Blue Perspective – details

Blue Perspective
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Production Information “Blue Perspective”

Produced by Andy Suzuki & Nick Manson
Recorded Feb. 1 & 2, 2003 at East Manoa East Studios
Mixed & Mastered by Nick Manson
Graphic Design by Dan Gatto
Photos by Ken Ross

All compositions by Andy Suzuki (Onymous Music/ASCAP)

1. Blue Perspective (9:43)
2. Trisect (7:40)
3. Costa Rica (10:34)
4. A Good Day In A Bad Place (6:33)
5. Aegean Tears (5:22)
6. Mr. D. T. (7:54)
7. Immutable Muse (7:34)
8. Jury Duty (8:45)


Andy Suzuki – Tenor Sax
Steve Huffsteter – Trumpet
Nick Manson – Piano
Dean Taba – Bass
Kendall Kay – Drums


The Concept

The ‘Blues’, in its many forms, is ubiquitous in Jazz. Having composed many Blues-tunes in my life, I soon wanted to get away from the usual chord progressions and typical 12 & 16-bar forms. Although not all the tunes are a proper blues, I tried to give each composition a blues-y quality.
The other main aspect of this CD is the recording process. Though I’ve tried many different ways of recording, for my music I find the best results come from  recording the band ‘live’ (all at once). You can capture much more subtle interaction this way. Now, it’s not unusual to record Jazz live, but what we did differently was gather around a single killer stereo-microphone, playing with no headphones, and burning ‘takes’ directly to a datadisc. There was no other mixing on this record, other than subtle shifting of our positions around this mic. This was an homage to the great ‘Blue Note’-sound pioneered by Rudy Gelder.

Song Details

1. Blue Perspective: This was an attempt to combine two pieces of fairly standard blues-progressions together without disrupting the overall blues-y feel. I used the first 8-bars of a typical 12-bar blues and a whole 12-bar minor-blues-progression to form a 20-bar blues. The melody is based on a short little phrase stated in the first two measures and repeated in variation throughout. I guess with a 20-bar form, when it came time to trade with the drums, we could have alternated 10’s or 5’s, but the harmonic phrases seemed to dictate splitting it up into 8 and 12. To try and disguise the strangeness of the form, most all other aspects of this tune were very standard; traditional quintet instrumentation, arranged in the usual head-solos-trades-head-tag form, hey it’s even in the key of B-flat!

2. Trisect: Trisection means to divide something into three equal parts. Say we wanted to do that to a 12-note chromatic scale. We know we can divide the scale into equal parts since 3 goes into 12 exactly 4 times (For that matter, 12 can be divided into exactly by 2,3,4, or 6 yielding respectively; a tri-tone, augmented-triad, diminished-7th chord, a whole-tone scale). Trisecting the chromatic-scale gives you an augmented-chord. Sort of like Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’, I let the notes of this augmented chord represent the momentary tonal centers. But instead of doing (II-V-I’s), I only used (II-V’s). Add to this a note-y melody that arpeggiates thru the changes and you have the A-section. In contrast the B-section has long-tones in the melody and, this time, dividing the octave into 4 equal pieces gives you a dimished-7th shape. All three tonalities sound together on the last fermata.

3. Costa Rica: A beautiful country in Central America that I had the pleasure of visiting a few years back. I heard lots of Latin dance music but not much Jazz. To remedy this I felt like writing a tune that went back and forth from Latin (that jazzy quasi-latin) to straight-ahead swing. In-between solos we went to an interlude that restates the A (without melody) and drum solo over the B.

4. A Good Day In A Bad Place: A slow 6/8 gospel-feel with a mournful melody. I wanted this tune to sound fairly straightforward yet, at the end of the head, it distinctly modulates down a whole step. What sounds like an introduction to a new key actually brings us back to the original key! It is in the third measure of the tune that it modulates up a half-step. This created a weird effect every time the form came around, kind of like M.C. Escher’s drawing of the never-ending staircase.

5. Aegean Tears: My love for mathematics and ancient Greek culture inspired this tune. I tried to capture the intellectual spirit in the times of Pythagoras, Euclid, and Archimedes, plus the romance of the open seas that connected Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.

6. Mr. D.T.: This tune was a simple head chart fashioned after Coltrane’s ‘Mr. P.C.’ His was a dedication to his bassist Paul Chambers, mine is to Dean Taba. The original was a 12-bar minor blues, mine is a 16-bar minor-blues.

7. Immutable Muse: I wrote this one day while very frustrated that I couldn’t tap into my creative flow. A little angry that my ‘muse’ seemed to show up when it pleased, I pressed on and finished the tune. It’s a little spacey (the ECM feel) with a mixture of 4/4 time and some 2/4, 3/4, and 5/4. I think of it as mostly 4/4 with some stretching and shrinking phrases.

8. Jury Duty: The main melody is from a 12-tone-row (a sequence of 12 notes using each chromatic note once). As with many 12-tone-rows, the line is fairly angular and jagged with a tonal center that is harder to pinpoint. After the initial statement of this sequence the subsequent lines are formed by starting the line from different notes, in this case, every third note. This gives a total of four lines in the head. The solos are over chord changes with root-movements that come out of the melody line. The form alternates, head-solo-head-solo, etc. At the time I was writing this tune I was really into calculus (mathematics that describes change) so every time the head is revisited after someone’s solo we would speed up the tempo! So the tune starts pretty slow, but by the last head it’s a mad dash to the finish line. The title refers to the movie ’12 Angry Men”, so I guess each note represents a juror.
The number of ways to ‘order’ the 12-chromatic notes is staggering. Your starting note can be any one of the 12. The second-note is any one of the remaining 11. Third would be chosen from the remaining 10, and so forth, till your last (12th) note will be the single note that’s left over. That’s (12x11x10x9x8x7x6x5x4x3x2x1) which equals ‘479,001,600’. Almost half-a-billion choices!