If it will shake, rattle, roll, crash, boom, bang, made of wood or steel, rhythmic or tonal, played with mallets, sticks, fingers or picks, there’s a good chance you’ll hear it on this album.
I love to play mallets (marimba, vibes) and all kinds of percussion. I love to play guitars (acoustic, electric, bass).
I love to record. I’ve had the opportunity to compose and play various instruments on a variety of different recordings throughout the years (video scores, album projects and TV/radio commercials). This project was extremely fun and one I’ve always wanted to do. I love piecing together different kinds of instruments into unique settings, creating grooves consisting of various kinds of drums and percussion instruments, with melodies and chords played by mallet percussion (marimba, vides, bell, piano) and guitars (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, ukes, dobro...). I enjoy playing and writing from different musical points of view, as a percussionist, guitarist, bassist or pianist.
The foundation of this music is heavily inspired by the African musician Olatunji and his recordings from the late 1950’s, “Drums of Passion”, as well as other recordings made throughout his lifetime. As far as playing all the instruments myself, it is something that I started doing when I was in high school, first with two cassette recorders, then a 4 track reel machine, next an 8 track, then a 16 track...and on and on. I've always admired other musicians that do this, such as Emitt Rhodes, Lenny Kravitz, Jeff Lynne, Prince and recently Chris Potter. Gary Burton and Bobby Hutcherson also made some great recordings, playing all the instruments themselves.
Rhythm One Songs:
1. Greetings - A lot of this song came from fragments I would play while warming up on the marimba. Much of the melody is played in thirds, giving that authentic mariachi marimba sound. I thought it would be a good way to start the album and say hello!
2. Strength - This was the song (originally titled “Snow Day”) that began this recording project. I wrote and recorded this song in one day, just to see if I could. It was an extremely snowy February day in Northern Indiana, and you couldn’t leave the house. This was the outcome. You could say it has everything in it but the kitchen sink. But in truth, it's probably in there too!
3. Day Dawning – When my family goes on vacation, I usually take a Yamaha Guitalele (ukulele). This is one of the tunes I would play around with. I would often use it to wake my kids up in the morning. It entertained me greatly! Them, not so much. Small guitars and percussion on this one. The chorus hits with large toms, bass drum and a Grover tambourine.
4. Best Day Ever – A recent tune. Every album has to have a blues, so this is my attempt at a “happy” blues! Featuring a combination of marimba and vibes, accented with dobro and mandolin rolls. The first solo section is just piano and congas (in tribute to Little Feat’s amazing pianist Bill Payne and percussionist Sam Clayton). I used my Tele for the guitar solo that follows. A short instrumental break before the vibe solo, lightens the mood with the prominently featured “vibra-slap”, an essential instrument to every percussionist’s arsenal.
5. Leaps and Bounds - When I was in college (Cincinnati Conservatory of Music), I had the great fortune of playing weekly with trumpeter Jerry Conrad and his band. Jerry has a wonderful musical history in Cincinnati, and always had incredible musicians in his band. It was a major learning experience for me, for which I’m very thankful for.
I wrote this song for an outdoor concert/radio show we were playing on. Jerry was kind enough to use this song from “the kid”.
6. Side Step – Another recent tune, built on a bass pattern, with melody and solos featuring vibes, piano, and
7. Sandbox – If you are a fan of Brian Wilson and the album Pet Sounds, the influence for this song is pretty obvious. In the 1960’s, Brian had a giant sandbox brought into his living room, in which they placed his grand piano. I wrote this imagining Brian playing these series of chords, while orchestrating different sounds and textures in his head.
8. Reunion – An acoustic guitar piece. The mood of this piece follows the narrative arc of the “Prodigal Son”, ending as the father and son experience a joyful “reunion”.
9. Restore – Written as a vocal tune, using the words from Psalm 23th (the Lord is my Shepherd…). The title comes from the line “He restores my soul”. The main melody features marimba and nylon string guitar.
10. In Circles – Another little “vacation” tune played on a small nylon string banjo. This was a song that I forgot about until I was completing the final mixes for this project. I don’t remember much about recording it, but found it to be a pleasant surprise and a nice way to say goodbye .