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Nine For Nine: Christmas Song

Here it is! The final song from the Nine For Nine series. Let’s breakdown why I chose to perform the “Christmas Song” as my last tune for Nine For Nine.

I knew I wanted to record a holiday song for December, but I wasn’t quite sure which one. After talking to my guitarist we decided “Christmas Song” would be a good tune to do.

Initially we wanted to have it be a bit more complex then it turned out. We wanted to add other instruments and to try different styles and sounds. Unfortunately time ran short on us and the best option to ensure it’d be done was solo piano. Luckily I was up for the challenge.

I really enjoyed the entire process of learning and recording this track. It was fun going through dozens of different holiday songs and thinking about how I’d go about recording them and what they could sound like. Perhaps in the future a Christmas album with a tour could be in the works?

This is the final song in my Nine For Nine. I had a blast recording the music and sharing and talking about it with all of you each month. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and maybe gotten to know me better because of it. I’ll be doing another post this week where I’ll discuss talking the entire process of recording Nine For Nine and that’ll wrap up this project entirely. I’ll talk to you all then. Cheers

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Nine For Nine: Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness

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Last Month I did a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins classic track “Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness”. Today I’d like to share with you the experience I had recording it and why I chose to cover it in the first place.

I was a late bloomer to rock music. I didn’t really start listening to it until I was in my early 20s. I made up for last time very quickly and listened to everything I could get my hands on Radiohead, Beatles, Foo Fighters, etc. It wasn’t long before I listened to the album Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness it immediately became a favorite album of  mine. Within a year a bought every studio album The Smashing Pumpkins released.

I feel The Smashing Pumpkins entire discography doesn’t get enough credit. They consistently released quality albums. Sure they have a specific sound and don’t deviate much from it, but what they do, they do well. When it came time for this project I knew The Smashing Pumpkins would play a role. Being a pianist I couldn’t resist covering the title track of the album that solidified The Smashing Pumpkins as rock legends.

Billy Corgan, guitarist and singer for The Smashing Pumpkins has his issues (he can come off as a douche), but his ability to create great projects as a solo artist and as the lead member of The Smashing Pumpkins since the 90s is impressive. I implore all of you to do a deep dive on the Smashing Pumpkins catalog you won’t be disappointed I assure you.

 

One day I’ll do more covers of The Smashing Pumpkins tracks. I’d love to cover tracks from Adore Pisces Isariot, and Monuments to an Elegy, but for now this cover of “Mellon Collie And The Inifinte Sadness” will have to do. Hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.

 

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Nine For Nine: And I love Her 

I recently released a cover of The Beatles classic record “And I Love Her” and today I’d like to share some of my thoughts on this tune. 
I can’t recall the first time I listened to the Beatles or the first time I liked their music. It feels like The Beatles have been with me my whole life. Their impact on music and culture cannot be understated. The landscape of music and society as a whole would be entirely different if The Beatles never existed. 
I choose “And I Love Her” to cover because it’s a beautiful song. It’s one of those Beatles tunes that I neglected early in my life and at some point during college I paid more attention to it and appreciated it more with each listening. I always new I’d do something with the song and I’m glad I was finally able to cover it. 
I hope you enjoy this version of “And I Love Her” it’s the first Beatles song I’ve covered on record, but it certainly won’t be the last. 

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Nine For Nine: Liberating Hoop Villain 

Lately I’ve been obsessed with basketball. During my youth basketball consumed my life. It was one of the first passions I ever had. I loved it so much and I was so focused on becoming the best basketball player I could be. Not only did I love to play I also loved to watch. As a Chicagoan Jordan made them game easy to love, but for anyone going against the Bulls (like the Knicks) Jordan was easy to hate.
As I’ve aged and my passions shifted to music I’ve had times where I didn’t really watch basketball at all. The attention I give the game now ebbs and flows. One thing that has recently fascinated me is how we glorify and vilify these players. What makes someone a hero in your eyes might make them a villain in mine.

 

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Take Kobe and Lebron for example. People just hated Kobe for the MJ comparisons, they hated him because he’s a Laker, they hated him cause him winning means you’re team was losing.

 

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Lebron has similar traits except some people hate his constant movement. “The Decision” was a great day for Miami. It made Lebron a hero. In Cleveland? Not so much. They hated him and burned his jerseys. Still, when he decided to return to Cleveland he was accepted with open arms and a parade.
The latest track of my Nine For Nine was inspired by the idea of the Liberating Hoop Villain. The player usually liberates themselves. They are now millionaires and one of the best technicians in their craft. They are now a hero with an entire city proud and cheering them on with dreams of many years of success. But for fans of other teams they are villains. A star player standing in the way of their teams glory.
So this song is dedicated to the Liberating Hoop Villain. May success in their profession lead to financial stability and championships. Hopefully they will understand that by being glorified by some means they will be vilified by others.

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Nine For Nine: Of Dreams To Come

The first time I listened I ever heard of Robert Glasper was from my composition teacher. He was talking about piano voicings and he asked me if I ever heard of Robert Glasper. I told him I didn’t and he recommended I listen to Double Booked. I was blown away. I loved his style, loved his virtuosity, and I loved how he developed melodies within his solos. As time passed I became more of a fan of Glasper. I listened to every release, loved the Black Radio albums, and saw him live.
I MISS THE OLD ROBERT GLASPER 

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Despite Black Radio 2 being my favorite Glasper album I can’t help but feel that I want the Glasper back. I don’t hear as much of his virtuosity, the burning solos, enough with the auto tune! So I decided to go back and cover one of his classics “Of Dreams to Come” from his album In My Element. I was gonna cover it as a solo piano piece. It didn’t turn out that way.

I started by playing just piano, but the more I played it the more I felt I needed to add to the music. Soon enough I essentially went from a old school Robert Glasper song to one that would fit in with his current style. I guess Glasper was right, it was time to develop a new style. Maybe Glasper went through the same thing I did. He was creating and saw what was lacking in his music and decided to add this new style to his music.

So thank you Robert Glasper. You’re impact on me, jazz, and music as a whole cannot be understated. Keep creating, keep composing, and I’ll keep listening.

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Nine For Nine: Pyramid Song

The first time I listened to Radiohead was life changing. Not because they are the greatest band of all time, not because the album was the best album I’ve ever heard, but because it was my first introduction to rock music as a whole. At the time all I was really exposed to was pop music, rap music, and my Dad’s smooth jazz radio stations. With the help of my friend Albert Amey (who plays guitar on this recording) I was beginning to broaden my musical palate. I told Albert to give me some of the best rock music out there and I’ll listen to it. He gave me Ok Computer.

I still remember those winter days listening to “National Anthem” and being blown away by what I was listening to. By the end of the year I listened to every recording Radiohead had released along with dozens of other rock acts I’ve never heard before. My life has changed forever and for the better.

One album that I felt was often overlooked was “Amnesiac”. There were some fantastic recordings like “Morning bell/Amnesiac” and “Dollars and Cents”, but one that really resonated with me was “Pyramid Song”. As a piano player it was always a bit odd for me when listening to rock music. It always felt like I couldn’t be a part of it, I always had a reduced role or was completely not included in the music. I mean how many rock keyboardist do you know? How many rock songs have the piano as the lead or as a pivotal role in the music? Some, but not many. The moment I heard the opening chords of “Pyramid Song” I thought, “Yes! A role for me!” The chords really resonated with me, it was a hauntingly beautiful song. At the time, I had nowhere near the chops to play it. I tried to play some of the chords, but it was way too hard since I hadn’t even been playing the piano for a year yet. Still, I never forgot about “Pyramid Song” and I always thought in the back of my head that I would eventually go back to it.

Now I finally have! I’ve rearranged the strings which were performed by two wonderful violinist Windy Indy and Erendira Izguerra. The vocals were performed by Courtney Grace and the guitar solo was taken by Amey Albert, the person who introduced me to all of this wonderful music. I hope you enjoy it. I hope this will be considered a wonderful homage to Radiohead, a band that changed my life. So please, enjoy the recording and be sure to check out what I’m working on next month.

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Nine For Nine: Maiden Voyage 

My latest project Nine For Nine has officially begun! I’m so excited to share all of this new music with you. To be brief, Nine For Nine is a project where I will be releasing a new track every 2nd Monday of the month from now until the end of the year. So by the end of 2017 there will be 9 tracks released in the last 9 months of the year, hence the name Nine for Nine. Today I officially launch the project with a solo piano performance of the jazz standard “Maiden Voyage”. Below I shared some of my thoughts about why I chose this tune and what it means to me.

Herbie Hancock’s influence on me has been tremendous. As a musician from Chicago he has constantly been a source of inspiration and motivation. The first album I ever heard from Hancock was The Best of Herbie Hancock: The Blue Note Years. Immediately songs like “Watermelon Man” and “Maiden Voyage” became the benchmark for what I was aiming to be. After that I purchased An Evening of Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, that album was so good I almost quit playing the piano altogether. I remember thinking “They’ve done everything there is to do on the piano, I can never achieve that virtuosity so why keep playing?”

I kept playing. And the more I listened to Hancock the deeper my appreciation for him grew. Whether he was doing straight ahead jazz on albums such as Empyrean Isle, pushing the definition of jazz on Bitches Brew, or playing a pop record with Christian Aguilera. Hancock always made an impact and added his voice to a project. Now I’m channeling Hancock to add my voice and make an impact on this project.
So without further to do, here is my Maiden Voyage (horrible pun intended) the very first tune of the Nine For Nine project, “Maiden Voyage”. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this, and I hope you find as much inspiration from Herbie Hancock as I have.