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.
Near the start of quarantine Nick Platoff contacted me and introduced himself. He is an amazing trombonist who became a member of the San Francisco Symphony before the age of 30. He said that he had a song that he wanted to mix, master and release during Covid quarantine and asked if I would be willing to teach him how to mix his own music over Zoom.
We started with general mixing concepts on one song. Then he started sharing several other tracks and ideas he had started or gotten pretty far along. The ambition of his vision was really unique. Several of the songs had over 100 tracks with parts contributed by such top-tier musicians. Not only that, Nick completely stepped out of his comfort zone with enthusiasm to learn about the intricacies of new genres, techniques and production approaches.
Over two-and-a-half years later, Nick released his album. It’s such an epic first release. It was an honor to co-produce, mix and master this.
It’s available on streaming platforms below. I hope you enjoy it!
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: