Making of a New Kind of Love – Part Two

November 22nd, 2011

On Saturday nights it had become a ritual for me to go into my logic pro studio in my home and play. My roommates would joke with me and say “how many people are in there with you”. What can I say, I just tend to work out loud and you know run things by myself. Anyway this one Saturday night I was in the kitchen making some tea and this beat came into my head. It was like an eastern indian beat with tablas and udu drums. I started singing the words to John Lennon’s Give Peace A Chance and then I had an ahha moment. You see awhile back I had written this song that a man had commissioned for a tour he was trying to put together for Peace. Well I loved the chorus of my song but never liked the rest of it. So I thought what if I do an arrangement of Give Peace a Chance and go right into the chorus of my song One World One Heart. So in I went to my studio and I had an absolute ball creating this whole world beat/indian tribute to John Lennon and World Peace. One World, One Heart, One Voice, One Family. How does it get any better then that?

Another song on the CD that I took a world beat approach to was Urban Shaman. I had heard this sermon or talk from The Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith from the Agape Church in LA. It was all about how we all need to become urban shaman and help birth a new awakening on the planet. Each of us bringing our own particular gift into the world with total unconditional love and thus like a shaman transforming the world. So I started with the sounds of the rainforest and lot’s of percussion instruments and then added a Peruvian pan flute. Then a strong urban beat with the south american flute and trumpet soaring on top. Once again magic struck and in one night I had my world beat track Urban Shaman.

One of my other favorite songs on the CD is With Our Love. This was another song I had written awhile back on which I only liked the chorus. So one night I sat down and wrote the verse and bridge sections over and kept the chorus and then I thought who better to sing backgrounds on the chorus but Ty Stephens. The rest is history. Sweet……..

Two other songs on the CD came about from all the gigs I started doing at senior centers about two or three years ago. You see a few years ago I was playing in a duo with a female vocalist and I was just playing horn and she was singing. The thing is when she couldn’t make the gig or if I wanted to do a gig by myself I was screwed. So I thought I used to sing in a high school rock band how hard could it be to start singing standards. So I started. I gotta tell you the first gig I did I was really nervous but hey you got to face your fears to grow. And I kept getting better and finding new songs to download that I could do and then I started doing my own arrangements. Smile was one of those arrangements and when I decided to put it on the CD I took it to whole other level. This was a song where what I had watched Ty Stephens do with his vocal arrangements really came in handy. Another song I really wanted to do for the seniors was Burt Bacharach’s This Guy’s in Love with You.  I tried finding a karaoke version on the internet but all the keys were to high for me. So I decided to do my own version in logic and it came out so good I had to put it on the CD.

Since I come from a smooth jazz background meaning my previous CDs were more in that genre I decided I had to do some funky instrumental stuff. A friend of mine had given me a CD of a bunch of remixes of that BlackStreet song No Diggity. One night in my studio I started fooling around with it and realized that it was a pretty cool melody for the flugelhorn. The only problem was it was very repetitous.  So what  did was listened to it line by line and recorded it that way. Amazing what you can do in a digital studio, sounds like one take. The rest was pure fun adding all the scratches and sub bass lines. Funky Stuff was a favorite Kool and the Gang song of mine. I copped the drum beat from the original, the bass drum part is key and then all I had to is call in my guys to put on the funk. Same is true of The Ghetto a Donny Hathaway tune I wanted to do. On this one I brought in the incredible Joe Scott on keys knowing he would give it that Donny touch on the rhodes.

You know I honestly can’t tell you how Got Blues came about. I think I wrote the bass riff first and everything just came from that. I wanted to write a blues wrap with a positive twist. I kept on working it but something was just not right. Then when Mike Neer the guitarist on the track came over to play on it he said “you know this would really be cool if you sounded like you were taking on the telephone”. Then the track really started to take shape, the telephone ringing, the guitar riffs and bringing in all the vocalists for Got Blues it took the form that I had envisioned.

While I’m on that subject I’d just like to say the whole project was like that. Everything just worked out; with just the right players on the right songs playing just the right shit. Even the editing process where I would whittle down all the parts creating the space that was needed for the chemistry to happen. For everything to come together as one cohesive entity. It really is magic when you get out of the way and take the action and just let it unfold. It’s just like life should be so for me this whole project was a metaphor for life. It was this two year journey from which I not only grew as a musician but as a person. It was not only a musical journey but also a spiritual journey. I am so grateful for every minute of it and for all the musicians who contributed to it’s magic. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did creating it.

Your’s in music, Gordon James



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