it can make some of my stuff all but impossible to learn.

Hence these two volumes, which consist of eleven songs each for male and female voices (based on the gender for which they were originally written). The intention wasn’t to provide performance tracks – I firmly believe that my songs, like all the best musical theatre songs, depend on a give-and-take between singer and accompanist that can only be achieved live. Nor was the intention to document some “definitive” version of these accompaniments; I’m not sure I believe in such a thing. Simply put, these recordings are just one additional tool to help pianists and singers better understand and implement my intentions and style, to be used in conjunction with the published sheet music and the cast albums and solo recordings on which those songs have been featured.

The best versions of any of my songs are the ones where the musicians (singers included) are deeply engaged with the emotions and the passions hiding underneath and around the written rhythms and pitches and lyrics. It is my hope that the recordings collected here help singers and pianists alike to bring these songs to life in their own way. Enjoy!

Special thanks to Rick Walters and Joel Boyd at Hal Leonard, as well as Andy Waterman, who engineered these recordings at his beautiful studio in Chatsworth, CA. It was a real blast getting to play these songs, and I hope you’ll love singing along with them!

To buy the full collections from Amazon.com, here are the links:

Jason Robert Brown Plays Jason Robert Brown: Men’s Edition with CD
Jason Robert Brown Plays Jason Robert Brown: Women’s Edition with CD

 

One of the most frequently produced new musicals of the last decade, 13 is a rollicking musical comedy featuring a cast exclusively made up of teenagers. Thirteen 13-year-olds, as a matter of fact.

Evan Goldman is two months from turning 13 years old, living happily in New York City, the greatest city on Earth, when his world is blown apart by his parents’ divorce, and he is dragged away from home to live with his mother in a small town in the Midwest. Facing a new life in a new place where the customs and culture are utterly alien to him, and with his bar mitzvah getting closer every day, Evan has to navigate who he wants to be versus who he really is, and see if he can make it through the fall without losing the best friends he’ll ever have.

Advertisements

About HLPAPG

Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on August 13, 2013, in Theatre and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: