Aside from all of the traditional obstacles one must overcome (time, money, the will of others, and forces of nature) to get something done, the most formidable obstacle is oneself. Before we make a decision, we gather our resources and marshal our forces in order to ensure it's success, but there are usually too many possibilities to consider. So it comes down to faith. Faith that we already have the resources within us to handle what comes next. Faith to understand that even if we end up on a road that is not of our choosing, it can still lead us to our goal, and maybe even provide us with some views we have never seen before. It comes down to faith in oneself. The Tarrier: A few years back I was playing chess with a dear friend. On this particular occasion I was winning most of the games handily until the endgame. Turn after turn, my friend watched as I missed opportunities for checkmate as I tried to bring in more pieces and even get an extra queen. I lost a few of those games and the most embarrassing of them ended in a stalemate. He loves to bring that one up in conversation. "You did everything you needed to do, and then you tarried." In future games, whenever we found anyone guilty of that crime, (bragging and taunting seem to be more important than the actual games with us) we labeled him "The Tarrier," and joked that it sounded like one of those Blue Note titles, like The Sidewinder or The Preacher. In case you are interested in the music here, The Tarrier is a blues shuffle and was partly influenced by Oliver Nelson's Yearnin'. The ensemble trading with the drums was inspired by Thad Jones' 'Tiptoe.' Dijon Dance is dedicated to Jack DeJohnette, one of my favorite drummers. The song was inspired by Jackie McLean's "Demon's Dance," a record that featured Mr. DeJohnette and successfully straddles the dividing line between 50's hard bop and the modal and freer styles popularized by Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane in the 60's. I was trying to invoke some of that spirit here. Be Still (While I Remove the Wart) is dedicated to one of my teachers and another favorite drummer, Bill Stewart. It started with the bass line and was modeled after an amalgam of tunes written by John Scofield for his bands of the early 90's, of which Bill Stewart was a member. Most of his records from that time featured at least one tune with a blues drenched melody and a second-line groove, and this is an attempt to capture some of the feeling of that music. I really went back and forth as to whether or not I should include the subtitle, but unfortunately, better taste did not prevail and more importantly, it is necessary to solving the anagram. Trolley Museum: I made up this melody on the spot and sang it to an ex-girlfriend. It has a simple, child-like tune that I found difficult to present in a modern jazz context, so I elongated the rhythm of the melody and re-harmonized it. The "spot" was the trolley museum in East Windsor, CT, near my hometown. A Wreath of Cloud: I wrote the A section of A Wreath of Cloud almost 10 years ago, then tarried on the bridge for a few years. In the interim, I read Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji . Arthur Whaley's translation titles the second book of her novel A Wreath of Cloud, stripped from the poem "Across the sunset hill there hangs a wreath of cloud that garbs the evening as with the black folds of a mourner's dress." The poem was composed by Genji to lament the loss of his most treasured lover (he had many), and mourning dominated the period of his life covered in the second book. I imagine him looking back at his life, and drawing a wreath of cloud on the calendar to mark that time period. Into the Fire was inspired by Wayne Shorter's Angola, from his 1965 recording "The Soothsayer." The sound of the ensembles on that record is a deep inspiration. Shorter's playing always has an expressive and plaintive quality that only the saxophone can capture. I love the searing quality of James Spaulding's sound in the ensemble sections. It sounds to me and probably felt to Shorter like an upper extension of his own voice on tenor. That quality is lost when the horns drop into harmony, as the trumpet takes the lead voice, but here and in many other arrangements for this sextet I've made the unusual choice of placing the alto in the lead in an attempt to keep that searing, expressive sound on top of the ensemble. Chorale is dedicated to and inspired by Charlie Haden. While the harmonic language here is very Classical in nature (I owe some debt to Schubert here as well), I've heard Charlie Haden play this kind of thing often. His music reminds me of the beauty and power of simplicity. Trafalgar Square was named after the location of the closing scene in one of my favorite books, W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, but I've never actually been there. I wrote it quite some time ago, when I was listening to the Keith Jarrett Trio often. This was originally written to feel like a quartet playing a standard, but I arranged it for sextet just prior to the recording, adding the counter-lines and shout chorus. No one in the band knew the details of the title or the scene, but I got lucky, as I think the closing vamp expresses the last line of the book perfectly: "Cabs and omnibuses hurried to and fro, and crowds passed, hastening in every direction, and the sun was shining."
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