“It reminds me of some of the best of the Windham Hill recordings in the 90’s” Francisco Herrero, Radio Despi, Barcelona, Spain
“” Intriguing……high end music that any true musician can appreciate” Mark Caldwell, WAWK, Chattanooga, TN
“……music felt like silky chocolate running through my veins.” Scott Schaefer, Surprise, AZ.
The music on this CD is improvised and ‘in the moment’. Elegant piano music is enhanced by the lovely oboe and english horn playing of Keve Wilson and the otherworld sounds of the didgeridoo played by Scott 'Gusty' Christensen. They've created music that takes you on a real journey. Often we hear the sounds of Tibetan bowls in the ethers and some small percussion giving us the feeling of having been here before. There's also some lovely interweaving that goes on between the oboe and the alto and tenor saxes played by Doug Carmichel as well as by Kailin Yong on the violin.
So one beautiful fall day, Gusty, the didgeridoo player on this CD and I sat down to jam a little and ended up having quite a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the sound and feel of the ‘didge’ with the piano and felt like Gusty and I made a fine team. Gusty, also being a recording engineer had the foresight to record what we were doing and that, was the beginning of When the Sun Turns North. We of course didn’t know that then. In fact, the files got lost and Gusty didn’t find them until a year later. But in the meanwhile……………
I was going to begin recording a Holiday CD a year in advance. I figured being in the Christmas spirit was easier to conjure up if one was already in it. I mad e the date at the studio to begin on Dec. 8th. As it turned out, my friend Mika had given birth to her first child the night before. It had been a difficult birth and I was not exactly in the mood of Christmas walking into the studio that morning. There was also a winter storm beginning and huge snowflakes were falling down outside the studio window. It was a beautiful back drop for the start of something and sometimes it just takes a different direction than what you planned.
I was in an odd mood that day, my mind off worrying about Mika and the baby. I tried a few different approaches to the music but nothing was coming out very Christmas like. I was feeling a little frustrated about the lack of my seasonal mood. However, I was into the snow and was conjuring up all kinds of childhood images from having grown up in North Dakota. I was recalling the quiet of the snow falling, the crunch of walking in the snow, skating on the river until our toes were frozen. All these images began to put me in an anthemic mood and that feeling of the big winter all around me as a child began to make me smile.
Perhaps it wasn’t exactly Christmas, but it’d been cathartic in many ways. We listened to some of it and there were some ideas in there but it wasn’t what I was looking for.
About 3 or 4 days later, he e-mailed me and told me he thought I should come in and listen further. I figured ‘why not’ and went in. I thought there were some moments, but nothing grabbed me except what became Winter’s Calm. When we were recording I’d imagined oboe in the mix of sounds and had left a lot of room for another instrument. I thought it was very calming and captured my mood of that day perfectly.
Another 7 or 8 months went by and one day I happened to be driving and put that CD ref we’d made all those months ago in the CD player. I immediately got excited about orchestrating it and proceeded to go about finding the right people to join in this project.
Since I’d always had oboe in mind, I’d put out the word that I was looking for an ‘improvising’ oboe player. Now there’s an oxymoron! Yet by chance, I found the perfect oboist named Keve Wilson. Like me, she has a Classical background but can improvise in any style. Sight unseen, she came to the studio and played absolutely divinely. I could not have asked for more in a player.
Doug Carmichel was a friend of Gusty’s and came in and played tenor and alto sax on a couple of tunes. I had never heard him play and he was also fabulous and has one of those personalities that just makes you smile every moment.
Kailin Yong was another ‘find’. I’d played with Kailin before so knew what he could potentially add to the project. Kailin is from Singapore and I was a little concerned he might not know any Christmas tunes. As it turns out, he knew them in spades. Ultimately it became a Solstice project, so no worries there.
Last but not least, Scott ‘Gusty’ Christensen playing didgeridoo inspired and motivated me in some other worldly way to play ‘in the moment’ and to be present like I’ve never been before. It was as if the didgeridoo had me under it’s spell. We went on a journey and came out the other side.
Each of these performers was the perfect choice for this journey. Not only did they all add to and help create this project, they’re all wonderful, loving and supportive people. They all played like they knew this music intimately and I believe we were all ‘called’ to do just that. I am forever grateful to all of you!
Winter's Child was the first tune worked on. I just sat down and started playing to the falling snow. Hints of Ring Christmas Bells are indeed in here. Hints of my concern about my friend Mika are all here too and I wanted to dedicate this to her dear little girl Basel Lani.
Winter's Calm was how I felt once I heard the Didgeridoo playing with me. Gusty's playing never ceases to amaze me. Such clarity, passion and calm absolutely transports me and brings me to places I haven't imagined yet. Don't ever underestimate the power of this instrument and it's master. Gusty also happens to make his own Didgeridoo's.
In the Suite, It Furthers One to Cross the Great Water, we begin in the cold dark of winter. Winter Solstice is approaching and the long nights leading up to it is very present in our imagination. The thought of When the Sun Turns North is what keeps us on our path, for it is the time of year when the light will begin to come back to us again. A tune of the season comes our way for a moment then we suddenly find ourselves seeking the sun and light and we're headed away from this 'winter' for a respite from all this darkness. We're Turning Towards the South and we're on the ocean Riding the Big Waves. We even go beneath the surface and experience the beauty of undersea life. It makes us quiet and introspective, Beneath, Below, Within. We come up for air and realize that although this beauty has touched us deeply, home is where we want to be. Perhaps we now know that 'home' is where we are any given moment. The Further One Travels..........
I use references to the I Ching or the Chinese Book of Changes which is a classic Chinese text. It has been used as a source of wisdom and inspiration for centuries and I was reading it again as I was working on this project. One can garner much life knowledge from being familiar with it.
Big Man Winter was an excursion into my childhood. Looking out at the vastness of the North Dakota horizon, the miles of the snow covered earth and just feeling the enormity of it all as a child. Snow flakes falling on our eyes and mouth and making snow soup and eating it with sticks. I remember the day they told us we couldn't eat snow any more because somewhere they were testing bombs and it wasn't good for us anymore. Riding in the red horse drawn sleigh dad and Uncle Tom got out at Christmas time. Making snowmen, building huge forts and tunnels and walking on top of those. In those days, the forts were almost as high as the houses....or was I just shorter then? Skating on the river and the ice rink and those Sunday family drives down the river, watching ice fishing, riding snow mobiles and just having that sense that everything around you is utterly vast! Life was big.