Mike Tobian

Introduction

Hello and thanks for listening to my album. It includes arrangements of some great standards mixed with a couple of my own compositions. The record is a culmination of everything I love about jazz music, especially in the bebop tradition. It is also a good representation of some of my favorite styles to play in. It is fun to mix difficult “change hitting tunes” like Nica’s Dream and Cherokee with songs like In a Mellow Tone where I can just sort of focus on creating interesting melodic ideas. You will also hear a couple ballads on this album. I love the vulnerability, communication and opportunity for expression that accompanies a ballad.

Recording the album was fun and authentic to the improvisatory culture of jazz music. Many of the arrangement elements were changed or completely thought up in the studio. There wasn’t a whole lot of “punching in” or re-recording stuff and most of the tunes were recorded with only one or two total takes. The careful listener will hear some inter-band spoken communication, imperfections, an overblown note here and there and the occasional approving vocal acknowledgement or grunt. The goal is an honest recording that isn’t too “over produced”, perhaps reminiscent of the old Blue Note label records that many of these tunes originated from. I just want people to hear the music the way it actually sounds in real life. I recommend reading through the individual song notes as you listen. Thanks again and please enjoy!

–Michael Tobian

Musicians

Michael Tobian, Saxophone

Corey Christiansen, guitar

Kenji Ahara, guitar

Matt Larson, bass

Denson Angulo, bass

Jay Lawrence, drums

Tracks

Nica’s Dream (Jay, Corey, Matt)This is one of my favorite tunes to play. It is a tip of the hat to Horace Silver’s great composition and a good vehicle to introduce some of the players on the album. Nica’s Dream takes the listener through some challenging and unique chord changes. Our arrangement has Cory solo over an Afro-Cuban groove in the middle.

There Will Never Be Another You (Jay, Corey, Matt) – The intro and ending to this tune were arranged in the studio, on the spot by the players. The solo section starts with an exposed saxophone solo. The drums are then added and other players gradually join. The tune ends with an in-time, chaotic cadenza/outro vamp that eventually fades out.

Cherokee (Jay, Denson, Kenji) – The band plays this great classic tune at a quick paced 320 beats per minute.

Stardust (Jay, Denson, Kenji) – One of my favorite tunes. I love to play ballads and try to keep things slow and expressive. The ballad playing of Clark Terry was influential in my approach to this tune.

Lucky 7 (Jay, Denson, Kenji) – This composition of mine had no name until the song was being recorded. Because of some inter-studio confusion, it took until the 7th take to get the song started correctly; Thus, the deserving name. Here you will experience an expressive drumming style similar to that of Tony Williams or Elvin Jones combined with Saxophone playing influenced by Wayne Shorter and other players in the 60s that kept things like tone and time a little free and loose. 

Good Night Meg (Jay, Denson, Kenji) – Written as a lullaby for my daughter Megan, I wrote this tune to be played very slowly. The intention is that performing the tune takes a great deal of patience and listening to each other. There is no hurry to create music and the musicians leave a lot of space. Every note played is played purposefully and with intent. Enjoy the communication and exposed personalities of the musicians as they communicate this bed time story.

In a Mellow Tone (Jay, Corey, Matt)This is a laid back version of this great standard by Duke Ellington. The hard swing is reminiscent of the Count Basie tradition. Most guitarists modernize the voicings when playing in a “Freddie Green Style”. Here Cory is using authentic and traditional Freddie Green voicings.

Royal Garden Blues (Jay, Corey, Matt) – This is my bebop arrangement of an old tune made famous by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. I trade choruses with Jay toward the end of the song.