Me and Miss Jones

I recently scored a commercial for Verizon’s FiOS that features the delightful comic actress Rashida Jones. Though the spot was only 15 seconds long—and only eight seconds of that was music—it was a puzzle to put together. The lyrics the agency provided were hilariously absurd: “Fun Things to Do During Buffering.” I came up with a melody and orchestration, writing the parts idiomatically out of habit, even though I had to use synth instruments, since the time frame did not allow me to hire human beings for the gig. Except for the vocalist, of course. Those lyrics! The singer, a jazz performer named Isabel Hernandez-Cata, was terrifically over-qualified. She came with an arena-sized voice, and I needed her to sound the way June Cleaver looked: pretty and bell-like and generic. It took all of my musical vocabulary to explain to her where to put the sound to bring it down to kitchen size. Luckily she was a quick study and gave me a spot-on performance. It feels silly to be proud of such a tiny piece of work, but sometimes it feels great to simply ply your craft.