Well, what can I say about “The tao of Grace?” Plenty, I suppose. Should I? Sure, I’ll say a little – I studied History and Music in college(s) (not at the same college, mind you) – and history and music are both damn fascinating to me. And here, we have plenty of both. This (potentially) auspicious project started officially way back in July of 2011; my longsuffering engineer from my last CD, “Product”- Jim Moreland, a true professional – both as a musician and an engineer sheepishly agreed to my newest, bloodthirsty demands for Brian Grace music. So, after my computer program musical notation buddy – Sibelius and I, got together and we decided on the absolute cheesiest sounding arrangements to give to musicians that played on this album – we all tried to sort my newest creations out in earnest…
Of course, the actual musical interpretations of my new music in the Sibelius software format were extremely open (to say the least) so, a few full band rehearsals were rather compulsory. I think everyone pulled it off nicely, as you will hear. The music in my head happened to be a significant dissertation in the study of time signatures, dynamics and general insanity – so the canvas was prepped for all to flourish or fail. By hook or by crook – things, (as circumstances evolved) eventually turned North. Nonetheless, personnel challenges evoked me to enlist an L.A. studio musician – Bob Luna, an extraordinarily talented keyboard player, to play on this record. And, I’m glad he signed on. You will appreciate his musical expertise in “Hernia Blues,” “The Dark Horse,” and “Alex.” He has played and toured with a number of great musicians, and his influence can be felt in a tremendous way on this record.
There were blood, sweat and tears etched into the grooves of this album. I suppose some of the better art is made in the midst of adversity, and “The tao” is no exception. Massive wind storms, downed trees, session no-shows, lack of communication, car problems, musical & rhythmic challenges and various equipment malfunctions all gave me great cause for anxiety. At one point, while recording “The Dark Horse” it sounded like my alto saxophone was ready to fall apart – so Moreland and I literally fixed it with a band-aid! Hell, we were nothing if not resourceful…
Suffice it to say, I’m sure I drove Sir Moreland crazy after basic tracks were finally cut. I am not Donald Fagan (Steely Dan), but the tendencies for creating musical perfection lie deep within me – and certain comparisons were made. At some point, I had to let go of the “perfection reins” and let the music breathe and simply “be.” Historically, this has never been easy for me. In jazz, I still need to learn that spontaneity and feel should trump perfection. So, things aren’t exactly “perfect,” and when they aren’t – it’s generally because I needed to simply let go and let jazz be the magical force that it is.
Special thanks to: Chris De Jesus (my awesome bass player, and formulator of the album title), the-ever-so-solid Jeff Winckler, Joshua Peeks, Makoto Miyashita, Joe Vazquez, Jim Moreland, Elizabeth Grace, my mother, and the inimitable Bob Luna. The first 4 songs were done (pretty much) live in the Trabuco Canyon recording studio; the last 4 songs were variants of me playing all instruments (except for “Now, Really” – bass, guitar and drums by Joe Vazquez). The final song, “Intergalactic Sanctuary” is new territory for me, and mostly first takes on FM synth and sax (“Trance Jazz” – is that a musical category??).
In an ideal world, the ballad “Alex” might be a smooth jazz hit – who knows what constitutes a “hit” nowadays? I’m not going to discuss individual songs here – that would take another few pages; just making an observation. What does ideal mean, exactly? What is a hit, exactly? Don’t ask me – I don’t know, will never know, and I obviously cannot be objective about this music anymore. I am too close to it. Despite (or maybe due to) the various tribulations that accompanied these past 5 months – I wanted to achieve a certain “timeless” quality to the music, and I think that goal was met and possibly surpassed. Thanks for listening.
Cheers – and Enjoy!
Long Beach, CA • December 9, 2011
- No Big Whoop – B. Grace (ASCAP) 4:57
- Hernia Blues – B. Grace (ASCAP) 3:09
- The Dark Horse – B. Grace (ASCAP) 4:04
- Alex – B. Grace (ASCAP) 4:27
- Now, Really – B. Grace/J. Vazquez (ASCAP) 3:04
- Major History – B. Grace (ASCAP) 4:12
- Word to your Mothership – B. Grace (ASCAP) 3:35
- Intergalactic Sanctuary – B. Grace (ASCAP) 7:48