Noodling the Milky Way

Spending time in the recording studio again, after a hiatus of years, is both challenge and reward. The reward is in confirming that I still have the chops, although they need polishing up. But you do that as you work. It takes listening, relaxing, and trusting the process. Fortunately, my recording partner and I are good friends and have worked to build a solid relationship of trust and respect for one another’s respective skills. He’s a recording and sound engineer by training, with experience as a recording artist; I’m a classically-trained musician with experience in the gospel/blues/jazz realm. That makes the old school R&B sound we’re going for entirely within our grasp. But it will end up bending some rules, and that’s a hell of a lot of fun. (Genres are made to be broken.) And because we’ve both experienced the dark side of working with other musicians, we’re happy to be working without ego in the way. That makes the challenge of finding the right elements and creating the right mix worth every mile.

Within a galaxy of music history (stock progressions, mainstream approaches to sound-building, creative experiments, classic riffs), there is a mighty cloud of witnesses; and there are worlds and worlds to keep building as we stand on the shoulders of those who have come before. But as artists we’re still arrogant enough to believe that, between the two of us, we can create a unique sound that cannot be created by anyone else, dead or alive. There simply are no two brains, hearts or souls on the face of the earth that match what we have. Arrogance must be balanced with the humility of remembering that we’re not picking from different root systems from which anyone else has ever picked. Music as a system of organized sound has rules…and the rules can be bent as long as you know what you’re bending.

When I was a child, I thought as a child. I spoke as a child. When I grew up I got all sophisticated and up in my shit. Now that there are fewer years ahead than there are behind, I wish to be a child at heart again, laughing my way through C minor sevenths and E major nines and all possible voicings of ii-vi-V-I just to be able to hit on one or two things that make my soul fly toward heaven.

Mom, look what I made.

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