Three weeks ago I wrote a ballad for my fiance Kristin. I set the challenge for myself to compose a jazz standard for her that was altogether timeless and dynamic, of a relatively simple song structure with clarity in melody. Above all, though, I wanted to write a song that she would absolutely love at the moment she listened to it for the first time.

The title “Routines” tells the favorite and familiar activities that Kristin and I have pursued together along the lines of pancakes in the morning, visiting the Seattle Art Museum and Elliott Bay Books, going out for sushi, and short road trips to the Olympic Peninsula.

The first drafts of the melody progressed in a grinding, painstaking manner. It unfolded with too much detail and complication. My mentor Bill Smith met with me and, after playing through sections of what I had put down and reading through my notes, advised me to take a step back and simplify everything. Write a lullaby. Write for Kristin. Sing everything. Add some surprises too!

I took that step back and accomplished a much more organic and vocal melody. Outside of some tweaking here and there the harmonic structure fell together in quick succession. With the lead sheet ironed out (click the link below to take a look at it) I began arranging a jazz ensemble chart. Over the course of the following week dusted-off textbooks and score excerpts from college were excavated out of my bookshelf, Gil Evans records were pulled out of my collection, and the french press received frequent pressings.

The Jazz Police played the chart at our July performance at Tula’s, and then again the following week at my wedding reception. All in all not too bad!

And Kristin loved it.

Routines Lead Sheet

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