TRASH TALK: There is a region of north central Mississippi known as the "Hill Country," just east of the much more famous Delta region. A haunting, droning, and sometimes incredibly funky style of blues grew out of the Hill Country (artists like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside are key), and "Trash Talk" is my blend of that style and the slick funk commonly used in TV show themes from the '70s (think "Sanford & Son" and "Rockford Files"). Jason, the drummer on the album, plays some delightfully swampy grooves inspired by bands like The Meters.
FOLK SONG: Written while the 2016 presidential election returns were coming in (but before any results had been reported), this song was inspired by all the Americans who had been expressing genuine but wildly different passions and concerns about the future direction of the country. To reflect the chaotic disintegration of meaningful political discourse that had occurred during the campaign, the piano solo deliberately evolves into "free" playing with no clear harmony or rhythm. It then ends with an improvised solo piano interlude and a reprise of the original melody. If you like the solo piano interlude on "Folk Song," check out the Connemara album.
SPIRIT & SOLIDARITY: Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band is one of my favorite jazz small groups of the past 20 years, and they were the headliner at the 2016 Rootabaga Jazz Festival in Galesburg, Illinois. During the amazing concert, Brian commented that he felt a sense of "spirit and solidarity" from the small, close-knit jazz community in Galesburg. The next morning I woke up with the main melody of this song in my head.
QUANTITY OF LIFE: Most of this song was written on two occasions, years apart from one another; soberingly, on both occasions there were members of my immediate family in the hospital. We talk a lot about "quality of life," but at some point it's the quantity that really matters.
UPPER WEST SIDE: This and "In My Humble Opinion" are easily the oldest songs on the album, both having been written in about 2002. This one gets its name from the New York City energy it attempts to express, as well as the fact that when I brought a set of my songs to a lesson with Maria Schneider at her apartment on the Upper West Side, this was her favorite of the bunch.
IN MY HUMBLE OPINION: A ballad dedicated to my wife and daughter, the melody of this song has a long, slowly evolving arc consisting almost entirely of continuous quarter notes. Andy, the bassist on the album, plays a particularly beautiful solo.
INNOCENCE: If you're familiar with some of the simpler, song-like compositions of Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny, this one will bring that style to mind. It is inspired by the concept of child-like innocence and the importance of maintaining the capacity to experience feelings of hope, wonder, and possibility as adults.
DOWNTOWN CREEP: This is a stylized musical caricature of gritty urban streetscapes and the slinky, uncertain feelings they inspire. Rhythmically, it shifts between a stuttering funk groove and stoptime medium swing, but moves to double-time swing for the piano solo.
TASTE & SEE: A fusion of a churning jazz waltz groove and gospel music is at the core of this song, which explains the choice of a phrase from the Bible as its title. I am also fascinated by the notion of experiencing spirituality through the senses, such as taste and sight.
released October 18, 2019
Derel Monteith - piano
Andy Crawford - bass
Jason Brannon - drums
All songs composed by Derel Monteith
Produced, recorded and mixed by Derel Monteith & William Duncan at Otter Mutiny Studios and Cedar Hills Sound in Peoria County, IL
Mastered by Michael MacDonald at AlgoRhythms Mastering, Santa Fe, NM
Photography/graphic design by Joep & Julie Huijbregts at iMAGIQ Works, Galesburg, IL
Many thanks to Andy, Jason, Bill, Michael, Joep and Julie for their expertise, patience and moral support during this project
Special thanks to John Whitaker, Jeff Laibson, Ron Miller and Vince Maggio for their musical wisdom during formative years, and to my mother and sister for listening to me practice during those years
Extra special thanks to Ellen and Ariel for being my steadfast tribe members
Dedicated to the memory of Jim Monteith (1931-2016), a "very damn sweet" man