Notes From the Feminine Side


Saxophonist-composer Dale Fielder, who has studied metaphysics and practiced meditation since he was 10 years old, is one man who values deeply the feminine aspects of his being. He feels that men in general can greatly enrich their lives by reclaiming the feminine part of themselves.

"One way to do this is to be emotional, to be really honest about what we feel," said Fielder.

Another avenue is to act with purpose, to employ will, which Fielder calls an aspect of the feminine. "That allows you to do a thing or not, to exist and move in life," he said. "That energy has helped me a great deal."

As a means of honoring his feminine attributes, Fielder will offer "Ocean of Love and Mercy," a six-movement piece to be debuted Sunday at Jazz Celebrations at First Lutheran Church in Glendale. The work, which is to be played by a nine-member band and which was written between 1983-96, is "an expression of gratitude to the feminine principal of the Creator," Fielder said.

The work is partially dedicated to Fielder's mother, Etta, who died in 1988. She would have been 83 on Sunday. "She represents a lot of the idea of the goddess to me," said Fielder. "She was one of the most loving people, an apple-pie mom. From her and my dad, I know what love is. They were married 58 years and I never heard [my father] raise his voice."

Interestingly, only two movements of "Ocean" deal with specifically feminine themes: the opening title track, in which Fielder attempts to use music to represent being in the womb, and the closing "Les Mots Flottant," which is titled after one of Anais Nin's many diaries, and translates as "the words afloat."

"In this piece, which I wrote one morning in 1983 while living in New York, I tried to capture the mood of Anais' early morning walk along [Paris'] Seine [river], which she wrote of in her diary," Fielder said. "I could see her white stockings, I could hear her feet echo in the distance."

Other movements include "Prelude," which is an up-tempo straight-ahead jazz piece, and "Fourth Density," which is about the 21st century and "the whole planet moving to a higher level of consciousness," Fielder said.

"The Stars, Like Dust" is a ballad that draws its name from a book by science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov. "At The Threshold" allows the leader to express the effusive John Coltrane side of his playing.

The 40-year-old Fielder, a native of Midland, Pa., who has lived in Los Angeles since 1988, is known mainly as a solid saxophonist. His heroes include Coltrane, Sonny Stitt and Hank Mobley. He's made three albums, all issued on his own Clarion Records, the latest being "Dear Sir: Tribute to Wayne Shorter."

Fielder has written numerous jazz tunes. But this is the first of his large-scale works to be performed, though he began composing and arranging in high school. "I would transcribe pop tunes for the pep band," he said.

Then in New York, where he lived from 1980-88, he studied with Frank Gordon, a noted composer-arranger. He completed a piece for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra which was never played.

Fielder had been thinking of composing for a large ensemble when he got a call asking for such a work from Steve Rowe, who heads First Lutheran's Jazz Celebrations, a program that blends jazz and spiritual themes. "I fell to my knees and gave thanks," Fielder said.

Fielder said the ultimate goal of "Ocean," and any other performance, is to help others. "When I play, I try to give of myself, and hopefully a person can take that and use it."

* Dale Fielder's "Ocean of Love and Mercy" will be performed at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at First Lutheran Church, 1300 E. Colorado St., Glendale. $8, suggested donation. Information: (213) 245-4000.


Bebop New Year's: If you want to celebrate Dec. 31 with folks who can really play hard-driving jazz, here are two suggestions. The wondrous alto saxophonist Lanny Morgan, whose ruby-hued tone and facile lyricism are always invigorating, holds forth from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. with Danny Pucillo's trio (Claude Williamson, piano, Bob Maize, bass) at Monty's Steakhouse, 5371 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills; no cover, no minimum; dinner reservations a must; (818) 716-9736


One of jazz's finest vibists is Dave Pike, who can be found on year-end night, 9:15 p.m. to 1:15 a.m., at Chadney's, 3000 W. Olive St., Burbank; $10 cover before midnight, complimentary champagne toast; dinner reservations a must; (818) 843-5333. Singer Brooke Vigota also performs.

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