Compositions of 'Yellow Bell / Svadharma' CD


This CD is a collection of groups with the common thread being the Yellow Bell "Concept" (derived from the Yellow Bell Legend), and of course myself. Basically recorded in two parts over a period of five years. I explain this evolution in more detail in The recording of Svadharma.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

This is a Mantra from Kundalini Yoga. It is used to "tune in " to your higher self before meditation. I included it here on 'Svadharma' to help the listeners to "tune in". Amit Chaterjee is featured here on the lead Vocal. We had goose bumps and chills up our spine at the session when he sang. It is also featured on the 'Yellow Bell / Sa Ta Na Ma' Kundalini Meditation CD, but without Amit's lovely vocal so as to allow the listener the opportunity to "tune in " for meditation.

Bop-Ras

Originally conceived as a Flamenco piece to feature the percussive footwork of that art form, Bop-Ras had to be re-thought when the lead dancer got lost on the highway during a rainstorm She never showed up the night of the recording and then decided to drop out of the project. The dancer I regularly work with was out of town for the near future so I decided to compose a melody for Bansuri (Indian bamboo flute) and double it with bowed Acoustic Bass. Adding the funky Baritone Sax part also happened after we had begun the recording of the tune.

Bell Peace

Recorded at one of the original Yellow Bell sessions, this tune used a large ensemble live. The melodies of the piece are built on a diminished scale, and were sketched out the day of the session and then doubled later with vocals. I talked the group through the transitions at the session. I tried to leave as much freedom to the individual as possible.

Dizi Gigue

This is one of the more composed pieces on the CD. I conceived the melody as an Irish Gigue in a major scale and used a rhythm of 14/4 divided in half into two groups of seven, and then further sub-dividing it into 4-3-3-4. I think of this as a palindromic meter, and continue to enjoy playing this sort of rhythm. I first used this time signature in 'Botswana Waltz' on the 'Yellow Bell / bamboo dynasty' CD.

Yellow Bell Pop

Another piece from the original sessions. A melody still not recorded with full sound to this day, (I plan on recording it on my next music project) this was actually the intro played on Alto flute while breathing lightly and popping the keys.

Sea Gospel

Also from the original sessions, this is probably the closest to a straight-ahead tune, but of course no chordal instruments.

"Five"

Michael Moses and I had found this sonority using the Dizi (Chinese bamboo flute), the Wah-Wah bells, and his double Ocarina on the 'Riversticks / Ferryman's Release' CD. I wanted a chance to develop the sound and the day of the session Michael proposed doing something in 5/4, hence the title of the piece.

Dharana

Another tune from the original Yellow Bell sessions the basic idea was written on a live "Free Jazz" gig I did one night. Based on a 6 note scale using two major triads a half step apart (G and F# concert) , for awhile I called this tune "six-note". Later, a minor seventh (E) was added because it seemed to need it.
Again, at the session I tried to give people in the large ensemble "roles" but not complete written parts. We talked it through and rolled the tape. Yes we actually still used tape at that point! Dharana is one of the eight limbs of Yoga meaning "one pointed concentration".

Dhyana

The name of this tune means "meditation". It uses a one-note drone and I improvised the piece based on the sound of a I Major tonic chord and a IV minor chord.

Bar-Bar-A

Named after my partner since 1993, actress / dancer Barbara Sloan, who I perform together with as Duo DADA. Her name fits a rhythm in 3 (the piece is in 6). Salvidor Dali used to pronounce his wife's name by separating the syllables. I joked around with saying Barbara's name like that after we saw a movie about Dali and it stuck for a while.
I played two tabla drums instead of the usual pair of Tabla and Bayan, and used some large Indian Brass bells, scraping and striking them to round out the percussion sound. The melody had been improvised one night at a session and then developed later.

Reprise (Dharana)

Another of the original sessions this was almost an afterthought at the end of the second night. With a smaller group and electric bass we did a short take of the coda from the original 'Dharana'.

Nile Eyes

This tune was from a session Abby Rader led. With no overdubs I played the Tenor and Soprano Saxes at the same time. Thanks for letting me include it on Svadahrma, Abbey.

Read the complete review, and about the musicians and instrumentation of 'Svadharma'.