This is the second recording for my string consort group. We last left off with the 2009 release of The Wild Blue. Since then we've played a lot of concerts and the band continues to evolve. Things further improved when I was awarded the prestigious 2010 New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America. This set the stage for me to compose a new major work, which led into playing several concerts of the new piece and culminated in the release of this new CD.
The work is called Dr. Einstein's Spin and it's a three-movement sonic travelogue through what I imagined went through Einstein's mind as he explored gravity and the wide expanse of life. He had equations to put order to it while we mortals have what I believe is an intuitive understanding at our core — that life is fragile and beautiful.
I like some of the things Einstein talked about. Most of them are over my head but what follow are a few that make sense to me.
"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax."
We just emerged from a house refinance and had to deal with the endless details and a zillion notarized signings. We also paid a close visit with our income tax return. What language is this written in?
"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."
Just to let you in on it, for this batch of tunes I was influenced by Chick Corea, Billy Childs, Burt Bacharach, Dori Caymmi, Pat Metheny and Bella Bartok.
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school."
The most useful thing I learned in school was how to type properly. I can blaze now and there is true freedom in speed! It's like blowing a jazz solo inside the heady realm of alphabet soup. Qwerty rules!
There you have the nuts and bolts to this new recording and now it's time to take it for a spin. Dr. Einstein's spin, that is!
This is a modern day surf song. There's a world-class surf spot in Spain called Mundaka and I've always wanted to go. The closest I came was waving to the waves from the glassed-in perch of a tour bus while on a Euro tour in 2009 with the Dianne Reeves group. I might of missed getting in the water that day but that didn't stop me from writing this tune. "Mundaka" takes off as a cheerful samba in 11/4 and makes it's way to the streets of Spain and then back again.
This is the opening movement of the Dr. Einstein's Spin composition. My inspiration was the idea of Einstein contemplating small things ricocheting off each other, colliding and caressing, subdividing and diminishing. We create this atmosphere through Duncan's jagged double time drum pattern in 5/4 mixed in with some squishy chord voicings.
This is the second movement of the Dr. Einstein's Spin composition. It's Sunday afternoon and we find Dr. Einstein taking a relaxed afternoon stroll on the beautiful Princeton campus. The sky is deep blue and emerging out a clump of clouds is a rainbow. This captures Albert's curiosity.
This is the final movement of the Dr. Einstein's Spin composition. Now we're traveling rocket speed inside Einstein's head as he gazes into the evening sky, endless with stars, entertaining infinity. He sees the future of humanity, in all its light and darkness.
The End of the Internet
The great pianist Geoffrey Keezer once hipped me to a website called "The End of the Internet" that proposed to be the last place one could go after traveling through the vast reaches of the digital domain. This wacky piece of mine is the sound score to that ride, down the cable, through some colorful terrain and finally arriving at the very last website. Buckle up!
All compositions by Peter Sprague © Satyam Music / BMI
The Peter Sprague String Consort is:
Peter Sprague — guitar
Bob Magnusson — bass
Duncan Moore — drums
Bridget Dolkas — violin
Jeanne Skrocki — violin
Pam Jacobson — viola
Lars Hoefs— cello
Carter Dewberry — cello on all of "The End of the Internet" except for the cello solo.
Produced by Peter Sprague
Recorded at SpragueLand Studios, Encinitas, CA / 2012
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Peter Sprague at SpragueLand Studios
Art direction and design by RixGraphix
Cover art by Annika Nelson
Cover art concept by Rick Sokol
Photos by Barbara Rix, Tom Westerlin, Stan Skrocki, and Jim Ochi.
Thanks to Stefanie Sprague and Steve Grant for expert proofing.
Thanks to big time audio avatar Rich Breen for sonic guidance.
Dr. Einstein's Spin by Peter Sprague has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America's 2010 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.