4T, the album, comes during my 41st year of life, and all the members of the trio are in their 40’s now (Kurt just joined Matt and I this year). I feel very old fashioned in a lot ways, I still love vinyl albums, and if I thought anyone would get it, I would have pressed this album onto vinyl. This album was recorded 3 years after our last DNT album. I have had a very prolific period of writing, with a lot of aspects of life to inspire me. All the songs have been composed in the last three years. The thought process on many of the compositions was different than my previous techniques. This time, I was thinking more vertically than horizontally, adding more layers and textures. I think of a term that Kurt taught me when discussing African music, polyphonic stratification (or “many sound layers”). I think this concept also relates to being in your 40’s, as your life progresses, you add more layers. This is also a very different recording than “Sketches,” our previous recording because there are many overdubs on this album, adding those many layers. Also, I was looking for new sounds, new timbres, so I started playing my first guitar again, a Gibson SG. I had not really played it very much in about 20 years. I equipped it with access to a guitar synth and wrote many of the songs with this guitar in mind. It brought back many of the early rock influences from my beginning guitar days, but with so much more information and influence from my experiences. The tunes also took on new lives in the studio, through the creativity of Kurt and Matt, they both had many great additions to the tunes in the studio. In some ways we are the “Dave Ness Orchestra.”
I feel very honored to have played with Kurt for 22 years now, and Matt for 15 years; it’s an honor to make music with them for so long, I value their musicianship and friendship. Thanks to both of them.
Here are some of my thoughts on the tunes:
1. Receding Hairline- There is more harmonic movement than melodic movement in this composition. Rhythmically and melodically, it is a return to my rock roots, but with a lot more “jazz” chords. There is a remix and extended version of this song that finishes the album.
2. Ecil Live- A Tango with many different melodies going on when the tune gets going. Just say the title backwards to know what this tune is about.
3. 4T Blues- A blues with a melody with jagged melodies, ala Monk, very fitting for a forty year old.
4./5. Intro to Schambaand Schamba- The introduction is taken from Schumann’s “Overture, Scherzo and Finale.” The melodic material from Schumann’s piece then inspired me to take the melodies and make a samba out them.
6. Purvi- A song based on the Indian Raga “Purvi.” I love exploring different melodic possibilities, and the different note choices given by Indian Ragas are fascinating. This particular Raga sounds very “bluesy” to me. Thanks to my teacher (of twenty years ago) Fareed Haque; his explorations of Indian music have been inspiring. He is really the one that turned me on to really exploring classical music, jazz and all kinds of world music. Thank you Fareed!
7. Choro #2- The second Choro I have written in this Brazilian style.
8. Ivory 14th - A tune in ¾ time (waltz time) written for my wife’s and my 14th wedding anniversary. (Now it’s been 16 years.) Thanks to Corinne for 16 years of support. She is always encouraging the recording of another album. I always give my wife the “traditional” wedding anniversary present, which sometimes presents some unique challenges. The traditional gift for 14 years is Ivory. I also give her this tune. The tune represents at different times the calm and chaos of a day of trying to celebrate an anniversary with two young children present.
9. Graduation- This song is for my wife Corinne, who recently received her doctorate. Her finishing has now allowed me more time for composing and recording. Congratulations and love to my wife. It starts with a classical intro and goes into a joyful shuffle.
10. Africa- I’ve always loved African music, especially the 6/8 feel and the multiple textures and parts going on simultaneously. This song has a lot of layers to it, or as a term I learned from Kurt quite a while ago “Polyphonic stratification.”
11. 4Tmenco- Another flamenco song, a style I love. The first flamenco song was popular on our first album, so I thought I’d write another one. This one is not in 5/4 as the last one was, it’s a funkier 4/4 flamenco song.
12. Heartburn- I wrote this while experiencing heartburn, one of those wonderful things I developed when getting older. This tune is short, but has many difficulties in playing it because it changes time signatures and styles.
13. Unrequited Gig- This was a tune I wrote while rehearsing for a gig where I felt very “underappreciated.” Instead of practicing what I was supposed to be practicing, this tune came out, a kind of unplugged rock tune.
14. I’m So Happy- I have always liked calypso music, and Kurt and I have always played Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” as a closer of our gigs. This is my version of a happy calypso.
15. Don’t Forget Me, Sing Me- My first recorded version of a song with lyrics. This song is obviously dealing with mortality. I was especially thinking about how we remember people that have passed on, how we “Sing their song.” Then I was also thinking about how music lives on forever. Kurt is the one that mentioned this phrase, “Don’t Forget Me, Sing Me,” from a Peruvian artist, and I thought it was perfect for what I was writing already. Thanks to him.
16. All of Ra- My tribute to the great artist Sun Ra (May 22, 1914-May 30, 1993). We are almost at his one hundred year anniversary of his birth and 20 years since his death. I have been listening to him a lot in the past few years and read his biography. He was such an original artist. His experiments with different timbres and rhythms are very inspiring. This song really started with me playing around with the Purvi raga and showing it to Kurt. He came up with the vamp and the beginning of the melody, which reminded us of a twisted “All of Me.”
17. Vina- This was a tune written for my Grandmother, Vina Medberry. She left us in 2011 at the age of 101. She and I shared the same birthday, May 9th. She was a very special person in my life. The concept for this tune came to me right after her funeral. The guitar part came to me in one day, and then I started added textures, layers of sound gradually, representing the people in her life she affected- so many people, so many generations.
18. Receding Hairline (remix)- Our extended remix of the opening tune, adding many sounds and textures and a funk jam.
Thanks for listening!