Dear funkateers, you might have come here via one of the buttons on my latest…
I love Gargoyles! I was most delighted when a good friend of ours presented me with a miniature Gargoyle – he was immediately nicknamed ‘Mr Goyle’. He always looks grumpy – no matter if it rains or shines – there is a good amount of stoicism about him (well, he is made of stone) – and I thought he would be well worth having his own tune.
Looking at him I thought a ‘moody’ tune would fit him well and I started noodling about on the piano. I wanted something sparse but also harmonically rich and at times ambiguous, and yes, yet again I wanted to feature the fantastic sound of a tenor saxophone. Maybe because I grew up with the ‘Pink Panther’ cartoon and the wonderful tune with the same name by Henri Mancini. As a child I didn’t know that the magical sound was created by Plas Johnson on tenor sax but I surely enjoyed the vibe every time the tune came in.
Although ‘Mr Goyle’ is not a typical Funkestra funk tune (if there is such a thing) I’m really happy with this composition – I like that it is harmonically rich and has at times a lot of space in it – we totally love performing this tune, although we are still getting used to the audience reaction after a more ‘introspective’ tune, rather than the full out funk stuff we predominantly strut at our gigs.
When it came to the choice of the tenor saxophone player to record the lead on this tune our drummer Mike Sturgis, yet again, proposed I should get in touch with another one of his University of Miami College peers Rick Margitza (I love the fact that both Rick Margitza and Andy Snitzer know each other from these days too). I was aware of Rick Margitza before Mike mentioned him to him through his work with Miles Davis and was super-excited to get in touch with him. Luckily for me Rick lives in Paris and is also a super-friendly and musically totally committed guy. We talked about the Plas Johnson vibe (and range) and I still remember the first time I heard Rick’s finished solo – I was totally mesmerized and blown away – Mr Goyle totally agreed – if only he could show it:-)
Importantly I also must mention the wonderful string arrangement by Pete Whitfield – Pete worked with me on ‘Funky Barbarella’ (from ‘The Cooker’ album) and I’ve loved his work ever since. I thought this tune would be perfectly suited for one of his lush string arrangements on top of the rich harmony and Rick’s outer-wordily beautiful solo. Pete’s arrangement also complements the horn arrangement by Michael B Nelson really well. As always it is totally exciting for me what another arranger will bring to one of my tunes. In Michael’s case he really surprised me with how he approach my initial horn arrangement and how he, without a trace of doubt, improved and built upon my ideas.
I really hope that listeners of ‘The Time Thief’ will dig this tune as much as I do – even though it is stretching further afield than some of the other tunes, perhaps reminiscent of the broad stylistic spectrum of ‘Falling From Insanity’. Looking forward to your thoughts!
Watch the students of the Royal Northern College of Music (the RNCM session orchestra) perform ‘Mr Goyle‘ whilst I’m waving my iPad around. 29 musicians on stage – what fun! A big thanks to Peter Tomasso who has adopted the five horn arrangement of the album to the classic Big Band horn section of 13 strong.