All This Time Retrospective — Almost

I have been working for some time as a live percussionist backing up my friend and brother-in-Christ Jacob Minter, a truly excellent jazz guitarist, singer & performer. What began as banging out covers in bars has blossomed into a meaningful partnership for both of us as we have begun to co-author new songs — allowing me to resurrect old lyrics to half-finished pieces that never fully materialized.

Upcoming opportunities to play longer live shows which focus on originals had us scrambling and so I had to crack open the vault and dust off some of the old Scissorkiss, (lisp) & Trespassers William material.

Eight songs will now see the light of day in new form; nearly half the list I had intended to do a fully modern retrospective with.

  • Stop the Flow
  • Dorothy
  • Sense
  • Elanor’s Fate
  • Looking Glass
  • For the Purpose of Being (just “Purpose” on the (lisp) albums)
  • Alone
  • Home

These represented the most low-hanging fruit. The other twelve may come, in time.

For now, they aren’t getting fully new arrangements, but in time, Jake & I will solidify on a sound which I expect to fuse his jazz capacity to my hard leanings into new wave & reggae dub (not dubstep, kids, no) which will begin the process of ultimately achieving the goal of a full retrospective of twenty songs over twenty years.

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Where’s Jim Been?

It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to…

In the wake of the last Cenobimono show Nick & I have been meeting often and discussing, amongst many other things, the future of the group and how to grow it in a way which preserves our original intent. A solution to that question has not yet completely materialized. Meanwhile, we discuss art, faith, life and relationships.

But that doesn’t mean no music is happening.

My fellow Saint George parishioner Jacob Minter is a well established singer/songer writer here in Houston who has recruited me as percussionist (ultimately settling on the cajon as percussion of choice) for his live shows that don’t involve a full band. As he’s begun to work on new material, we have developed a more directly collaborative relationship which has seen a set of lyrics I wrote twenty years ago finding their way onto one of his songs. We’ve begun working in my home studio on some pre-production tracks of a fully sequenced version in conjunction with the stripped down guitar and thump box version we’ll do live. It is distinctly possible that some of my other more fully realized songs from years past may find their way into his hands at which point the “All This Time” project may finally get some real wheels, not as I originally envisioned it as me taking my work entirely unto myself (which I’ve sort of realized once and for all that working 100% alone just doesn’t get me anywhere) but rather in taking my past work and allowing it to continue to be alive and find new expressions into reality.

Because the work with Jake is not my own, I don’t feel comfortable sharing it on Soundcloud or Bandcamp until he’s comfortable with having something of a releasable quality, hence the radio silence on those fronts.

Bonsai projects are all pretty much abandoned. I have good citrus seedlings and good olive seedlings, but pot grown stock is just never going to have thick enough trunk to do proper miniaturizing and so I’m now simply happy to have shaped trees I love until such time as I have a yard again and can work on naturally grown stock (or a contractor tells me to come rescue a half dozen yew shrubs that are 20 years old and about to be bulldozed).

I’m in the process of selling my house. I expect to stay in Houston until such time as it becomes clear I should leave.

I Heard the Bells ~ A Christmas Offering

[Note: This link no longer works]

Every few years I make a recording for my mother of my interpretation of some Christmas carol. This year I did I Heard the Bells (the Johnny Marks arrangement, not the hymn).

There’s a teensy bit of algorithm work going on here, but on the whole is it the most “straight up” arrangement of a song I’ve done since I did “O Holy Night” for her about seven years ago.

Not What I Expected — A Commission Piece

A friend is writing a book. Her first. She had the novel (ha ha ha) idea of creating a soundtrack for the book much the way films do. Each chapter has a playlist that she’s listening to as she writes, and which I believe she intends to include with the published work as suggested listening.

She asked me to compose a specific piece to accompany a specific chapter. It has been an interesting challenge to work on something driven by emotions and motivations which are not drawn directly from my own experiences.

Silent Film Scoring Project Submission Ready

You can check out my 30 second submission for the HPM composer contest here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gbu3lutd1cfip7e/the%20boat%20clip%20one%20jjm.mp4

The intent is for each “character” to have a musical voice and theme which begins every time that character appears on screen.

  • The Boat – piano
  • The House – bass guitar
  • The Car – percussion
  • Buster – guitar
  • Wife – banjo
  • Children – same guitar and banjo, pitched up two octaves and four times as fast

There would eventually be representations of the water, the bridge &c. in the full length project.

Because each theme begins as the character appears, the music will mix and mingle in new and interesting ways as the film progresses despite utilizing the same themes throughout. This is evidenced in the 30 second clip because Buster stays on the screen through two or three cuts while other things come and go. His theme carries on, and others fall in and out of sync with him.

Do please let me know what you think. The submission deadline is the end of the month.

Silent Film Scoring Project

Houton Public Media is hosting a composing competition for two silent films which will be aired this November at Discovery Green.

One of the two is the Buster Keaton classic “The Boat”.

My plan is to give each “character” a voice. And by character I mean not only the human actors, but also the house, the boat, the water, the bridge, that kind of thing.

By the end of July I have to have a (pre-determined by HPM) 30 second clip of the film synced to appropriate audio and submitted.

I began today with the guitar part for Buster’s character. I’m using my Danelectro DC-3 running through (what is now probably considered vintage) Line6 Pod 2.0 into a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface which then feeds into Ableton Live 9.

(Many thanks to a good friend for letting me set up my studio work space in a spare room of her house as my own life and home are going through some slow motion transitions that don’t really allow for setting up quite this much gear.)

Home Studio

Home Studio

The whole situation gets listened to coming out of KRK Rokit6 monitors.

I’m going to be harvesting the piano sounds, and possibly some of the themes (sped up) from the old G# = H piece which I was working on between Drogo’s View and The Evening Song.