First Single: DON’T BE A STRANGER (Song for Julianne)
I’m excited to be releasing my debut ep with the first single and title track called Don’t Be A Stranger (Song for Julianne).
The entire ep is available for download from CDBaby, Amazon Music and your favorite music downloading site. It’s also available for streaming on Spotify and all other streaming platforms. In about a month I’ll have physical CDs available for sale with some bonus items.
So here are the Album Notes for DON’T BE A STRANGER (SONG FOR JULIANNE)
It’s a typical evening in Boston. I get some food to eat, and as I look for a place to sit, I notice this kind of well-known pianist acquaintance of mine, sitting with his usual entourage. Normally I just wave hello or fist-bump him, but I see the back of a young woman who’s sitting with his group. Suddenly she turns in my direction, and like the story goes, our eyes meet across the crowded room. It’s love at first sight. She is beautiful, the type of girl I don’t normally meet or go for. Or maybe I don’t go for them because I never meet them. I think to myself, what the hell, and I sit down in an empty chair next to her. There’s definite chemistry between us, but they’re talking about Justin Bieber, and I’m a jazz guy, so I sit eating my burger and fries. Eventually I ask her what she’s doing, how she’s doing. We chitchat. My ride arrives, and I tell her goodbye. I have a work thing early the next day.
A few hours later I see she’s sent me a DM through Instagram. By the time I read it, three hours have gone by.
Hey it was great running into you tonight (smiling pink cheek emoji) Let me know if you have any time to grab a coffee tomorrow or something!
Hey when do you leave??
Hey! I’m leaving tomorrow morning. I have dinner plans tonight but I think they’ll be done at 9pm… Want to grab a late cup of coffee or something later tonight?
I hope I’m not too late. She’s been waiting for me to respond. I decide screw sleep, so we meet for a drink near where I’m staying. We talk about astrology because I’m heavily into that, and she tells me about family tragedy that’s really rough for anyone to deal with, but she seems to be okay -at least on the outside. She’s a Cancer and I’m a Leo. The chemistry between us is intense. A couple of tunes come on in the restaurant and I’m not really listening. She asks me about them. I don’t recognize the tunes. I’m paying attention to her… We’re flirting. I forget about it. I’m not much of a drinker, I’m feeling tired, but I don’t want to say goodbye again, so I invite her to my place. She says yes, and I make sure she understands that nothing will happen if she doesn’t want it to.
To say that it is the most amazing sexual experience I’ve ever had is an understatement. She is beautiful inside and out, and she’s a woman with no inhibitions. We make love in a completely open, giving and relaxed way. Lovely is the only word to describe it. We fall asleep in each other’s arms. “All I want to do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes” – I’m stealing those lyrics from Toto because it perfectly describes how I feel when I open my eyes early the next morning and I look into her beautiful eyes. We kiss. She has a plane to catch, so I walk her to the Uber. We kiss goodbye. I feel so happy, I feel hopeful that maybe I’ve finally met a girl that’s right for me. We shared something precious. Instantly, as the car drives away, it fades into a memory.
We connected in the night like two souls with open-hearts, but in the daylight our hearts closed up like those flowers that only bloom at night. There was a weird DM exchange, then just like that it was over.
For a time I looked at her Instagram posts and wondered how much of that heavily-curated content was who she really was. I know that we had just a fleeting moment of connection, like a perfect storm of events that won’t happen again. It took a while for my heart to stop longing for more of the night-time her. I don’t look at her IG anymore.
When I started writing this tune, I called it DON’T GO. Then I thought: I don’t mean that. She’s gone, and it ended badly. What I want is to relive the beautiful time we had. DON’T BE A STRANGER is an ode to open-hearted love, to being unafraid to share yourself with another person, not being self-conscious or fearful of love, of giving and receiving 100%, and of not attaching other requirements to that exchange of love. With other women I’ve felt like they were hiding their real selves from me, as if they were keeping themselves strangers from me.
Did we meet at the wrong time? Did the reality that hit her in the daylight not measure up to her ideals? Maybe her goals and dreams prevented her from choosing me. I have also made those hard choices.
How do we measure the value of another person in our lives? Is it by their ability to keep up with our pop culture references? If they can fit in with our friends? If we share the exact interests? If we’re real with each other, is it too scary to engage with open-hearts? Does it feel as if we can’t keep up the radical openness? Do we always have to live behind a facade? Do we buy into that facade that we’ve created for ourselves? Are we believing our own hype? Are we doomed to always be a stranger in any connection we have with another person?
So my message to you is: Even if only for one moment, be completely open-hearted: DON’T BE A STRANGER.
Musically, DON’T BE A STRANGER (SONG FOR JULIANNE) is a contemporary jazz composition with a Brazilian Bossa Nova influence. It draws on the musical aesthetics of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. It’s composed with harmonically intricate moments – the A section starts in one key, and then the B section, the bridge, modulates to two keys, returning to the original key in the A.
In the arrangement, I focused on the beauty and fragility of that moment with Julianne. The saxophone’s role is to play the melody as if he’s singing. Joan Benavent did a great job of giving a voice to my singing heart. It reminds me of how Stan Getz phrased melodies and played his distinctive tone. Pancho Montañez brings the drums in suddenly from the beginning not just to drive the rhythm, but to help create the scenery, the kind of world we created for each other that could never exist outside of that bedroom in that time and place. That’s represented by the bossa nova-esque groove. Matthew Baker’s bass is the foundation for the groove, and it’s the anchor for the swing rhythm of the drums.
The A sections are about longing based on the memory, and the B section is the fantasy of what might have been. What could have been. What I had hoped for.
In the end I was just a one-night stand. I didn’t want to be a one-night stand. I hope that we may we always be able to connect to each other with open hearts and shining souls. That’s the message of DON’T BE A STRANGER.
The recording, produced by Max Holm and Maggie Curran, features Max Holm on piano, Joan Benavent on saxophone, Matthew Baker on bass and Pancho Montañez on drums. It was recorded at Jazztone Studios in Valencia, Spain. The recording engineer was Sebastian Laverde. The entire ep was mixed and mastered by Max Holm.