This record represents many years of exploration and growth, and I am so happy to be putting it into the world. I have spent the majority of my musical life as a part of larger groups; this project is my first time fully stepping into my own voice and creating something that sounds the way that I feel.
Ever since I can remember, I have felt an incredible connection to the music and arrangements of Billy Strayhorn. The emotion that he was able to convey, the timeless worlds that he conjured with just a few notes, have touched my heart in a way that no other artist has. This record is inspired by all that he was, all that he is. Billy, wherever in the universe you are, I hope that somehow this music reaches you.
I wrote On A Whim about ten years ago when I was 17, making it by far the oldest song on the record. Over the years it has taken on a sort of haunting symbolism for me, representing the raw creative spark I had at such a young age and reminding me of how far I have often strayed from that place of honest creation. This recording was quite cathartic, as it allowed me to release the protection that I historically put up around the most vulnerable parts of myself and my composing. This song was recorded in January of 2019 and features all the members of my band Busty and the Bass. The melody is played on alto saxophone by Nick Ferraro, who beautifully captures the powerful longing I felt when writing it almost ten years earlier.
Through Winter was the first song I wrote after multi-year period of not composing any of my own music. This song led to a very fertile creative period during which all the other songs were written. The title refers to a concept from Parker Palmer’s “A Hidden Wholeness,” a book which holds a very special place in my heart. He describes the nature of seasons within a person, comparing dormant skills and interests to plants that exist below ground during winter. These plants are not dead, they are simply resting in preparation for a change in season. I have found this very comforting when thinking about my own passions; even if they are not present, they are living just below the surface, waiting for spring. This recording was made in the fall of 2019 with Eric Haynes and Scott Bevins at my apartment in Montreal.
A Rainy Sunday is my favorite song to play on piano. As the title suggests, it was written on a rainy Sunday in the spring of 2019, the windows were open to let the sounds of rain into the apartment. There is something about a lazy, rainy weekend day at home that I find particularly romantic. This song was written from that place of cozy contentment, and features Michael Johancsik on tenor saxophone.
Watercolors feels like a painting to me. I recorded this song with various groups and different instrumentations, but ultimately settled on this solo version that I played on my Wurlitzer electric piano at home.
Daffodil and Little Bear are two songs that I wrote after my family’s dog Kuma died in March of 2019. He used to sing (howl) along whenever I played the piano at my parent’s house. Both songs evoke the mixture of emotions that I was feeling at the time; a sense of beautiful sadness that comes from celebrating life and mourning loss. ‘Daffodil’ features Scott Bevins on trumpet and ‘Little Bear’ features Michael Johancsik on alto saxophone.
I chose Wishful Thinking as the title track because the sentiment of the phrase is woven throughout the entire record. Each song speaks to this sense of longing; a desire for emotional depth; a need for something beautiful. This particular song showcases the full sonic palette of the record, starting with effected piano and moving into a full band rendition of the melody. The last 30 seconds of the song is probably my favorite moment on the record, once again featuring Michael Johancsik on tenor saxophone.
Another Night Like This was written one weekend evening in the spring of 2019, where I chose to stay in and play piano. There was a moment during the evening where I took a breath and looked around, reveling in the warmth and peace that a bit of intentional solitude can bring. This song was recorded during the same session as ‘A Rainy Sunday’, ‘Little Bear’ and ‘Wishful Thinking’ and features Scott Bevins on trumpet.
Seattle was recorded on my cell phone during a rehearsal in January of 2019. The recording was only meant for reference, but the captivating tenor saxophone performance by Evan Shay stayed with me during the entire process of making this record, until I ultimately decided I had to include it. You may notice that it is the same melody as the opening track ‘On A Whim’. The original title of the song was ‘Seattle On A Whim’, but over the years I shortened the title to better reflect the more universal sentiments I had come to associate with it. Given that Evan is from Seattle, this felt like a fitting title for the hidden bonus track…
Communion is the only song on the record where the composition was improvised. One night in October of 2019, I set up some microphones on my piano, played free for about 30 minutes, and managed to capture this beautiful snapshot. It took me until very late in the process to decide to include this song, but listening through to the whole project, I feel that there was no other way I could have finished the record. This album ends right where it started, with me by myself at the piano. The title comes from a book by the same name, written by the author bell hooks. She has been a very influential figure in my own personal development; her writing has helped guide me in my own search for love.