Over a week ago the world lost one of its most innovative and extraordinary musicians in Prince. What a brutal shock this loss was for us. Prince was the person who was going to continue to create and perform into his 90’s and then some. His unrelenting creativity gave us the impression he was invincible and eternal. Prince was the energizer musician who just keeps on playing. Sadly for us he wasn’t. He was a human filled with human struggles and contradictions. His passing is fresh over a week later… maybe more painful. I listen to his songs like millions and tears well up. Why? Because for one, he often transcended himself, his instrument and actually became one with music. There was no filter, nothing in his way, he got right to it and lived inside whatever song he was playing. Prince really, really loved music and musicians of all shapes and sizes. If you ever saw Prince perform, you certainly would never forget it. At a Prince concert you danced, your jaw dropped in awe, you sang along, you laughed and every one was right there with you. And maybe.... he might drive a vintage car on stage and start shooting hoop as he did when I saw him on the Love Sexy tour. Prince wasn’t afraid to be completely who he was at all times and it wasn’t always pretty. I remember how irritated I got when he smashed the guitar of the guitarist from the Jimmy Fallon show.
In addition, I remember getting so irritated with certain recordings that appeared like rehashes and not what I thought he could or should be doing. Imagine that!!! Who the hell cares what I think Prince should be writing, least of all Prince?! But still I did. How do I feel about judging Prince that way? I’ve now been listening to the various albums I questioned, and they sound great.
Prince was family. My children grew up listening to tons of his songs from Purple Rain, Cream, Raspberry Beret, Sign O' the Times to tunes from The Vault like Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow. There are so many deeply musical Prince tunes of varying styles and emotions, it’s dizzying, including many stirring instrumentals.
Prince could just plain be funny. Even when he didn’t mean to be, he was. It was part of his charm. One of the greatest comedians of any era is Dave Chappelle and if Dave thinks you’re funny, you are. Watch his skit about Prince playing ball. BTW, check out Prince's clothes and style through the years. Wonderful!
I’m writing now because just this morning another one of my friends, knowing how much I loved Prince, wrote me to ask how I took it. It’s been very touching to me how many have written and called as if Prince was blood.
So, I thought I would write something directly from the heart, no filter, like brother Prince.
I was more than gratified to know that apparently back in the day when I released my four arrangements, (Kiss, Purple Rain, Lets Go Crazy, 4 the Tears in Your Eyes) Prince was aware of them and was pleased. He apparently mentioned it on his website at the time. Visit my FaceBook page for my 15 sec. instagram video that I did the day he passed. Below are links to each of the arrangements. They appeared on my 2000 CD Soepa. As some of you know, I have been playing Kiss in concert for the past few years. Music joins us all. Thanks Prince for bringing us together, now and 4ever. We love you!
We all know that American music programs in almost all schools are under funded. I am offering this Bach recording as a free down load but I wanted to give you the opportunity to contribute any amount of money to the D'Addario Foundation which is committed to making music education accessible to all.
You know how wonderful it is to have an instrument in your hands and to make music with it. Now in some school there is a young Jimi Hendrix or a Joni Mitchell bursting with creativity but not able to express it because he or she can't afford a guitar. Below is the link and whatever amount you donate will go towards guitar programs in under funded schools.
I recently “rediscovered” my CD Bach Two Generations. It was my second full length recording. The repertoire I had intended for my first Bach recording was to be Bach’s Cello Suite #6 (BWV #1012) and the A Major C.P.E. Bach Concerto.
I can still remember Anthony Newman sitting at my kitchen table in 1978 suggesting that I should learn and record the 6th Cello Suite. At the time, my colleagues were recording the Lute music of Bach. The most commonly recorded cello suites at the time were suites 1 and 3. No one to my knowledge had recorded the 6th. I developed a profound love of the piece from the opening statement of the Prelude right to the last note of the Gigue.
It was my dear friend flutist extraordinaire Keith Underwood that suggested the A major C.P.E. concerto. It was such a natural choice as the composer made three versions of the piece. It exists for flute, cello and harpsichord so… why not guitar? I worked from each version to create my arrangement. It was an exhilarating experience. Anthony Newman along with the Laurentian String Quartet and bassist Dennis Massuzo agreed to record it with me. There were two rehearsals prior to the recording.
The company Sine-Qua Non was very interested in releasing a Bach cassette of mine but did not want the combination of a solo/ concerto recording. The idea of combining a solo work and a concerto was inspired by a Segovia LP.
I then learned and recorded J.S. Bach’s second Violin Sonata (BWV #1003). It seemed a natural choice because it was a master piece, it had not been recorded on the guitar and it paired well with the 6th Cello Suite. In addition, like the Cello Suite to my knowledge it had not been recorded. Keep in mind this was long before You Tube! Many of you reading this might not know what a cassette is! Subsequently the cassette entitled Bach Transcriptions was released.
I was then left with a recording of the C.P.E. Bach concerto that had no home. I approached the owner of Musical Heritage Society Jeffrey Nissim who offered to release the recording if I could couple it with another concerto.
Again Anthony Newman suggested I arrange the Bach violin arrangement of the D minor Harpsichord Concerto, which is considered by many to be one of Bach’s greatest masterpieces. I hurried down to Patelson’s music and bought the score and began learning it that night.
As I recall we had one rehearsal and the next thing I knew we were in the church recording. I remember there being two microphones only. Both the Bach Transcriptions recording and this recording were what we would refer today as “old school” recordings. They were recorded analog and edited by one of the best engineers working at the time, David Hancock. He was a joy to work with and was a splicing wizard! I’m not so sure they are not my finest sounding recordings. I learned a lot from working with such a masterful engineer so early in my career.
I recorded the C.P.E. on a Thomas Humphrey guitar and the J.S. Bach on a John Gilbert guitar.
I am forever indebted to my mentor and dearest friend Anthony Newman who was so generous with his time and artistry given his insanely busy schedule at the time. Both he and his wife Mary Jane were a tremendous musical influence in the years of this recording and my solo Bach recording.
I must also thank the Laurentian String Quartet and bassist Dennis Masuzzo. In addition, I owe an enormous thanks to my wife Rie Schmidt who helped tremendously with the final editing.
Finally I must thank my dear friend Jim D’Addario with out whom these recordings might not have been made.
It is a great pleasure to offer this recording to those who want to hear it.
As always, peace love, guitars and concerti!
What a joy and a journey it has been to write music for the upcoming documentary The Goyesque. I will not say too much about the documentary but simply guide you to the site. Some of you have already seen the site and can trace the film's evolution from its beginnings.
About 4 years ago my dear friend, Christopher Burke, world renowned art photographer, asked me if I would write music for a documentary film he was directing about - among other things - the prominence of the bull in the history of art. After seeing masses of compelling footage I simply had to say yes.
This video was shot in the Roman Arena in Arles, France. Chris, his director of photography, Martial Barrault, and editor, Eben Bull, decided to film me playing in a couple of different locations in the famous arena. At the same time they were also filming at a variety of other sites. Some of the footage of the bulls was taken during bullfights, which they had filmed in the arena a few years earlier. In other footage of bulls, they are roaming fields in the province known as La Camarque.
The music I am playing is not an actual improvisation as the title implies. What I did was to play the various sections from the second movement of my piece, Now and Ever. I played them in a free and improvised manner. I weaved in and out of sections, not in the sequence that appears in the original work. I wish I could say it was all improvised a la Keith Jarrett. I chose this piece early in the project because it fit perfectly with so many of the images. The music in this video will be in the finished film. It will likely be altered and scored for different instrumentations.
Since the beginning of the project I wanted the music to come from the perspective of the Bull. To the extent that is possible, that served as an emotional starting point.
As we progress I will be writing additional music which may or may not end up in the film but will be part of a CD release. Among the guests that will appear on the CD are the legendary guitarists Andy Summers and Paco Pena.
I hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it. I want to extend huge thanks to Eben Bull who made 98% of the artistic decisions, and did all the editing of both the music and the film. In addition, tremendous thanks go to Christopher Burke and to Martial Barrault and his fabulous film crew. It has been an honor and a joy to be part of this project.
Until the next time, Peace, Love, Guitars and Bulls!
I thought I'd share something from the archives - a remembrance of Hermann Prey and my experience performing with this legendary bass-baritone artist. "Accompanying Hermann Prey" from The Depot Beat - Autumn 1998, vol. VRead More