Like many musicians of my generation, I grew up in the 1970s and 80s regarding the “record album” as the quintessential musical statement and artifact. On the best rock and jazz LPs of those years, the songs— which were often both composed and performed by the same people— would be varied in expression and yet unified in sound, and would flow together to form a convincing hour-length whole. While I have been fortunate to have many of my compositions included on recordings put out by other performers, and though the golden age of the album may be past, I have continually harbored the ambition to make at least one unified album of my own.
But for most of my composing life I’ve written “concert music”— that is, music written down on paper for live classically-trained musicians to perform in a concert hall, shrouded in the silence and decorum afforded by our modern concert rituals. This church-like setting tends to favor certain musical qualities over others, and I have spent my career trying to write music with those qualities. Concert hall pieces, for example, should be information-rich, have significant duration (at least long enough to justify the comings and goings of the musicians and the repeated applause of the audience), should exhibit a wide variety of sonic textures, dynamics and expressive modalities (to justify the long duration of the pieces), and, finally, should, if possible, begin in such a way as to erase the memory of the last piece played and end with a significant degree of finality.
As one might imagine, music written to satisfy these ideals doesn't necessarily function well on recording, and only recently have I found myself with enough record-friendly pieces to make a unified album. These pieces span a dozen years, and are presented here in reverse chronological order. In general, they tend towards the contemplative end of my range, with a harmonic language that is tonal and evolves gradually. When rhythmic, the music employs a multi-layered, wheels-within-wheels structure, not dissimilar to the workings of an astronomical clock. All these pieces seem to be about time in fact, perhaps as contemplated from the inside of a warm house on a winter night, which is one of the few good places left to take out a recording and play it all the way through.