November 6, 2018

Certain Elements' liner notes

“Certain Elements” is out and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. With its mix of covers and originals, Certain Elements digs deep into varied styles and moods.  “Cherish,” the first single, a remake of the classic hit by The Association, is receiving radio play across the country and I’m hearing from people who love this romantic version that makes you want to light the candles and dance slow.

Purchase information on this site’s Music page. Thanks for checking out the new music. To tell you more about this album, thought I'd share the liner notes here :

Of the 13 tracks on this record, six contain original music I wrote a few years ago, songs that came together over a relatively short period, in different ways – as images, melodies and rhythms, word play, phrases, poems, stories, quiet mantras. One other track is a flow of spoken word I did in the studio one day as a kind of prologue to the title track. Writing and recording original music is a new thing for me, at turns invigorating and humbling. I have loved very much the process of creating these original songs. They join five other tracks that are cover tunes, brought to me by friends over the years with arrangements/lyrics they had created for these compositions. It’s always a privilege to be asked to sing someone else’s vision for a song, and I’m honored they let me be a part of theirs. … For those doing the math, you’ve probably noticed there is one track to be accounted for. When I brought the original version of Certain Elements (track 3) to producer Trammell Starks, it captured his ear in a way that inspired him to arrange a whole different take on the tune. I loved both versions, and so included both, with Trammell’s “Atlanta groove version” (track 13) serving as a reprise of the title track.

This project unrolled organically over three years, with sessions in cities on both coasts and points in between. It moved forward according to time, circumstances, and my ability to gather the nerve to release my own songs. Not the conventional way to make a record I suppose, but I trusted in the winding path that ultimately brought Certain Elements together in ways I couldn’t imagine. I’m indebted to the musicians listed in the credits of each track, who brought their immense talent to making this music. Some couldn’t have known what their contribution would end up meaning to this endeavor, and to me. Thank you. Big thanks to Trammell Starks of Studio Magic in Atlanta, Georgia, whose assistance, expertise and enthusiasm in helping pull the many varied aspects of this project together went above and beyond. Thank you also to photographer Charlotte Watts for capturing a cover image that is an exterior expression of an interior world, and to Darren English for the intuitive, artful graphic design. To John, JJ, Nate, Mom, Dad, Pam, Lib, my extended family both related and not – loving thanks. I’m blessed to have a lifetime of your support.

 Finally, heart thanks in remembrance of Portland pianist MarkSimon, who several years ago created the arrangement of Lean on Me heard on track 12 in an expression of our friendship. In summer 2017, I called Mark from Atlanta, where I was living by then, to let him know I wanted to include his arrangement on this project. The plan was to do long-distance recording sessions – but we were able to get that done only in part, as Mark passed away before we could finish. … During one of our last conversations, Mark said, “We have a lot more music to make.” I wanted to honor that by making sure the recording of his arrangement came true. It is Mark playing piano on the opening verse of Lean on Me. It is his brother, Chicago-based pianist Fred Simon, who picks it up from there, completing what Mark started, for both of us. Thank you, Fred. I think Mark would dig the results, and it means so much to be able to say *to him*: “We did it, my friend.”

 Certain Elements is a CD title, a song, an expression of unity that dissolves duality. … It’s also a description of how this recording holds the varied elements, sounds and styles of my musical self. In the end, these songs are bound simply by my affinity for each.

 This record is dedicated to the Sophia inside, imminent and in all.