Encouraging Whimsy

kbsitepicinstrument001Finally found a moment to locate a copy of the disc so I could play this song for you again.  It’s funny how many people still remember this piece.  The words are from Alice in Wonderland, of course.  The arrangement is not.  Anderson on the harp, myself on guitar and voice, and David Woodhead on the fretless bass.  The additional sounds you hear are a synthesizer hooked up to the divine Mr. D’s bass.  One of the things David did so beautifully in his playing at the time was to combine textured synth sounds with his lovely melodic bass approach (this was always done live, both in concert and on recording, never added in later, and so it formed part of his instrument).  It helped make up that lovely, rich soundscape that was such a significant part of what we did.

If you listen closely, however, there’s a little something different here.  At various points the snyth sounds triggered are directly out of the cartoon universe.  It just seemed so appropriate.  To make things even more interesting we decided not to program specific sounds for specific notes.  Instead we left it completely to chance.  And because this whole album was recorded straight to stereo with no overdubs or edits, what you hear on this track is a live take with all of the delightful accidents that can only happen when whimsy is invited.  And yes maybe encouraged.

Ah friend, you’ll permit me a bit of bemusement that this track is now almost twenty years old.  Remember, too, this was at a time when Canadian folk rulers had decreed that we musicians were not to mess with tradition.  It simply wasn’t done.  Apparently they were convinced that those traditions weren’t robust enough to take the abuse.  You can imagine how popular this made us among those folks.  I suspect you can also imagine how little I cared.  Happily, as is often the case, the official tastemakers were absolutely mistaken, and completely out of step with the general listening public, who asked for this again and again.  And again.  I’m often puzzled when I’m told that much of our stuff was ahead of it’s time.  But on listening, I guess some of it was getting a bit out there.

Sure was fun though.

the song –>The Jabberwock from the Anderson & Brown CD ‘Crimson’, 1991 (A&B102CD)


kbcdflowerAnd finally I think it might be nice to hear this today.  I always counted myself lucky to be working around wonderful musicians.  I think some of what we did best is here.  A good day and a good way to be reminded of the gifts we’ve been given, you and I.  And how some of them just keep on giving.  Like friendship.  Thanks for that.

the piece –>What Child Is This from the Anderson & Brown with Paul Haslem CD ‘In the Moon of Wintertime’, 1995 (A&B104CD)

Silent Night

kbcdflowerI knew that we had to include this song on the recording, but I had a notion it was so well known that maybe we could sketch out the melody and see if the listener’s imagination filled in the rest.  Apparently it worked for some people.  Of course that’s Anderson on the harp, Paul Haslem on the hammered dulcimer, and me doing the flute and guitar and so on.  The carol was popular for many years, but its origin was unknown.  Turns out the words were written Pastor Josef Mohr, and the music came from organist Franz Gruber.  I’ve always thought that the tune’s delicate nature came from it being composed on a guitar.  For whatever reason this carol on a guitar on Christmas Eve is pretty much guaranteed to put me in a space where I am truly thankful for the gifts I’ve received over the year.  And so, in that spirit of thanks…

the piece –>Silent Night from the Anderson & Brown with Paul Haslem CD ‘In the Moon of Wintertime’, 1995 (A&B104CD)

In the Moon of Wintertime

kbcdflowerI’ve noticed that this carol is far less known outside of Canada.  Apparently the words were first written in the Huron language a little over three hundred years ago, while the melody is an old French folk tune.  I suppose this arrangement turns into a bit of a fantasia at some point, but the melody is so beautiful it stands on its own.  While it’s easy to forget that it’s not the same all over the world, this song captures the combination of Christmas and wintertime that is so much a part of our northern experience.  As before, Anderson on the harp, Paul Haslem on the hammered dulcimer.

the piece –>Huron Carol from the Anderson & Brown with Paul Haslem CD ‘In the Moon of Wintertime’, 1995 (A&B104CD)


kbcdflowerSuch a beautiful melody that I’m always surprised it isn’t more well known in english Canada.  The tune was either collected or composed by a fellow name of Saboly in 17th century Provence, and pulls together the French traditions of the crèche and the Christmas Eve torchlight procession.  If it sounds familiar you might know it by its english title, ‘Bring a Torch Jeannette Isabelle’.  Once again Anderson on the harp, Paul Haslem on the hammered dulcimer.

the piece –>Un Flambeau Jeannette Isabella from the Anderson & Brown with Paul Haslem CD ‘In the Moon of Wintertime’, 1995 (A&B104CD)


kbcdflowerEvery year a few people go out of their way to tell me how much this disc means to them.  You never know what’s going to touch people or why.  One of the things that makes this album special for me is it’s the only time I’ve recorded my flute in a way that really captures what I play, how I think on the instrument, and what sounds are rolling around in my head while I’m playing.  My job was to do the arrangements, and to help my primarily non-improvising musical partners to get into that mode.  Apparently it worked.  Anderson on the harp, Paul Haslem on the hammered dulcimer.  A little less commonly heard around here than some seasonal tunes, the melody goes back to Britain in the 15th century, apparently part of the Shearmen and Tailors’ Guild’s mystery play.

the piece –>Coventry Carol from the Anderson & Brown with Paul Haslem CD ‘In the Moon of Wintertime’, 1995 (A&B104CD)

First Carol

websitemusicfermataI’ve had some good fortune working out arrangements for some of my favourite melodies over the years, and there’s not much I enjoy more than playing some of the seasonal pieces I’ve known for so long.  I hadn’t expected to do a whole recording’s worth, but this is where that thought came from.  The tune is often in my head, and I’d had this oddly spaced version on me for a while.  This track was based on that arrangement and made it onto what turned out to be the band’s last concert album.  It went well enough, and the response was so strong that we finally decided to sit down and do a full Christmas recording, which ended up being the most popular cd we ever made.  So here is where that all started.

the piece –>Virgin Carol from the Anderson & Brown CD ‘Alone with a Dream’, 1994 (A&B103CD)


websitemusicfermataWhile some of the things I hear in my head are unusual in some people’s minds, some of it is just kind of pretty.  This was one of those.  Only a waltz, one with a lazy feel.  It seemed that there was something else needed to round out the collection on the disc, and this is what came out.  Composed mostly on the flute, I was happy with the way the part turned out, somehow pretty and lazy, and yet unsettled.  Of course that’s Anderson on the harp, and Anne Ledermann on the 5-string violin.  A waltz was often the last tune of the night.  Plenty of room on the dance floor.

the piece –>Waltz–late afternoon late from the Anderson & Brown CD ‘Alone with a Dream’, 1994 (A&B103CD)


websitemusicfermataI’d like to play a couple of things for you, and I think maybe I’d like to start here.  As I think I’ve told you, I’ve been hearing music in my head since I was a kid.  Being able to give those sounds a life in the world outside my head has been a great pleasure in my life.  And it was one of the wonderful things about my years in Anderson & Brown, that the pieces we each composed found a comfortable and welcome place in those concerts and recordings.  Of course I was often whacked with the ‘that’s not folk’ hammer for exactly this sort of transgression.  But this was what I heard in my head, pretty much always have.  I hope you enjoy it.

the piece –>Alone with a Dream from the Anderson & Brown CD ‘Alone with a Dream’, 1994 (A&B103CD)

The Coldest Night

I hadn’t realised it’d been quite so long since I put any music up here.  I’ll have to see what I can do about that.  This is a song that I often have in my head somehow.  I guess the message is fairly clear, people seem to get it.  I have a few different settings of it, and it ended up being the song wrapped around one of the pivot points of the story in Witness.  But there’s also something quite special about this particular version.  The guitar sound is a lovely old tube pre-amp fed through a decent studio speaker, and then shot out into a concert hall where a stereo pair of mics makes sense of the image.  So, yes, whatever reverb you hear is the real thing.  But yeah, it’s about the words.

kbcdlongviewthe song–>The Coldest Night from the CD ‘The Long View’, 2006 (LV001)