Music is an amazing thing. It doesn't exist as a stationary object. It moves in real time and can be uplifting both to the player and the listener. The melting, trans-figurative moment, that feeling of everything being there, just for an instant, that surrender that overcomes us as players (if we're good enough) and leads us on to the next pregnant second, patient in the knowledge that there always is, waiting in the wings, the next chance to feel this fullness and celebrate it (as it is only in the nature of art to produce it this way); to this we dedicate our lives. But it is not for us alone; it is also made for you, the listener, to feel these same feelings along with us, to participate and to also be uplifted by it. Art is dying in this world, and so is listening, as the world becomes more full of toys and special effects. With this death will come the undoing of many possible feelings: beautiful, tender, deep, trusting, true, sad, full of internal meaning and color. Closeness won't have to necessarily be physical. Intimacy will be hard to find. Communication will be lost. Here is some music for you. Take it and it's yours. Charlie and I are obsessed with beauty. An ecstatic moment in music is worth the lifetime of mastery that goes into it, because it can be shared.
This recording was done in my small studio. It has very dry sound and we didn't want to have the recording sound like anything but exactly what we were hearing while we played. So it is direct and straightforward. I chose to use the American Steinway that really isn't at all in the best of shape, yet I have this strange connection with it, and it is better for a kind of informality and slight funkiness that was going to work with the music. With a choice of songs this good, it was hard not to become engaged right away. We did not rehearse per se, but went over chords when necessary. This was really a session that came as a result of doing an interview for a film about Charlie, after which we played a couple tunes. We had not played in over thirty years, but something magical happened and I then invited Charlie and his wife to the house to do some playing for a few days with no assurance that we'd have anything (including sound) that we'd want to release. Over close to three years we lived with these tapes, talked a lot about them, disputed over choices, but eventually I found Charlie to be the most remarkable and sensitive helper in getting this finally assembled. I wanted only the distilled essence of what we had, and it took some time to wean ourselves from going for hip solos or unevenly played tunes (even though they had wonderful things inside them). Some were too long; others were somehow out of character. Charlie and I listened to this many many times (mostly late at night) and became aware that there were some that just had more magic, more moments of surrender to the mood while retaining their essential integrity. This is what I was looking for; and then I had the unenviable job of finding the right order. After I thought I found it, Charlie called me and said, "How did you figure that out?" I think I said that none of the rational ideas of how to order things made sense, so I went into "not thinking" mode and came up with (dare I say it?) the only perfect order of these great versions.
I hope many of you can hear this on a good system. There are nuances abounding and the details make the music what it is. Jasmine is a night-blooming flower with a beautiful fragrance and I hope you can hear what went into this, as there is no way to do anything as touching as this by rehearsing it until it dies. This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation save our dedication throughout our lives that we won't accept a substitute: it's either the real thing or it's nothing. It's either real life or it's a cartoon.
Call your wife or husband or lover in late at night and sit down and listen. These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact. I hope you can hear it the way we did.