In Loving Memory of Valerie Mabel Tusa
The love and compassion I felt in the recording studio with these sensitive and creative friends mirrors the crying in my heart and sighing in my soul's great loss. They all had known Valerie and I from the first day we met in New York City. I was a young aspiring jazz musician and Valerie an aspiring dancer.
They watched the magic of love pour it's sweetest nectar into our lives. Now they support me and my family as we must taste the bitterest brine of life.
Thank you for giving your hope-filled support, your sweet music and enduring friendship.
— Frank Tusa. September 1997
The Day the Boy Died
As the incessant tone pulsed through my veins, I looked around and didn't know who to blame. All eyes fixed on my, I asked why must you look, can't I just be.
Be what they asked look in there and you must see, but in that room was the death of me. The death of the boy, the child of the past, I knew it was coming but it happened at last. Surprised I was and surprised I will be, when every raw feeling burned inside of me. Burned with fear on what to do next, what to do with all of the rest.
The rest you ask, and the rest you will see, as long as you wait patiently. Patient! You say to this I am filled, sitting in the waiting room waiting to get billed. Wait I will do, and wait I have done, but on that day, all was a stun. That one day opened up my soul, but all that did was create one more hole. A hole I have endured up until now, I don't know how I made it, but I know she'd be proud.
— Scott Tusa. December 8, 1997
The Touch of Death
I felt the coldness of her hand,
I remembered her hands buried beneath the sand,
She couldn't move, she lay there still,
I screamed and cried as I read her will,
I would take her back, whoever she was,
I would take her back just because
I love her, I love her.
Sometimes I wish I could see her now,
Some nights I cry myself to sleep,
Thinking what could happen if I dug so deep.
I hope she's okay, safe as can be,
because she was mom, so special to me.
— Nicole Tusa. January 1997
The expression "full circle" conjures up an image of events coming around after a period of time has passed with a certain air of inevitability surrounding it. There's a feeling inherent in these words that not much has really changed — you experience the present where the past stopped — or more poetically, you end where you began. The group Lookout Farm's last concert was in Town Hall, New York City in 1976. A lot has happened to all of us in those twenty years, yet from the first note played it was as if we never stopped.
Lookout Farm was a special time for all of us because it was our entry into the life of being full-time jazz players on our own, touring, recording, living together, the nucleus stayed the same with Jeff, Frank, Ritchie and myself. At times, John, Badal Roy, and Don Alias joined us. And of course there were the women — among them the most vivid memory is Valerie Mabel Tusa.
Her passing is what brought us together for this recording. I spoke with her shorty before the end and we joked about some past rememberances. But beyond that attempt of lightness, I remember how gracious and open she was to all of us. After all, she and Frank were together even before the band began in the early 70's when we all lived a few blocks from each other in the Chelsea of Manhattan. Frank played with me in the Open Sky Trio with Bob Moses, the first organized group I had. So in a way she was sthe band's mother and took good care of us all.
So the memories flowed on the day Frank got us together to play this music as a tribute to Valerie. It was a wonderful mixture of the old and the new for the event. There were the Tusa kids, Scott and Nicole, our long time friend and master engineer David Becker, my wife Chris, Tony who plays the bass in my present group for the past six years, all the guys, a wonderful cantor from Philadelphia, Eliot Vogel, and Lois and Kent Heckman who ran Red Rock Recording near my house in Pennsylvania where I do all my recording. Although the mood was reverent and nostalgic (we looked at pictures on Valerie that Frank had put together), you could feel the intensity which permeated the music, be it lyrical or fiery, much like we used to do. But we were speaking to each other in present time and it was mementous. What brought us together that July day in 1997, was a tragic event, but the results stand as a long lasting tribute to the memory of a wonderful woman whose spirit will remain with all of us and all those whose lives she touched. We know you heard us that day Valerie . . . truely, full circle.
— David Liebman. August 1997, Stoudsberg, PA, USA