LOVE & FRIENDSHIP - Details
LOVE & FRIENDSHIP album. It wasn’t until over half of the songs were written that the title emerged as an overall theme; i.e., “Love and Friendship.” This album introduces Alice Weiler doing most of the lead vocals with her beautiful, melodic voice and also contributing lyrical ideas. Also, new to my work, is contemporary classical composer Bruce Klepper, who writes several of the string arrangements, as noted below. I find his creative work contributes a fuller and more interesting sound to my compositions. My style remains eclectic, although jazz permeates everything I compose and play. Dudly Ulysse continues to be a creative influence with his contemporary beats, rap and mixing style. Saxophonist Len Cagle collaborates on my musical ideas and improvises beautifully when needed. Margaret Abbott contributes her sweet violin playing to a special song using words from a poem written by my late mother-in-law, Katherine I. Benion. Her daughter and my wife, Janet Heffner, singing lead and backup, has been the muse for my lyrical and musical ideas, and also plays acoustic guitar when needed. I hope you enjoy this album, which is more reflective and incorporates more lyrics. I have written, performed, engineered, and produced all of the songs, except where noted. Jacket and disc photos courtesy of Janet Heffner. CD graphic assistance by Cassie Blair.-
WINDOW’S OPEN (Alice Weiler - lyrics, vocals, Len Cagle - tenor saxophone, Dave Heffner - lyrics, synthesizers) Style: jazz ballad
What could be more musically inspiring than a beautiful fall day with a warm breeze blowing in through an open window? Of course, the song should be composed at a relaxed tempo. Japanese instruments, a pan pipe, and bongo drums are added to create the right atmosphere. This song is the debut, for experienced singer and songwriter Alice Weiler, for vocals on my compositions. Throughout this song, Alice sings harmony and multiple layers with her main vocal track. Len Cagle returns to the studio with his tenor saxophone, performing an improvisation at the bridge and playing “over” the vocal track in the second verse. This is the first time that I used an iPad for the initial creative phase of a composition. It was refreshing to have the freedom to compose away from the studio.
CHILLIN’ WITH A FRIEND (Alice Weiler - lyrics, vocals; Dudly Ulysse - drums, rap; Bruce Klepper - string orchestration; Janet Heffner - backup vocals; Dave Heffner - lyrics, synthesizers) Style: hip hop
Having the opportunity to work with Lycoming College student Dudly Ulysse, allowed me to appreciate the Hip Hop style and how closely it related to my interests in jazz and electronic music. This song had its beginnings on an iPad, with Dudly entering a drum beat. Afterwards, I created several accompanying music tracks on the iPad, later transferring the song to my Pro Tools music workstation. Once on the main system and with more sophisticated sounds programmed, Alice collaborated with me on the lyrics. Alice then recorded multiple vocal tracks, with Janet doing backup vocals, followed by Dudly doing the “rap” verses. Bruce Klepper, from Colorado, offered to do orchestrations for my songs, so we worked out a system to do it over the Internet. I believe you will find the results to be jazzy, with the expected use of electronics, all with a cool beat and supported by beautiful strings.
BIG STRUT (Len Cagle - alto saxophone, Dave - piano, synthesizers) Style: electro jazz.
Inspired by my grandson’s learning to walk and dance, this fast instrumental piece combines elements of jazz interwoven with electronics. This is the first time Len has recorded with his alto saxophone and the “edgy” timbre fits the song. The rhythm is tricky, but hopefully you can get into the swing. The flute sound is being played on a synthesizer.
TOMORROW WE’LL SEE (Alice Weiler - vocals, Bruce Klepper - string arrangement, Dave Heffner - lyrics, synthesizers) Style: electro jazz.
Classical composer Bruce Klepper has been creating orchestral string arrangements on several of my new songs, including this one, which adds a wonderful richness to the electronic composition. We are both learning how to work together over the Internet from my northeastern location to his western residence. Alice’s voice fits this song well and is enhanced by her multiple vocal layers at several points in the song. The lyrics help remind us not to worry about the things that we cannot control.
SLOW MOTION (Alice Weiler - vocals, Len Cagle - tenor saxophone, Bruce Klepper - string arrangement, Dudly Ulysse - drums, Dave Heffner - lyrics, piano) Style: jazz blues.
The title is a message to slow up in what seems to be an increasingly hectic world. This song started with a slow hip hop beat created by Dudly. Since hip hop is a derivative of jazz, the beat inspired and supported this jazz blues song. Although it is a rarity for me, I “heard” the introductory lyrics and melody line almost immediately, which worked well with Alice’s soprano vocal style.. Len’s saxophone part is predominantly improvised on top of my piano track, in the true jazz spirit. Bruce’s lush string arrangement adds to the message of this song and helps connect the transitions.
HOLD ON (Dudly Ulysse - rap, Alice Weiler vocals, Dave Heffner - lyrics, backup vocals) Style: hip hop
Anyone in a long term relationship endures some challenging times. This song is meant to reflect on those times, call for patience, and to “hold on.” This is the second hip hop song on the album, with the rap being done by Dudly, followed by Alice’s melodic chorus vocals. The laid back drum beat is called East Coast style, with a signature heavy kick drum and a rhythmic rimshot that almost sounds like a woodblock. The sitar track stands out from the supporting arrangement of ten synthesizers. Analog bass is popular at this time and comes in strongly at the beginning of each verse. Simple guitar chording is used to support the chorus.
WINTER BIRDS (Alice Weiler - vocals, Janet Heffner - vocal harmony, Margaret Abbott - violin, Katherine I. Benion - lyrics, Dave Heffner - piano). Style: folk.
My late mother-in-law Katherine I. Benion was an accomplished writer of both prose and poetry. Lyrics for this song were taken from a book of her poetry. I like the cadence of the rhyme and the topic of winter birds, who like good friends, stay around when the weather gets challenging. Margaret’s violin invokes the simple sounds of birds around a feeder. Piano runs and chords are used to support the lovely melody, sung by Alice on the verses and Janet coming in with vocal harmony on the choruses.
BLUES ETUDE NO. 5 (SAX DUET) (Len Cagle - alto and tenor saxophones) Style: electro jazz.
Len and I thought it would be fun to have him play a duet with himself, using his higher pitched alto saxophone combined with his more mellow tenor saxophone. Even though the drum and bass follow a hip hop style, the song is primarily written as a big band composition with a brass section. Harmonic and rhythmic support is given by the organ and piano with some marimba to spice things up.
WHAT IS LOVE (Janet Heffner - vocals, Alice Weiler - backup vocals, Bruce Klepper - string arrangement) Style: electro ballad.
The song opens with lead vocalist Janet, asking the question, “What is love?” This lyric is supported by a traditional pipe organ and followed by Alice singing the voices of the “love” choir. The answer to the question is given by words from the Bible 1 Corinthians 13:4 - 7, often used during wedding ceremonies. The second half of the song is given rhythmic support with a kalimba and a variety of eastern instruments. Bruce’s string arrangement provides both melodic and harmonic support throughout the song.
ACROSS THE LAKE (Alice Weiler - vocals, Dave and Janet Heffner, Len Cagle - backup vocals) Style: ballad.
Admittedly, this song follows no regular style and I view it as an “art” song. Done in an unusual 5/4 tempo, it was drafted on an iPad during a quiet weekend at a cabin with friends along Canandaigua Lake, New York. The lyrics are somewhat philosophical, which is inevitable when gazing out on the ripples of a beautiful lake for a few days. Recording the vocals was tricky with the different tempo, but I believe the water movement and reflective mood was captured in the music.
LET'S DANCE (Dave Heffner - synthesizers) Style: electronic dance.
This song was just for fun! Programming over twenty synthesizers with a catchy drum beat is my way of having a good time. Enjoy!
ETERNITY (Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone, Dave Heffner - synthesizers) Style: ambient
This ambient song, formerly called “new age” style, is meant to be meditative and take the listener on a musical journey. Len and I take the lead together with Len on the saxophone and me using the sound of a Japanese woodwind instrument called the Shakuhachi. The listener will experience a large number of interesting sounds throughout this musical journey, one of my favorite being the sitar. This song is the longest I have written to date, but I believe the length plays an important role developing the mood.