Archive for July 20th, 2012

Tossup – Contents Under Pressure

When we went our separate ways after a successful stint in a college rock band there was no thought of when or where Chris and I would meet again. No inkling that we’d each go on to develop a love of all things jazz, or collaborate in the future. Serendipity, though, brought us back to our hometown in Nebraska, reunited us, and revealed that we had independently developed a common musical language. The musical relationship that had ended so long ago resumed, but on a whole new level.

Even at that, little could we have known as we squeezed jam sessions into little nooks and crannies of time that it would blossom as it did. Our intent, after all, was only to keep ourselves from going crazy! You know, musical therapy for the trials, tragedies, and grind of daily life. But a drum groove would evoke a bass line; the bass line would expose chordal relationships; forms would emerge; melodies appeared; and tapestries of sound took shape. It was as if, out of the dry, hardscrabble ground that we were scratching..and to our surprise…this creation called Tossup came into being.
The addition of wonderful collaborators enriched it in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Chris was excited to ask his friend Perrin, from their New Orleans days, to lay down some guitar tracks We sent him a stereo mix, exchanged a few emails, and before long he sent back the tracks for Time Apart and Romance. His ideas were full, rich, and a pleasure to lay into the mix. I have yet to meet him in person, and we’ve never even spoken on the phone. Modern technology is awesome : )

My friend, high school classmate, and former bandmate Camille came to mind as an ideal pick for lead vocals. Though studying in New York at the time, we were tremendously pleased when she agreed to contribute. With little direction from us and only a bare rhythm section recording as a starting point, the depth of her creative talent shone forth in the rich harmonies she created. And just as in her own recordings, her vocal skill is undeniable through the rhythm and passion of her expression. How magical to experience the uniqueness of her creation.

You know that rock band Chris and I played in? Guess who the lead guitarist was? Tim! Now a professor of music and consummate musician, writer, performer, and producer, by good fortune and his visits to his folks here in town, were able to wrangle him in. You see, during one of his visits he graciously chipped in. How can you not love his playing? Whether leaning toward avant garde improvisation or a straight lead, he’s excellent in every style.

And then the coup de grace: Matt. He was Maynard Ferguson’s right hand man for 11 years. When Maynard wanted a small group he picked Matt to join him with just a rhythm section. I can still remember the pain in my cheeks from smiling after our first recording session. The tune was Nawlins. He had laid down the melody. It was awesome, and I figured he was done. Then came his legendary line “gimme another track!”. I listened as he laid down harmony, unrehearsed. Then a 3-piece alto section, same way. Then the baritone punches, all on the fly, and all on his tenor. The dixieland solo section in Nawlins is 3 takes of Matt. I mean, I smiled so much it hurt! And the magic just continued. Most of the sax you hear on the CD followed Matt saying “gimme another track!”. After that I learned to prep a good 20 tracks for his sax on each tune before each session began.

Can we take the pressure out of this album? Try it at CDBaby.

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