“Fire Down Below” – The Steve Elmer Trio
Steve Elmer, piano/composer
Hide Tanaka, bass
Shingo Okudaira, drums
Hide, Shingo, and I started playing together as a trio in 2005. It was an instant musical match. We made our first CD in 2006. It was called “I Used To Be Anonymous.” Listeners enjoyed our music a lot and we received many wonderful reviews. As a result, we were invited to do a three-week, 2,500-mile tour of Japan in February and March of 2007. “Fire Down Below” is our second CD (2008) and we hope that you find it stimulating and provocative. We love making music together and are delighted to be able to share our most recent effort with you.
Many of my compositions are dedicated to people who have inspired me or who have had a direct impact on my life. I also try to write tunes that have clear melodies and rhythmic variety so listeners have a frame of reference for the improvisations that follow. This is the traditional way jazz musicians have been making music since the early 1920s. I like to describe this process as “Classic Jazz: play the melody, improvise, tell a story, and make it swing.”
Each track on “Fire Down Below” has its own story.
“Sister Joan” is dedicated to Joan Mellon (my sister), a painter who continues to pursue her passion despite the many barriers life raises along the way.
“Silhouette” is based on my impressions and feelings about soft things that glow in the dark.
“Constant Lee” refers to Lee Konitz, the wonderfully innovative alto saxophone player who has made countless musical contributions to jazz since the late 1940s.
I wrote “GA’s Jambalaya” for a chef (George Anthony) in a neighborhood restaurant, one of the few places I’ve ever been where everyone was happy to see me when I came for dinner.
“Fire Down Below” speaks for itself. I’ll leave it up to listeners to interpret its meaning.
“Lasting Love” is an expression of deep gratitude for my good fortune in discovering the meaning of relationship, devotion, and trust.
“Delicate Balance” is a comment about the thin line I walk every day.
“Tanaka’s Hideout” is the place Hide (hee-day) goes when he needs to be alone.
“Big Chief Red Cloud” was inspired by a friend who owned a store in St. Petersburg, Florida that specialized in native American arts and crafts. She spent the last part of her life searching for artists she admired and showing their work to the public. She called her store “Red Cloud.”
“Aaronology” is named for the son of an old friend of mine. I met Aaron when he was two-years-old. His quietly inquisitive nature and bright red hair inspired me to write this tune. It took me sixteen years to finally record my memory of a unique little boy who is now getting ready to go to college.
Notes by Steve Elmer