NOW IS THE TIME album - There is never a better time than now, to do the many things, large and small, about which we dream and hope to someday accomplish. We have many excuses to not start or finish our goals, but we owe it to each other to do it. This album project was an intense experience and a personal leap ahead in technical complexity and musical creativity. I am still amazed by the creative process and awed at the outcome. Musical genres on this album are very broad, ranging from the contemplative ambient to the hard drive of progressive rock, all with a strong electronica influence. I have been fortunate to have a group of wonderful musicians contribute to the various songs, as noted below. In addition, many musicians from around the world gave valuable feedback during the production process through Soundcloud. I have written and produced all of the songs on this album and play all of the instrumental parts, unless otherwise noted below. Lyrics can be found on my web or YouTube sites listed above. Assistance with CD album graphics is by Cassie Blair.
NOW IS THE TIME (Anna Rader - Vocals, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone, Jan Heffner - Vocals) Style: Pop Rock.
The lyrics of this song comment on the fact that there is rarely a perfect time to do whatever must be done. It is written in a Pop style with a hint of jazz from Len’s fine tenor saxophone interpretation and crystal clear vocals from Anna.
LOVE IS MAGIC (Margaret Abbott - Violin, Tim Breon - Classical Guitar) Style: Electronic Dance.
A unique blend of classical instruments with modern dance music producing an exotic blend of sounds. It was a creative challenge to get the acoustic instruments to blend with the 14 synthesizer tracks. Techniques, such as not using violin vibrato and using heavy high and low pass filters to control the audio range of the instruments, were used. I appreciated Margaret’s willingness to experiment and both her and Tim’s interpretations of this composition.
LIVING (Jan Heffner - Vocals, Anna Rader - Whistling) Style: Electronic Pop.
Lyrics inspired by the quote from William Browne (c.1591 - c.1695): “There is no season such delight can bring. As summer, autumn, winter, and the spring.” Backing up Janet’s fine vocal performance is the best whistler I know, Anna Rader. See the YouTube musical slide show of birds of the central Pennsylvania region, courtesy of David Brown
BLUES ETUDE No. 2 (Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone, Dave Heffner - Trombone, Piano) Style: Smooth Jazz
After many years of not playing, I was inspired to play the trombone for this piece. Adding to this traditional jazz style, is Len’s very smooth and improvised sax performance. A follow up to “Blues Etude” on “The Corner” album.
WHAT DID I SAY (Anna Rader - Vocals, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone) Style: Electronic Dance.
Strong vocal performance by Anna with over twenty synthesizer tracks playing in classic Euro dance style accented by heavy kick beats, risers, drops, builds, sweeps, hits, etc. Accompaniment by Len on saxophone with a cool jazz flavor including an improvised solo with a Dubstep beat.
DAYDREAM (Anna Rader - Vocals, Tim Breon - Electric Guitar, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone) Style: Ambient.
This song got very strong positive response on Soundcloud. The introduction and ending feature the piano with layers of Anna’s vocals adding an ethereal sound. The body of the piece is composed of three sections featuring Tim on guitar, Len on saxophone and a synthesized recorder. South American drums and middle eastern strings provide rhythmic background. The fun was playing with the echo of the high reverb and delay effects. Check out the respective YouTube that highlights the music with photos of a day hike our family made in the Swiss Alps.
BIG TALKER (Dave Heffner - Vocals, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone, Backup Vocals, Tim Breon - Electric Guitar) Style: Pop Rock.
Wanting to do something in an 80’s rock and roll style, what evolved was a tribute to those who make empty promises. Classic background chorus, percussive piano, organ runs, a great sax and guitar solo make for a fun composition. Oh yeah!
ELECTRO OVERTURE - Style: Electronic orchestral.
This instrumental is comprised of three themes, all brought together in a dramatic ending. The large sound relies on the heavy use of orchestrated strings combined with raw electronics. Added cowbell from fun memories of the famous Saturday Night Live sketch, add dimension to a wah-wah guitar solo.
ECCENTRICITIES (Anna Rader - Vocals, Tim Breon - Electric Guitar, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone, Dave Heffner - Trombone, Anna Rader and Dave Heffner - Lyrics) Style: Pop Funk.
As a friend stated, “Quirky!”, which fully describes this song. Celebrating the eccentricities we all have, it is musically done in a funk style with horn stabs and some melodic smoothness from a solo piano. A big chorus highlights Anna’s great vocal performance.
A STORY (Tim Breon - Electric Guitar) Style: Progressive Rock.
The overall theme of this piece was to marry heavy guitar and synthesizer into a cohesive duet, adding improvised guitar solos to highlight Tim’s creativity. I believe the drum programming to be one of the best I have done. Certainly, the most complicated. Liberal use of synthesizer sequences drives the fast pace and keeps the song very busy, as intended.
TAKE ME SOMEWHERE (Anna Rader - Vocals, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone) Style: Pop Rock.
Not driven by any particular personal reason, I wanted to write a sad song with the longing that a phrase that was stuck in my mind conveyed: “take me somewhere please, where the flowers and the trees…” Despite a very electronic beginning and foundation, the song relies on a clear melody. What better instrument to accompany a sad song than the saxophone? I struggled to come up with a chorus to match the verses, but it finally revealed itself, after much experimenting, surprising me with the use of traditional sax, piano and B3 organ.
CHROMATIC FUSION IN Eb (Tim Breon - Electric Guitar, Len Cagle - Tenor Saxophone) Style: Jazz Fusion.
This song is probably the most complex and intellectually challenging. It took me the longest time to get it the way I wanted, involving very specific notation and exacting drum, but relying on some extreme improvisation at various places. Tight formal song construction, yet seemingly musical abandon characterize this piece. The work was inspired by Len’s suggestion of doing something chromatic for a change. What resulted was a song we all enjoyed doing and that inspired a lot of comments on Soundcloud, such as “What was that?” In addition to the guitar and saxophone solos, I do a Marimba solo by striking my index fingers on the keyboard, which is is somewhat unconventional but very effective.
NEW BALLET (Arianna Rader and Dave Heffner - Vocals) Style: Children’s Electronic Dance.
For some time now, 5 year old granddaughter Arianna has sung and danced along to many of my songs. What could be better than to create a dance song for her to perform? Following all of the construction of an electronic dance, lyrics were added to keep people moving.
HULA HOOP (Jan and Dave Heffner - Vocals) Style: Electronic.
The brief lyrics,”Hula hoop, round and round, keep it going, don’t touch the ground” represent the daily grind in which we often find ourselves caught. The musical theme supports this circular motion. I was trying to simulate a funky 80’s, “Miami” style with an orchestrated string build up to the chorus. I like the use of brass “stabs” and a drum/woodblock rhythm that focuses on the off-beat.
LATE AT NIGHT (Anna Rader and Dave Heffner - Vocals) Style: Pop Funk.
One’s “tempo” is slow late at night, yet this is when I seem to be the most creative with songwriting. This song is musically supported by a funk drum beat and guitars; the Hammond organ sound makes an interesting change for the chorus. The synthesizer solo is representative of the “doodling” I enjoy doing as a keyboard player.
“Thank you” to my wife Jan for listening to my drafts, providing feedback, and supporting me in this challenging project.
-- Dave Heffner, April 2016