I finally got that chance a couple nights ago. I experienced a reaction different from those I have had on previous first-listens. With this recording (creatively played by Ron Horton on trumpet, Paul Sikivie on bass and Ulysses Owens on drums) I have found something of myself that seems new to me. This is not about complex orchestrations and arrangements (like Rhyme and Reason, which features a string quartet), or an eclectic combination of instruments (as is the case with my Odeon recordings), or a tribute (like The Mancini Project). This is just me, hanging out there, exposed. True, this is the first time I have recorded an entire album on just the alto, an instrument I convinced myself some years ago I didn’t like playing (which lead to my departure from the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra in the early 90s). Back then I felt trapped by the alto, unable to find that creative middle ground I could find more easily on the tenor. I do love the darkness, the air, the range of the bigger sax. It seems like there is more flexibility, more leeway in terms of phrasing and sound. So why is it I keep getting called to play alto? Why do people keep identifying me with an instrument I keep resisting? Maybe because I sound more like myself on it. Running from the alto was, perhaps, in some ways like running from myself.
It’s no wonder that for a few days after the recording sessions I felt waves of something similar to being on the edge of a cliff. Like a combination of insecurity and adventure. This just may be the most intimate and personal recording I have ever made. I am not hiding behind anything. None of us are. There is, in fact, nowhere TO hide: The band is very open and exposed, (having no piano or guitar filling up some of the spaces that usually get filled up).
Most of the tracks are originals I have written in the past few months, as well as one Sherman Irby composition called Twilight Sounds, and Kaleidoscope by Ornette Coleman. Some of the music I wrote for the film Chaography - Variations on the Theme of Freedom by Douglas Chang, and some I wrote for a recent gig at Kitano with this quartet.
Release date tentatively planned for late March or early April. I’ll let you know...