“I find in writing songs that I’m often walking that thin line – I’m trying to make a personal, individual experience universal,” muses singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Simmons.

From her homebase on the coast of Italy’s beautiful Lake Garda, Simmons collaboratively leads two different ensembles – Hippie Tendencies and NoteSpeak – with keyboardist, arranger, and songwriter Marco Cremaschini, each deeply but differently informed by the struggles and triumphs in Simmons’ own life.

Simmons and Cremaschini have divided most of their attention between the neo-folk, neo-soul project Hippie Tendencies and spoken-word-jazz project NoteSpeak.  Hippie Tendencies has released two full-length albums and their cover of “Here’s To You/The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti,” which recants the execution of two Italian immigrants wrongly convicted for murder during a 1920 armed robbery in Massachusetts, was adopted by Amnesty International as the theme for their #herestoyou campaign.

A unique collaboration that intertwines poetical and musical forms to raise awareness of real-life triumphs and struggles around the world, Notespeak explores creative paths established by such artists as The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, and Brian Jackson, but venture down contemporary avenues to address current topics of which many remain unaware. Musically and vocally, NoteSpeak constantly changes, shifting from style to style – acoustic jazz solos into hip-hop beats into harmonized gospel vocals into electronic jazz and fusion into free verse rhyming – and yet seems to consistently groove. Simmons’ delivery swims in the deep waters connecting Nina Simone to Jill Scott, completely obliterating the line between vocalist and poetess: Warning like a mother lioness, whippersnapping through urban haunts, and curiously wondering about it all.

“I love the exploration of the spoken, sung and played mingled. It’s been a joy working with new musicians with NoteSpeak. We’re convinced of its relevance as an original observation deriving from our own unique experience (as each of ours is) of the world today; and in particular we are trying to call attention to some phenomena of which many are unaware,” Simmons explains. “In NoteSpeak, we’re giving ourselves the freedom to just tell these stories with as much craft and beauty and compassion as we can muster.”

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Ola Onabulé

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Guillermo Hill

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Ayanna Witter-Johnson

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Paul Towndrow

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Josephine Davies

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Riot Jazz Brass Band

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – 3 Cohens

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Electric Lady Big Band

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – London Trombonists

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Tommy Blaize & All Fired Up

 

Lockdown Live & Recorded – Emily Dankworth

 
×