This recording is a very personal statement, partly because I conceived, performed and engineered it. Sort of a one-man band. The Vesuvio theme worked perfectly for me, by embracing the moodiness of many cuts through varied hues of night and day, urbanity, somberness and light, in the glorious city by the bay. It was also a way for me to express the depth of my feelings toward Vesuvio, its history, friends and beloved characters.
Janet Planet - Janet is the managing owner of Vesuvio. We used to call her Janet Planet when she first started working at the bar, because of her amazing energy. That is also the energy in this music. And she still has it too, after all these years.
Martini Glass Blues - I noticed some of the higher strings on the piano were out of tune (I tune it myself, so anything is possible) causing a glassy, brittle sound. So I made the electronic vibraphone part a bit edgy too. Add a blues twist in the bass, and there you have it – shakin’ and stirred.
Samba Conrado - Conrado is our artist in residence. He’s a Latin charmer, so I put something together that might cause him to get into his shoes and show us how it’s done. Inspired by Eddie Palmieri and some famous samba music, the song hovers like a butterfly over the Afro-Cuban world.
Rebecca’s Journey - She’s my shaman wife, and she journeys with a drum into her garden. I thought I might like to go too, so this is how I imagine it to be. Rebecca also journeys to Vesuvio, with stops at City Lights Books, special places in Chinatown, and a lesson learned in going easy on the absinthe!
Night at El Matador - When I was a young hippie everyone at the bar knew I was serious about music. A regular, Victor Weiskopf, took me out on the town to hear jazz. We often went to El Matador, where I heard Mose Allison and Oscar Peterson for the first time. This music is a reflection of those evenings. Cheers, Victor.
6 a.m. Storm - Mornings can be austere at Vesuvio, since we open at 6. The faithful morning bartender is sometimes greeted with a disillusioned rain, turning the bar into a welcoming cave, where an Irish coffee and a quiet corner could turn you into a poet.
Columbus Avenue - Vesuvio is on Columbus Avenue. It’s a curious street – one of those diagonal routes – that starts at the Cannery and ends knocking right into the Transamerica pyramid. It also cuts a corner off of Chinatown, after running through the most Italian area of the city. International, urban and village, all at the same time.
City Lights Revelation - City Lights is right across Kerouac Alley from Vesuvio. Some call it the most famous bookstore in the world. It is certainly a fascinating place, where you can peruse until, as in my case - many times, you may have a revelation.
Kerouac Rhapsody - The author of “On the Road” was a prophetic and tragic character. His connection to Vesuvio, through numerous personal interactions, gives him a mysterious, rhapsodic connection to the place, as suggested in this music.
Mount Vesuvius - We’re named after it – the volcano that destroyed Pompeii and other towns in central Italy during Roman times. I consider it a metaphor for recent disasters. Musically, a series of powerful cadences occur, each one shaded in its own drama.