This is a family recording that garnered the 1994 Jazz Recording of the Year award from the San Diego Music Awards organization. This one's a hit!
Some of life's great adventures are born out of simple beginnings. Take, for example Blurring The Edges. I've always imagined that an acoustic group featuring two nylon string guitars would make for a great sound. Even better, what if the two players came from different musical backgrounds? What if we added a sax or a flute to ride over the top and some percussion to ground the ship? And what if we stopped there, keeping the group small for flexibility and freedom? These are nice requests, but I've discovered that surrounding oneself with too many "what if" scenarios usually translates into thin air. So what was needed here was an excuse to put this band into motion.
The "grand excuse" came about in 1989 in the form of a request to compose and perform a piece of music that featured the aforementioned lineup. I was further requested to compose the work (appearing on this album as "Canticle For Richard") in the classical style. My obvious choice for the other guitarist was Fred Benedetti - a fellow who plays beautifully in both the classical and flamenco tradition and also has a deep love for jazz and improvisation. Of course my choices for the sax and percussion positions in this musical experiment went to my closest friends, my brother Tripp Sprague and our father Hall Sprague. A family band indeed! During the rehearsals of "Canticle" it became apparent to me that we ought to take advantage of this instrumentation and talent and see if my "what if" daydream could really hold water. Additional music was written and we tackled the most difficult chore for any new band - coming up with a band name. Blurring The Edges seemed appropriate since our intent is to soften the lines that typically separate and divide various types of music, i.e., "classical", "jazz," "Latin," etc. And so, three years and many spirited concerts later, we offer the recording that you now hold in your hand. The simple beginnings of "what if" have afforded us all a great adventure called Blurring The Edges.
Peter Sprague: guitars, synths
Fred Benedetti: guitar
Tripp Sprague: saxophone, flute, synth
Hall Sprague: percussion
Ron Wagner: drums, percussion
Kevin Hennessy: bass
Bachianis - 4:49 - Fred Benedetti
(Satyam Music / BMI)
In writing this song I was influenced by two of my all-time favorite composers: Johann Sebastian Bach and Peter Sprague. The introductory element, drawn from Bach's lute music, yields to a South American baiao. Many of Peter's musical ideas find their way into the piece, including a quote from one of his earlier tunes Samba Satchidananda.
DeSamba - 4:15 - Peter Sprague
(Satyam Music / BMI)
Placed firmly in the key of D, DeSamba starts with an almost impossible two part excursion (called a chorinho in Brazil) that sets up a voyage into the body of the tune. Since Ron Wagner is a brilliant performer on the East Indian tabla drums, we asked ourselves, what might happen if Ron did a tabla solo over a samba battudaca groove? Blur de edges, mon...
Desert Moon - 5:57 - Tripp Sprague
This is a song about walking alone in the desert on a summer night. The full moon is reflecting off the sand and I think I may have lost my way.
Bilbo - 7:10 - Peter Sprague, Kevyn Lettau, Michael Shapiro (Satyam Music/ BMI, Cats and Dogs Music/ ASCAP)
I co-wrote this piece with my good friends Kevyn Lettau and Michael Shapiro. We were captivated by the notion of merging the magical African six-eight groove with long, spacious melodies. We dedicate this one to Bob Magnusson's ocean-going dog Bilbo who passed away a few years back.
Child of Sol - 5:11 - Fred Benedetti (Satyam Music/ BMI)
This was a 1993 Valentine's Day present for my wife, Amy. I borrowed the title from myself, having composed another song of the same name for her when we were in high school and "smiling sun" faces were popular in notes passed between youngsters in love.
Tarantas - 5:50 - Fred Benedetti (Satyam Music/ BMI)
A piece based on flamenco music, whose early roots lie in the folk music of Spain's southeastern provinces. It starts with a traditional solo tarantas in the style of flamenco guitarist Paco Pena and then gets "blurred". The harmonies and ornamentation create a very oriental effect.
The Banyan Tree - 6:17 - Peter Sprague (Satyam Music/ BMI)
Some time ago, on a warm summer evening, I strolled through a plaza in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My eyes were drawn to a majestic banyan tree which stood proudly in the center of the plaza, offering a cozy sanctuary for evening lovers, branches on which kids could act like monkeys, and a landmark meeting place for friends and families. It is to that tree of such bountiful offerings that I dedicate this song.
Trippin' - 5:57 - Tripp Sprague
I placed most of the notes in this tune off the beat to try and trip up the band. It starts with a three-part counterpoint element and then works it's way into a mambo groove with some nice conga slaps by Tommy Aros.
Big Sur Song - 5:24 - Peter Sprague (Satyam Music/ BMI)
In 1991, the beautiful Stefanie Flory and I were wed on one of California's most idyllic days. For our honeymoon we drove through Big Sur, noted for its world-class views. Within a short time, I found to my suprise that a simple melody had decided to join us for the ride. When we returned home, I outfitted the tune with some chords. This little gem is for Stefanie.
Astor Basia - 3:45 - Fred Benedetti (Satyam Music/ BMI)
Two people came to mind when I was writing this song: Astor Piazzola, "The Tango King", and Basia, a wonderful contemporary singer. A composite title for a simple samba.
Canticle For Richard - 12:32 - Peter Sprague (Satyam Music/ BMI)
About five years ago I met a spirited couple named Richard and Louise Phillips. They loved the outdoors, especially the desert, and had the idea that music concerts staged far from the city would be an altogether good thing. The first concert, set in the Borrego Springs outback, was a resounding success. A short while later, Richard became ill and passed on. At Louise's suggestion, I set out to compose Canticle For Richard and used as guidelines the classical guitar and a Vaughn Williams piece called A Lark Ascending - two of Richard's favorites. I tried to capture the feeling of deep sadness that accompanies death, and then, after the grieving, the light that hopefully becomes unveiled. On the second desert concert we celebrated Richard by performing the world premier of the Canticle. Shortly thereafter, Louise became ill and she joined Richard in that place where the truly great people go. May you both travel lightly...
Produced by: Peter Sprague, Tripp Sprague, and Fred Benedetti
Recorded by: Mike Harris, Hall Sprague, Peter Sprague, Tripp Sprague, and Fred Benedetti
Mixed and Mastered by: S. John Archer
Recorded at: SpragueLand Studios, Del Mar, CA, summer 1993
Artwork by: Tripp Sprague
Liner notes by: Peter Sprague, Hall Sprague, Tripp Sprague, and Fred Benedetti