[refer to inspire#9: Wrong Town (Mark Gordon) for my interview with Mark]
I always have trouble starting on the ‘backgrounds’ of these wonderful people I have the honour of ‘interviewing’, but then once I start, I don’t want to stop. Each one of these inspiring features has a sort of ‘relationship’ with me so much that one cannot possibly imagine how excited I am, each time, to share their stories. It is the understanding them from the experience of the friendship, observations of challenges, and how they overcome them over a span of time that really drive me to share these with my students, fans, friends and rellies eagerly. Their little waves in life are very real. I am blessed with their generous ‘yes-es’ to sharing their own little ups and downs, ebb and flow in the everyday that I could, as you would too, I’m sure, continue to be inspired. And I often stress, that the purpose of this personal project has always been two-way. At least its intention always was and still is, whether the subjects are aware of that, or not. I always hope that inspire# could remain a neutral (as much as I could with my own lens) conduit, and that I, a happy facilitator who is very, very much a student, inspired everyday.
I had been hunting for ‘subjects’ based on the above ‘criteria’ I have refined overtime. I have known Mark for about 7 years now. Well, my husband, Didi and him would have known each other waaay back. And Mark, as I often shared on my own concerts, before jumping in on performing any of the Gordon-Mudigdo compositions like this one, has sort of inadvertently gained the reputation amongst our friends, as THE match-maker. He would probably disagree, and rightfully so, since holding a clipboard and running a jazz open mic session could hardly be called a match-making session,… or could it? :) But ever since then, through Didi and several open-mic sessions and one or two supper-times later, we did get to know each other better.
Mark often came across to me as soft-spoken, and like many introverts (not that I know he is one) I know, is extremely comfortable, confident and chatty once they find a topic they are passionate about to share. Perhaps, because of that, in return, I found it easy to openly share with him my thoughts, projects and of course, on the topic of voice, which is one of my favourite subjects of …any time, really! I recall that we once had a conversation about improving singing techniques after an open mic session. Mark, as you would read about in his interview, is deeply passionate about jazz music, but particularly, vocal jazz. And had, himself at that time, and I’m sure still is, serious about improving his singing technique and the delivery of these beautiful jazz standards. I spied with my little eye. And here’s one of Mark singing ‘Georgia‘. Didi and I both enjoyed his performance of one of our favourites ‘One for My Baby’. He understood the lyric, the genre, and most of all, he knew what worked for his voice. We had recently seen the video recording of Frank Sinatra at Royal Festival Hall in 1971. I was sure I imploded, for I woke up the next day, knowing for sure that I attended the University of Vocal Jazz Performance. It was all about understanding your sound, your stage persona, incredible skill and craftsmanship, and song choices. Mark was always clear about what his strengths, and un-shy about his weaknesses, and had a positive outlook on how to move towards his goals. It was refreshing to see someone who has declared himself to be ‘hopelessly nostalgic’ and sentimental in that sense, to be so clear and practical about his goals. That had my attention. I gave him a contact for one of the singing teachers I went to, thinking he would probably lose the contact as most of my students or friends who casually ask for contacts often do. And I recall how I was pleasantly surprised the next time I met him, when he updated me on his first session with Leigh. Here’s someone not yet professional with the singing, more serious about his craft than even some of my performing peers. It was inspiring and humbling at the same time.
The writing collaborations with Didi, and his perseverance to keep on keeping at it (them), whether it is the singing, the writing, the pictures, or his love for the music and the community, continue to inspire me. Mark never failed to impress the both of us with the fine balance of his natural flair with words, his gentle spirit, but also his tenacity for accuracy and improvement in craftsmanship. He isn’t daunted by changing trends, and understands the benefits of technology (watch him go at BIAB, or Logic, just social-media/webpage-making) and certainly isn’t afraid of trying new things that will help communicating the art, or the music and he sound better. But if i have to pick just the one most inspiring thing to say about Mark, it is that, despite everything, he remains humble, courteous and … ‘just’. I quote him ‘”…to me a song is like a little movie about a slice of life. …I find inspiration in the just things that happen in life, this part of it comes easy, and there are a lot of feelings that we all share.”‘
Perhaps that is what it takes to get all that jazz, and ‘old-fashioned sensibility‘ about the everyday little things in life. In appreciation and admiration. And maybe then let it out with a smile and a sigh.
I must be sure to add that a lot of my eagerness to feature Mark has also to do with how much we had of Sydney, and all the wonderful open mic sessions and friends we have made in my short stay in Sydney. I miss him, and all our friends, and the great times of music at Manhattan Lounge. They no longer hold the sessions there. But Mark continues to gather his happy ‘sheep’ in different venues. The scene is also survived by a few other jazz aficionados, just because. Just because they love the music. They love the jazz. And jazz is all about community. All of that is so so precious to me, and extremely rare especially where I come from.
Thank you Mark, for your precious time. I am sure your process will inspire many as it had both Didi and I. I continue to look forward to seeing your new work in 2017!
Find Mark, the music, community & his photography here…
+ at Sydney Jazz Open Mic: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sydneyjazzopenmic/
+ Mark Corporate Photography: http://www.corporatephotographysydney.com.au/
+ ‘Wrong Town’: Mark Gordon and Didi Mudigdo’s first composition together as performed by Mario Serio (pi), Didi Mudigdo (ba), Juliet Pang (vo) in 2015 at SingJazz Club.
If this feature had encouraged you in one way or another, remember to share the article with someone else who needs that little nudge. You just never know how you are extending their conduit and blessing someone else.