>> write // chris trinidad's common themes i: liner notes

chris trinidad: bass guitars and voice
nick apivor: mallet and auxillary percussion
budge schachte: acoustic and electric guitars
davidian chorley: flute and saxophones
larry olson: drum set

produced and mixed by chris trinidad for elementalmusicworks.com

recorded by mike rogerson with lisa tyack on 17 january and 18 january 2004
at bakerstreet studios, north vancouver, bc, canada

mastered by allan bacani on 17 april 2008
at dogwood sound, vancouver, bc, canada

layout and design by jonathan bongato

Finding a drummer for this project took a long time mostly because I wanted to find someone who I had a personal connection with. Certainly, it would have been easy to call any of the drumming mainstays of the Vancouver music scene, give them the charts, pay them union scale, and be done with it, but somehow that would not have been as significant or meaningful.

During the practicum portion of my year of teacher training, I accompanied my sponsor school to the British Columbia Interior Jazz Festival, a competitive high school level music festival. After my sponsor teacher, myself, and the student-musicians checked into the hotel, we went on a walkabout around town. On the way to one of the concert venues, I ran into none other than my high school band teacher. He remembered who I was, and I had mentioned to him that I was studying to become a teacher.

Almost coincidentally and almost exactly ten years before, I was given my first ever gig: playing "The Tigers of San Pedro" with the Junior Stage Band at this same festival. I remember "the call" quite clearly. Mister O, as he was affectionately known to his student-musicians, walked to where I was sitting on the bus and asked me if I wanted to play one of the tunes with the stage band. I was not sure if I would have the opportunity to play because I had just picked up the bass guitar six months before. But, I guess Mister O believed in me enough to give me this chance. I would never forget it.

During my first year of high school music teaching, and after getting settled, I called up Mister O to see if he would be interested in participating in a recording project of mine. He was excited in getting back into playing and I was equally enthused with the possibility of playing with my former mentor. It seemed fitting that some ten years later, that I would be the one giving him the gig. He had only one request, "Oh yeah, stop calling me Mister O. You are now an adult professional. To you, I am Larry."

Meeting Nick Apivor was a huge turning point for me professionally. Breaking into the Latin music scene in Vancouver was a result of his recommendations to various bandleaders looking for substitute players. I first met Nick in a somewhat forgettable music situation: a movie set where we were playing a backup band. Naturally, the gig was pro bono. But, sometimes, less than stellar circumstances present opportunities if we are perceptive enough to recognize them. The silver lining to that gig was meeting Nick. About a year after that gig, Nick called me to sub for both Ache Brasil and the Marlin Ramazzini Orquesta.

I met guitarist Budge Schachte while working with Ache Brasil. Over the course of a few gigs with the group I got to know Budge as an intelligent, iconoclastic, and inimitable guitarist. The culmination of his influences really informs a highly developed and personalized style. We had the opportunity to play together during my first cruise ship contract and I got to understand his unique approach to music and improvisation. In particular, his interests in mathematics, linguistics, artificial intelligence, chaos and complexity theories, and other seemingly disparate disciplines have persuaded me to re-examine my music and infuse it with the diversity of my experiences and influences.

While playing with Marlin Ramazzini, I was introduced to woodwinds player Davidian Chorley. I learned a lot about Afro-Caribbean music from Dave on our many trips together in my car journeying up the hazardous Sea-to-Sky highway en route to Whistler for gigs. Many times these gigs would not pay enough for us to warrant staying overnight especially since most of our gigs happened during the peak winter skiing season. We braved the 2 AM, 2 hour journey after our gigs, arrived back in Vancouver, and along the way enjoyed many great conversations about music, stars, and life. Dave is also an avid aficionado of star gazing.

Shortly after I started my teaching career, I called Nick, Budge, Dave, and Larry and asked them if they would be into putting together a group with the aim of playing each other's original compositions, and putting them to tape. Since we were not a working band, we had several rehearsal sessions in order to learn each other's material and to get used to each other's playing styles. I invited everyone to write compositions for the group and we had a wonderful time rehearsing them and coming up with arrangements suitable for our instrumentation. Hopefully, it will give you, the listener, an idea of the camaraderie that was immediately apparent.

Skytrain A Train? [Nick Apivor]. We set out to destroy jazz with this tune. The chord progression is a variation on "rhythm changes" with an odd bridge melody that is actually a manipulation of Ellington's famous composition "Take the A Train." Every note in the original melody is substituted with a different note according to a set formula, therefore creating a new melody. The result is no doubt a product of Nick's composition class assignments for university! The different tempos for each section along with a punk fusion approach from Larry create a frenetic feel. Dave plays the head and his solo on his soprano sax using a Dixieland sound crossed with an energy jazz sensibility.

Prelude A La Nuit [Davidian Chorley/Melonai Brisdon]. I wanted to sing on this album and it turns out that Dave and his partner Melonai wrote this little prelude en Francais for her self-titled debut EP. Dave created this chord progression as a partner to Melonai's lonely soliloquy. Preludes used to be written to attune choirs and congregations to the key of the day's mass. This prelude was to setup another song on Melonai's EP, but works perfectly in this context to setup Dave's next composition.

Piece of Mental Substance [Davidian Chorley]. Dave wrote this tune specifically for this album. In the soundbite that follows you'll see how the title came to be, but the meaning of the piece, for Dave, has changed, with time. You'll have to ask Dave what he means by this. He says that he remembers the song coming together very quickly, though he remembers being careful about writing the tune so that it did not sound too academic. He also knew that he did not want to hear his style of improvising on this particular piece and left it to Budge and Nick to improvise over the form.

Eyes Open [CT]. The rhythm for this tune is inspired loosely by the Afro-Cuban montuno, the syncopated rhythm played by the tres or the piano. I came up with the melody shortly after my stint with Marlin Ramazzini and during my first cruise ship contract aboard the Grandeur of the Seas during the winter of 2000. The bridge section came together after taking the very last motif and developing it. Brad Turner's use of bass melodies in his compositions was a huge influence on me. I asked Larry to play a drum part similar to the one he had asked me to play some eight years earlier when I was playing drum set for one of the school stage bands. The name of the tune was Boomerang by Jay Chattaway. Nick's use of marimba and his choice of voicing chords in thirds and sixths pay homage to the steel pan bands of the Caribbean. Feel the ocean spray when Nick's cymbal swells come around! The title came from a Star Trek: Voyager episode. Can you guess which?

Laguna Peace (for Sheryl) [Nick Apivor]. Nick started this tune a number of years ago and completed it for this project. It was inspired by a vacation to Laguna Beach, California, with his friend Sheryl Smith, and by a weekend in LA hearing the best jazz musicians in the world at the IAJE conference. The melody is played a number of times, each time with a different set of chords underneath.

Green Loafers [Budge Schachte]. Budge, Nick, and I have shared many experiences playing with the performing arts group Ache Brasil. While this tune is harmonically more involved than anything we have done with that group, I wanted to feature Nick on the many Brasilian percussion instruments that he has mastered. This tune, written by Budge, provides the appropriate backdrop. He also says that the title really has nothing to do with the tune and that he has often felt unresourceful at coming up with cool song titles. Budge adds that the tune virtually wrote itself, that there was no pretense involved, and he simply notated what he felt at the time. It was originally written for a group called "Picante" with guitarist Dave Phyall, bassist Brent Gubbels, and percussionist Jack Duncan. Budge successfully melds a samba feel with a Django vibe courtesy of his flavorful Macaferri-style acoustic steel string guitar.

Flame of Reality [Davidian Chorley]. Dave originally wrote this tune for his "intensity music" group called Mortal Engine. We give it a more down-to-earth treatment. The song was conceived as a blues in 5/4 time, in a noticeably major tonality, and movements in major thirds rather than typical perfect fourths, all blundered toward abstraction. Larry absolutely owns this tune from behind the drum set. Budge comically alludes to War's staple song Low Rider in his solo and uses the theme as a point of departure.

New Moon in Mind [CT]. The original melody came to me a few years before, but the intro and the chord changes were conceived during my stint aboard the Explorer of the Seas during the Summer of 2001. The bridge was developed shortly thereafter and was highly influences by the Pat Metheny Group's album We Live Here. The first solo where nothing seems to happen is intentional; the point is to get off on the groove!

Blues Para Un Dia Gris (Blues For A Grey Day) [Nick Apivor/Oliver Santamaria]. This tune was recorded as a bolero [ballad] on the Rumba Calzada album entitled Generations en Espagnol with the great Oliver Santamaria providing words and singing. I decided to give the vocals a try and I have had ample opportunities to practice singing in Spanish with the various Afro-Caribbean bands that I have played with. Dave lets loose yet another intensity solo.

Lamig Ng Umaga (Cold Fall Morning) [CT]. This composition came from the same batch that was written onboard the Explorer of the Seas in 2001. I was born and raised in Richmond, British Coumbia, Canada, but Tagalog was the primary language spoken at home. My good friend violinist Kimwell Del Rosario, whom I met while aboard the Voyager of the Seas in 2002, helped me with suggestions and made sure that the words both flowed and had a sense of line. I also arranged an a cappella version for the Voices Utopia Chamber Choir at St Thomas More Collegiate.

Back Again [Budge Schachte]. This piece has a definite Pat Metheny and Steps Ahead influence. Budge wrote it in the early nineties for a group he was fronting that included bassist Brent Gubbels, keyboardist/trumpeter Brad Turner, and drummer Don Powrie. They performed this tune many times at the old Vancouver venue called "The Glass Slipper." Budge says that the title refers to the fact that he hadn't written anything for a little while.

Both Sides Now [Joni Mitchell arr Budge Schachte]. I have had the great fortune of being a part of Sarah Marshall's band. Budge is Sarah's husband, is the music director for her band, and he arranged this Joni Mitchell classic specifically for her. Sarah is a great singer/songwriter in her own right and she would have my vote for "talent deserving wider recognition." This tune was a challenge for me vocally, but I enjoyed trying my best at singing it.

From a production standpoint, I knew that the sound palette that each player had to offer would be complementary and the sonic possibilities would be equally intriguing. In addition to Nick's vibraphone and marimba, I also asked him to spice up the various tracks with some auxiliary percussion. Budge's steel and nylon string acoustic guitars along with his electric clean, pad, and distorted sounds blended well with Nick's comping. Nick and Budge shared a special sonic understanding. Dave soared on top with his flute and soprano sounds or got right into the thick of things with his tenor sax. I asked Larry to bring out his special Gretsch set and he used a combination of cymbals that Nick and I had lent him. No keyboards were used or harmed in the making of this recording!

We recorded this album at Bakerstreet Studios in North Vancouver with Mike Rogerson engineering. I had first worked with Mike when I was coproducing Amalia Townsend's [now of Sekoya fame] debut disc. Mike's laidback approach, his ability to get fantastic sounds quickly, and the warm ambiance of the studio made Bakerstreet my choice of recording studio for this project.


Common Themes I Cover

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