Counting to Infinity is the first movement of the Dream Trilogy. Each movement is based on a recurring dream or theme from a dream. In Counting to Infinity I find myself on the world’s most beautiful beach. The catch is I cannot see it as I am in a very deep hole and my future involves counting every grain of sand in the world. Australian Aborigines use the didjeridu to accompany their ceremonies and story telling. As I am an Australian and am telling stories, I though this would be a great place to try a didjeridu with the band.
Hanging by a Thread is the 2nd movement of the Trilogy. Of my dreams, or as some would say nightmares, this is the one that is most common to others. I have heard many explanations for dreams that involve teeth falling out, from being worried about your appearance to being about change. I really have no idea what it means for me, but we all know the feeling of a tooth loosening and gradually getting to the stage where it is hanging by a thread and it is not a good one. We also know the sound of high clarinets and know that it is also not a good one so what better way to start the piece! Aloe Blacc contributes a great rap in the second section making this a pretty unique big band piece.
Dialmentia is the 3rd and final movement of the Dream Trilogy. In my dreams and in real life I have a phobia of dialing telephones. When we had rotary dial phones I always had to let my finger ride the dial all the way back around just to make sure I got the correct number. Of course in my nightmares it is life or death, I am being chased and must make an important call and of course I screw up the last number, and being a pay phone I must wait for my money to come back out before I can dial again. Add to that the fact that I am always in my underwear (you all know the feeling, don’t lie) and you can imagine the anxiety. Near the end, you will hear the band play a serialized version of my phone number but of course I cannot get the last digit correct. One good thing about my dreams is that I can always wake myself up. At the end of the piece you hear where this happens and I realize that it was all just a dream.
Pythagatha is the fourth movement of the Dream Trilogy. I think I am awake and roll over to give my wife a cuddle and instead of her right leg there is an albino python and it attacks me.
There are many things about women that men will never understand. One of them is why they desire really expensive handbags! After many years of marriage I am no longer shocked at how much they cost, but when my wife bought her first one it blew me away, so much so I had to write a piece about it. Katie’s New Handbag is inspired by the day she bought her first Louis Vuitton. We were in Nuremberg, Germany, and she had her sights set on getting a particular bag. The only thing was that she had no idea where the store was but a sixth sense took over and she led us up many strange little streets always saying “around the next corner” until one time it really was around the next corner. About three quarters of the way through you will hear when I found out how much the bag was going to cost.
I did not write Caravan (-dalized), just arranged it although I wish I had written it. If only Ellington had heard a little hip hop, this is how it may have been originally done.
I never quite understood the ‘Gubernatorial’ part of Gubernatorial Recall. How do you get from Governor to Guber? It did sound like a cool name for a chart though! There is also the fact that Arnold is only 2 letters short of being an Australian so maybe I can be governor one day. I have noticed that most of the great big band drummers have had brush features written for them. No one wrote one for me so I had to write it myself. The brush feature is its own genre and has a formula: the band plays a stop time head with brush fills and later there is a drum solo where the band appears from nowhere with little irrelevant phrases. Most of the time I want to do something different, but then I realized if I kept it in the ‘genre’ that would actually be different. So no hip hop bits, no power chords or sound effects in this one, just the band swinging.
Imagine you have had one too many drinks. You make it home OK, get in OK and shut the door, but something stops it from shutting and two seconds later you realize it’s your finger. Once you have gotten over the pain and almost forgotten about it you notice the nail is going black and is on it’s way to falling out. But who can wait? There is a temptation to help it along. Towards the end of Blacknail you will hear where I could wait no longer.
We have featured many guests with the band over the years and for each one I arrange new music, something that is unique for them. One day while conducting a film score in LA, I met an English cellist named Andrew Shulman and we started talking about the band and what it would be like to have a cello as a featured instrument. Andrew suggested that Elegy by Faure would be a great piece to arrange, so I gave it a go. You hear part of the original at the very beginning before I take over.
Putting this album together has been quite a journey. I had no idea how hard it would be to get some of the things I had written right, not just good, but ‘right’. I would like to thank all the musicians who played on the album and put up with me asking them to play it again and again and again until I was happy. Helping bring it all together with his amazing recording and mixing skills was Steve Kaplan. Until this project, I had not heard a big band record with a rock rhythm section that kept its integrity but also gelled with big band horns. Steve made it happen for me on this project and I am very grateful. Thanks also to my wife Katie who has always supported me in my big band habit. It is hard to believe but in the time since I started work on this project, my wife conceived and gave me a beautiful daughter, Sarah, who will be walking and talking by the time anyone reads this.
Please Big Band responsibly.
REEDS: Mike Acosta, Mike Nelson, Lee Secard, Jennifer Hall, Frank Fontaine, Jim Honeyman, James King, Alex Budman
TRUMPETS: Jon Papenbrook, Bijon Watson, Rich Hofmann, Bill Dowling, Ken Bausano, Steve Wade, Bill Churchville
TROMBONES: Jacques Voyemant, Kerry Loeschen, Martha Catlin, Rick Blanc
GUITAR: Mark Cally, Andrew Synowiec
KEYBOARD: Alan Steinberger, Brian Byrne
BASS: Steve Pandis, Jeff Novack
DRUMS: Tim Davies
PERCUSSION: MB Gordy
GUESTS:Martin Kay (as), Sal Cracchiolo (tpt), Andrew Shulman (cello), Aloe Blacc (MC), Anita Thomas (didjeridu), Abraham Libbos (turntables)
Produced by TIM DAVIES & STEVE KAPLAN
Recorded and Mixed by STEVE KAPLAN
Mastered by RON MCMASTER
at Capitol Mastering
Recorded in Los Angeles at Track Record,
Westlake Audio & Riot Drum Studio
April 17-20 2007, August 9 & 10 2007
Photos by CHRIS WARD
Layout by JOHN BISHOP