A breakdown of the songs from the album
People are often interested in where songs come from, especially the titles. They like to hear about the circumstances in which the song was written, or the inspiration. So here's a breakdown of the songs on "The Other Side of the Story"
Eureka Springs is a beautiful little village nestled up in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas. In the 90’s I performed there with Ahmad Alaadeen’s band, The Dean’s of Swing. The town had a magical quality to it and we were treated very well by the locals. I wrote this when I got back to KC, it’s actually the first "jazz" song I ever wrote. We played it a lot in my KC bands of the 90s and the cats seemed to really like it, it’s fun for them to solo on and has a few feel changes that are fun to play.
Viewpoints: is a song that I wrote on guitar and it came out in it’s entirety, all at once. I call it Viewpoints because the melodic theme is viewed from several different angles within the tune. I first called it “Wayne-ish” because it reminded me a little of Wayne Shorter. But I later renamed out of respect for Mr. Shorter.
Infinite Six: My favorite rhythms are usually in a three or six beat feel. I feel like triplicate beats have an infinite quality, meaning they can go on forever. With that as the basis I wrote the melody on guitar, which is my favorite instrument to write on, and it came out like what you hear on the song.
Hannibalian: The definition of that word would be “One who was born and raised in Hannibal, Missouri” No matter how far I have travelled from my Missouri hometown, I will always be a Hannibalian. To be honest, for many years I didn’t even claim to be from Hannibal because nobody knew where it was and they’d make a joke about Hannibal Lecter, so I claimed KC as my home. Which, to me, KC is my musical home. Hannibal is my hometown and I claim it. To be from Hannibal IS special; to grow up on the river, running through cornfields, playing in creeks and streams, fishing for catfish… it was a dream.
Drive: This song has two main influences. I was playing the bass, just having fun, and the bass line came about and I really liked it. The melody came from an inspiration when I was watching the movie “Tron” which has a brilliant score written by Wendy Carlos. The melodies in Tron are very angular, which I love, so I used some of the intervallic ideas from Tron to compose this melody.
The Distance: Sitting in my NYC apartment in the days and weeks following 9/11, there was no music that would comfort me, so I wrote this on guitar and sang the melody, it was about the only way to make myself feel any better. I put the song away for many years because I felt it was too personal to play in public. I included it for this album because it really worked in the studio, thanks to producer Michael Carvin who guided us to the “Other Side”. The title, The Distance, refers to the distance I felt, personally, between myself and the horror of the event. Even tho we watched it from our doorstep in NYC, in an obtuse way life went on and there was a distance between us and the actual horror.
Jump Rope Dance: I have long been obsessed with the jump rope and the way it makes me feel. I especially love jumping rope to music. The bass line came first, written on bass, then the melody was inspired by a Horace Silver line, which also sounds like a lick I’ve heard some guitar player use and the bridge is a total departure melodically. The final result is this song Jump Rope Dance.
Ozark Flight: This song is me imagining what it would be like to fly over the Ozark Mountains. At the time this was written I was listing a lot of Pat Metheny’s album “Bright Size Life” and also Stevie Wonder. I wrote it on guitar way back in 1999 and put it away because it never sounded right with horns playing the melody, but now with vibes/guitar it really sounds the way I intended it to.
Ascent: The most recent of all the songs, Ascent was written completely on piano. After studying piano for a couple years, I began to understand harmonic movement better, so this tune came from that. I call it Ascent because it has this feeling of rising up. I like it when chords change, but there is one note that can work with all the chords. I plan on developing this concept further in the future.
Start of the Change: This tune was first written on guitar using minor 9 chords. I first recorded it as a hip-hop song, tricking it out with a lot of production to make up for the fact that it was only a couple chords. Recently I revisited it and wrote the bridge and melody on piano. The result is what you hear now. The title comes from a period in my life when I felt a big change coming on, getting away from playing jazz of the past and getting to my own music.
Vistas: The guitar has been a loyal and truthful friend since I first picked one up and began learning chords. Through guitar, I came to appreciate guitarists/composers. My favorite one is a guy named Toninho Horta. Toninho is a genius of music, pure and simple. His chord voicings are so cool. I learned some of them and put this tune together, it took a year trying to find the right resolutions and such, but eventually I got something I liked. I performed it as a solo piece on this album because the guitar is such a personal instrument to me and because the song represents the optimistic spirit in which I made this record. The title, Vistas, refers to an image I see of flying over mountain tops and across vistas into the horizon.
The Other Side of the Story: No story is complete when you just hear one side. The great philosopher Herbert Spencer in his book “First Principals” speaks of the truth as being “two truths” meaning that no one side of a truth is wholly true.
“If both have (truths) have bases in the reality of things, then between them there must be a fundamental harmony”
“Fundamental Harmony” I like that.