Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Live or Memorex?

Last week's concert went extremely well. The music was cooking, the crowd was large, and the musicians felt good about it.

One of our friends brought a neighbor to the concert. She was trying to compute the experience: jazz - in a church - all of it based on scripture. At times, she wasn't sure if she should be praying, listening, praising, or studying the Psalms. One thing was for sure, she said. "Those Presbyterians in the pews should have been tapping their feet!"

And then we noticed something incredible: at least a half dozen people reading Bibles while we played. That has to be a first for a jazz concert.

Jeff Stockham blew the roof off the place. He's one of the few French horn players who plays some jazz on that instrument. It's always a lot of fun to have him play with the band.

The music is coming together well. We are looking forward to getting a good recording of it - - and there's a lot to record!

More later. Stay warm out there!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Play that horn

This Sunday, we will play a concert of the new music at my church, the First Presbyterian Church of Clarks Summit, PA. The musicians will be Jeff Stockham on trumpet and French horn, Al Hamme on sax, Shawn McGloin on bass, and the venerable Ron Vincent on drums. These are serious cats who have played with greats like Thelonious Monk Jr., Gerry Mulligan, Slam Stewart, and Natalie Cole. Each one is also a dear friend who has played my music before.

Once a composer writes down the music on the page (or in my case, the computer), one of the next questions is what instrumentation to use. Melodies sound different on different horns, of course, and it's important to keep things diversified to maintain the listener's interest.

I love the creativity of this particular group of musicians. Jeff has recorded on a couple of my albums, and lifted my "Stand On Your Head" CD to a higher plane. Give a listen to some of the sound clips by clicking here.

After the concert, we'll have a bite to eat and explore the music some more. Perhaps we'll even take a first attempt at recording some of it. One thing is for sure: it will be a hot afternoon on a very cold day!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Interview with Al Hamme and Clips of the Music

Hi everybody -

Al brought his arsenal of saxophones to a rehearsal today. We worked through more of the music, and began to prepare for a "first pass" that we'll do in the recording studio.

As we talked about this project, we decided to turn on the tape recorder, and three audio excerpts of our conversation are here on the blog. You can click them on the right, or click here to hear the first clip.

He speaks candidly about the "psalms without words," names a few of his favorites, and talks about the spiritual impact of the music. I discussed the inspiration behind some of these tunes, and we reflected on the miles we've traveled with the Presbybop Quartet.

Give them a listen - you'll have a rare opportunity to hear the musicians thinking about their work behind the scenes.

Also included are three clips of rehearsal takes of the music. Look to the right column and click on one of the titles.