While the whole creative process for me is deeply spiritual, the title “Many Rooms,” borrowed from John 14:2, refers not to the scriptural image of heaven but to the image in dreams of a house of many rooms – an image of the soul. Just as each room of a house has its own character, possibilities and stories, the many spaces of the soul are inhabited by different “characters” each with their own possibilities and stories. The sixteen songs on this CD are like characters being themselves, living and dancing in the spaces where they are most at home.
From the back cover:
Room after room built on strong rhythmic foundations, painted from a diverse palette of modern jazz, progressive rock, blues & more. Walk the halls, open doors, be surprised, move and get lost in the music. one house, many rooms.
Track by track
While rhythm and that goes with it is at the core of all these songs, here is more about each song.
Beginning with chimes driven by the wind, named because it is untamed by nature, an unpredictable fun ride. Reminds me a bit of my early love of Rush instrumentals.
The name is double – meaning both that the rhythms and form are based on fours and that it taps the animal nature in us all – with a little Spanish flair. I think I hear some of my jazz-rock fusion roots coming out.
Makes use of the lydian mode – a dreamy sounding scale – to evoke the mood that comes with laying in the grass gazing up at the clouds and blue sky and imagining.
Whippersnapper Though the title was chosen as much for its sound as anything,its still amusing to imagine an old man condemning its unabashed youthfulness. Some of my favorite tunes going back from my early jazz ensemble days playing bass were funk. I always the syncopation and the use of silence to strengthen rhythms.
What can I say? It’s dark and crispy-crunchy. I love this kind of rock and roll jam tune and this tune makes me smile every time. I can definitely hear some (Rush bassist) Geddy Lee influence in the bass line.
Another name created more for its sound and rhythm than anything else. And I like to think that in spite of being a blues tune has its surprises. I do confess that this tune was inspired by Stax Records artist Booker T & the MG’s song Hip Hug Her.
What’s Seven For?
Simple enough: it’s an experiment with the rhythmic possibilities of the seven beat meter. For you musicians out there note that the seven beat meter is subdivided 4-3 then 3-4 alternating. This was a deliberate choice with the aim of having it sound organic and not mechanical.
The mood of this song is meant to evoke the same mood as this excerpt from the T.S. Eliot poem “Little Gidding” “We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time.”
Two by Two
The title has a triple meaning referring to the mirrored phrasing (in twos), the two themes (the song is in A-B-A form), and more importantly to the strange scene it is meant to evoke: Noah’s ark with its paired animals. What other elements of the story can you hear? By the way, the tune begins with a home made tongue drum and includes, among other things, the sound of hand saw being struck.
This is the only character portrait on the CD. Imagine a young, long lanky guy strutting down the street trying to impress. By the way the songs starts with the sound of two soup cans being banged and the lead instrument is a bouzouki – a Greek folk instrument.
Seeing a pattern here? Another song title created for its rhythm and sound – just like the song. It’s fascinating to me how the the layers of rhythm interact in this song. It’s rather like a group of very different individuals who somehow get along quite well. I hear some early Chic Corea influence here.
Just as one person can be divided between two inclinations and still remain one person, this song hold two very different ideas that somehow cohere as one.
Named because it starts (and has throughout) with the rhythmic sound of a lap being slapped – which leaves me tickled every time. You can’t help but notice a little Latin flair here. This thread in my set of musical influeneces probably comes from early study of classical guitar – much of the repertoire is from Spanish composers.
Whenever You Can
An old-fashioned love song meant to evoke desire and the impulse to hold on to love whenever it comes.
Named because it seems to descend throughout the form. And yes it feels a bit strange, deliberately so, as it is in a 12-beat meter with a 15-bar form. Like Surreptilian is created using a layering of rhythms and again it’s fascinating how the rhythms interacts to create a whole.
An unabashed blues tune with classic instrumentation. And yes i admit I’m a fan of the everybody-in-unison jam (about 2.5 minutes in).
More about the project
It’s been a dream being intensively involved and invested in every aspect of this project from conception to writing, arranging, performing, recording, mixing, mastering, creating the artwork and marketing. Through this I learned again, among other things, that the creative process itself is a creative challenge.
The creative process is a personal and transpersonal journey touching on every aspect our humanity and growing our roots in divinity. To create is to imitate and participate in the divine nature. This project resides in a shared narrative: it is about being true to our deepest nature. I write because I must to be whole.
All art involves a dialogue between possibilities and limits. It is quite impossible to create anything specific without first narrowing one’s choices. Infinite possibility is not a very practical starting point.With this CD virtually every song began with a rhythmic impulse and palette that rooted the organic whole. Rhythms suggested a harmonic palette and melodies grew out of harmonies. But of course this suggests an orderly process. Being creative is about arriving at some semblance of order by passing through chaos. The song “Wild” is a good example of this. There is something untamed there that found a place.
But enough words. Words ultimately fail in things that matter most. And yet we must express what is dearest and deepest. It’s a good thing we have the arts.
Including 13 original and 1 Herbie Hancock cover song, this CD features the best of about three years of creative work. The songs are instrumental ranging from blues to rock to fusion to jazz to reggae to who knows what.
So why “Thick?” The goo that holds these songs together is joy and an expansive spirit; motion of body and mind – a thickness of rhythm and melody, simplicity and complexity. Each song thick, substantial, filling.
Why make this CD? Why do plants grow? Inner necessity is probably the best answer. life seems to make better sense when i am being creative. The life of an artist is a spiritual one: creature, however inadequately, imitating creator. i am the caretaker, not the source. What you hear is mine only insofar as the desire to create has been given to me and i have gratefully tended it.
Tall Grass is a collection of solo classical guitar pieces spanning ten years of composition and a wide variety of styles.
Pastoral Dance is in the classical period style.
Abraham was written at a time when, like Abraham of the old testament, I was being sent out into the desert toward the promised land.
Barefoot was written during a phase when I wanted to go barefoot everywhere.
Tall Grass was named after a friend’s dream.
Time To Think is something of a meditation in a space set apart that inspired something different.
Beginnings was one of the first pieces I wrote for classical guitar that was worth keeping.
The Wee Folk captures the mood of a friend’s dream of magical woodland creatures.
The title The Time of Her Confinement is an old phrase referring to a time and space set aside for the birth of a child and for the recovery and bonding.
The Forest is an image of the psyche.
Getting There is a contemporary piece for the journey.
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What friends and fans are saying
Hi Bob, I spent the afternoon listening to most of both your two albums – Thick and Many Rooms. They’re really good Bob, I like the styles of your tunes, very groovy and very foot-tappable. Also, your sounds are nice, and they get better on Many Rooms. Very good writing and arranging. – Klaus
I have heard this new album [Many Rooms] and it’d incredible! Great job Bob! I’m going to share this, and ask others do the same .Let’s give this musical work of art the exposure it deserves. -Tom