“Colored Air” by Margriet Naber Tchicai
This CD contains five pieces for piano solo and five pieces for a band of piano, sax/flute, guitar, bass, drums. There is a large variety in styles between the individual pieces on the CD, and thus it’s hard to say what ‘genre’ of music the CD is in, one could say it’s a mixture of jazz, classical, latin, free improv, world music. It has been called ‘eclectic’. A common element is that most of them have distinct rhythms, inspiring to move or dance.
Nine of the compositions were written by Margriet Naber Tchicai and the tenth was composed by her husband saxophonist John Tchicai. It was recorded at Paradise Studios in Sacramento, N. California in Aug. 2004, with musicians who all (used to) live in N. California: Babatunde Lea on drums and conga’s, Mark Oi on guitar, Erik Kleven on acoustic and electric bass and Reggy Marks on flute and saxophones. Later it was mixed & mastered near Perpignan, France, and the cover was made in Toulouse, France.
Margriet Naber Tchicai is a Dutch pianist who started out playing classical music and has always liked to dance. While studying “Music and Movement” in college (at the Conservatory of Rotterdam, Holland), she began to create her own music in different shades and rhythms. She strives to color the air, our living space, with interesting and healthy colors, to create music with a healthy balance of rhythm, melody and harmony.
It has taken her many years to break down imagined walls between musical genres, so she doesn’t want to put herself in any one particular box now.
She met her husband John Tchicai in Rotterdam at a workshop he taught and moved with him to California in 1991, where they started a jazz-latin-free-improv-rock group of seven musicians “John Tchicai & the Archetypes”. They began working together on compositions and played also in other formations (to name a few: quartet with Makaya Ntshoko and Peter Niklas Wilson, quartet with Vitold Rek and Gilbert Mathews).
One of her favorite jobs was being an accompanist of modern dance-lessons at UC Davis. The arrangement used here for “Largo Lapidarius” stems from that period.
The great musicians who join Margriet on 5 of the CD’s compositions are Babatunde Lea, Mark Oi, Erik Kleven and Reggy Marks.
Babatunde Lea , who appears here courtesy of Motema Music, is a great drummer who grew up on the East Coast of the US and later moved to California. He played with many great musicians and has been leading his own groups for many years, publishing a number of CDs. More info can be found on http://www.motema.com/v2/.
Mark Oi, guitarist, grew up in North California and relocated to Seattle a few years ago where he got his Master’s degree in composition from Cornish University. He plays in many jazz-funk-rock-world-poetry groups as well as for many years with Margriet and John Tchicai in various constellations.
Erik Kleven, was a very open-minded bassist/tubaist from Sacramento, CA. I’m so glad this project was finished before his sudden, untimely death this summer and it’s an honour to have his sounds, rhythms and musical knowledge on this record. He was a wonderful musician who played many different kinds of music.
Reggy Marks, originally from the East Coast, has been living in CA for many years. He’s a very versatile musician who cut teeth in the Army Band, had a short stint in the NY free jazz scene, has been playing for many years with Mumbo Gumbo and is in for lots of music.
About the compositions:
“Tinkerup” is the name of a tiny village on the Danish coast where one can swim in the sea, walk in the rain, enjoy the peace... one can even do all three at the same time! This composition was created while spending some weeks there.
“Sunshine, Mint and Basil” refers to the garden of a friend who created a dance based on African drum music, using the body as a percussion-instrument. This composition begins with the same rhythm as the dance did, and then it evolves into another theme before returning to the beginning.
“Mango Joya” was written for the band “John Tchicai and the Archetypes” in which she used to play around Northern California and in New York and Germany in the early to mid-‘90s. This band brought a mixture of jazz-latin-free-improv-rock, and put out one CD (“Love is Touching”, on the B&W-label). It’s a latin piece.
“La Nuit de Blanchard” is dedicated to a late friend/musician who had been bound to a wheelchair for almost 30 years but not forgotten to boogie. He had his personal way of dancing when enjoying music. This composition originated soon after his death and it seems to have some of his spirit in the long ostinato-bass part and the eerie, harmonized melody.
“Paradise”: the recording studio was named after it and when I played this instant composition, I felt like that’s where I was.
“Row your love boat” on the rocky waves of life, just keep rowing, rowing, rowing! A lighthearted, floating tune, finished at the occasion of a sister’s marriage.
“Colored Air” is a meditative composition, a harmonic reflection that explores time & space.
“Looking for Jerry”. Many years ago, one of our neighbors used to call her wandering cat to come home: “Jerry, Jerry, (whistle 4x)”. Though Jerry might not be around anymore, the song is.
“There’s a lot you don’t know”. One never knows what this medium tempo, mixolydian 2-part melody leads to.
“Largo Lapidarius” is a beautiful creation by John Tchicai. It means ‘Slow and short’, and it is a certainly slow but not very short adaptation of a Danish lullaby. Also recorded by Pierre Dorge & the New Jungle Orchestra on their album “Live in Chicago”, here it is in a version for piano solo. All’s well that ends well.