Nothing to Hide Liner Notes

Hello all,

Since many folks that I know are checking out Nothing to Hide in the digital only format, I thought that I’d copy a sketch of the liner notes that I wrote for the album here. Digital formats have a big drawback where you only get the music, not the story behind the concept and the players. It’s sad to see. Most of the history I obtained about this music came from liner notes and books. This will probably assist in informing you on where each song’s concept came from as well as information about the player’s on the record. Here are the notes:

The concept for Nothing to Hide stems from the idea that I am an open book when it comes to paying homage to the trumpeters and musicians that influenced my styles of playing, composing, and arranging.

Fly Little Bird Fly: I developed a love for this Donald Byrd composition after hearing Darren Barrett, one of my musical mentors, perform it with his band on several occasions. Donald takes this tune at a breakneck tempo on the original Blue Note recording. I decided to arrange it in 5/4 time and play at slower pace. The staggered entrances and exits for this track was an idea of mine that was inspired by Wayne Shorter’s composition entitled Unity. I like to call this method the “Unity” method.

Nothing to Hide: I drew inspiration in composing this tune from a Kurt Rosenwinkel composition entitled Undercover. In 2008 I became the first trumpet player to be hired by the iconic guitarist. When performed live, Nothing to Hide, played in 13/4 time, features everyone in the band. It’s an epic tune that tends to cover many moods throughout the course of the performance. We usually open or close a set by playing this tune.

LaRue: My intention for this arrangement was to showcase one of my favorite Clifford Brown compositions (LaRue) and add a dash of another (Delilah), which occurs at the end of this track. The original recording of LaRue featured Kenny Dorham’s great hornwork, so I wanted to pay homage to him on this recording as well by documenting this tune. In arranging this song I decided to speed the tempo a bit and incorporate the bass figure from one of my original compositions entitled Laid Up, which appears on my previous release Songbook.

The Gigolo: This is one the more risky arrangements that I chose to present on this recording. I arranged this Lee Morgan original in 9/4 time using a bass line from an excerpt from my Sudoku Suite entitled Guidance that has a coda section which features Lee Fish. This rendition of The Gigolo is taken at a brisker pace as compared to the original version recording on Morgan’s record of the same name.

Strength and Sanity: Booker Little is one of the most underrated, unrecognized trumpeters in the history of this music. His untimely death in 1961 at the age of 23 was a huge blow to the continuum of jazz trumpeters, especially considering the death of Clifford Brown 5 years earlier. The first time I heard this composition, I was instantly wrapped up in its serenity. Booker’s body of compositions taught me not only to disregard my fear of dissonance, but to actually embrace it in my style of writing and arranging. I didn’t stray too far away from the properties of the original recording on the track.

Here and Now: The complete working title for this tune is: Where is the Place and Time for Everything that Everyone’s Been Talking About? Here and Now. It’s enlightening to perform this waltz because I enjoy the exchange with Michael Thomas, while at the same time we also share the responsibility of playing the 4 bars of the melody while the other improvises. To me, it’s a fun, simple, musical challenge. This particular version also features Greg’s great guitar work.

Luana: This tune and the original record that it’s on have a special place in my heart. Freddie Hubbard’s Hub Cap was one of the first albums that I owned of Freddie as a leader. The first time I heard Luana I knew I had to transcribe it and perform it with my band at the time. I then had the great fortune of meeting Freddie Hubbard in Boston and was fortunate enough to talk shop and have his signature on the cover of Hub Cap. For the version on this album I reigned in the tempo a bit and combined Freddie’s melody and harmonic progression with a tune of mine entitled Preservation of the Lower 9th Ward (aka Lower 9th Ward). Maybe you’ll hear that tune on a later release or at a live performance because we perform it quite often.

Half Nelson: This Miles Davis original was arranged in 9/4 time by Lee Fish. Lee brought in this arrangement around the time when we started rehearsing these songs. As soon as we played it, I thought that it would be a great fit to the set. The intro to this song also serves as the outro, where Lee is featured.

I’m extremely excited to present to you the members of my working band. We perform weekly (Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoon) at Wally’s Café in Boston’s historic South End. I’ve been presenting quintets and trios there every weekend since 2000. I may be the only musician of my generation that’s held a residency at the same club for this amount of time. This is something that I’m proud of because I enjoy bringing the music to the people in such an intimate setting as Wally’s Café. Over the course of my residency there, I’ve had the great fortune of having some of the most creative, young minds in this music on the stage and this is the latest batch:

Michael Thomas: Michael joined the working band in 2009. Hearing him in his element always makes me wonder if there’s anything that he can hear that he can’t play. He is one of those players that give you the impression that nothing comes between what he hears in his musical imagination and his instrument. If I played alto, I know that I would be checking out Michael’s style for reference. A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory, Michael’s talents have already taken him to stages big and small in the U.S. and abroad to countries such as Latvia and Panama.

Greg Duncan: I have had the distinct pleasure of having Greg in the band for the past four years. His instrumental versatility and instincts go far beyond what he plays in his own solos. I’ve found him to be one of the more inventive accompanists that I’ve gotten to play with thus far. One word that comes to mind when I hear Greg improvise in this particular context is fluid. When he plays, the thoughtful ear is informed of how much extensive homework Greg has done on his instrument to get to where he is now.

Lim Yang: Lim’s a solid bassist who joined the outfit almost two years ago. Originally from South Korea, Lim made the move to Boston to study music. I was very lucky to become acquainted with Lim’s playing when I did because it happened to be around the time when the bassist in my band was making the move to NYC. Lim stepped in and made an immediate positive impression which led me to believe that her contribution to the band would be invaluable. She’s proven me right.

Lee Fish: Of all the members of the band, Lee’s been a member the longest. Lee’s got big ears, great instincts, and has an extremely balanced sound on the drum set, which is paramount in a recording situation. Lee’s also a talented composer and arranger.

J.P.

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6 Responses to “Nothing to Hide Liner Notes”

  1. Hey Jason,

    Thanks for posting the liner notes!! Actually, I’ve also bought the recording in the i-tune… So, I’m so glad that I could read it on this web site. Unfortunately, it seems like I can’t see you for a while again because of my senior recital. And also, I’m trying to focus on what I want to do now. But, don’t forget that I like your performance so much, and you are the one of musicians who I really respect. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing you and hearing your music again in the future!!

    Take care,
    Mitsuru

    • Thanks for checking out the music Mitsuru. It’s great to experience you progress over the years. I still remember the first time you came down to Wally’s and we played a blues. I knew you would blossom into a great bassist and thanks for proving me right. Btw, when and where is your recital?

      J.P.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words, Jason!! I still remember the first time we played together at Wally’s as well. We also played “Like Someone in Love” then, and you quoted the melody of “The Way You Look Tonight” when you were soloing. I really liked that. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t improve myself without your help. I owe you a lot, Mr. Jason Palmer! Btw, my recital is on the Oct. 15th. 4:00pm at 1W in the 1140 Boylston bld. I know you are touring with Grace then, so have a fun in Europe :) I’ll see you after you come back from the tour!

        Thanks,
        Mitsuru

  2. Jeff White Says:

    Just a quick note to say how much I love your latest release, and I wanted to say thank you for both the music, and for the liner notes on your blog.

    Sincerely,

    Jeff

  3. Hey Jason,

    I’m just finishing up the first listen to your fantastic new CD and the only difficulty I’m having is what track to feature on my radio show! Meaning every single track tells a story, displays fantastic musicianship and I lvoe the entire idea/concept behind the recording.

    Liner notes: I mourn the pending death of CDs (and the almost-dead LP format) for the same reasons you mention. The old Blue Note and Prestige LPs (and also the CDs) were jazz history lessons and in fact, I still refer to the liner notes on many of my LPs and CDs. I hope itunes and the other major digital format distributors figure out a way to include the liner notes, even if at a slightly elevated cost. Your new CD is a perfect example of why I want to see/read liner notes: I get to know a bit more about you AND the music – your own compositions, as well as what you are thinking about regarding compositions included on your CD by jazz masters such as Donald Byrd, Freddie, Booker Little, Clifford Brown.

    Again, it was also inspiring to hear you perform at Berklee recently with Lewis Nash, Bill Pierce, etc.

    Take care,
    Marla

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