When I look inwards, this picture of me is who I see. If I had to guess, I would say most of us still see the younger self, in ourselves. The same is true of who I am as a musician. I have gained decades of experience in the field of music. I have also had the good fortune of having shared the stage, and learned, from many musical legends. However, to this day, I am still that kid. It’s like that song (which according to my mom, was playing in the room as I was being born) “Those Were The Days”. A line from the lyrics encapsulates the feeling – “oh my friend we’re older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same”.
My grandfather played records all day. Through the eyes of a boy, his library was like what I imagined the Library of Alexandria must have been like. Books everywhere, but also lots of records, all accompanied by the smell of booze, olives, leather and moisture. His tastes in music spanned the globe. By the time I was five, I had heard the world. One sunny day (when is it not sunny in Puerto Rico) when I was four, he put on a record that changed my life – West meets East by Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar. When I heard what was coming out of the record player (well…more like a piece of furniture with huge speakers at either side), I said – “I have to play THAT”. From that moment, I knew I was a musician and nothing else would do. Truth be told, I meant I wanted to play the sitar, however, I’m not sure if there was even one single sitar in Puerto Rico at the time – so a violin had to do.
This album is going back to that library for me. I am fully trained as a classical musician, and that has been my life – however, it’s time to get back to those sounds. From Blues to Ragas and everything in between. There were times when we even spent entire afternoons listening to records of Churchill speaking – nothing was off the table. There were at least three or four different languages heard every day coming from the record player in that room. Obviously, my training and life experience influences what my younger version might have written, but all my training and experience have not changed how I feel.
In composing these pieces, I had a few rules. One - they had to be short. More or less between two and four minutes (yes, I know there is a track that is over six minutes – but you try and reduce the journey of a twenty minute raga!!) Two - they had to be immediately understood by the listener. Three - they had to be somewhat pop song formulaic. Four - they had to be written down on staff paper for all to play – no improvisation (although I do take some small liberties from time to time). Five - they had to make you want to play them.
There are many people in my life, who can in good authority, say they raised me. However, it was the one person that would have never said that, that made one of the biggest, unknown impacts in my life. He taught me very little from the perspective of school type learning. What he did do, was to allow me access into his life, without altering who he was, just because I was watching. Here’s to osmosis. Enjoy!!
PS – I find it amusing, that this picture of me, was taken in the same room that was the library. Eventually the library became my bedroom – but that is a completely different, and bourbon recommended, conversation.