Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Endless Mysteries

I'm extremely excited about my latest CD. It's my 24th as a leader and it's on the Origin label, a great musician-run company based in Seattle, Washington. The CD is called "The Endless Mysteries," and it features two extremely heavy musicians: bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer/musician/composer/bandleader Jack DeJohnette. It's an interesting trio because we had never played together before; although I have been working with DeJohnette, but never in a strictly trio setting, and I had only played with Grenadier a handful of times. Also, we didn't have a chance to rehearse. So what you will hear on this album is very spontaneous and fresh. We did no more than two takes per song, oftentimes just one take. It's a blowing date, although calling it a "blowing" date sells it short; Grenadier and DeJohnette have such distinctive voices on their instruments that even the first takes are masterpieces of creativity.

Although we didn't have the luxury of performing this music beforehand, I had the luxury of using one of my small groups at Portland State University as a guinea pig, so to speak. I have a group called The Park Avenue Group which, during the Fall term before the CD was recorded,  played most of the material which appears on the album. This gave me a chance to get comfortable with the songs and the chord changes. I think it was a good learning experience for my students as well as for me. The songs aren't the most technically challenging things I've ever written; nevertheless, it's always good to come to a date with some musical ideas.

The session took place last December up in Catskill, New York, at the studio of Scott Pettito. I took the bus up to Woodstock and stayed over with DeJohnette. Jack and his wife Lydia could not have been more hospitable. They picked me up at the bus, and cooked a lot of nice food for me. The night I arrived, Jack and I went down in his basement and played some duets: Jack played piano and I played drums. I think we played "Giant Steps" for about twenty minutes.

It's challenging to teach full time, be a Dad and also keep my musical aspirations flowing. In some ways, I've slowed down, but on others ways, I've grown more determined. New York City can be a great motivator, but I've always gathered my motivation from within. I did the most practicing in my life(the early 90's) in Rockville, Maryland, which is hardly a hotbed of jazz. I can be inspired anywhere. I'm still writing, still practicing in small ways when I can, and still trying to grow artistically. Hopefully, this CD will demonstrate this.

I don't have the exact street date but it will be available on Itunes, from the Origin website, and when you see me! I will have some copies muy pronto. Keep you ears open for "The Endless Mysteries."

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