Liner notes for Solos, Robin Holcomb/Wayne Horvitz

1Reno4:15
2Tired3:43
3Armageddon5:09
4The Pleasures of Motion2:27
5Joannaís Solo3:10
6Before the Comet Comes13:14
7Stars Fell on Alabama2:50
8Interpretation #12:30
9The Road to Zamora1:56
10Buttermilk Hill5:46
11Up Do1:51
12Interpretation #22:52
13Done For3:22
14Crispin and Lisaís Duet3:59

I donít take much stock in psychic interaction but I was mildly stunned when Tony Reif from Songlines called one day.  "Wayne, why donít we do a record where you and Robin both play solo piano?"  The thing is, I had just had the exact same thought days before.  I just wasnít sure if it was a great idea or a really corny one.   A certain logic - married almost 25 years, both pianists, and irrevocably influenced by each otherís music.  Then again, like I said - corny?  Well, Tonyís phone call nailed it.  My grandfather said, "If ten people tell you youíre drunk, sit down."  This wasnít ten - but two, inclusive, was enough for me.

Originally we had planned to play some pieces of each otherís, and in fact we did record some.  Neither Robin nor I like long CDs (with some obvious exceptions), so some pretty nice takes did hit the cutting room floor.  Time on CDs seems like money in the bank - whatever you have you use.  With great discipline we have tried to avoid that, although this CD still comes in 15 minutes longer than my 100 most favorite records.  The first track, by Robin, is Reno and in fact I did do a couple of takes myself of this.  It is a real gem, and sentimental as well.  When Robin and I first lived together in Santa Cruz she was on a mission to write a tune a day which she actually kept up for a while.  This one comes from that period.  Next is my composition Tired, which Iíve also recorded with my quartet on "Forever".

The next tune is a classic Wayne Shorter composition, Armageddon.  This tune has my favorite chord progression of all time, using the major chord based on the flat 6th of the key in a minor blues (works great on a major tonic as well).  I loved this chord when Albert Collins used it, I loved it when Kurt Cobain used it in about half his tunes, and Iíve overused it in my own music for almost 30 years.   There is a beautiful moment in bars 10 and 11 where Shorter II Vís down to Eb7 from Bb minor and then up to the Gb that is just one of those reasons to keep on living, where you stop and go, "there - thatís it." Anyway, I tried to save the best for last in this take.  The Pleasure in Motion is one of Robinís two free improvisations on the CD.  By contrast the next two pieces are both through composed without any improvisation.  First, Joannaís Solo, which I wrote in a castle in Italy and used in a score for the Crispin Spaeth Dance Company.  Next is Robinís Before the Comet Comes.  This is a beautiful suite of music, written for a theater piece of the same name, and really the centerpiece of the CD.  About 13 minutes long, it goes right to the heart of what makes Robinís music so unique and compelling.

If we had a side B this is where it would start.  Iíve been fooling around with Stars Fell on Alabama for a few years now, although not exactly on a daily basis.   We got this late at night - it sure doesnít sound anything like Teddy Wilson, but it exists because of how much Iíve always loved his playing. Interpretation #1 is one of two improvised pieces of mine.  The Road to Zamora, Robinís tune, also comes from that time in Santa Cruz.  Zamora is on the map of the beautiful rice country south of Sacramento, but doesnít currently exist. Buttermilk Hill is a traditional American ballad ("Johnnyís Gone for a Soldier").  I ripped off the basic arrangement of the theme and harmony from Robin, who sings this from time to time. Up Do is a tune Robin used to do with a trio and a quintet in NY, sort of a fractured swing tune.

Interpretation #2 is also improvised.  It is really my favorite of my contributions to this CD, and I find it interesting because I donít think Robin would ever improvise a piece like this, and yet in my playing here so much of it reminds me of something Robin might compose.  Done ForĒ is a Robin improvisation.  I close with Crispin and Lisaís Duet, written for the same score as Joannaís Solo.  This tune opens my CD, "From a Window", with the Four Plus One Ensemble, so it seemed fitting to close with it here.

Hope you enjoy the music.

Wayne Horvitz
Seattle 2004