A great teacher once told me “Some people want to play music and some people have to play music.” To me, music feeds the soul of anyone who is willing to connect to it. This connection can be established through composition, academic study, performance, or simply opening your ears. Since music has had such a profound influence on my life and spirit, I feel the desire to similarly inspire those around me. I am one of those people who have to play music.
This album was recorded in one session without the use of splicing or overdubbing (with the exception of interlude one).
Interlude One, as well as the second and third interludes, is based on the harmonic progression of the title track. This first melody (of five) will later be heard as the bass line for The Fundamentals.
Focus, which frequently shifts meters, was inspired by a great drummer and close friend, Kassa Overall.
Interlude Two is a return to the harmonic material from The Fundamentals. Here, we explore the harmony under the influence of a heavy 6/4 groove. This song was composed to display the beautiful tone and dance-like phrasing of trombonist Andre Murchison.
The Middle Passage represents the journey of the African to the New World. It was in the bottom of a ship that the spirit of the blues was born. Deeply rooted in a 6/8 groove, the feel is dictated “with no mercy” by bassist Chris Mees.
With You is a slow love song composed with a Strayhorn/Ellingtonian influence and can best be understood through its lyrics: “Sometimes- I sit- and think of things in this world that make me complete- And I notice- that all of these things- are with you- And I start to think- If I did lose you- then I’d be in a world that nobody knows- So all that- I need in this world- is to be with you.” This song is dedicated to Eva.
The Fundamentals (as expressed earlier) is the theme of life and purpose. It is in a 15/8 meter and deals with a repeating pattern of four chords. The harmony is rooted in a tri-chord system built off of the one, the flatted fifth, and the major seventh. The chords move in a succession of fourths.
Blooze is at a tempo that the band refers to as “grown ass man tempo-” slow, steady, and with lots of soul. This is the first opportunity to hear bassist Chris Mees as a soloist and also features an unaccompanied piano solo by Sullivan Fortner.
Falling was composed for Sullivan Fortner to display his unique and very soulful style. It is meant to evoke the feeling of a gentle, weightless, and endless descent.
Interlude Three is the final variation of The Fundamentals. Fast and Swingin’, it was composed to feature saxophonist Stantwan Kendrick and drummer Ulysses “Bim” Owens.
Left Sided is about being on the left side of things. About taking a step to the left and marking your own path.
It is my aspiration to push music beyond the limits and expectations defined by tradition. Jazz encompasses many elements of life & music. It is a lifestyle, not a title or classification. With the recent rise in popularity of Jazz education and preservation, I fear that many (not all) of my peers have lost sight of a purpose in the music. We cannot place the blame upon the current cultural and artistic state of our society. We must remember that we as people define what art is and what art is not. My music must be explored as far as my soul will go. These are my fundamentals.
I would like to thank my family for their endless love & support, all of my teachers for their guidance & tolerance, Donna & Stewart Kohl for their continuous support & friendship, the band & my good friends, Ulysses, Stantwan, Andre, Sullivan, and Chris for their hard work and dedication to the music. This album is dedicating to the loving memory of my father.
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