Recorded March 1996
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Without knowing that I was preparing to make this CD, I had spent the winter months in my New York apartment struggling with my new computer, a synthesizer, and a complex music program. Imagine a bass player who plays piano, writes music and type 60 words perminute with no work, up to his ears in manuals that make little sense, that suddenly can sequence any musical ideas into a machine that can print it out in seconds, and you have an idea of the transformation tht has just taken place in my life. Once I overcame the intense fear of change that nearly paralyzed me for a couple of months, I began my quest into the 20th century. Before long, I was able to hear my tunes played by any combination of instruments that I could imagine. Minutes later, I was faxing trumpet parts to Tim Hagans in Pennsylvania. for someone who has relied mainly upon the telephone for incoming gig offers for over three decades, this is a quantum leap.
So much of the music business I once knew is gone. What I consider, at this juncture, only to be a writing tool, has become the standard for many musicians in the recording industry. All you need to do is tum on your TV to hear it. I can surely see myself writing scores, even novels and books on all sorts of topics, creating new worlds beyond my wildest dreams. However, whatthis new addition to my life has fitmly reminded me of, once again, is how much I love to improvise. Improvising alone at my computer is great fun, and it has already increased my range of compositional abilities. Being able to see and hear what you write immediately is just phenomenal. Being in the studio with Tim Hagans, Marc Copland and Billy Hart playing this music was glorious. The human element can never be replaced nor duplicated. The excitement of spontaneous, collective improvisation with players ofthis level is a high with no equal. This is our art. I don't care what they invent, nothing could ever replace this wonderful process known as jazz.
I had recorded with Marc Copland with Dave Stryker for SteepleChase in 1990 on Strikezone (SCCD 3/277), and we had worked together on occasion in the jazz clubs around the country. I knew he was a happening player, but his performance on this CD was beyond any expectations I could ever have had. Always creating and bringing new colors and rhythms into the music that consistently enhance the writing and what the rest of us were playing, Marc took this project to new levels, as you will hear.
Tim Hagans performed on Sunburst (SCCD 31306), my sextet CD on SteepleChase in 1992, and is currently a Blue Note artist. Tim is courageous! He goes for his own type oflines at all times, and never plays it safe. When we were thinkingofa horn playerforthis recording who would compliment this rhythm section, which I am in love with, Tim was at the top of the list. A refreshing sound amidst the plethora of sound-alikes that cling to their old conceptions. A trend in jazz that continues to baffle me.
Jabali Billy Hart has arrived at a level of mastery of the drums that is truly amazing. One of the most sought after musicians in the world, I am once again honored to have been able to have the pleasure of recording with him. His depth of experience, coupled with his flare for coloration and drama are repeatedly demonstrated here. Regardless of the style or complexity of the music, Jabali always comes through with a sense of urgency and passion.
The music is a collection of new works and a couple of pieces that I wanted to record again that I had to grow into over a period of years. I'm never sure if I have finished a piece of music! I'm sure you can relate to that. I hear a new form, harnlonic sequense, groove or what you have once I have played a piece for a while. Sometimes, in the middle of the night! My neighbors can vouch for that!
'Lock' is one of those pieces, written for my good buddy Joe Locke, before I leamed how to spell his name. He never did play the tune!
'Sem-Herbie' was written for the great Herbie Hancock while I listened to 'This Is Da Drum". Herbie is probably the most significant musician of our times, and to use Adam Nussbaum's language, Sem means not quite the same as, but close enough!
"Nighty Nite" is another tune that I've recorded in other forms with other bands but this was the original idea that always got lost.
"Over And Over Again" isn't a standard, but I'm pleased if you thought it was. Marc and Billy really romp on this one.
"Sing Your Song" is a departure from my usual style of writing in that it is a long fOlm with more specific melodies and parts shared by all in an even eighth note style.
"Concrete Canyon", the title track was written for my home, you guessed it, New York City' It is dedicated to Richie Beirach, who has taught me more about music than I needed to know. As I explained to the musicians in the studio, it is Richie's pendulum as I would picture Paul Bley "Time, no changes" over an F# pedal!
"Ears" is a rock ballad dedicated to my years without having to know "Y". Marc's tune demonstrates his great sense offonll and melody.
It is with deep gratitude that I thank God for allowing us to continue to make music like this in a troubled world. The doing of it, to me, is the true reward .
- Ron McClure, April 12, 1996 (from liner notes)