Further Adventures Liner Notes by producer Don Stiernberg
It might amaze you to learn that this record is the first to feature John Carlini's guitar playing exclusively. Sure, he's made other recordings, but they were usually of the "shared spotlight" variety. Here we have John right in the middle of a great rhythm section and studio, sharing the type of melodic vocabulary, harmonic wisdom, and fretboard intimacy that can only come from a man who's given his life over to music and the guitar.
There are reasons why it's taken so long for a record of this type to appear, just as there are reasons why you may be hearing John play for the first time. Simply put, making others sound good has always been fine with him. John's musical vision incorporates large doses of subtlety and an arranger's ear for the musical whole. This approach is different in that realm known as "the music business" where we're all trying to be loud enough, fast enough, young enough, or anything enough to cut through all that's out there and earn a few minutes of your attention. Maestro Carlini tends rather to concern himself with - you guessed it - the actual music and how it sounds.
Where does this "all music" makeup come from? His classical musician parents? His training? I don't know, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that it's there. I'll go to meet John for a gig or session and invariably one of the first things he'll say will be, "We need to play", followed by, "We should look at the music." We may have just dealt with all the things travelers commonly deal with, but it's still always, "We need to play."
In workshops John points out the commonality between the improvising musician and the painter who contemplates an empty canvas. He'll say, "I like to throw stuff out there and see what sticks." On the way to the stage he might allay nervousness by reminding himself, "I've played the guitar for 50 years, I oughta be able to do something!" In the privacy of his home his reverence for music is apparent. Shrinelike displays abound - mostly pictures of musicians who have inspired him. The man who showed him how to play G Major Seventh gets the same honorific status as J.S. Bach, who observed that "All music should glorify the Creator".
I could tell you more things you didn't know about John Carlini, but the real stories are his to tell and are already here inside these tunes. Somehow he touches on all of his strongest interests in music - jazz, classical, bluegrass, arranging and improvisation. And it all sounds so easy - that is, until you pick up your own guitar and try to duplicate any of it! For you guitarists, by the way, here's a quick key to the Carlini style: sometimes you play with a pick, sometimes with your fingers, sometimes with your thumb. Knowing the traditions helps, as does fretboard knowledge imparted by the likes of Bill Leavitt and Mick Goodrick. For voicings and arrangements, check out players on other instruments that can function orchestrally, like Bill Evans or Gary Burton. And for melodies, in the words of Natale Mugavero, "Wait for the right note."
Indeed it might sound easy, but as Johnny Gimble says, "A man's only as good as his rhythm section!" Here again we have the good fortune to have Jim Cox and Phil Gratteau, favorites of artists in all styles, not only in their native Chicago, but also from coast to coast. Jim and Phil brought their usual drive and generosity, and helped a great deal in crystallizing John's ideas. We're all grateful to Steve Rashid for creating such a terrific working environment, keeping things upbeat, swinging, and musical, and for knowing how acoustic instruments sound.
And that leads us to the producer. Enough about the producer, except that he thanks you for listening and concludes by saying, "Bravo, Maestro. Thank you and...'We Need to Play.'"
John Carlini’s Comments on the Tunes
I have always dug this Cedar Walton classic. When Paul LeStock sent me a fabulous 7-string guitar, it became the first "chord-melody" tune I worked out on the instrument. Recording it with Jim and Phil was a treat!
You Must Believe In Spring
I learned this remarkable tune from listening to, and transcribing, a Bill Evans recording. Bill demonstrated the art of musical dialogue on the highest level in his recording, "Conversations with Myself". It's something I've wanted to try on acoustic guitars, and I'm grateful for the opportunity.
The Days of Wine and Roses
Another master, who gave us so many gems. I got the idea of playing the first half in one key and the 2nd half in another key a minor 3rd higher from pianist, Bill Evans. In an interview with Marion McPartland, he suggested that she try it on a gig. I took that as an invitation for all of us! Bill Evans is an ongoing inspiration for anyone who loves music.
Chega de Saudade
I never want to stray far from this beautiful melody by Antonio Carlos Jobim. It is a joy to play.
The great Nat King Cole got this tune into all of our ears with his priceless classic recording. I enjoy playing it as a solo piece on the 7-string. In the studio it became a swinging trio statement. What a ball!
Autumn in New York
Another classic, this one by Vernon Duke...masterful melody, chord changes, and key relationships...and a perfect trio vehicle. Dedicated to an ongoing lifetime of Manhattan memories.
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Meaning, roughly, the highest point of learning, by Claude Debussy. My mother, Phyllis Carlini, was a brilliant classical pianist and this piece was in her repertoire. It is usually performed at a "brisk" tempo. I learned the first section on the guitar from her sheet music. I thought the melodic lines were so beautiful that they could be savored more fully at a slower tempo. Then the "jazz voice" spoke to me and (respectfully!) I wrote into the piece and came up with this adaptation.
By the master, Charlie Parker!
We did precious little overdubbing on the recording, but when the opportunity appeared to do some writing in the form of a "3-horn" (3 guitar) chart at the end, I tracked all 3 parts. Lots o' fun! Said producer, Don Stiernberg, "Check your tuning!"
Ocean of Diamonds
The King of Bluegrass!
I have always thought of Jimmy as the Thelonius Monk of bluegrass music. His musical forms are full of the unexpected.
I'd been experimenting with "Ocean" for a year or so. I think it's found a new home in my "book"!
T for Me
T is for my wife, Terry, who, even on the cloudiest of days, makes it seem as though the sun is shining.
And, man, can these guys play a samba! I just want it to keep going!
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans
I love this tune! I learned it from New Jersey-based dixieland drummer, Chuck Slate. After I came home from years on the road, Chuck hired me and taught me about music all over again!
Both Sides Now
I've been playing this great Joanie Mitchell song for many years. It always seemed drawn to the Gospel side, so I just let it go!
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