30 hour day

30hourday-guest-125px On December 19th, Clay and I will be volunteering on 30 Hour Day, a 30-hour telethon benefiting charities in Oregon, including the Oregon Food Bank, Toys for Tots, and Free Geek.

We haven’t set a specific time that we’ll be appearing yet, but keep an eye on the blog here at duochronicles.com – we’ll post more information as we get it.

Week 11 – Postmodern?

Postmodern? is a tune written in the 32 bar AABA song form. The chord changes are loosely based on Charlie Parker’s, “Little Suede Shoes” (A section) and “Confirmation” (B section). A common approach in the bebop era was to write new melodies on existing chord changes of popular songs of the day. These new tunes were referred to as a contra-fact. One example of this is Parker’s “Donna Lee”, which uses the chord changes to “Back Home in Indiana”. To me, Parker and bebop are as important to jazz vernacular as JS Bach is to Western classical music. My students probably get tired of me talking about the Omnibook (transcriptions of Charlie Parker) and Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier or Inventions. Both innovators, their music remains fresh to this day and beyond.  I tried  to employ a more angular sound in the melody (use of 4ths for example) and harmony (melodic minor modes) over this tried-and-true song form.

Week 10 – Horizons

“Horizons” was written after a lot of listening to Keith Jarrett’s Country from the record My Song featuring Jan GarbarekWe’ve mentioned before that our music is heavily influenced by the European Quartet, both from a compositional standpoint and a sonic perspective.

The song is relatively simple – it takes a motif and moves it through a few keys, using simple harmonic motion with the exception of the last chord.

All of jazz isn’t fast, high, loud, and filled with ii-Vs…

(Remember: you can now subscribe to the Duo Chronicles videos on iTunes)

Duo Chronicles videos available as podcasts in iTunes

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We have an exciting technological development to announce today: Duo Chronicles videos will be available in iTunes in the podcast directory.  That means you can subscribe in iTunes and have the newest videos downloaded for you automatically.  We’re providing two different versions of the videos – one that is full HD and the other a 640×480 DVD quality version that is not only smaller to download, but also playable on portable devices like your iPod or iPhone.

For bandwidth reasons, only the last two or three videos will be available to download.

Here are the links to the iTunes store:

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Week 9 – Traveler

I wrote Traveler back when I was in New York going to the Manhattan School of Music.  When played with a full rhythm section, I usually try to go for a Kenny Garrett type of vibe with the piece; the last section of the form lends itself particularly well to that style.

When Clay and I play it as a duo, we take a little more of a subdued approach until the end when we start taking it out a bit more.

A side note: Clay’s piano was tuned just before this session and sounds amazing.

Week 8 – Leaving AC

No, the title of this weeks song is not a reference to air conditioning. I suppose it is more of a reference to change, which in itself  can be a constant paradoxically. In this case, change of location and period of time. Fall is also a season of change, some things gained, some things lost. I think of this song as more or less a template. That is the harmonic rhythm changes pretty consistently, which allows for the improviser to create and experiment with different textures throughout the solo form. In fact in practicing, sometimes I have just played over the chord changes, for me that has just as much weight as the melody. So it seemed natural to start the recording by just improvising on the chords. When John comes in, then we hear the melody.

Normally I would play this on acoustic piano, but my piano was really out of tune, so I turned my keyboards and layered a pad sound behind the Rhodes sound to give it overall more texture and depth. John plays tenor which matches well with the vibe of the tune. He plays a solo in a different key before we modulate back to the original key for the last melody section. Somehow I always seem to get myself into a corner in composing, so instead of transitioning from the end of a song back to the top, just modulate to a new key. That’s change, right?

Week 6 – Little Dragon

When Clay was mixing the audio from this recording session, he mentioned that he “thought it had a bit of Ralph Towner, Oregon-ish vibe to it.”  I’m sure this is true, as Ralph Towner is my biggest influence on my compositions, although the chord changes to this piece are actually based on a Charlie Mariano song (as usual, the sheet music is available).  It’s definitely not a strictly “jazz” song.  For those of you looking for that, though, don’t worry – we have some more bebop coming soon.

Regular listeners/watchers will notice a couple off differences in our setup this week.  The first is simple: we’re using an electronic keyboard for the piece instead of the acoustic piano.  It seemed to fit the vibe of the song.

The second is more significant: we are recording using microphones and ProTools rather than the built-in mics on the cameras.  Although we won’t be able to do this for all of our videos, we should be able to for most, meaning the sound quality will be much better than it was before.  Let us know what you think.

New recording setup


Experimenting with a new recording setup.  In this picture, we’re doing the first tune that uses keyboard instead of piano.  We also have a microphone setup for the piano and saxophone instead of using the built-in mics on the cameras.  Moving up in the world…