Well, thanks to my team of partners, I have managed to get an album on itunes, of songs I had recorded in 2003. I wanted to praise the engineer, Pat Strain, and our dearly departed friend, Colin Lay who redesigned the sound of this solo piano recording and in effect 'Mastered' these tracks. I have been blessed by the time and effort invested in this project and others, by my friend—and now pretty much a mentor in many areas, CKM, who continues to amaze.
It's a marvelous feeling to arrive at this point. For years I could not get it together to record myself what with the responsibilities that MacEwan U. demanded (rightly so). Once a recording is on 'tape' it's a question of getting the 'mechanicals' and licensing as most of the songs on this particular album were well known standards, save one, an original: Song For Bill Evans.
Someone (local player of high repute) who has quite a number of CDs in his discography, spoke to me on this subject, that every musician should record, basically, because it's a soul building experience and every new album, even if it costs a lot to produce, is worth it. It's worth it even if the venture doesn't break even. I think this has to be true. I guess one has to have a plan—I confess that I didn't really have a plan for this project but thought I should do it regardless, even if off the cuff (that was the feeling 9 years ago). One of the pluses for me was to be able to play on a good quality grand piano. So I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play on the Con Hall Steinway. That was such a gift. I'm looking forward to playing on the fine quality grands in the various studios in Edmonton if and when I can.
"All" one needs (apart from practising preparation), is mental(/emotional) and spiritual preparation (being responsibile)—there has to be something a lot more that notes. How about a single impetus, a beat, that becomes a 'subdividable' wave of feeling, thought, that floats with an assurance and any beat or melody that is emphasized or, led to by a dynamic, comes from that original impetus and only fuels the surge of this wave. Maybe it's the big beat, but what ever it is, it's a necessary element and it's ultimately a release even though the mind should truly be more involved in the process. Perhaps it could be called an engaged release or as David Liebman called it: 'a relaxed tension.' I once had a 5 minute conversation with Mr. Liebman (in Boston 1992) about a (100 pp) book that I had put together. I outlined the book (The Sound) I had sent him. He's a nice guy and he let me talk him through it.
Timing was everything too—having to fit it in with family duties and teaching.
With this solo piano album, I was kind of living in a dream world and mostly just enjoyed the experience. I wasn't exactly prepared, but did find glimpses of inspiration from the sound of the piano and the fun accrued by my normal on-going piano time—something learned or learned-better every time one sits down to play is a good thing. Which is one good reason why we all need (good) gigs! I'll take a background 'jazz' gig any day if they are to be had. Something interesting always happens.
Costs would be a major factor if I were to record with a trio but I would definitely love to do that—it's a soul building experience after all. Is there enough music out there? There certainly is a lot that is worth listening to and worthy of support. Bill Emes once said to me (sarcastically) when I told him he should record: "Oh sure, just what the world needs, another jazz record." How I would have dearly loved to have heard more from him—an original thinker and profound talent that he was. I'm hearing gifted jazz players who have astounding talent and abilities so that is always inspiring. I guess we've got to like what we do on a deeper level, and that seems to create the feeling that enables the mind to be creative. I find I can get inspired by any music or thought that has some deeper meaning. Music art or any art can be all-consuming and as younger musicians struggle to make a living in music, many still manage to come up with original poetic thoughts and find their voices in the expression of music, besides it's fun and "Soul Building." P.S. check out the next blog up, it features a video of Dave Liebman.