I dig playing music with singers but not all jazz musicians like the blend of sharing the musical space with a vocalist. I’ve had the good fortune of connecting with some exceptional singers and for me, having them in the loop is a great thing. Hearing the story of the song interpreted through words and then this morphing into some solo space for the instrumentalists is a balance that seems right to me. Adding into this is my love of composing and for this new recording all of the songs are my original tunes. Some of the lyrics are my own and for the other songs I’ve collaborated with a few gifted lyricists. Let me take you on a quick tour of the song stories captured on “Calling Me Home.”
“Sarah’s Island” features Kevyn Lettau on vocals and tells the story of how an island, through its natural beauty and gentle trade winds, helps to bring the life back into a slightly worn out individual. If you’ve ever traveled to the end of the road on the north side of the island of Kauai, you’ll know how the healing qualities of aloha can take hold.
“Holding On In Bombay” features Leonard Patton on vocals singing over a cool tabla groove. I was inspired to compose this song after reading a poem about the amazing display of humanity and hope amidst the total chaos in India’s overcrowded public transportation system. They recite “I’m just trying to get to the City of Gold…”
“Cantar” is a samba tune that Kevyn Lettau and I wrote together years back and for this recording it features Allison Adams Tucker on vocals. We play this cool 5 against 4 rhythmic phrase at the end of the guitar solo and this was inspired by the gifted Ron Satterfield who played with us back in the late 80’s.
“Rain” features Lisa Hightower on vocals and this is one of my favorite moments on the CD. I first wrote and recorded this song as an instrumental on my “Light Dance” recording in 2001. Later on Randy Phillips added the words and I think we’ve captured some true beauty in sonic form.
“Hold On” is sung by both Leonard and Lisa. This song evolved out of the wisdom set forth in a beautiful Pueblo Indian prayer. “Hold on to what’s good, even if it’s just a handful of dry earth.”
“To Live in the Heavens” features Kate Fuller on vocals. The song evolved out of a moment when I was stuck in a horrendous traffic jam, looking up at the clouds and thinking, there must be a better design to living than being trapped in an overheated, pinned-in car. Indeed there is and this song transports us to one possible option.
“Weird Science, Modern Times” is a whacked out tune with Lisa and Leonard singing a zillion words inside a fast tempo. As you know, every week I send out an email to my fans letting them know what gigs are coming up and what’s been going on during the previous week. Some weird things would always go down at our Sunday shows at The Coyote Bar and Grill in Carlsbad and I’d include these stories in my gig emails. Part of my writing style is to get loose with my descriptions and phraseology. Randy Phillips had the idea to compile these stories and phrases and put them together as a lyric for a song. “Weird Science, Modern Times” captures a night at the Coyote with all of the crazies out in full force. “Keep the sky in your head!”
“Mudra” first had a life as an instrumental and we recorded it on my “The Wild Blue” CD featuring Carter Dewberry on cello. It’s always been one of our favorites for the group. Randy loved the song and later came up with this lyric telling how, through our hands, musicians share stories of wisdom and peace through their music. A mudra is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and is mostly performed with the hands and fingers. This song features Leonard on vocals.
“The Power to Rock” is a flat out rock tune complete with me playing guitar with distortion and even bending some strings. It features Leonard and Lisa singing in full octane mode. I read a funny interview with Jack Black talking about the ironic contrast of him growing up in a high-powered intellectual household with his mom, a Harvard professor and his dad, a scientist —and then there he was, an actor, a rebel and a rock musician. He said it best, “my dad is a rocket scientist and I’m a scientist of rock.”
The song on the CD is “Calling Me Home” featuring Leonard on vocals. I was listening to a Ray Charles recording when I came up with this song. We first recorded an instrumental version on my “Taking It All In” recording. Randy later filled in the missing details with her words and every time I hear it, I’m transported to that old tree, gazing up to the sky, and thinking about the warmth of home.
The other players on this recording are Gunnar Biggs on bass, Duncan Moore on drums, and Tom Aros on percussion. On the tune “Calling Me Home” Josh Nelson is added on piano along with Darek Oles on bass.