Here are the thoughts and images behind the tunes.
Space to Breathe
This composition was written during the time we were really locked down with curfews. One just needed a space to breathe. Finding excitement going into the other room was not uncommon. The middle section which is a throwback to the soul jazz of the '60s reflects that release of tension we needed during lockdown.
Street Talk Abstract
Picture walking dogs in midtown NYC. You get glimpses of about 7 seconds of conversations as people pass you and walk in the other direction. One wonders how the conversations end. Sometimes you see a gathering and look from afar. That is what this tune is about. The 5/4 "walking" groove which comes and goes is when we are walking, the changes in tempo or theme are the different conversations I hear. Two friends meeting for lunch, construction workers sounding off at each other about the boss, folks getting high in front of Benihana, a woman screaming into her phone to a friend about her boyfriend. Then we fall into a free jazz section which is the cacophony one hears if you try to take it all in at once. The ending is us walking away slowly from the chaos.
We Used to Gather
This is a solemn but uplifting song about the fact we used to not worry about gathering. Then we were not allowed outside of family, then friends and family, then groups of 20 but socially distance at 20'. As a result, many businesses shut down for good. Thankfully, many are coming back. Maybe subconsciously or not I got the phrase from a fantastic series curated by the classical guitarist and cellist Laura Metcalf who play on this piece. They have been back in business for the past year in NYC with GatherNYC.
This song is reminiscent of and based on the acoustic work of Return to Forever, the great Chick Corea band of the 70's. I wrote the main harmonic movement on guitar and then added piano and sax melodies. It is in three sections A, B, C, B, A with the first three becoming increasingly slower and less vibrant. I remember telling Andrew Gould the soprano saxophonist to think of being dreadfully drunk, stumbling and searching for his housekey to no avail for the "C" section. This ends with a driving 3 bar riff for Corey Fonville to take a drum solo over in the last section.
This is a work dedicated to one of my favorite musicians Eberhard Weber, a German bassist who wrote outstanding music for 40 years until his arm became paralyzed. He won numerous awards throughout his playing years and still amazes today when I listen to or dissect his pieces. I tried to capture the vibe, the space and the beauty of his pieces from his band Colours.
Two Sides of a Coin
Pretty much what it sounds like but I assume I was driven by the stark political and cultural division we are experiencing. One theme is angular and erratic the other simple and pretty. The solos are different as well with the piano being quite dark and menacing and the sax "pedal top the metal". I would be remiss to say parts of this (sax solo) were developed based on my love for McCoy Tyner and his relentless drive in his songs.
That feeling of being able to do nothing but wait; in a line, in a traffic jam, for a call, for a response, for a decision. The clock ticks slowly, the hands move more slowly and then, only after an excruciating amount of time do things loosen and as in an ice flow melting the action picks up.
Sea in the Sky
If you look up to the sky and look at the patterns with the clouds it is reminiscent of the sea. This song is a journey and I was ecstatic it all came together. I am grateful for the guest appearance of Chad LB on tenor.