I have close to 1 hour of new music for you today.
On Friday, Annalee released her amazing single, “Same Girl”. I was fortunate to co-produce, mix and master this one. Anna is a former student who went to NYC and finished her Masters at Columbia. She had started this beautiful song and asked if I could help finish it. We had a lot of fun with this one and I’m blown away by her artistry and vision on this one. You can listen here:
I did a second round of a live improv looping session on the balcony. This time around I decided to pick random sounds that I never use from the synths and just roll with whatever happened. Sometimes I would pick a sound that was not quite appropriate for the vibe, but I wanted to challenge myself to adjust on the fly and see what would happen.
I brought a couple of synths out on the balcony to try out this new software-based looper I’ve been customizing. I wanted to go very minimal with the setup and only used a Nord Lead 2 and Moog Mother 32 for the layers.
Maybe I’ll try some more of these. But it was a fun challenge to keep the music and sounds simple while I tried to hold it together for a whole improvised set. None of the sounds or music was planned ahead of time. I was just winging it the whole time.
At some point during quarantine I started recording 2 or 3 solo-piano improvisations before going to sleep. The goal was to challenge myself to create music that would (hypothetically) help people. Not play what my teachers taught me to play, not play something I would emphasize to students as a teacher – just focus on sounds, emotions and exploration without judgement.
Today, the first 1-hour collection of improvisations is available on all streaming services. There is also a new YouTube channel where all of these improvisations will be posted – subscribe to the new channel!
Here’s more about the process (links to the music below)…
“Sweet Dreams Young Light” is an album of piano improvisations where I wanted to create music that came from and returned to emptiness. I’ve always been fascinated by these types of magical recordings since I was a kid. When sound emerges from the vacuum, it can become its own universe – expanding and collapsing. I wanted these improvisations to have stops and starts, faster and slower tempos mixed together, no tempo to tempo, themes that dissipate before they develop… All with the intent of matching the flow or ideas that come and go from our mind as we reach for sleep, peace or quiet. I hope these pieces connect with and help you in some way.
Each year for the holiday growing up I would make tapes playing and singing songs as gifts for family members. To stay in that tradition this year, I decided to take the same approach with this album – a super-intimate recording that was live and raw. This is also the first time I’ve recorded a group of covers along with originals.
Singing and playing these songs reminded me of playing in bars over the years. There was a certain vibe that came over the place once last call came. The stragglers who didn’t want to go home (for not the happiest of reasons) and people trying to squeeze out the last little bit of fun created a unique mix. And it was always interesting playing music as things were winding down. These songs represent that vibe (or at least the way I remember it). I hope you enjoy the record! Share it with anyone you think would like it.
You can download for free through this Bandcamp link. Or follow links to the streaming services below.
Happy holidays and thanks so much for all the love and support this year.
Since I moved to Los Angeles, Loren Battley has become such a good friend it’s easy to forget that she’s one of the best singers there is. She sings with some of the biggest artists in the music industry and sounds amazing in a wide-range of musical situations.
I thought it would be fun if we tried to sing the beautiful Jason Isbell song, “If We Were Vampires”. It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what to do on the Rhodes since Jason’s guitar part is really hard to make sound good on keys. Of course Loren showed up and nailed her part on the first take (it took me a couple me a couple more than that).
My new album called “Simple Music for Complicated Times” is out now. This music came about when I accidentally messed up my hands earlier this year and couldn’t do much on the piano. So I decided to write really simple piano music and then use the computer to manipulate the piano sounds the way electronic music producers do.
I’m really pleased with the results. It’s 100% a piano record – all sounds on the recording are generated by the original piano performances. But the extra tools the computer gave me helped to create emotions and moods that I can’t do on the piano alone.
You can check out a video I made of the opening track called “After” here:
Here are links to all the streaming services where you can listen or buy: