When I made my very first solo recording, a good friend called it a vanity project. First of all, calling my recording a solo recording is a bit inaccurate, considering all the other musicians that played on it, but I digress. I’d say he was right about calling it that. Over a decade later and quite a few recordings, is what I’m doing now still just a means to stroke my own ego?
I think an honest answer would be no. Listening to the recording may be the real test, and I encourage you to do so. But the motivation felt quite removed from where I was those years ago. I have spent a lot of time in the last few years arranging, and a lot of the reason for that was the music that kept swirling around in my head was by no means for trombone. I was being drawn to a real different type of music. Calming, simple, you might say peaceful. For whatever reason, it was what I wanted to listen to. And many of these compositions felt like they could work on trombone. Over time, I had a few of these tunes on my computer. Some I’d had the chance to play with my colleagues in St. Louis before I left. (see Retirement Concert) My impression was that they did work on trombone.
But I had tunes still unperformed, or should I say, unrealized. Hearing a tune played on your computer is not the same experience as hearing it played by living breathing humans. So I determined to do these tunes myself, one at a time, here in Santa Fe. Luckily I had already worked at a great studio with a great engineer, Kitchen Sink Studios and Jono Manson. It was merely a matter of doing it. But this took some time, between my schedule and Jono’s. Ok fine, what’s the hurry, right?
So over the course of 6-8 months, slowly it came together. And as life would have it, in the meantime I met and worked for a musician named Jack Clift. Jack is a guitarist, but really, much more. The first time I played for Jack was a very different experience. I had music, but there was no click track, and what I was to play did not line up with the drums. Kind of free floating, very unusual. But I liked it. This was more like the direction I was going myself. And it occurred to me to include Jack on a couple of my own tunes. So a new collaboration was born. Jack added sounds and a feel that completely changed what my trombone alone would’ve sounded like. I’ve never heard music quite like what we created, and it makes me happy. I like listening to it, and I realized, here was the real answer after all these years. If I like it, I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice if other folks like it too, but what I mean is, the motivation had changed completely. It’s enough for me to listen and enjoy it myself. I’m good. And that’s what I’ve been doing! Since the tracks are all balanced, tweaked and final, I’ve listened to it many times, just because I like hearing it.
Soon it should be available for anyone with the equivalent of a couple lattes and a scone to hear it too. And that’s nice. I hope folks do hear it, and maybe some will enjoy listening as well. That would be nice, but that would be a bonus. It’s not that I don’t care what others think, but it’s not the motivation. And getting to that point, well that took a long time. So in a way, this music was a lifetime in the making.
And it’s not just my music. It all starts off with a beautiful piece by Michael Lake. Mother Nature lets you know what’s in store, and Christopher Stark’s Refuge follows it with another strong statement. Again, not something I’m used to hearing every day. I was honored to be a part of that recording, and to be able to include a portion of it here.
I have been blessed by so many wonderful people and musicians contributing to this effort, it would be the height of folly to call it a SOLO recording! I’m more like the chef that assembled all the groceries. It tastes pretty good to me, maybe you’ll think so too. Maybe it’s not your favorite dish. That’s also cool. I’ve got plenty in the fridge, you’re welcome to help yourself. Like a great Thanksgiving meal, I’ll be enjoying the leftovers for a long while! And I’m good with that.
I’ll leave you with a painting I recently came across done of me in the late 18th Century during my career as a grade school music teacher in London. I knew even back then that I would eventually record an album of music no one would ever have associated with bass trombone! Epilogue is now a reality!!