John Basile: Amplitudes

John Basile: Amplitudes
Title: Amplitudes
Label: CD Baby

In a somewhat strange twist of fate, "Amplitudes" came about as a direct result of using an iPhone "app" simply as the sketchpad for the multiple guitar tracks recorded here that hopefully reflect a certain perspective of what "jazz guitar" is for me. Though initially intended as references for performances with perhaps another guitarist or instrumentalist, the process became so creatively challenging and intriguing, that I ultimately decided to seize this opportunity to overdub all the tracks in what made musical and conversational sense. Years ago, Bill Evan's "Conversations with Myself" was a great inspiration in this regard. With the iPhone revolutionizing our pop-culture, I thought why not use it and see where it takes me? Remarkably, it's extreme portability allows any artist, anytime, an immediate creative palette for ideas whenever the mood strikes; the ultimate in immediate musical gratification and the opportunity to never again lose a great idea because of time or circumstance. Plugging multiple guitars directly into this device, with full fidelity and 4 tracks of high definition digital sound, provides a perfect creative storm for creating music in as natural and honest a process as possible. For a real "jazz" palette to exist, it's important that no tool limit creative flow or true improvisational spirit, and that's where this current technology assimilated itself perfectly into my workflow. My overall thought process was to combine different guitar timbres in complimentary combinations and varied musical styles. All tracks were recorded in one or two takes, direct to ProTools with no amps and some digital plug in effects. On many of the accompaniment tracks, Ralph's Piano Waltz, Celeste, You're As Right As Rain, I chose a steel string, fingerstyle approach which lent itself perfectly to a rich but percussive sound on the non "straight ahead" selections. Steel string accompaniment is particularly effective, whether walking a punchy bass line with chordal accompaniment, as in Ralph's, or creating more of an acoustic pop groove as on Rain. I love playing straight, 4 to the bar rhythm on occasion because it just feels great. One of my favorite no nonsense straight rhythm guitarists is Jim Hall. As I'd always wanted to record It's Nice To Be With You, written by Jim's wife Jane, this proved a perfect vehicle to explore that straight ahead groove and tempo. Underneath, I varied both rhythm and walking bass line feels in what is also a great set of changes to play over. Thanks Jim/Jane. Another guitar great, John Abercrombie, suggested the approach and slightly distorted sound on My Funny Valentine after hearing my reharmonized changes to the melody. It's a modal concept and one of the few things that relied on some digital effects and panning to assist in creating space and a more open feel that seemed to work best in this context. Steel string and my Tom Doyle custom electric were on board for this one with Darwin Best engineering at his "mission control" Pro Tools rig. The other standards here, Moon River, Some Other Time, and Jobim's Fotographia, all represent great examples of the phenomenon and strong emotional attraction we all have to melody. Each of these songs can live distinctly on their melodies alone and almost defy accompaniment, making harmonic content seem secondary. My First Row is literally a 12 tone row in which 7 tracks of free improvisation were improvised, one track over another. By loading them into GarageBand (a simple Mac application), I created timelines of each take and edited them to create a form. Darwin engineered some appropriate finishing touches to this very "in the moment" improvised piece. Finally, the two ballads by Ralph Towner and bassist Sean Smith, Celeste and Homesick respectively, complete the set with a return to the electric nylon string. Both offer great melodic content with wonderful changes to interpret. In short, 3 guitars, 1 player, 1 engineer and just enough current recording techniques and technology to combine forces and represent jazz with a conversational relevance. As the jazz guitar idiom has such a vast history of astounding duo performances, please enjoy these, captured here as they humbly exist, performed as simple "Amplitudes" of space and time. John Basile - June 2011.

1.1 Ralph's Piano Waltz
1.2 You're As Right As Rain
1.3 I've Told Every Little Star
1.4 My Funny Valentine
1.5 Moon River
1.6 Stolen Moments
1.7 It's Nice to Be with You
1.8 Celeste
1.9 Fotographia
1.10 Homesick
1.11 First Row
1.12 Some Other Time

John Basile: Amplitudes

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