Guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, & programming by Roger Placer
Recorded, mixed, & mastered at Sputterbug Sound, Franklin Lakes NJ USA
Inspired by many hours of driving through the foothills of Tuscany, Italy. In May, they are carpeted with flowers and welcoming villages await every few kilometers. This song bears the distinction of being the "Groove" song of the month (way back in 1998) on MP3.com. It is ambient yet softly percolating, with the bass riff as its foundation and a moving guitar solo at the conclusion.
02 Ten Years Late
We can't control when we are born; we can only work with what history gives us during our time on this Earth. Usually we don't realize the place in history that our current context will hold. How can we? Anyway, sometimes I feel I was born ten years late. I missed out on the disco and funk boom of the 1970's. This piece is a modern, jazzy homage to that era. Gibson ES-775 on the guitar solo.
03 Hand In Hand
This is an instrumental version of a tune with lyrics written by Henrik Takkenberg. He is a dear friend from college who now resides in Malaga, Spain, working with his group Chambao. The guitar parts on this tune were recorded with my 1983 Ibanez Artist, the only electric guitar I owned in college - which is when my band Crosstalk played this song. This new arrangement is inspired by those days.
04 Sweeping Blade
I originally wrote this piece in 1987. Again, Henrik Takkenberg penned lyrics that are omitted from this instrumental arrangement. The words lament the (then) forgotten Soviet war in Afghanistan, what at the time was no longer breaking world news after many years of mired battle. In fact, when Henrik shared the lyrics, I was impressed - but the events alluded to were distant to me. It's ironic indeed how that part of the world rose to newsworthiness in such a big way at the dawn of the 21st century. In light of that and a fondness for the song, I felt it appropriate to record Sweeping Blade for posterity on this album.
05 My Baby, My Friend
Becoming a father is a defining moment in a man's life, especially for the first time. When my daughter Sienna was born in 1998, my life changed forever. I have always been a hands-on dad, and although I had never related to small children before I had my own, Sienna and I seemed to be on a common wavelength even when she was a baby. And during those early months I made her laugh many times, and it was clear that we had a bond based on something deeper than the changing of diapers. I wrote this song when I attended the Jazz Summit week at the National Guitar Workshop in Connecticut. The guitar floating on the album cover, a 1954 Gibson L-7CN archtop, is heard comping on this track.
06 No Man's Island
Recorded in 2001, this tune is a fusion of ambient and jazz-rock influences The title is a play on words based on the famous 1623 quote from John Donne, "No man is an island..." For indeed, some places are not fit to be inhabited either. And yet, they have to be, or they would not exist in the first place. We are sometimes given the challenge of surviving an inhospitable place. To emerge is accomplishment enough, to emerge thriving is a triumph of human spirit.
07 L'Acqua Profunda
"The Deep Water." Needless to say, an island is surrounded by it. Over millenia, islands rise and fall in it. No matter what we choose to show to the world, there is always much that is hidden. During our lives, we vary what we show according to our needs. Sometimes we keep things submerged that should long ago have been exposed. And vice versa.
08 Theme From A Surrealistic Life
The title is misleading, since it is really an upbeat song based on a catchy nylon guitar theme. However, I see a person walking in a cloud, oblivious to the weather around him. And not necessarily in a bad way. Just that life tends to keep going at a constant pace even when we don't feel like keeping up, or when we desperately wish we could pause a precious moment. I play the birdseye maple Telecaster that I built in 2003, along with my nylon string Godin Multiac.
09 Red River, Blue Sky
To me, this has an "American Heartland" feel, explored by the chimey clean electric guitars and smooth rhythms that are the aural equivalent of a rolling landscape. The two main themes are actually in odd time signatures - 11/8 and 9/8 respectively - but the ear quickly adjusts to that. This piece was indeed inspired by a visit to a ranch, where my 5 year old daughter got to ride a gentle old horse called Red River. It was a magical experience for her, and for me, through her eyes.
10 First Time Eyes
This is obviously a love song written at the dawn of a new relationship. It makes me feel very calm to hear it years later and know that we made it stick. Without a doubt, the storm in my life blew over when I met my (now) wife Rebecca. I penned and recorded this piece as a Valentine's gift in 2001, after we had been dating for 3 months. I knew then, and I know now.
11 Sea Cucumber
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there... The opening rhythm of this song is based on the Morse code letters CQ - which is an international radio code for "Calling anyone." And one could continue the analogy by asking, "If nobody answers your call, are you still there?" There are times when one feels non-existent or unheard. Sometimes we make it so by calling out only silently in the dead of night, guaranteeing not to be heard. Ultimately, we must heed our own call, answer and resolve our own troubles, and only then can we contact others with a solid message. A Sea Cucumber is a bottom-dwelling creature that for some inexplicable reason, is considered a delicacy by the Japanese. I wonder if it cries out much when it is cooked?
12 Chasing The Future
This is a very old piece that I wrote on acoustic guitar and played with an old friend, Brett Heinz, during the middle 1980's. Now the two guitar parts are overdubbed of course, and the arrangement on this album is considerably more developed. It is a musical theme to foreshadow the great unknown, which at the time was the formation of a young adult human being (myself of course). The future being always a great unknown, it is a theme that remains constantly relevant.
13 Surface Depth
I wrote this song, originally with lyrics, about a girl. She was beautiful and quite striking, but there was something missing. Her thoughts, at least as manifested by the words that exited her mouth, were... how to put it kindly... unrefined. She could not possibly have been simply stupid (or even stupidly simple). There was just a shallowness that caused me to lie awake nights, tormented, wondering if there was hidden depth somewhere in this girl whom I found so otherwise compelling. I never really found out, but the song survives.
14 When Eyes Were Wide
In a sense, this song and Chasing The Future are two perspectives on the same view. There is a point in most people's lives when everything just seems wide open with possibilities. Usually this is when we are young and idealistic, before the realities and responsibilities of adulthood assail us. It is when we are consuming everything, naive yet utterly magnetic to the subtleties of new experiences. It's rare to feel this way again, later in life. Still, if we are determined we can focus on learning and expanding our minds continuously. I thought I would close the album with this sentiment. May your eyes be wide - happy landings.