Our band has played together literally 1,000 times over the past 10 years. This is the same rhythm section that underpinned the stellar horn players on my Joe Mulholland Sextet CD's. We always reach for the magic, that special balance of form and freedom that liberates us to create music that is more than any of us can individually imagine. The tunes are varied in style: straight-ahead, quirky, lyrical, Brazilian, bluesy. The first track is an easy-going solo piano tune called "Midnight Bossa, and we are joined by our old friend Allan Chase on alto sax for two cuts in the middle; the rest are an honest representation of what makes us special as a trio. No overdubs. No edits. If we didn't like it, we played it again until it was good.
Here are some insights into the music:
Midnight Bossa: This is a teaser that I hope will keep my friends satisfied until a real solo CD comes along. It was originally an illustration of a harmonic technique for my Berklee students. I would love to have lyrics for this one…
3-4-U: I love writing in 3/4. It liberates my phrasing and creates a different mood than swing or straight eighth-note styles. It's in "3", "for" "you"!
Sleen: Nope, it doesn't mean anything. It was inspired by Mulgrew Miller, a very original composer/pianist. I hope I did his style some justice.
Three Roses: A blues with three different twelve tone "rows" in the melody, one for each phrase. I thought "roses" was more catchy than "dodecaphonic sets". We didn't try to solo on the rows, God forbid…
Silk and Velvet: An homage to Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. They had an inimitable way with ballads and titles.
Like Chico: A tribute to Chico Buarque, one of the all-time great Brazilian songwriters. I used some some of his techniques for creating the chord progression and melody. This started as an exercise, and took on a life of its own.
Dancing With John: a re-imagining of the John Abercrombie tune "John's Waltz". I changed the harmony, the worte my own melody to go with the new chords, so it no longer resembles the original. More fun in 3/4.
So Long Song: This tune took shape when I was playing with different kinds of harmonic tension and release. It was getting so long I just had to finally finish it. I think it also has a quality of wistful parting, of being between two lives; it's a "so long" song.
X-Centricity: all the wrong notes in all the right places. I tried to make the melody speech-like, if the speaker were excitable and eccentric.
Nada Blues: It has some twelve bar sections, but it's "not a blues". We solo on the vamp, then the bridge gets us home again.