Jean-Jacques Rojer: Electric and Spanish guitars, percussion
Vernon Chatlein: Percussion
Ralph Durgaram; Percussion and soundscaping
All music composed and produced by Jean-Jacques Rojer
Recorded by Jean-Jacques Rojer and Ralph Durgaram
Mixed by Oscar Bor at Source recording studio
Mastered by Ralph Durgaram at Greenmedia studios Curacao
Liner notes :
Last year I moved from the tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao to Europe, intending to settle in Paris, with stops in Amsterdam and Madrid along the way. All in the name of adventure, challenge and broadening my horizons so to speak. To make things easier I set myself the task of making an album using the bare minimum necessities – i.e. all I had at the time, having left and / or sold most of my instruments and recording equipment.
First task – composing. All through that first summer and fall I took every little experience, every face, every place, and used them, warped them, muddled them into notes.
Then came recording – all done between October 2011, in the carpeted backroom of a retro-Parisian apartment and April 2012, tucked away in small closet space in a tall Amsterdam house. I hid under a twin-sized cotton mattress to create a makeshift sound screen; a pile of stacked books collected during our travels doubled as my mic stand; while recording additional percussion, my friend the percussion player, was covered in white sheets to gain better acoustics.
Everything was recorded into Logic 9 on my MacBook via a Tascam sound interface using a Shure SM57 microphone I bought in Paris, especially for the project. (Apologies to the non-techies for that line)
My friends Vernon Chatlein (the one under those sheets), Oscar Bor and Ralph Durgaram all lent a helping hand - or two - during the last phase of production with additional percussion, mixing and mastering.
About the tracks:
-Ayo ( For the Rojer family)
The Album starts off saying goodbye. Ayo (meaning farewell in Papiamentu) is built around the Afro Cuban rhythm of "Yambú", a style of "Rumba".
-Trocadero ( Pour les Mesdames Henriquez)
In Paris we were lucky enough to stay in beautiful Trocadero, under the sweeping light of the Eiffel Tower. This bossanova by the same name was inspired by the laid-back elegance and luxury of life in the seizième.
-Tandem ( Para Tomás y Xime)
As most metropolises go, Paris is home to a fascinating variety of people. Besides the French in all their many faces; the rich, the immigrants, the provincials, you also have the expats. Take the cute Brazilian chef learning French at the Sorbonne so she can go to a Pâtisserie école, the feisty Chicana living in the Pigalle or the Sociology student from Chile (with French roots) and his beautiful soon-to-be wife - our dear friends Tomás and Xime. They would often come by for dinner and drinks – crossing the Bois de Boulogne on their Tandem bike. This samba by the same name features Vernon Chatlein and Ralph Durgaram on percussion.
-Mis en bouteille au château ( For kin on bikes)
We arrived in Amsterdam in the middle of orange madness; the Queensday celebration. The weather was perfect during our first month in the city and the only thing I recall doing was relaxing along the canals and having wine. We later learned a little trick. The best wine, even if it’s cheap and one must consider cheap when on a budget, is nearly always bottled at the castle or property the grapes were originally harvested and the wine was made - Mis en bouteille au château.
-El Mae( Para Fito)
The son El Mae ("The man" in Costa Rican Spanish) is about a man… from Costa Rica… He runs a restaurant; he raises his sons; he likes to joke; and occasionally gives out nuggets of golden wisdom, delivering them in his husky voice. Jazz in Curacao would be in a sorry state without him.
-Pancakes( For Kelly)
One of the traditions my girlfriend Kelly brought with her from home is eating Pancakes on Sunday mornings. Usually with country music playing in the background and hung-over friends scattered around the place. My then-housemate and frequent pancake eater, Emile, was kind enough to lend me his acoustic guitar for the recording.
-Winter Parrots ( Pa Vernon)
I once heard a funny story about Caribbean parrots living in the wild in Amsterdam. A small number escaped captivity and supposedly started procreating in the nooks of old church roofs. I’ve seen them on my run through the Vondel-park, squeaking in the bare trees, showing off their green feathers. The parrots remind me of people from the Islands living in the city - not really in their natural habitat but definitely making the best of things. The main motif of this track, the root movement from Eb minor to A minor is something I picked up while reading "The rest is Noise" by Alex Ross. This flat 5 root movement was apparently used a lot by 20th century composers
-Cavaducto ( For the Gil family)
One of the highlights in Madrid was our host Jóse brazenly joking with his wife, my aunt Marie, that he was going to build her a Cavaducto so as to ensure a steady supply of Cava to the house. Another highlight was spending a whole afternoon tapeando with my cousin Charlie who I hadn't seen in 20 years. He also managed to arrange a viewing of a flamenco dance class at the Madrid Conservatory. I'm fascinated by flamenco and respect it too much to attempt to play it. Nevertheless I do use some of its guitar techniques in my playing, such as on this track where I mixed Brazilian Baião, Antillean Dansa and Spanish Rumba.The Spanish guitar used on these recordings, a budget "Conde Hermanos" study guitar, was bought during that trip.
-Empty rooms ( For the inkeepers)
Late that summer friends who ran a bed and breakfast in an old castle invited us to visit them in Provence. Chateau Eydoux had several empty rooms. It was the low season, after all. I composed much of this project drinking rosé under the pine trees, outside those empty rooms.
-Carqueiranne ( Pour Serge et Quentin)
Every August Parisians leave the city en mass. It seems almost mandatory. And while the Parisians depart, tourists invade. And even though we were essentially tourists, we were happy to be invited to stay with an old college friend in the tiny seaside town of Carqueiranne on the Mediterranean. It made Paris all the more real.
-Cas Abou ( Pa André & Tita)
My parents moved to Venezuela in 2004, while I'd just moved back to Curacao from Holland and was starting my post college life. My aunt invited me to stay with her for a few months while I looked for another place. Those months turned into six years. We, the family and I, would often head out to Cas abou, one of the best beaches on the island.