Quarter To

As I assembled tracks, many of them morphed into jazz tunes, so I gave them all a home: an old, smoky bar on the edge of town. The music may not always be the greatest, but you don't care because the company always is. By the way, I like to pretend this is a vinyl release from Unreasonable Records. Click the cover art above to see the completed jacket artwork.


Side A

Track 1: Half Past
Released 4 August 2021

Here's a bluesy concoction, a bit of a funky hot mess that turned out better than expected. It's mostly commercial loops and samples, but it got me closer to the stuff I was hankering to make.

Track 2: Now I Get It
Released 8 August 2021

This was an experiment to see how close I could get to actually "performing" music—that is, instead of piecing together clips, samples and loops, I created the music from scratch. With the exception of the background chords, every note and drumbeat in this piece was painstakingly assembled one at a time. It's seriously tedious, but the results are more satisfying. The track is far from perfect, but it was nevertheless an enjoyable learning experience.

Track 3: Would If I Could
Released 12 August 2021

I learned quite a lot making this track. One thing was to have more patience. I had a musical image in my mind, but it just wasn't materializing. So I went and did something else, and came back to it days later. Slowly, very slowly, it finally began to take shape. I had grand plans for it—10-20 minutes of variations and riffs... but when I added a short, bold vocal clip in the middle, I suddenly realized that, when the vocals ended, I had nothing else to say musically; anything more would be forced, and I didn't want to overstay my welcome. The lesson here was that, sometimes, the music will tell you when it's done.

Track 4: Quarter To
Released 9 August 2021

A friend of mine who belonged to a band in his youth really liked "Half Past," and asked for more. A slow jazz fusion thing, "Quarter To" benefits from "Now I Get It" in that most everything is original; the only items I didn't fully render are a few drum licks and the electric piano chords. I'd originally wanted to make it sax-driven, but I didn't even get three notes into it when I bailed and switched to piano, my comfort zone for the time being. That's when I hit upon a simple melody with a vague town hall clock chime vibe, which fit the mood perfectly. As I've learned from some of my favorite new age composers, simple is oftentimes better.

Track 5: Probably Not
Released 14 August 2021

This is another "scratchbuilt" tune. Every note and sound was programmed one at a time by hand—no canned loops, riffs or chords. Like many tunes, it started out as something else, then morphed—three times—into its current form. It was an enjoyable and educational trip, and one that helped move me closer to my musical goal. This tune was ripped from an old cassette tape, so please forgive the sound quality (tape hiss, dropouts, etc.).


Side B

Track 1: Maybe Later
Released 7 February 2022

Take an original bass line, add some semi-original drums and electric piano riffs, toss in a couple of stock loops, and stir until well-blended. Then sit back and sip slowly. By the way, the bass carries the melody on this one, so if you're listening to it on your phone, fuhgeddaboudit. Also note that my band isn't the world's best, so if you notice the occasional missed drumbeat or slightly off note, you're not imagining things—I enjoy working in little flaws to make the music sound more "real"; it's actually much easier to make "perfect" music. Also, this tune was "recorded live," so please forgive the sound quality (room noise, etc.).

Track 2: Good Question
Released 11 March 2022

It was a long, difficult road to this track. After a week of failures, I transformed it into the upbeat "Wait For It" in Harder Faster Stranger (play them back-to-back, and you'll hear the shared DNA). But I was bound and determined to master the beast. What ultimately brought success was stripping it all the way down to a simple trio: piano, bass and drums. The result is the closest I've come to "traditional" jazz to date. To hide the abundant flaws—in particular, the less-than-ideal piano samples—I buried the tune in the noise and poor acoustics of a "live recording." Subsequently I remixed it: I removed the horn solo, as it was "too good" for the rest of the performance, which is (deliberately) rather mediocre at best. I also shortened the bass and drum solos; now the track is mercifully much shorter.

Track 3: Pretty Much
Released 28 March 2022

This rather odd track has odd origins. I'd hand-assembled drum, bass and pad tracks for a new tune, but was dissatisfied with my attempts to create a melody, so I went a-huntin' for one online. After nearly an entire day of searching, I happened upon a jazzy guitar riff by one Frankiejazzit, and fell in love. Alas, he did not make anything else to go with it, but I wanted to use it so badly that I just kept repeating it. The loop appears a dozen times—actually thirty, if you count the echoes!

Track 4: Just Forget It
Released 11 April 2022

Whilst tidying up some file folders, I came across this sadly neglected track that I'd never released. Playing it again after who knows how long, I'd forgotten how hard I worked on those piano riffs. All it needed was a few final touches, some live ambience, and an ending, and it was all done. Certainly not the best tune I've made, but then, not all jazz bands are great, right?

Track 5: Check, Please
Released 19 January 2022

As the Quarter To album began to coalesce, I envisioned an obscure jazz band at a smoky bar finally winding down, but still not quite ready to pack up. The drummer taps out a slow, lazy beat, and the rest of the band follows suit—as best they can, anyway, given how much booze they've consumed that night. This tune was ripped from an old LP, so please forgive the sound quality (dirt, scratches, etc.).


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