Liner Notes for All Tracks

Wannabe

Composed and arranged in 2015, as my first attempt at writing a super-fast bebop piece for big band. Centered around Cherokee changes, it gave me the opportunity to write some solid ensemble sections, using different "melodic harmonization" techniques, i.e., passing chords or micro-progressions within the basic chord progression, in order to have more interesting sounding lines. For the melodic lead, I wrote for flugelhorn and alto sax. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

The title has a triple meaning for me. First, having borrowed the basic chord structure from the jazz standard, Cherokee, I thought it only fitting as a title. Second, a bit of native humor because among our tribes, the term wannabe means a non-native who wishes they were one of us and usually tries to pass themselves off as such, most often citing a great-grandmother who was supposedly a Cherokee "princess." Sorry, but we do not have royalty in our tribes and never have had. And lastly, a reference to personal aspirations. I have many musical influences, one of them being Sammy Nestico who penned many of the charts for the Count Basie Band. And yes, you guessed it: I always "wanted to be" as good a writer as he.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Full Circle – 50 Years On

Originally titled "One More Once," this was the first piece I ever wrote at university for the MSU Jazz Band in 1971. Mind you, the original version with its underdeveloped melody, sophomoric chords, and trite arrangement structure was nothing like this version. I took the tune and completely rewrote it in 2009. The led line was given to trumpet and bari sax, a sound reminiscent of Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams in the early 60's. The style is a medium tempo minor blues, which again takes advantage of melodic harmonization in the ensemble sections. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Vibes | Congas

The title has a very profound meaning for me. As I was recording this piece for the album last year, I realized I have been writing professionally for 50 years, albeit with a few gaps inadvertently inserted. So to record this piece in a new, more technically proficient version, I feel I really have come full circle, 50 years on.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Zacapa

As with Full Circle, this is a completely new version of the second piece I wrote while at university in 1972 (again, leaving a lot to be desired, in hindsight. Even back then, I was trying to get a Latin jazz feel in odd time signatures, much like some of the Stan Kenton charts of that time. When I reworked the material, I knew I wanted to get a Central American vibe (Zacapa is a town in Guatemala), so I opted to use the marimba behind the flugelhorn & soprano sax lead. I really wanted to have the arrangement be interesting, especially since it was for 70-piece studio orchestra, which gave me a lot of colors to play with. I opted to not give improvised solos to the lead instruments, but instead to John Pierce's amplified Flamenco guitar and myself on Fender Rhodes electric piano. The instrumentation for large studio orchestra was as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets | Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone | Tuba
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Yamaha Electric Grand Piano | Fretless Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba)
Percussion 2 (Congas, Bongos, Maracas, Claves, Guiro)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (8)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Tones For Joan's Bones

This was a labor of love and based on the enormous respect I had for the late Chick Corea. TFJB was the first piece he wrote and recorded in 1966 under his own name (having served as sideman to many well-established jazz artists for many years prior to that). And although that is how I felt when writing the chart in 2009, recording it last year was certainly a sadder occasion, as it was only a few weeks after Chick's passing. Earlier in my bio, I mentioned that I had the pleasure of hanging out with him on three occasions. What I never had the chance to do, however, was to thank him for being such a powerful influence on me musically. This arrangement–one of the best I have ever written–is my way of thanking him now.

Tones For Joan's Bones is a medium tempo, straight-ahead jazz piece. This arrangement uses quite a bit of ensemble writing with room for a single piano solo in the middle. I also tried something new in my writing this time, juxtaposing piano trio against a small horn section, as well as the whole big band, interweaving the three groups. Flugelhorn, Bari Sax, and Piano take the melodic lead, with the full jazz ensemble instrumentation being:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Yesterday's Tomorrows

Originally called "California Dreamer," I wrote this piece when I first moved to California in the mid 90's. I renamed it "Yesterday's Tomorrows" (meaning TODAY) because it sounded way too much like a certain sunshine-folk-rock-pop song from the 60’s. The style for this one was always meant to be a sort of Latin/fusion feel. I wrote the melody to incorporate unexpected twists and turns, and harmonized it all with highly altered jazz chords with upper extensions. The piece was always intended for orchestra, but I opted for a small group this time, relying only on strings and woodwinds to compliment the highly electric sounding rhythm section. The lead is covered this time by flugelhorn, alto flute, and vibes. For the solo sections, the Fender Rhodes electric piano takes over; we also hear from the alto flute, and finally amplified acoustic guitar. I scored the piece for small studio orchestra as follows:

Flugelhorn, Alto Flute
4 Bass Flutes | 2 Oboes | 2Clarinets | Bass Clarinet
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano | Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion (Shekere, Congas, Rain Stick, Mark Chimes)
1st Violins (5)
2nd Violins (5)
Violas (4)
Cellos (4)

In a way, this piece served as a callback and homage to Don Sebesky who arranged for many notable jazz artists in the 70's on the CTI albums produced by Creed Taylor. It is a little more laid back than some of my other pieces, but has a lot of the melodic and harmonic richness that I like to incorporate into my compositions.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Rainbow Skies

Again, this one has actually gone through several name changes and mood swings since I first composed the song in 1972. It was originally written as a solo vehicle for jazz great Gene Bertoncini, whose guitar I wrote for several times during the Arranger's Workshop Sessions at the Eastman School of Music. The next year, it was transformed into the second movement of a suite for Studio Orchestra called, "Divina Luz" and performed on that year's Arranger's Holiday concert. That version was a slow ballad featuring solo piano. One more time as "Slow Flight to Alpha Centauri," a rock ballad for the quintet I had while living in Grand Junction, CO in the early 80's before creating this last version with its final title, as a jazz samba for vocal and combo. Sometimes, you can get a lot of mileage out of one idea!

Composition-wise, it is one of my best pieces. Rhonda L Thomas did a fabulous job, giving it life through her golden voice, and I played Fender Jazz Bass and Fender Rhodes electric piano on it. Once again, John Pierce gave a stunning performance on guitar solo, followed by myself on the Fender Rhodes. The instrumentation was pretty straight ahead, as it was only rhythm section and vocal. The drums and congas were virtual instruments, the rest live.

Vocal
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano
Fretless Electric Bass | Drums | Congas

This composition marks one of the only times I attempted to write a set of lyrics (and definitely the only one that will be released as a vocal). I wanted to have the listener immediately get a sense that in order to deal with the madness of the world (like some of the insanity we are dealing with at present), all we have to do is go into our own imagination and create something more charming. Here is the full set of lyrics.

There's a special place I found to visit
whenever I need to leave behind
the madness of the world (it's so dark and serious).
I find the rainbow skies of this beautiful place

so inviting to the eyes. Their colors
can chase away even the darkest clouds,
which seem to follow me when I lose sight of
the magic of the stars. They give us the sparklies that we need

to soar above all those big and fluffy white clouds,
as they start to chase and play tag with the wind.
Looking down I see brightly colored butterflies
dancing all around pretty flowers. They seem to say,

"There's a magic in the air – just feel it."
Now, take my hand and believe it.
The time we spend inside our imagination
gives us what we need to become what we dream.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the games
that all of the trolls are playing just to make us feel real bad about ourselves.
That's the time to go back to that special place
with the fluffy clouds, pretty flowers, and butterflies.

If you really want to know how to get there,
just close your eyes tight and then look for
the fiery pools of light and the center where
imagination is such a nice place to be.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Mountain Nights

Originally composed in 1982 for my combo, Spectrum3, I finally got the chance to do a jazz ensemble arrangement of it for this album. The piece is in a Cuban Bolero style in G minor and relies heavily on melodic harmonization, rather than just static chord changes. The melody is stated by the electric piano and vibes, with solos being taken by tenor sax and electric piano. The chart was orchestrated for jazz ensemble as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Congas | Vibes

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Regeneration 2020
(Concerto for 3 Jazz Soloists
and Studio Orchestra)

 

At this point in my musical journey of more than 50 years, I consider this to be my Opus Magnum. At a runtime of more than 16 minutes, it is a symphonic jazz concerto in 3 movements, each movement originally having been written as a standalone song.

Mvt. I - originally called "Life Celebration," composed in 1982.
Mvt. II - originally called "Melissa's Theme" and written for a short film in 2008.
Mvt. III - originally called "The Baião," composed in 2001.

The full orchestra intro was taken from motifs in the 3rd movement, while the ending is something very special to me. From the final acoustic piano solo in 6/4 and out, the thematic material was borrowed from my teacher, mentor, and friend, Rayburn Wright. His composition, "Regeneration – Concerto For Jazz Quartet, Rock Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra" was composed in 1972, as part of a pops concert with the Rochester Philharmonic, as a feature for Dave Brubeck, his trio, and his son's rock group, New Heavenly Blue. I wanted to arrange this short section not only as an ending for my concerto, but also as a way of finally thanking Rayburn for all I learned from him, which I never had the chance to do (he passed in 1990).  The title of my piece is not only a further nod to him, but also a reference to my own current state in late 2020, as I was literally regenerating–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So for me, this piece literally represents the trip of a lifetime.

Regeneration 2020 was scored for full Studio Orchestra as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
Soprano Sax
2 Alto Saxes | 2 Tenor Saxes | Baritone Sax
4 Trumpets/Flugelhorns | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones
Bass Trombone | Tuba
2 Guitars
Piano/Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Mini Moog
Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba, Vibes, Chimes)
Percussion 2 (Tambourine, Congas, Mark Chimes, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Gong, Timpani)
Brazilian Percussion (Triangle, Agogo Bells, Tumba, Bata)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (6)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

Click Here to Return to Track Links

Copyright © 2022 Tony SingingEagle. All rights reserved.

Liner Notes for All Tracks

Wannabe

Composed and arranged in 2015, as my first attempt at writing a super-fast bebop piece for big band. Centered around Cherokee changes, it gave me the opportunity to write some solid ensemble sections, using different "melodic harmonization" techniques, i.e., passing chords or micro-progressions within the basic chord progression, in order to have more interesting sounding lines. For the melodic lead, I wrote for flugelhorn and alto sax. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

The title has a triple meaning for me. First, having borrowed the basic chord structure from the jazz standard, Cherokee, I thought it only fitting as a title. Second, a bit of native humor because among our tribes, the term wannabe means a non-native who wishes they were one of us and usually tries to pass themselves off as such, most often citing a great-grandmother who was supposedly a Cherokee "princess." Sorry, but we do not have royalty in our tribes and never have had. And lastly, a reference to personal aspirations. I have many musical influences, one of them being Sammy Nestico who penned many of the charts for the Count Basie Band. And yes, you guessed it: I always "wanted to be" as good a writer as he.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Full Circle – 50 Years On

Originally titled "One More Once," this was the first piece I ever wrote at university for the MSU Jazz Band in 1971. Mind you, the original version with its underdeveloped melody, sophomoric chords, and trite arrangement structure was nothing like this version. I took the tune and completely rewrote it in 2009. The led line was given to trumpet and bari sax, a sound reminiscent of Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams in the early 60's. The style is a medium tempo minor blues, which again takes advantage of melodic harmonization in the ensemble sections. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Vibes | Congas

The title has a very profound meaning for me. As I was recording this piece for the album last year, I realized I have been writing professionally for 50 years, albeit with a few gaps inadvertently inserted. So to record this piece in a new, more technically proficient version, I feel I really have come full circle, 50 years on.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Zacapa

As with Full Circle, this is a completely new version of the second piece I wrote while at university in 1972 (again, leaving a lot to be desired, in hindsight. Even back then, I was trying to get a Latin jazz feel in odd time signatures, much like some of the Stan Kenton charts of that time. When I reworked the material, I knew I wanted to get a Central American vibe (Zacapa is a town in Guatemala), so I opted to use the marimba behind the flugelhorn & soprano sax lead. I really wanted to have the arrangement be interesting, especially since it was for 70-piece studio orchestra, which gave me a lot of colors to play with. I opted to not give improvised solos to the lead instruments, but instead to John Pierce's amplified Flamenco guitar and myself on Fender Rhodes electric piano. The instrumentation for large studio orchestra was as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets | Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone | Tuba
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Yamaha Electric Grand Piano | Fretless Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba)
Percussion 2 (Congas, Bongos, Maracas, Claves, Guiro)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (8)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Tones For Joan's Bones

This was a labor of love and based on the enormous respect I had for the late Chick Corea. TFJB was the first piece he wrote and recorded in 1966 under his own name (having served as sideman to many well-established jazz artists for many years prior to that). And although that is how I felt when writing the chart in 2009, recording it last year was certainly a sadder occasion, as it was only a few weeks after Chick's passing. Earlier in my bio, I mentioned that I had the pleasure of hanging out with him on three occasions. What I never had the chance to do, however, was to thank him for being such a powerful influence on me musically. This arrangement–one of the best I have ever written–is my way of thanking him now.

Tones For Joan's Bones is a medium tempo, straight-ahead jazz piece. This arrangement uses quite a bit of ensemble writing with room for a single piano solo in the middle. I also tried something new in my writing this time, juxtaposing piano trio against a small horn section, as well as the whole big band, interweaving the three groups. Flugelhorn, Bari Sax, and Piano take the melodic lead, with the full jazz ensemble instrumentation being:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Yesterday's Tomorrows

Originally called "California Dreamer," I wrote this piece when I first moved to California in the mid 90's. I renamed it "Yesterday's Tomorrows" (meaning TODAY) because it sounded way too much like a certain sunshine-folk-rock-pop song from the 60’s. The style for this one was always meant to be a sort of Latin/fusion feel. I wrote the melody to incorporate unexpected twists and turns, and harmonized it all with highly altered jazz chords with upper extensions. The piece was always intended for orchestra, but I opted for a small group this time, relying only on strings and woodwinds to compliment the highly electric sounding rhythm section. The lead is covered this time by flugelhorn, alto flute, and vibes. For the solo sections, the Fender Rhodes electric piano takes over; we also hear from the alto flute, and finally amplified acoustic guitar. I scored the piece for small studio orchestra as follows:

Flugelhorn, Alto Flute
4 Bass Flutes | 2 Oboes | 2Clarinets | Bass Clarinet
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano | Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion (Shekere, Congas, Rain Stick, Mark Chimes)
1st Violins (5)
2nd Violins (5)
Violas (4)
Cellos (4)

In a way, this piece served as a callback and homage to Don Sebesky who arranged for many notable jazz artists in the 70's on the CTI albums produced by Creed Taylor. It is a little more laid back than some of my other pieces, but has a lot of the melodic and harmonic richness that I like to incorporate into my compositions.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Rainbow Skies

Again, this one has actually gone through several name changes and mood swings since I first composed the song in 1972. It was originally written as a solo vehicle for jazz great Gene Bertoncini, whose guitar I wrote for several times during the Arranger's Workshop Sessions at the Eastman School of Music. The next year, it was transformed into the second movement of a suite for Studio Orchestra called, "Divina Luz" and performed on that year's Arranger's Holiday concert. That version was a slow ballad featuring solo piano. One more time as "Slow Flight to Alpha Centauri," a rock ballad for the quintet I had while living in Grand Junction, CO in the early 80's before creating this last version with its final title, as a jazz samba for vocal and combo. Sometimes, you can get a lot of mileage out of one idea!

Composition-wise, it is one of my best pieces. Rhonda L Thomas did a fabulous job, giving it life through her golden voice, and I played Fender Jazz Bass and Fender Rhodes electric piano on it. Once again, John Pierce gave a stunning performance on guitar solo, followed by myself on the Fender Rhodes. The instrumentation was pretty straight ahead, as it was only rhythm section and vocal. The drums and congas were virtual instruments, the rest live.

Vocal
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano | Fretless Electric Bass | Drums | Congas

This composition marks one of the only times I attempted to write a set of lyrics (and definitely the only one that will be released as a vocal). I wanted to have the listener immediately get a sense that in order to deal with the madness of the world (like some of the insanity we are dealing with at present), all we have to do is go into our own imagination and create something more charming. Here is the full set of lyrics.

There's a special place I found to visit
whenever I need to leave behind
the madness of the world (it's so dark and serious).
I find the rainbow skies of this beautiful place

so inviting to the eyes. Their colors
can chase away even the darkest clouds,
which seem to follow me when I lose sight of
the magic of the stars. They give us the sparklies that we need

to soar above all those big and fluffy white clouds,
as they start to chase and play tag with the wind.
Looking down I see brightly colored butterflies
dancing all around pretty flowers. They seem to say,

"There's a magic in the air – just feel it."
Now, take my hand and believe it.
The time we spend inside our imagination
gives us what we need to become what we dream.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the games
that all of the trolls are playing just to make us feel real bad about ourselves.
That's the time to go back to that special place
with the fluffy clouds, pretty flowers, and butterflies.

If you really want to know how to get there,
just close your eyes tight and then look for
the fiery pools of light and the center where
imagination is such a nice place to be.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Mountain Nights

Originally composed in 1982 for my combo, Spectrum3, I finally got the chance to do a jazz ensemble arrangement of it for this album. The piece is in a Cuban Bolero style in G minor and relies heavily on melodic harmonization, rather than just static chord changes. The melody is stated by the electric piano and vibes, with solos being taken by tenor sax and electric piano. The chart was orchestrated for jazz ensemble as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Congas | Vibes

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Regeneration 2020
(Concerto for 3 Jazz Soloists and Studio Orchestra)

At this point in my musical journey of more than 50 years, I consider this to be my Opus Magnum. At a runtime of more than 16 minutes, it is a symphonic jazz concerto in 3 movements, each movement originally having been written as a standalone song.

Mvt. I - originally called "Life Celebration," composed in 1982.
Mvt. II - originally called "Melissa's Theme" and written for a short film in 2008.
Mvt. III - originally called "The Baião," composed in 2001.

The full orchestra intro was taken from motifs in the 3rd movement, while the ending is something very special to me. From the final acoustic piano solo in 6/4 and out, the thematic material was borrowed from my teacher, mentor, and friend, Rayburn Wright. His composition, "Regeneration – Concerto For Jazz Quartet, Rock Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra" was composed in 1972, as part of a pops concert with the Rochester Philharmonic, as a feature for Dave Brubeck, his trio, and his son's rock group, New Heavenly Blue. I wanted to arrange this short section not only as an ending for my concerto, but also as a way of finally thanking Rayburn for all I learned from him, which I never had the chance to do (he passed in 1990).  The title of my piece is not only a further nod to him, but also a reference to my own current state in late 2020, as I was literally regenerating–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So for me, this piece literally represents the trip of a lifetime.

Regeneration 2020 was scored for full Studio Orchestra as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets | Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
Soprano Sax | 2 Alto Saxes | 2 Tenor Saxes | Baritone Sax
4 Trumpets/Flugelhorns | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone | Tuba
2 Guitars | Piano/Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Mini Moog | Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba, Vibes, Chimes)
Percussion 2 (Tambourine, Congas, Mark Chimes, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Gong, Timpani)
Brazilian Percussion (Triangle, Agogo Bells, Tumba, Bata)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (6)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

Click Here to Return to Track Links

 

Copyright © 2022 Tony SingingEagle. All rights reserved.

Liner Notes for All Tracks

Wannabe

Composed and arranged in 2015, as my first attempt at writing a super-fast bebop piece for big band. Centered around Cherokee changes, it gave me the opportunity to write some solid ensemble sections, using different "melodic harmonization" techniques, i.e., passing chords or micro-progressions within the basic chord progression, in order to have more interesting sounding lines. For the melodic lead, I wrote for flugelhorn and alto sax. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

The title has a triple meaning for me. First, having borrowed the basic chord structure from the jazz standard, Cherokee, I thought it only fitting as a title. Second, a bit of native humor because among our tribes, the term wannabe means a non-native who wishes they were one of us and usually tries to pass themselves off as such, most often citing a great-grandmother who was supposedly a Cherokee "princess." Sorry, but we do not have royalty in our tribes and never have had. And lastly, a reference to personal aspirations. I have many musical influences, one of them being Sammy Nestico who penned many of the charts for the Count Basie Band. And yes, you guessed it: I always "wanted to be" as good a writer as he.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Full Circle – 50 Years On

Originally titled "One More Once," this was the first piece I ever wrote at university for the MSU Jazz Band in 1971. Mind you, the original version with its underdeveloped melody, sophomoric chords, and trite arrangement structure was nothing like this version. I took the tune and completely rewrote it in 2009. The led line was given to trumpet and bari sax, a sound reminiscent of Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams in the early 60's. The style is a medium tempo minor blues, which again takes advantage of melodic harmonization in the ensemble sections. This chart was scored for jazz ensemble, as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Vibes | Congas

The title has a very profound meaning for me. As I was recording this piece for the album last year, I realized I have been writing professionally for 50 years, albeit with a few gaps inadvertently inserted. So to record this piece in a new, more technically proficient version, I feel I really have come full circle, 50 years on.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Zacapa

As with Full Circle, this is a completely new version of the second piece I wrote while at university in 1972 (again, leaving a lot to be desired, in hindsight. Even back then, I was trying to get a Latin jazz feel in odd time signatures, much like some of the Stan Kenton charts of that time. When I reworked the material, I knew I wanted to get a Central American vibe (Zacapa is a town in Guatemala), so I opted to use the marimba behind the flugelhorn & soprano sax lead. I really wanted to have the arrangement be interesting, especially since it was for 70-piece studio orchestra, which gave me a lot of colors to play with. I opted to not give improvised solos to the lead instruments, but instead to John Pierce's amplified Flamenco guitar and myself on Fender Rhodes electric piano. The instrumentation for large studio orchestra was as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets | Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone | Tuba
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Yamaha Electric Grand Piano | Fretless Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba)
Percussion 2 (Congas, Bongos, Maracas, Claves, Guiro)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (8)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Tones For Joan's Bones

This was a labor of love and based on the enormous respect I had for the late Chick Corea. TFJB was the first piece he wrote and recorded in 1966 under his own name (having served as sideman to many well-established jazz artists for many years prior to that). And although that is how I felt when writing the chart in 2009, recording it last year was certainly a sadder occasion, as it was only a few weeks after Chick's passing. Earlier in my bio, I mentioned that I had the pleasure of hanging out with him on three occasions. What I never had the chance to do, however, was to thank him for being such a powerful influence on me musically. This arrangement–one of the best I have ever written–is my way of thanking him now.

Tones For Joan's Bones is a medium tempo, straight-ahead jazz piece. This arrangement uses quite a bit of ensemble writing with room for a single piano solo in the middle. I also tried something new in my writing this time, juxtaposing piano trio against a small horn section, as well as the whole big band, interweaving the three groups. Flugelhorn, Bari Sax, and Piano take the melodic lead, with the full jazz ensemble instrumentation being:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Yesterday's Tomorrows

Originally called "California Dreamer," I wrote this piece when I first moved to California in the mid 90's. I renamed it "Yesterday's Tomorrows" (meaning TODAY) because it sounded way too much like a certain sunshine-folk-rock-pop song from the 60’s. The style for this one was always meant to be a sort of Latin/fusion feel. I wrote the melody to incorporate unexpected twists and turns, and harmonized it all with highly altered jazz chords with upper extensions. The piece was always intended for orchestra, but I opted for a small group this time, relying only on strings and woodwinds to compliment the highly electric sounding rhythm section. The lead is covered this time by flugelhorn, alto flute, and vibes. For the solo sections, the Fender Rhodes electric piano takes over; we also hear from the alto flute, and finally amplified acoustic guitar. I scored the piece for small studio orchestra as follows:

Flugelhorn, Alto Flute
4 Bass Flutes | 2 Oboes | 2Clarinets | Bass Clarinet
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano | Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion (Shekere, Congas, Rain Stick, Mark Chimes)
1st Violins (5)
2nd Violins (5)
Violas (4)
Cellos (4)

In a way, this piece served as a callback and homage to Don Sebesky who arranged for many notable jazz artists in the 70's on the CTI albums produced by Creed Taylor. It is a little more laid back than some of my other pieces, but has a lot of the melodic and harmonic richness that I like to incorporate into my compositions.

Click Here to Return to Track Links


Rainbow Skies

Again, this one has actually gone through several name changes and mood swings since I first composed the song in 1972. It was originally written as a solo vehicle for jazz great Gene Bertoncini, whose guitar I wrote for several times during the Arranger's Workshop Sessions at the Eastman School of Music. The next year, it was transformed into the second movement of a suite for Studio Orchestra called, "Divina Luz" and performed on that year's Arranger's Holiday concert. That version was a slow ballad featuring solo piano. One more time as "Slow Flight to Alpha Centauri," a rock ballad for the quintet I had while living in Grand Junction, CO in the early 80's before creating this last version with its final title, as a jazz samba for vocal and combo. Sometimes, you can get a lot of mileage out of one idea!

Composition-wise, it is one of my best pieces. Rhonda L Thomas did a fabulous job, giving it life through her golden voice, and I played Fender Jazz Bass and Fender Rhodes electric piano on it. Once again, John Pierce gave a stunning performance on guitar solo, followed by myself on the Fender Rhodes. The instrumentation was pretty straight ahead, as it was only rhythm section and vocal. The drums and congas were virtual instruments, the rest live.

Vocal
Guitar | Fender Rhodes Electric Piano | Fretless Electric Bass | Drums | Congas

This composition marks one of the only times I attempted to write a set of lyrics (and definitely the only one that will be released as a vocal). I wanted to have the listener immediately get a sense that in order to deal with the madness of the world (like some of the insanity we are dealing with at present), all we have to do is go into our own imagination and create something more charming. Here is the full set of lyrics.

There's a special place I found to visit
whenever I need to leave behind
the madness of the world (it's so dark and serious).
I find the rainbow skies of this beautiful place

so inviting to the eyes. Their colors
can chase away even the darkest clouds,
which seem to follow me when I lose sight of
the magic of the stars. They give us the sparklies that we need

to soar above all those big and fluffy white clouds,
as they start to chase and play tag with the wind.
Looking down I see brightly colored butterflies
dancing all around pretty flowers. They seem to say,

"There's a magic in the air – just feel it."
Now, take my hand and believe it.
The time we spend inside our imagination
gives us what we need to become what we dream.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the games
that all of the trolls are playing just to make us feel real bad about ourselves.
That's the time to go back to that special place
with the fluffy clouds, pretty flowers, and butterflies.

If you really want to know how to get there,
just close your eyes tight and then look for
the fiery pools of light and the center where
imagination is such a nice place to be.

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Mountain Nights

Originally composed in 1982 for my combo, Spectrum3, I finally got the chance to do a jazz ensemble arrangement of it for this album. The piece is in a Cuban Bolero style in G minor and relies heavily on melodic harmonization, rather than just static chord changes. The melody is stated by the electric piano and vibes, with solos being taken by tenor sax and electric piano. The chart was orchestrated for jazz ensemble as follows:

5 Saxes | 4 Trumpets | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone
Guitar | Piano | Bass | Drums | Congas | Vibes

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Regeneration 2020 (Concerto for 3 Jazz Soloists and Studio Orchestra)

At this point in my musical journey of more than 50 years, I consider this to be my Opus Magnum. At a runtime of more than 16 minutes, it is a symphonic jazz concerto in 3 movements, each movement originally having been written as a standalone song.

Mvt. I - originally called "Life Celebration," composed in 1982.
Mvt. II - originally called "Melissa's Theme" and written for a short film in 2008.
Mvt. III - originally called "The Baião," composed in 2001.

The full orchestra intro was taken from motifs in the 3rd movement, while the ending is something very special to me. From the final acoustic piano solo in 6/4 and out, the thematic material was borrowed from my teacher, mentor, and friend, Rayburn Wright. His composition, "Regeneration – Concerto For Jazz Quartet, Rock Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra" was composed in 1972, as part of a pops concert with the Rochester Philharmonic, as a feature for Dave Brubeck, his trio, and his son's rock group, New Heavenly Blue. I wanted to arrange this short section not only as an ending for my concerto, but also as a way of finally thanking Rayburn for all I learned from him, which I never had the chance to do (he passed in 1990).  The title of my piece is not only a further nod to him, but also a reference to my own current state in late 2020, as I was literally regenerating–physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So for me, this piece literally represents the trip of a lifetime.

Regeneration 2020 was scored for full Studio Orchestra as follows:

Piccolo | 2 Flutes | 2 Oboes | English Horn | 2 Clarinets | Bass Clarinet | 2 Bassoons
Soprano Sax | 2 Alto Saxes | 2 Tenor Saxes | Baritone Sax
4 Trumpets/Flugelhorns | 4 French Horns | 3 Trombones | Bass Trombone | Tuba
2 Guitars | Piano/Fender Rhodes Electric Piano/Mini Moog | Electric Bass | Drums
Percussion 1 (Orchestra Bells, Marimba, Vibes, Chimes)
Percussion 2 (Tambourine, Congas, Mark Chimes, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Gong, Timpani)
Brazilian Percussion (Triangle, Agogo Bells, Tumba, Bata)
Harp
1st Violins (8)
2nd Violins (8)
Violas (6)
Cellos (6)
Basses (4)

 

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