I am very pleased to finally be able to present this second CD. It is a collection of my own compositions some of which were written in the last few years whilst others contain themes and ideas that go back a lot further. Most of the tracks were recorded in one take but I have to admit that some were not! Many of the pieces have now reached maturity and are in their final form however two or three are still evolving; for instance each time I play ‘Spanish Rhapsody in Blueish’ it leads me into new realms, so I’m sure further developments are to come. However after so many years of experimentation I felt it was time to make a recording.
Although I like to think of myself as striving for perfection there are moments when…… well, maybe we can call it improvisation!
Introduction (A hint of things to come), written 2010. Using some of the chord structures and similar passages from subsequent pieces on this CD I put together this short tune as a prelude to the rest of the album.
Brain Box Boogie (Thank you Janis), written 2008-2009. Throughout this piece I make use of three types of blues/boogie left hand vamp. All quite traditional styles, however the first one is usually heard played on guitar. It was Janis Ian’s beautiful playing on her song ’Welcome to Acousticsville’ that inspired me to develop this. It works well as a rocky riff too as in ‘Brain Box Rock’ (track 11) which I actually wrote first. This is a slightly bouncier, lighter version with a few subtle changes. It moves through three keys ending in ‘C’ using a well known boogie woogie pattern which I’ve then moved down an octave. This gives it a very powerful sound, but I had to modify some of the notes to accommodate it on the keyboard.
Interlude (Born in America), written 2009. In the early stages of planning this album it occurred to me during a visit to the United States, that much of the music was in the keys of ‘C’,’F’ or ‘G’, to break this up I went to the piano with the intention of writing something (anything) in ‘E’,’A’, ‘B’ or ‘D’. Immediately this little tune materialised in ‘E’ minor which has since become one of my favourites. Full of different musical influences and much fun, it is also a serious ethereal piece. Over the last two years or so I have added more phrases and included nuances which simply could not be left out.
Boomerang Boogie (Thank you Humphrey and Dan), written 2008 – 2011. This is based around another type of walking boogie woogie riff which I believe may have been invented by Dan Burley and later developed and made famous by Humphrey Lyttleton with his ‘Bad Penny Blues’. Here I have increased the tempo and applied a simple melody and some more complex improvisations. It took me a long time to come up with this title, I went through so many ideas and finally settled on this which seems highly appropriate because the riff keeps coming back round, a bit like a ……..
Nocturne in ‘A’ (Out of a dream), written 2008-2009. I woke one morning out of a dream in which some very vibrant brass band style music had been playing, not really my sort of thing but the melody was fixed in my head. At the piano I quickly wrote it down and over a period of months adapted and elaborated upon it and this is the result.
Overture and Woogie Waltz (Don’t try this at home!), written 2007 containing a passage from 1978/79. I really wanted to come up with a boogie in waltz time, but wanted it to sound right and not contrived. I felt sure it could be done; my experimentation with numerous methods seemed to go on forever but eventually led to this. It is a development of an ‘Albert Ammons’ riff. At first I found it almost impossible to play so I decided to apply a very simple melody which seemed to be what was needed. It also gave me the chance to make use of a jazz waltz chord structure I developed when I was a teenager, linked together with a new 12 bar blues phrase. The ‘Overture’ was put together one evening using the same chord structure as I felt an introduction was necessary. The entire piece is a challenging performance but quite exhilarating.
Spanish Rhapsody in Blueish (Just a little bit of fun), written 1995-2011. During these years I put more and more ideas together but it was not until this year when I started to write it all down that it came to fruition. I have to thank Chick Corea and the influence that his album ‘My Spanish Heart’ had on me when I first became familiar with it in 1982. My mixture of Spanish and blues started to happen quite naturally. ‘Spanish Rhapsody in Blue’ was to be the original title but as the blues elements are somewhat subtle I decided on ‘blueish’. I had great fun with this throwing in everything- no holds barred!
Nocturne in ‘C’ (Thank you Frederick), written 2008-2009. One evening whilst playing around with ‘Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu’ on my digital piano, adding a funky rock beat (sacrilege some might say?)Well whatever, it meant that I had to learn how to do rock improvisations in C ♯ / D ♭. I spent some time doing this and became familiar with the sound and the feel when in my head I suddenly heard this strange C7/♭ 9/♯ 9/ ♭5 chord which became the introduction to this piece. The unusual chord structure in the following seven bars ending with the D ♭13 /♭ 5 seemed to flow readily and led me into the main C minor theme with a cool and sophisticated sound which I was aiming for. I am now working on an upbeat version.
Manic Muck-about (Exactly what it is!), written 2009. A bit more fun using jazz and blues riffs, scales and arpeggios and some fast stride.
Blazing Blues (Every cloud has a silver lining), written 2009. A couple of years ago when I thought my career in the United States was beginning to blossom I experienced a big business disappointment which left me feeling pretty blue, however I went to the piano and ‘Blazing Blues’ was born. My mood generated this deep bluesy melody; the first half wanders through some rich sonorous areas whilst the second half is a slow stride section with some complex improvisations and the ending really demonstrates my frame of mind at the time.
Brain Box Rock (Boogie Woogie on steroids!) Written 2006-2007. This was the first of the two ‘Brain Boxes’. I wasn’t quite ready for it when my first CD was recorded but since then it has become much more structured, a robotic rock tour de force and great fun to play. Both ‘Brain Boxes’ are so called because of the complex syncopation in a couple of the 12 bar sections towards the end of each piece.
Peace in ‘A’ (A conclusion?), written 2007-2008. I’ve been working on this for some time and may elaborate on it in the future but for now it’s a gentle way to bring this album to a close.