What drew you to record this project?
This project, for me, was another chance to play
and record with my favorite musicians. As a project,
it seems to be a natural progression from our
previous trio CD "Styne & Mine".
"Contradictions" continues the musical
sensibilities and explorations established on
that previous CD and expands them even farther.
And then there's Michel's music....it’s
very inspirational. This CD was a great challenge,
and very rewarding experience...and I get to play
with Christian and Trey...did I mention that?
[Q2] Your last trio CD
was centered on the music of Jule Styne, and now
Petrucciani, don't you think that recording a
CD of music most people are unfamiliar with will
make it harder for you to connect with your audience?
Petrucciani's music is the perfect vehicle for
this trio. I think our audience appreciates the
level of communication and musicianship with which
we interact as a trio. Michel's compositions,
although very challenging, allow the trio to really
stretch musically, and that musical interplay
and desire to serve the essence of these songs
is what makes these beautiful compositions accessible
and fun for our audience. I think the audience
will hear how much fun the trio is having in the
studio, but they will also hear the reverence
that we share for this great music, even if the
songs are unfamiliar to them.
[Q3] I understand that
you guys had started working on Petrucciani's
music a few years ago and then put the project
on hold until now. Since you have been able to
'live with' Michel's tunes for a couple of years,
was this helpful to you when it came time to record
We did briefly explore some of Michel's compositions
a few years ago, but we put them away and really
never revisited them again until we started rehearsing
for this CD, so, needless to say, everything was
Christian had a basic idea of how he wanted to
approach most of these tunes, but everyone was
open to exploring different approaches, different
arrangements, different tempos.... I was not really
familiar with Michel's music, so I just dove in
with an open mind and a sincere desire to serve
the music and support the other two musicians
in the trio. Every song was a new experience for
[Q4] What do you find that's
different to your ears about Michel's tunes; what
makes them interesting to play on?
Michel's compositions are never predictable.
He has a way of writing that seems through-composed,
with unequal length phrases and deceptive harmonic
structure, and yet the songs seem effortless and
beautiful. They shine with intelligence, yet never
seem contrived. Sections of the tune are not clearly
delineated, and they seem to melt together seamlessly.
The compositions are, at times, deceptively simple,
yet incredibly difficult to perform, and always
effective and thought-provoking.
[Q5] Michel played the
tunes on this recording with a variety of rhythm
sections, but he never recorded all of them with
the same bassist and drummer. Do you think that
using the same rhythm section for all these compositions
creates a unifying presence in the way his music
Sure. By nature of the fact that we've been playing
together as a trio for well over a decade, I think
that the essence of our interplay, founded upon
our familiarity with each other as musicians,
exists as the unifying presence. We have our sound.
We share a musical sensibility, and that sensibility
is conveyed to the listener. I think our musical
sense unifies all the compositions on the CD.
[Q6] How did the arrangements
for each of the selected Michel tunes come about?
Were any changes made to the original song structures,
if so, why?
Christian, having been familiar with Michel's
music, had a sense of how we should approach most
of these tunes. The approach was not to copy Michel's
version, but to pay homage to Michel in our own
way, with our unique approach to his music. The
basic song structure was not usually altered,
but the arrangements went through many permutations.
Solo orders, solo forms, tempos, feel....everything
was open to experimentation.
[Q7] Jazz critic Stephen
Cook has noted that ". Michel Petrucciani
weaves myriad textures, rhythms and styles. Producing
work that sounds both complex and seamless."
Is this how Michel's music sounds to you?
Yes. It is segmented, yet seamless. Simple, but
complex. In its rhythm, harmony and melody, it
is truly world music. Michel's music sounds like
a French impressionist painting.
[Q8] Was there any track
in particular that you found the most challenging?
No. They were ALL challenging!
[Q9] Besides a greater
familiarity with Michel's music and the trio's
interpretation of it, what are you hoping your
listeners relate to after hearing this CD?
I hope we convey to the listener the beauty and
joy inherent within this music, and the absolute
joy, fear, pain, disgust, humor, angst, sorrow,
and elation we feel while recording these performances!
I hope the listener hears how much we love this
music and how much we love playing together.
[Q10] How do you get to
the almost mystical point of knowing when something
you've recorded is "a take?" Is it always
easy to identify one recorded track over another
as the 'best' or 'master' take?
It's not often easy to identify what makes a
particular take "magical", but it is
often fairly easy to identify when the magic is
present within a particular take. Sometimes you
know that a track is magical while the last note
is still ringing during the recording, and sometimes
a track's magic reveals itself to you days later
upon a subsequent listening. It is very mystical.
We often choose a track that may have some imperfections
in the performance, but the overall trio performance
is magical. Sometimes the imperfections create
magic. I regret that the CD listener can't hear
every take we have for a particular song, each
one unique and special. And some of them just
plain don't work! I hope we've made the best choices
for the tracks on this CD!