THE FIRST INSTRUMENT I can remember picking up was a harmonica at the age of 4 years old. But my passion for music began in earnest when I wrote my first song, in 1965. Composing has been a passion — maybe even a compulsion — of mine ever since.
I have had prolific years and sparse years, but I have written every year since then. This collection represents a baker’s dozen of these songs, covering every decade from the ‘60s up until the ‘20s.
Here is the playlist on YouTube.
And here’s one on Spotify.
And finally, here are the individual songs. I’ve divided them into two volumes. Volume I is a bit more jazz and avant garde in style. Volume II contains more traditional or what might be considered modern “classical” music.
I hope you enjoy them. Here’s a little description of each:
Key: A minor
Influence: Chick Corea
The first time I heard Corea was probably around 1973. I instantly was drawn to his fusion of traditional jazz and Latin rhythms.
Lost & Found
Years: 1974, 1989
Key: Eb major
Influence: Joni Mitchell, Larry Coryell
This began as a guitar riff in 1974. I had taught it to a friend, then forgot all about it. Years later, we reunited for a jam session and he played the chord pattern. I named it “Lost and Found” on the spot and finished it up on piano that year.
A Sample, But Not the Real McCoy
Key: Db major
Influence: Joe Sample, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock
Based on the influences of these three great pianists/composers from the era of Miles Davis through jazz fusion, so you can probably guess how I arrived at this title.
In a Roundabout Way
Key: G major
Influence: Vince Guaraldi
Just a little ditty that I am pretty sure was inspired from the “Peanuts” TV specials when I was a kid. The piece is in 6/8 time, which has, to me, a feeling of a circular motion. Hence, the title.
Influence: Thelonius Monk, Scott Joplin, Jo Ann Castle
Key: F major
An homage to the ragtime and honky tonk piano composers and players.
If Only We Two Weren’t Lonely, Too
Key: C major
Influence: Bill Evans
This song pays tribute to the cool jazz ballads of the late ‘50s and ‘60s, in the style of tunes sung by Frank Sinatra or played by Stan Getz.
Key: B major
Influence: Frédéric Chopin, Robert Shumann, Ludwig van Beethoven
In the rural Connecticut of my youth, there was a favorite hiking trail with a cave known as “Devil’s Kitchen.” Being a good Catholic altar boy at the time, I christened a nearby rock to balance out the forces of good and evil. That memory came to me when writing this piece.
Key: C minor
Inspirations: Keith Emerson, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky
One of my first “serious” piano pieces. So named because the left hand pattern resembles a spider or maybe a crab in motion.
Key: E major
Influence: Frédéric Chopin, Robert Shumann
Just a little ditty in ¾ time, reminiscent of Chopin’s etudes and Shumann’s “Kinderszenen” collection, which I studied quite thoroughly (but never truly mastered) in my youth.
Key: Ab major
Influence: Beethoven, Chopin, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Johann Sebastian Bach
For most of this tune, the two thumbs are crossed over one another resulting in a battle of the hands audible in the countermelody.
Key: D major
Influence: Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel
I had always imagined this piece as a theme song for a children’s show. The title refers to constant modal changes that leave the melody unresolved.
To the Top of Stony Hill Road
Key: Gb major
Influence: Claude Paolini, Sr.
Reminiscent of the carefree days of my youth, walking up the hill to meet my best friend. This song is in the key that is principally played on the black keys and is derived from a little ditty my Dad taught me on the piano. The introduction is the chorus of the first song I wrote at the age of 10.
A Hymn for Her
Key: A major
Influence: Stephen Foster, Paul Simon
I’ve always been fond of traditional American folk music and hymns of the 19th century. Sometime in the ’90s, I had picked up a Lutheran Hymnal in a used book store. Playing through that provided the inspiration for this piece.
All proceeds from this album’s sales and streaming will be donated to the NAACP.
Thank you for reading about and listening to my music. Below are links to all the streaming and purchase platforms.
Vol. I: (jazz) https://album.link/us/i/1517347148
Vol. II (classical) https://album.link/us/i/1517343305
Thank you to Sherry-Lynn Lee, who spent more hours on the audio engineering — mixing and mastering — than I did composing and recording.