Sunset, sunrise: jazz composer Jodi Proznick on finding beauty during difficult times

Sunset, sunrise: jazz composer Jodi Proznick on finding beauty during difficult times

In her upcoming album Sun Songs, composer and bassist Jodi Proznick combines the dualities of life and death, beauty and pain. 

As she worked on the musical project, Proznick was grappling with two opposing life events: a newborn son who was growing up and a mother whose health was deteriorating with early onset dementia.

"It's really about the two of them," Proznick said. "Just the polarity of that and the pulling and ripping apart of my heart with the incredible joy of watching my son emerge while my mother was in the fall of her life."

The album, which will officially be released in December, is a project eight years in the making. They are letters directed to her son, starting from when he was born, and written during a difficult time of her life, Proznick told CBC host of Hot Air Margaret Gallagher. 

"I thought to myself, 'If I were to pass away tomorrow, what would I want my son to know?" she said. "These songs really speak to how do you navigate when life is really messy and difficult and emotionally challenging."

'Little drips'

Proznick, a dynamic bassist who has won multiple National Jazz Awards and a Juno Award nomination for her previous work, doesn't usually write the lyrics to her songs.

Her most recent album came about almost as an accident after nearly a decade hiatus, she said.

"After my son was born, I started journalling a lot but never with the intention of them becoming lyrics," Proznick said.

Carrying a journal, singing into her phone and playing little chord progressions became a daily practice, she said, and a way to jot down moments of beauty and inspiration.  

"Those daily practices over the years — all of a sudden I had this body of work that was sort of accidental in little drips," she said.

Surrounded by beauty

The lead song to the album Listen was inspired by a period of time Proznick spent by a river's edge, and carries a message of resilience despite hardship.     

"I just sat and listened, I could feel my anxiety and my grief kind of dissipate," she said. "There is grace all the time and there is beauty all the time available to us, we just have to stop and pay attention to it."

Proznick and the rest of her quartet  — her husband Tilden Webb on the piano, brother-in-law Jesse Cahill on drums, lifelong friend Steve Kaldestad on saxophone and Laila Biali singing — will unveil Sun Song at a release party at Frankie's Jazz Club on Thursday, Nov. 23.

The album officially comes out on Dec. 8. 

To hear the full interview with Jodi Proznick, click on the audio link below:

With files from Hot Air.