It must have been a fact that Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and myself fulfilled the right set of conditions for us to be able to get together in September 2004. During some nice autumn days in good old New York, we had time for both work and relaxation together as this recording followed a week of rehearsals and a gig at the Tonic club.

For me, the meeting in the very comfortable studio in downtown Manhattan with these two gentlemen, Reggie and Andrew, wasn´t all that easy. They are both specialists in very sophisticated swing, have total awareness of the moment and always know exactly where they are in the tonality and rhythm, but they also very much understate that knowledge. Me, I´m also kind of sophisticated and known for having an oblique yet somehow precise phrasing, but one could still wonder if it was a good idea to bring three such "understaters" together in one room although that had, in fact, been a longstanding desire of mine.

Anyway, I think we changed the time around many times in downtown Manhattan, and did not violate the airspace over New York. Our crescentlike, serpentine, curled and wavering communications reached a natural ecstacy - without hangovers. I said it wasn´t necessarily easy but who says that art has to be easy?

The music on this disc is the result of a powerful and energetic effort, first by the musicians and then by the sound specialists. So, if you listen to this music with some love and a good portion of the daily dose of energy allotted to you, then we can hook up like a carriage with horses and you´ll soon be expanding your flight on wings of royal blue.

Don´t do deep meditation to this music - that would be counterproductive to the aural activity. Most of the repertoire here was chosen by me and, along with that, also the concept of how the tunes could be interpreted, which meant that I was on most of the time. So, it was great to also to have the experience of working on "Current" by Reggie and "My Lady Lodie" and "Proximity" by Andrew. In the free improvisation under the title "Andrea Calling," we enjoyed full equilibrium, of course.

Claira, France, January 2, 2006
John Tchicai

Andrea Calling (Tchicai - Workman - Cyrille) is as group improvisation that starts as a drum and bass clarinet duet between Cyrille and Tchicai with Workman then joining the two with a great burst of energy. At the end of the piece, a surprise awaits a careful listener - a call from Andrea, Andrew Cyrille´s daughter.

Monk´s Dream (music by Thelonious Monk; lyrics by John Tchicai) was  the title tune of Thelonious Monk´s first recording for Columbia in 1962 (with Charlie Rouse, John Ore and Frankie Dunlop). John Tchicai´s lyrics and unique vocal style bring a whole new dimension to this classic composition.

Whenever the night brings a dream along
and whether the past, present or future holds on
all you can ever ask for, is learning the dream
that takes you out of your mind.

Amorphous contraptions will give you fright
and no explanations will set you right
why! couldn´t you have told me, before I was born,
off, you must be off.

Time flies away, what an odd day,
calm, do I wanna become calm
where´s my island now?
with houses, grass and fields?
it could be around the corner right now.

Whenever the night brings a dream along
and whether the past, present or future holds on
all you can ever ask for, is learning the dream 
that takes you out of your mind.

My Lady Lodie (Andrew Cyrille) is written by Andrew Cyrille for his beautiful wife, Lodie.

The Secret (John Tchicai) has a theme that represents a challenge for saxophone players because of being in the key of F sharp, which is not favored by saxophonists. Tchicai initially wrote it as an exercise when being on tour with the late bassist Johnny Dyani, in order to be better able to play Dyani´s composition "Appear", which is in the same key (included on Triot with John Tchicai, TUM CD 008).

Proximity (Andrew Cyrille) is a composition written by Andrew Cyrille for his late colleague and life-long friend, trombonist John Gordon.

Anders On The Loose (music and lyrics by John Tchicai) is dedicated by John Tchicai to his "wild painter-friend in Denmark who can´t stand too much sitting down in the tunnels of his own goldmine." According to Tchicai, "as an escape and as relief, he puts on a big pink cap and, with his spirit tool, blows sunshine up the rear ends of his friends." The message of Tchicai´s lyrics is to be understood in this spirit.

Sometimes when you are in a hurry to get out of or away 
from a certain neighborhood or house,
it helps to think about the days and hours 
you have to wait before getting out of there: 
them days are the last ones in your life, of your life right there. 
So don´t go hurrying and worrying, but do some loving and enjoying.

Beyond The Blue Horizon (music by Richard Whiting and W. Frank Harling; lyrics by Leo Robin) was originally composed for the 1930 film "Monte Carlo" directed by Ernst Lubitsch. This composition became the hit song of the movie and was recorded by its star Jeanette MacDonald a number of times. It also became a popular vehicle in jazz with recordings ranging from Earl Bostic to Eric Dolphy.

Alice In Wonderland (lyrics by Bob Hilliard; music by Sammy Fain) was originally composed as the title song for Walt Disney´s 1951 animated feature film based on Lewis Carroll´s book. It can safely be said that Tchicai´s vocal interpretation represents one of the most touching readings of this song.

Alice in Wonderland
How do you get to Wonderland?
Over the hill or underland
or just behind the tree?
When clouds go rolling by,
they roll away and leave the sky.
Where is the land beyond the eye
that people cannot see?
Where can it be?
Where do stars go?
Where is the crescent moon?
They must be somewhere in the sunny afternoon.
Alice in Wonderland,
where is the path to Wonderland,
over the hill or here or there?
I wonder where.

Pannonica (Thelonious Monk) was first introduced on Thelonious Monk´s classic 1956 album Brilliant Corners. It is one of the many jazz compositions dedicated to Baroness Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter, a descendant of the English branch of the Rothschild family known as the "bebop baroness" because of her patronage of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker and others.

Heksehyl (Witch´s Scream) (John Tchicai) features John Tchicai on the bass clarinet. Tchicai says that he sometimes thinks of the bass clarinet as the broom of a witch: "It can take you on great flights if you know how to handle it but, if you try to force it, it will scream like a witch."

Current (Reggie Workman) has been so entitled because of the ambiguity of the word. The structuring of "Current" was done with the intent that a performance of it would be unique to each group that approached the material. The composition was designed with several open-ended phrases suggesting that each participant make a personal statement relative to the aura invoked by the written material.

Siirry sivun alkuun