Decades

DecadesCover

Liner Notes:

The Decades project started when Greg Badolato asked me to come on a Berklee Audition and Interview trip to the Middle East, to do auditions, clinics, and concerts in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. Then he asked me to join in for a similar trip to Kobe and Tokyo, Japan. I thought it would be fun to take a few of my older compositions and realize them afresh with new technology, and arrange them for a trio performance: Greg on Tenor sax, me on guitar and synthesizers, and a MacBook Pro for interactive backing tracks. The concerts were unexpectedly well-received, so we decided to record. The next thing I knew it had turned into an 18 month-long project culminating in the two disc set entitled “Decades.”

Decades features Greg Badolato on tenor sax, and David Mash performing all other instrumental parts. David plays guitar and keyboards, and used Logic Studio and a variety of software instruments running on a Macintosh computer to produce this recording. David plays Godin guitars, used a Roland VG-99 with FC-300 and an Apogee GiO to connect his guitars to the computer for audio and MIDI data. David’s Mac used a PreSonus FireStudio 2626 with MRC as an audio interface. In addition to the Logic instruments, David also uses the Korg Legacy Collections, Sonoma Wireworks’ DrumCore, Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Trillian, Synthogy Ivory II, and Arturia’s MiniMoog software. David also uses Line 6 PodFarm 2 for processing his guitar sounds. For mixing, we used the Euphonix Artist Series control surfaces.

David recorded all the software instrument tracks at Mashine Studios. Peter Bell engineered and produced the guitar and saxophone recording sessions at Bell Music, and David & Peter did the final mixes back at Mashine Studios. Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA

Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice. The cover painting is part of the “Light” series by Wendy Young. Photos by Audrey Harrer and creative package design by Erin Genett.

SPECIAL THANKS to Erica, Reesa, & Sasha for their inspiration and support. To Peter and Greg: your contribution to this work is immeasurable, and I am forever in your debt. BIG thanks to Wendy, Audrey, and Erin for the artwork, graphic layout and photos!  To Dave Dysart for his input on the mixes. To Janet and Robert Godin for your friendship and wonderful instruments. To Eric Pursing and Spectrasonics, Michelle & Dug Wright at Sonoma Wireworks, Lee Whitmore and Ken Johnson at Avid, Gerhard Lengeling at Apple, Joe Ierardi at Synthogy, Jim Odum & Bob Tudor at PreSonus, to Mr. Kakehashi, Scott Tibbs, and all my friends at Roland, and all the good folks at Apogee and Korg.

The Tunes:

Disc One:

Change Up

This was originally written in late 1973 for a freshman harmony class I had with Michael Rendish, one of my key influences at Berklee, then arranged in early 1974 for an advanced jazz arranging course with Gary Burton, another major mentor of mine. The tune is in A mixolydian, transposes to E mixolydian, then modulates to A Lydian, and ends back in A mixolydian. The solos are also in mixolydian and run through a cycle of transpositions. This may have been the very first tune I wrote with changing time signatures, and the arrangement also brought in metric modulation as well. The name refers to the changing time signatures, and the changes between modes. Change Up was one of the first tunes in Ictus’ repertoire (see the Ictus Archives for more information) and for many years was the opening song for our first set – every night would start with me saying to the band, “OK, two bars of 5, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3- – -.” By the way, Ictus’ name also was chosen for the music’s changing time signatures, Ictus being the musical term for a strongly accented beat or rhythm…

Alone

This tune was written in late 2008/early 2009, and is the most recent tune in this compilation. I was home alone for 10 days, suffering intense pain after having broken my back, and awaiting major spinal fusion surgery that fortunately ended the pain and allowed me to return to full activity. Originally released as part of a song cycle “Encased in Time” (referring to my being in a brace from my neck to my hips after the spinal fracture), re-recorded and produced afresh here. I didn’t have Greg play on this one, since the title suggests I was alone…

Journeys

This tune was written in 1978 for Ictus. It begins in 15/8 – divided 4+4+4+3. I was dating a girl from Argentina and imagined a journey to South America and the music I might hear there, hence the latin-flavored groove. Harmonically, the tune travels (or journeys) through unrelated keys in every measure (A minor, G lydian, F mixolydian, C lydian – and that’s just bar 1!). The acoustic guitar is my La Patrie Hybrid CW (by Godin) connected directly to the Mac via the Apogee GiO, using the internal microphone and bridge Piezo pickups.

Initiation

Written for a concert in 1982 that signaled the end of my role in Ictus and where I began using the name Mashine Music for my live performances. The band featured Greg Badolato, Bruce Nifong (ex-Ictus member), and Wayne Naus on horns, Brad Hatfield on keys, Bill Brinkley on guitar, Steve Billman on bass, and Ray Frisby (ex-Ictus) on drums, with me at a very large synthesizer setup – the Mashines. The piece features 3-horn writing over a funk groove, principaly in 3/4, on top of a low electronic pedal. The solos feature a post-bop non-functional harmonic progression that begins in D and ends in Ab minor.

All for Susan

Originally written in 1976 for a studio session with Michael Gibbs, and as a primer in musical rhythm for a poet friend of mine, Susan Goldwitz, who was helping me understand lyrical rhythm. The original recording was used for a Radio France commission and featured a rhythm section that morphed into Ictus. The piece begins in 10/16, then moves to 17/16, 11/8, 9/8. 21/16, 5/4, 6/4 and even a single bar of 4/4! When Ictus first opened for Dave Brubeck’s band in 1978, Dave Brubeck mentioned to me that he liked the song and thought that if I added lyrics, it could be a pop hit! When I mentioned that the tune had all sorts of weird and changing time signatures, he said, “Gee, it sounded like a waltz in 3 to me…” And this from the king of odd meters in Jazz!

Albigeth

This was written in 1981, and rehearsed by Ictus, but never performed by the band. I then re-arranged it for the first Mashine Music concert in 1982, featuring Greg on Tenor. The title is an anagram of my sister’s name, Gail Beth, and it was written to thank her for her support during the time I had lost the use of my left hand and had moved from guitar playing to synthesizer. She helped me buy my first synthesizer, an ARP 2600 with 16-step sequencer. And that started my whole relationship with music technology…

Chakalette

This was written in 1982 for the Mashine Music concert, and is named after my cat “Chaka.” She was a little cat (Chaka-lette), and was given to me by my friend Jackson Schultz. She was named Chaka because I also had another, older cat named Rufus – and reflects the connection between the band Rufus and its lead singer, Chaka Kahn. Chaka (the cat, not the singer) used to stand up on her rear legs and move her front paws on the refrigerator, kind of like a weird dance. I was watching one day, and realized her dance was in 7! So I wrote this song (mainly in 7, with some parts in 4 and 3) to fit her dance!

The Suite

Written in 1976, this song was one of my first extended jazz compositions, using a small musical motif which is developed through a series of sections using a variety of compositional processes. The song was originally dedicated to my friend Camille Warender who strongly encouraged me to stretch out as a composer and write longer works. This piece also employs many changing time signatures as part of the compositional devices, and uses metric modulation to achieve the changes in grooves and time feels.

Temporarily Untitled

I first wrote this as a big-band piece in the summer of 1974. That summer was the only time I’d had a job outside of music, working for my brother-in-law’s marina on Cass Lake in Michigan. I spent a lot of time on the lake that summer and with the piece I tried to capture the soft waves of the moving water. I was studying with Michael Gibbs at the time, and was also trying to use some of his orchestration ideas, and in 1975 Herb Pomeroy, another key mentor in my musical development, recorded the big-band piece for Berklee’s Jazz in the Classroom series. By the time Herb was ready to record the piece, I still hadn’t thought of a title, so I asked him to make it “temporarily untitled.” It never got changed, so the name just stuck! Here is that recording:

This next version is quite different from the original arrangement! This was from a demo recording Ictus made at Northen Studios in MA. This one features guitar great Bill Frisell and George Garzone on Soprano.

And lastly here is the version from the 1981 Ictus recording “Future Winds” on Airborn records – making Temporarily Untitled the only piece of music from “Decades” that was ever released commercially prior to this project.


Disc Two:

Acincha

This song was written in 1978 and named for my friend Cynthia Hilts, who used “Cinch“ as her nickname, because when she was little, her younger sister mispronounced her name as “Cincha.” I put an A at the front to get this title, which some folks think is Spanish, as the piece has a Latin feel alternating time signatures between 4/4 and 7/8 (15/8). This tune was always a big hit at Ictus concerts because we would have the two drummers alternate solos over the intro vamp in 15. Lots of Bravado!

Iberian Sunset

Written in 2005 after I got a new classical guitar, and the title reflects my affinity for spanish classical guitar music. I wrote this to be a solo guitar piece, and then added the supporting tracks later, originally for my 2006 CD entitled “New Guitar Music.” This version replaces many of the backing tracks, and is a new performance of the solo guitar track – this time recorded with my Godin La Patrie Hybrid CW guitar, plugged directly into the Apogee GiO and recorded digitally via USB.

3 & 4

Written in 1976, further exploring alternating between time signatures in triple and quadruple meters. This time I use 3/8 and 4/4 or 3/8 and 3/4, and, well others too… I was also exploring metric modulation with bars of 12/16 becoming bars of 4/4, as well as straight half and double times.

Darker Shade of Gray

Written in 1982 when I was writing charts for Berklee’s Ensemble Library (this tune is still in there). The title comes from an argument I was having with my soon-to-be wife, Erica; I was driving to a friend’s house and she directed me to turn left at the green house, and I said which is the green house? (I am color blind) Later when trying to explain to her how that color looked to me versus the brown house next door, I said it was like a darker shade of gray. No time signature stuff in here – this tune was writtento be used in lower level ensembles in conjunction with specific instrumental lab materials I was also writing. The repetative rhythmic patterns are meant to help students learn to count certain common groove elements. The melodic figures at the close of the major phrases are rhythmic statements of my wife’s name, E-RI-CA.

TNS

The longest piece in this set, gets the longest description. In 1976, right after starting the band, Ictus, I discovered I had a small ganglion cyst on the inside flexor tendon of the middle finger of my left hand. I went to see a doctor about it and they tried getting rid of it by injecting it with cortisone. The growth did shrink, but as I had been playing many hours for many years while having it, it had ripped the tendon sheath, and the cortisone made the sheath shrink as well, causing stenosing tenosinivitis – in short, I’d be playing and my midde finger would just get stuck, and I’d have to physically snap it back with the other hand. The doctor said this was simple to fix, with minor surgery. Easy to say – but the doctor must have had a bad day, because he slipped, cut the tendon and nerves and left my hand mutilated. I was told that I’d never again play guitar, and the pain I was experiencing was permanent. Needless to say I was devastated – got addicted to pain meds, got depressed. Eventually I went to a major hand surgeon’s convention and was used as a test subject – the topic of the conference was “The Mutilated Hand.” At the end of having 30 or 40 hand doctors poke and prod, they confirmed that I would never again play, and prescribed for me a new pain control device called a Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulator – TNS. (Today these are referred to as Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulators, or TENS devices). The device worked by sending electricity through the skin to the nerves to replace the pain signal with noise – a tingling was much better than pain! That summer of 1978 I decided to sell all my guitars (big mistake) and buy a synthesizer setup (good move) and rejoin Ictus on synths. The pianist’s girlfriend had a house on Cape Cod, where she and her three sisters spent their summers – and get this, they were a string quartet! They invited me to join them on the cape for a good part of the summer, and I began writing this piece that celebrated the end of my pain and newly found clarity of mind (TNS and no more pain meds) and the start of a new musical career as a synthesist. I would sit at the beach and compose during the day, copy parts in the afternoon, and get the sisters to play the string parts for me at night. Wow! What an opportunity! Years later, in 1986 I ran into my hand doctor (not the surgeon who mutilated my hand, but the man who treated me afterward) and he said he thought he could fix my hand. I asked “so I’d have no more pain?” and he said “I think so.” “So I could move my fingers again?” and he said “I think so.” “So I could play guitar again?” “I think so.” So I went for it – he took an vestigial tendon from my arm and was able to rebuild my hand, and sure enough I was soon able to move my hand, pain-free, and begin to play guitar again. It is not 100%, and you won’t hear any pyrotechnics on this record, but I can play and that’s a great gift. I dedicate this piece to the memory of this great doctor, Dr. Lewis Millender.

Angles

I wrote this in 1982 as part of the same writing assignment for Berklee’s Ensemble Library as Darker Shade of Gray. The introduction and interlude figures demonstrate a common 3 against 4 rhythm, and lets me play with time feel without leaving the time signature. Tricky. When my wife worked in New Mexico (before we met) she was the only “Anglo” working in her department, so her friend Chuma called her “Anglo Woman.” One day while I was writing this piece I came home to our apartment and heard a message on our answering machine (analog tape back then) screaming, “Hey Anglo Woman! Call me!” So I decided to name the song after my Anglo Woman, but made the title a bit more politically correct, calling it Angles, which could also describe the melodic shape of the tune… But Greg and I usually refer to this one as “Ankles” but I won’t tell you that story…