As fabric––disparate musicians bound by a united vision––we have struck the mother lode and are carefully mining. In an era of beat-driven propulsion, each acoustically generated instrument and voice is being positioned for maximum narrative impact. There is no autotune on these tracks, despite cousin and trumpeter Paul Rogers' initial impression that there was on Fly Away Home. My vocal chords are simply going places that are new to me. Music as an evolution, the dragon chasing its own tail.
At the same time, traditional studio work of the type that reached its apogee in the early 1970s is continuing. The bits and pieces of the songs that annoy me (from flute to guitar and vocals) on repeat listens are slowly being replaced or excised. This is a time consuming process, because the stitches and excisions must not interfere with the spontaneous melodic flow and harmonic underpinnings. The sense of free interplay between actual musicians.
Also, the Alchemy crew, as brilliant as they are, operates on Philippine time. This means that sessions will happen in late night snatches, when they can. Often several days later than planned.
As we move forward with the shaping of tracks, I do not want the song's first-take qualities to deteriorate through over manipulation. The sound of the musician surprising him or herself in the studio is one of the enduring traits I find in songs that stay with me over the years. Many of Bob Dylan's records, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and Bang sessions, a number of jazz sessions from the late 1940s on––Axis: Bold As Love, Bitches Brew, the original Getz-Gilberto bossanova sessions, a few key Floyd concerts––even slightly overproduced works by the Beatles, Dead, Doors, and Zeppelin. A lot of pieces by less popularly recognized artists. You really do strive to capture and contain live heat in any way possible.
Throughout the jam, of a music-loving literary bent (intersects between creative written output and longform jazz are a point of interest to me) a point of unselfconsciousness was reached where I could stab at something new. That developed from about 14:00 on:
The hidden gate,
the forgotten soul
inside my head––
The cat that does not sleep.
The righting of wrongs,
the jumping of buildings,
the falling so far...
I would fall for you. I would fall––
However far you say I will jump it. However far you say I will jump it.
The section at the end I see as the genesis of a new composition, which will take advantage of John's fusion-era background. I played it for Aletheia and she worked out a couple harmonic vocal scat ideas on the spot.
Speaking of which... Aletheia and her husband, of the visual arts-focused Nomadic Collective, are the newfound strength of the project. In two short minutes of scat interplay, Aletheia elevated the song UFOs and Labyrinths to jazz standard level. The slow bending version UFOs (Fragile Bones) is even more moving, giving me goosebumps every listen. Even with just those two songs in place we have something indelible. If I could get a couple other songs to approach that level of quiet intensity I would stop playing music for a good while.
All Rights Reserved Damon Shulenberger