When all this began 358 days ago, who knew we’d clear so many hurdles and get this out to market before another Valentine’s day passed. The smartest thing I ever did was pick up the phone and call my good friend and master sonic wizard Elliot Scheiner. He signed on without hearing a note of music, just a clink of a wine glass over some veal piccatta, and we were off. With that, I found the courage and wherewithall to explore that crazy crowd funding concept. It all seemed like and impossible dream, but after exploring the options, I settled on Kickstarter and took a fast class in marketing and video editing. Oh, it makes you so humble when you venture off into unknown territories, but I knew it was where I had to go, so go I did. Filming and editing was challenging, but once I got over how selfconscious I felt, it was fun and I cut together something that served as my proclamation to my crowd, my posse, my yet to be revealed gaggle of people that might jump into this swimming pool with me. I gave myself a little over 30 days to raise what I hoped was an attainable number, $17,000. It was less than 20,000 and enough, I thought, to get the basic recording tracks done (i.e. trio cuts for all 12 songs). So I entered the Kickstarer vortex and so the story begins.
I survived the campaign, and raised $17,556 to be exact. I immediately earmarked 5% of that to Sandy Relief Funds; feeling my good turn deserved another good turn. And with that, I booked Avatar, Andy Ezrin, Ben Wittman, David Finck and Will Lee. Another smart thing. Andy and Ben and I share a deep and rich musical background, having worked with New York Voices and on my past solo projects over the past 20 plus years. I’m a hardcore fan. And bringing in David was a perfect fit with the music and solidfying a killer the trio. And while I was dreaming big, I thought it would be a great opportunity to finally work with Will Lee. Those two days could not have gone any better or been any more delightful. Elliot thought the record was good enough to be done at that point, but I had other plans.
Over the spring we finished the vocals and got everything gathered enough to start thinking about sprinkling in some special visitors. As I started to think about what instrument was crying to be heard on each track, artists starting popping into my head. Phone calls went out and a wonderful collection of some of my very favorite musicians said yes to their cameos: Randy Brecker, Romero Lubambo, Donny McCaslin, Joel Frahm, Gary Versace, Peter Eldridge and Aaron Heick all offered up tasty morsels to the project. My dear friend from Berklee College of Music days, Marlon Saunders and my daughter Ella joined the chorus on Circle in a Square. And Rob Mounsey did another lush string arrangement that was played by an all star quartet: Sara Caswell, Jody Redhage, Joseph Brent and Lois Martin. Matt Scheiner was on my left, Elliot on my right and we edited and mixed this in good speed. Elliot did his usual magic of turning the knobs just the right way, and boom, everyone sounds like a million bucks and the cohesion within the songs and then the overall ride just seems to flow perfectly. He won’t tell me his secret, but I must say, you are in for a treat.
Working with Sandrine Lee on the photo shoot garnered the surprise shot that I never would have suggested. But she knows how to set the stage, so I just did what I was told. I’m so happy I thought to have her shoot the recording session, too, because that all helped present this nod to old 50’s and 60’s covers that Burton Yount and I wanted to convey. The fold out was Burton’s idea, wanting to create the feeling of reading the back of an album cover, holding it in your hand and turning it over. All and all, I wanted the package to feel lush and real, the way I feel about the music, the people I work with and the way I feel about the art of making music itself.
I hope you enjoy letting this project reveal itself to you. I loved writing and creating the music. I love working with all my co writers. And I am most grateful to the trio and musians who offered up their artistry and ideas to make this all come together as Circle in a Square.