Umbria: One of my favourite recordings was Spiral Dance by Keith Jarrett. A straight 8’ths kind of tune, I tried to capture the spirit of that Jarrett’s composition, rhythmically and melodically but with the string quartet as an integral part. The opening is a little canon inspired by Bartok. This was from a commission by Music Toronto and is dedicated to the great saxophonist Michael Brecker.
A Bend in the River: I had already recorded this tune a year earlier when I had the opportunity to record a track with one of my favourite drummers of all times, Tony Allen (Fela Kuti) who was on tour with Damon Albarn, whom I toured with in his Gorillaz and Mali Music project. I revived the piece from one I wrote for the percussion group NEXUS in the 80’s for the Crossings series and added strings to it. It is also dedicated the memory of percussionist John Wyre.
That’s That: Another piece commissioned but not performed before, I brought it to the studio, we played through it, worked out some things and recorded it. It has a Wayne Shorter harmonic sense to it and I added the string quartet, winds and trumpet to enhance that vibe timbrally. It’s a phrase I use all too much inspired by the movie “Goodfellas.”
Naima: Another Keith Jarrett disc I like is Arbor Zena with Charlie Haden and Jan Garbarek with a string orchestra. I had arranged for solo bass the great ballad Naima written by John Coltrane and then added a string arrangement.
Chamacos: This is a Cuban word meaning “The kids or the young cats” and one I like to use with my young friends David and Luis. They are very inspiring to a “Viejon” like me and their energy keeps me feeling young. The piece is based on a rhythmic figure David played at a jam session we did and I went home and wrote a tune around it. That’s that.
Garotte: This tune is a bluesy groove that features just the quartet. It’s a Kenny Garrett inspired piece, a nice contemporary jazz swing feel.
Marta: This is a piece that Luis Deniz wrote dedicated to his mother. It starts off with a rubato intro and goes in to a modern Cuban sort of Cha Cha, the only latinish tune on the disc. Great solos by Luis and David and an explosive finale by one of the great drummers on the planet, Dafnis Prieto. Dafnis and I have worked together on a number of projects over the years, my own records of course and I have acted as producer on his last 2 discs. He is a young man with a deep musical soul, a virtuosic drummer and a profound composer. I’m honoured to have him as a close friend and musical collaborator.