I've put out a preview version of "The Horizon," my new CD. The final version will be out in a few weeks. This version is the same songs in the same order (probably), but I may do the mastering over, depending on what I hear from my Colleagues who are kind enough to listen and comment.
Lea Morris arranged and sang her own backing Vocals on Why Why Why and Ten Good Reasons. Lena Seikaly sang the top two backing vocal parts on "Pompeii" Everything else was arranged, sung, played, sequenced and whatever by me.
I used a lot of sampled instruments, and I've included info on what samples/loops/virtual instruments I used, because some musician friends have asked about that. If your eyes glaze over, ignore all that.
Here's what's on the CD:
WHY WHY WHY
I wrote this some years ago while driving back from hearing a most excellent local singer. It's fiction. It's never happened to me.
The backing vocals are by Lea Morris. Guitars are by me. I sequenced the rest. Drums use loops from the "Nothing but Brushes" library from Drums On Demand (DOD). Djembe is from DOD Essential percussion library. Bass uses the Ilya Effimov Modern Bass. The Rhodes is Mark I Classic from the KONTAKT factory library.
SAND AND WAVES
This one did actually happen to me. At a beautiful place on the Delaware bay, right across from Cape May.
Guitar and vocals is me. Drums use the DOD Jazz Junction library. Bass uses Spectrasonics' Trillian Acoustic 1. Congas use some library that I bought years ago and can't find a name anywhere. The flugelhorn and tenor sax use SessionHorns Pro.
This is about a good friend who died of opiate addiction some years back. The last couple lines I sort of borrowed from Solzhenitsyn: "If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" ("Gulag Archipelago")
Acoustic guitar is me. The slide uses Orange Tree's Lap Steel (doing bends that aren't actually possible on lap steel, but there you have it). Drums use the Straight Ahead! Brushes&Mallets library. Bass uses Effimov's Modern Bass. The organ is Native Instruments' B4.
LEARN TO FORGET
Honestly, I don't remember if this was about me or just fiction. It was a long time ago. Anyway, I'm fine now. I actually wrote two tunes to this lyric, because I though the chord progression was a little too precious. Too many chords. Eventually I went back to the first version. It's in Sanatina form, sort of. A Friend counted 48 different chords (counting inversions, he said). I'll take his word for it.
Piano is the Mercury by Wavesfactory. Organ is NI's B4. Bass is Effimov's Fretless Bass. Drums are Straight Ahead! Brushes&Mallets, except the Kick, which is from Steven Slate Drums.
TEN GOOD REASONS
I wrote this one in about 3 hours, based on notes from two and five years earlier, which is either real fast or real slow. It was inspired by pretty much what you'd think.
Backing vocals are by Lea Morris. Guitars are me. Organ uses NI's B4. Bass uses Effimov Modern Bass. Drums use Steven Slate Drums.
THE LAST DAY OF POMPEII
The song is by Michael Peter Smith. He also wrote "Dead Egyptian Blues" and "The Dutchman." (Most people know the Steve Goodman recording.) I wrote what was going to be a horn chart but then I thought I'd try using scatting voices instead. I called my friend John P. to ask if he knew a mezzo who could read well, scat well, sing tricky internal parts and make it all swing. Lena Seikaly. Amazing singer. Check her out at www.lenaseikaly.com. If you live in the DC area, go catch a show!
The guitar and the 3d backing vocal are me. The top 2 backing vocals are the above-mentioned Lena Seikaly. The bass uses the Straight Ahead! bass. Drums use the Straight Ahead! Brushed&Mallets (including the kick this time).
The lyrics are sort of a riddle, but I'll explain: They were inspired by some beautiful pencil drawings that a friend of mine drew. Hyper-realistic. Mesmerizing. She told me she always started with the perspective lines. Seemed like a song to me, so I wrote it. The chord progression came to me after I'd been studying some "cool" voicings with a teacher in VA. I went with strings and french horns, because the extende chords support it, and because that day I though I was Henry Mancini.
The strings and horns use EastWest Hollywood Orchestra. The piano is Wavesfactory's Mercury. The bass uses Spectrasonics' Trillian (Acoustic2). The drums use the Addictive Drums Modern Jazz Brushes library.
LERIDA LA CATUARERA
The song is by Jose Tomas Arismendi and Claudio Fermin. It's from around 1890. I heard it years ago on an album put out in the 60's by a Venezuelan vocal group called Quinteto Contrapunto. I'll post a translation soon. Every other line ends in a word accented on the third syllable from the end (esdrujula). In Spanish those words are not very common and the result is refined and elevated. And then they wrote it in 5/8. Definitely not a folk song. My arrangement is not very Venezuelan, by the way. The harp is typical of Paraguay and the Bombo is from Chile and Argentina. I spent most of my childhood in Spain and Chile, and learned to play guitar on Cuecas and Zambas. The sound of the bombo brings it back. It's a largish two-headed drum with the hair still on the heads. On the back beat you hit the rim with the shaft of the mallet, like a Bodhran.
The nylon-string guitar is me. The harp is Eastwest Hollywood Solo Harp. (I couldn't find any Paraguayan harp sample, and Celtic harps have the wrong sound, so I used a standard classical harp. Close enough.) I wish I could remember where I found the Bombo samples. It wasn't easy.
Several friends have written songs called Icarus, so I decided to write one. The song seems to be a sort of Rorschach. One friend thought it was about Trump. (No, it was written before 2016). As I see it, it's about the persistence of myth, and of mythical thinking. If you think it's about something weird, drop me a line. Maybe it is. The song came out jazzy, so I arranged it for a full 16-piece big band. (I'm told that for more modern music the term "Jazz orchestra" is preferred, but eveyone knows what a big band is.)
All the winds (2 alto saxes, 2 tenors, 1 bari, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones) use the SessionHorns Pro library. The piano is Wavesfactory's Mercury. The bass uses Spectrasonics' Trillian (Acoustic2). Drums use the StraightAhead! Brushes and Mallets.
I CAN'T COMPLAIN
This one also happened, but that was about six Matts ago. Time doesn't just heal wounds. It makes things pretty that were not pretty originally. It makes you say nice-sounding, even noble things that you sure didn't feel at the time. The same goes for songwriting.
Guitars are me. Bass is the same Trillian Acoustic2. Drums use drumdrops tracks (much edited) from their "Jazz Thing" collection. (DDJT_60_JAZZ_SM_13, if you really want to know.)
HORA TRAS HORA
This is my setting of a poem by Rosalia de Castro (1837-1885). She was Galician and wrote many poems in Gallego, but she also published several books of poems in (Castilian) Spanish. It's a very sad poem. I'll post a translation of this one, too.
Piano is the same Mercury used everywhere, but with rather different settings.