This CD is an excursion for me. A return to my roots, stirred up with some of my more recent interests in contemporary music and sound art.
I'm a creative musician. It's my job. I write music for string quartets, ballet companies, symphony orchestras, theatre and film directors. Still, I'm pretty much a normal guy who grew up in the suburbs.
When I was a kid, there was a lot of music in my household. I grew up in the 60's when stereos where in everyone's living room. But no one in the house listened to classical music, except for me when I practiced piano. (My sister watched reruns of Sea Hunt and Maverick while I practiced. She took dances lessons. and was quite good, but for some reason young dancers don't have to practice every day, and young musicians do).
As a child, I tolerated the piano lessons and the practicing, but the blues interested me the most. First John Mayall and Eric Clapton, then Led Zeppelin and Hendrix. Those rock/blues bands from the 60's and 70's all had a big sound.
My earlier life in the classical music world led to a kind of willful self-supression. For a while there, I thought I was a classical composer. Everyone else seemed to think so.
One of my musical friends often said that everything leads back to the blues. So, conjuring that idea, I wrote a string quartet subtitled sixblues, a set of variations on Charles Mingus' Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. And a few abstract orchestral works loosely based on jazz standards.
Then I started to play the piano in public again. 50's and 60's jazz standards. And the blues. Eastern ragas and free improvisation. I also experimented with dense, violent textures of sound, inter-cut with sparse, gentle music.
I try to contain all of my interests in my playing. And sometimes it's an odd mix.
Like the old world fugue on this CD, Pine Trees (actually inspired by a painting I saw in Japan), which is followed by Gee Baby Remix, a wacky rejigging of a jazz standard from the 20's. Or the almost blues of Monk's Bemsha Swing, which is preceded by Japanese Lyric, a meditative improvisation influenced by classical Indian music.
deeper still, is a sound art concept. The music is both active and tranquil, slowly descending, and becoming dissonant and explosive without losing the sense of calm. That's followed by Steal Away, a 12-bar blues with a hiphop swing.
omaggio a miles is an abstract rendering of the Miles Davis/ Bill Evans composition Blue in Green. It's followed by st jean, which is based on a 13th-century chant, though it sounds at times more like early Pink Floyd.
When I teach composition and improvisation, I always tell my students that the most important thing for an artist is to be one's self. Not easy. The self is a complicated thing. And we're all different.
So I don't think that this CD shows that I have a split personality, as it
I've been influenced by all of the songs, structures, solos and compositions that I admire. And I'm inspired by working with excellent musicians, like Gilles Fournier and Daniel Roy, who performed so wonderfully on this concert/recording. They're good friends, and also brilliant artists.
And we're all from Winnipeg. I hope you can hear that in this music.