|The Pleasures of Motion
|Before the Comet Comes
|Stars Fell on Alabama
|The Road to Zamora
|Crispin and Lisa’s Duet
I don’t take much stock in psychic interaction but I was mildly stunned when Tony Reif from Songlines called one day. “Wayne, why don’t we do a record where you and Robin both play solo piano?” The thing is, I had just had the exact same thought days before. I just wasn’t sure if it was a great idea or a really corny one. A certain logic – married almost 25 years, both pianists, and irrevocably influenced by each other’s music. Then again, like I said – corny? Well, Tony’s phone call nailed it. My grandfather said, “If ten people tell you you’re drunk, sit down.” This wasn’t ten – but two, inclusive, was enough for me.
Originally we had planned to play some pieces of each other’s, and in fact we did record some. Neither Robin nor I like long CDs (with some obvious exceptions), so some pretty nice takes did hit the cutting room floor. Time on CDs seems like money in the bank – whatever you have you use. With great discipline we have tried to avoid that, although this CD still comes in 15 minutes longer than my 100 most favorite records. The first track, by Robin, is Reno and in fact I did do a couple of takes myself of this. It is a real gem, and sentimental as well. When Robin and I first lived together in Santa Cruz she was on a mission to write a tune a day which she actually kept up for a while. This one comes from that period. Next is my composition Tired, which I’ve also recorded with my quartet on “Forever”.
The next tune is a classic Wayne Shorter composition, Armageddon. This tune has my favorite chord progression of all time, using the major chord based on the flat 6th of the key in a minor blues (works great on a major tonic as well). I loved this chord when Albert Collins used it, I loved it when Kurt Cobain used it in about half his tunes, and I’ve overused it in my own music for almost 30 years. There is a beautiful moment in bars 10 and 11 where Shorter II V’s down to Eb7 from Bb minor and then up to the Gb that is just one of those reasons to keep on living, where you stop and go, “there – that’s it.” Anyway, I tried to save the best for last in this take. The Pleasure in Motion is one of Robin’s two free improvisations on the CD. By contrast the next two pieces are both through composed without any improvisation. First, Joanna’s Solo, which I wrote in a castle in Italy and used in a score for the Crispin Spaeth Dance Company. Next is Robin’s Before the Comet Comes. This is a beautiful suite of music, written for a theater piece of the same name, and really the centerpiece of the CD. About 13 minutes long, it goes right to the heart of what makes Robin’s music so unique and compelling.
If we had a side B this is where it would start. I’ve been fooling around with Stars Fell on Alabama for a few years now, although not exactly on a daily basis. We got this late at night – it sure doesn’t sound anything like Teddy Wilson, but it exists because of how much I’ve always loved his playing. Interpretation #1 is one of two improvised pieces of mine. The Road to Zamora, Robin’s tune, also comes from that time in Santa Cruz. Zamora is on the map of the beautiful rice country south of Sacramento, but doesn’t currently exist. Buttermilk Hill is a traditional American ballad (“Johnny’s Gone for a Soldier”). I ripped off the basic arrangement of the theme and harmony from Robin, who sings this from time to time. Up Do is a tune Robin used to do with a trio and a quintet in NY, sort of a fractured swing tune.
Interpretation #2 is also improvised. It is really my favorite of my contributions to this CD, and I find it interesting because I don’t think Robin would ever improvise a piece like this, and yet in my playing here so much of it reminds me of something Robin might compose. Done For” is a Robin improvisation. I close with Crispin and Lisa’s Duet, written for the same score as Joanna’s Solo. This tune opens my CD, “From a Window”, with the Four Plus One Ensemble, so it seemed fitting to close with it here.
Hope you enjoy the music.