Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby
Tre Corda, Squeaky Toy Liner Notes:
1) Once Around the Block (T. Ray) While some might hear this opening piece as a journey through foreign lands, I prefer to see it as merely a short but eventful trip through a diverse and fascinating neighborhood.
2) Nudgy (T. Ray) Never quite sure of the correct spelling of the title, this composition draws on 19th and 20th century classical influences, but was mostly inspired by the personality characteristics of that person you know who is a little hard to spend time with, because they just get on your nerves after a while...
3-5) Improvisations, op. 20 (B. Bartok) This collection of eight piano pieces by Bartok was some of my favorite classical music to play in college. Imagine my disappointment as a young student of jazz when I first realized that despite the title, they were to be played as written, without improvisation! Many years later I rediscovered these fabulous vignettes, and promptly set out to arrange them for Tre Corda, with sections opened up for actual improvisation in the first (no. 5) and third movement (no. 8) presented here. The middle one (no. 3) is played as written, solo piano, as Bartok had intended when he composed it (or did he?)
6) Shadow Play (E. Friesen) This piece features the pizzicato artistry of Eugene Friesen, who uses a special technique he calls "Afro-pizz" because it employs plucking with both hands, similar to how an African harp (or Kora) would be played. It is typically played much faster in concert, but in the recording studio we decided to warm up with a slower, sexier rendition. Turns out that was the version we liked the best!
7) Waltz for Inge (T. Ray) This unusual little "waltz" chugs along mostly in 5/4 meter, not 3/4 as one would expect. But it's primary influence nonetheless is the great body of classical waltzes composed in 19th century Vienna and Germany. It is dedicated to my mother Inge, who has seamlessly transformed from my benevolent taskmaster ("is that what you're supposed to be practicing?") to my biggest fan. Her and my father's support for my music can never be overstated.
Sonata for Trumpet, Cello & Piano (G. Hopkins)
9) In the Shadows
10) Theme Party
This three movement work showcases the compositional talents of Greg Hopkins. The first movement "Sneakers" hums along with a repeated note ostinato and multiple improvised solo sections for the ensemble, for cello, and then piano. "In the Shadows" features canonic material throughout the first half, then settles into a peaceful jazz reverie with solos for all three instruments. This segues into the third movement "Theme Party", which is based on a well-known riff performed often by Miles Davis, referred to as "The Theme".
11) Sound Escapades Part III: Squeaky Toy (T. Ray) This sonic adventure is dedicated to Aslan the dog, who was fascinated with (and in turn got me fascinated with) the musical possibilities of his favorite plastic diversion, the squeaky toy. Most pups regard this type of amusement merely as a noisemaker (often to the dismay of their owners) or fetch toy, but Aslan would carefully position the ball in his mouth and try to create new and different tones and timbres by varying the speed and duration of his bite. Our ensemble makes every attempt to capture some of the sounds and energy of Aslan's explorations, and then we wisely let the infamous toy wrap up the recording.