Songs from the Bay

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Songs from the Bay

Songs from the Bay
Paul Chasman
Featuring Doug Smith, guitar
Hamilton Cheifetz, cello

Conversations For Two Guitars
Paul Chasman, 1st guitar
Doug Smith, 2nd guitar

I call these pieces Conversations because that is how I think of them. Although I have used the labels "1st guitar and 2nd guitar," this is more for the purpose of identification than to designate order of importance. My intention is to create two guitar parts that weave in and out of each other, harmonize, trade ideas, and respond to each other, much like a conversation.

1. Big Guy Strikes Again (4:07)
In my second guitar sonata, I wrote a piece called Ode To the Big Guy, which I dedicated to J.S. Bach. I am in awe of Bach. I can't imagine a more perfect balance of intellect and spirit. He teaches me and inspires me. To me, he is The Big Guy. In this piece, I took a Bach theme, twisted it inside out, put it into 7/8 time, and went from there.

2. Shimmering (4:32)
I visualize a million fragments of golden sunlight as they dance and sparkle on the blue water of the Alsea Bay. 

3. Ancestors (3:45)
My mother was a concert pianist and still plays. My dad was an English teacher and now he is a writer. My family carries a centuries old history of musicians, artists, and poets from Russia and Germany. This piece is dedicated with gratitude to all those who lived, loved, struggled, and created for so many generations before. 

4. The Great Escape (2:39) 
This piece is about getting out of the city and moving to the country.

Prelude: Ancient Wonders (2:36)
Paul Chasman, 1st guitar
Doug Smith, 2nd guitar
Hamilton Cheifetz, cello 

Ancient Wonders are the giant old growth spruce and cedar trees in the Drift Creek Wilderness. I wanted to write a piece that felt organic, static yet teeming with inner movement and life, and forever reaching upward.

Suite For Cello and Guitar: 
Songs From The Bay
Paul Chasman, guitar
Hamilton Cheifetz, cello 

When I have written music in the past, I have usually composed the music first, then figured out what it represented to me afterwards. This is the is the first time I have intentionally set out to write music based on a set of subjects. This suite is inspired by different aspects of life with Anna near the beautiful Alsea Bay on the Central Oregon Coast..

1. Mother Ocean, Father Sea (6:02)
When I go to the ocean, I feel that I have come home. The ocean gives me a magnificent blend of nurture and power.

2. Majestic Elk (4:46)
A herd of about thirty elk periodically graces us with their presence, as they graze in the pasture below. 

3. Return of the Swallows (2:10)
Every year, swallow families make their nest on an overhead railing in the garage. They lay their eggs, raise their babies, give them aviation lessons, and take off, leaving the nest for the next family. Our tenants insist that we leave the door open and park the car outside.

4. Alsea Bay (3:54)
The bay changes its face with the tides, with the seasons, when the sun sets and rises, when the moon glides over. In a moment, it can turn from ominous gray to azure blue, from waves to glass. Yet it is a constant in our lives.

5. Dog Dance (Sitka and Clyde) (3:51)
Sitka is a Malamute. Clyde is a Rottweiller. Though Clyde is stronger and faster, Sitka is boss due to her vastly superior brain. Sitka loves to explore, Clyde lives to chase balls. When Clyde is chasing a ball that has been thrown for the 100th time, Sitka gets mad, steals the ball, and sings, "Na-na-na-na-na, I've got your ball and you can't have it!" Clyde forlornly watches until Sitka gets bored and abandons the ball. Clyde then scoops it up, trots to the nearest human, and awaits the 101st throw. The guitar is Sitka, the cello is Clyde.

6. Home (4:28)
There is nowhere I would rather be.  

"Songs from the Bay opens with Big Guy Strikes Again, a tribute to Bach...The 'Again' refers to a portion of his Second Guitar Sonata (1998), called Ode to the Big Guy, a fairly straightforward rendition of Bach's style in strict 2/4 time.  The new piece is trickier, looser: Chasman took a Bach theme, 'twisted it inside out,' and set in 7/8 time.

"The four Conversations for Two Guitars include the limpid Shimmering and a waltz tribute to Chasman's German and Russian forbears, Ancestors.  The finale, The Great Escape, has the two guitars dashing at breakneck speed, sometimes in parallel motion, sometimes passing the melodic line back and forth between them, before the sudden relief of four chords and a single unison note.

"(Doug) Smith and Chasman are joined by (Hamilton) Cheifetz for Ancient Wonders, a Prelude to the Cello and Guitar Suite, which depicts the giant spruce and cedar trees near Waldport.  The Suite itself includes programmatic portraits of the ocean (gorgeous, bittersweet power), the elk (haunting cello passages with delicate underpinning from the guitar), the swallows (a brisk allegro that Cheifetz says is almost like a 'country fiddling tune'), and Alsea Bay (reminiscent of Camille Saint-Saens' The Swan).

"The most entertaining movement is Dog Dance (Sitka and Clyde)' in which the guitar portrays Chasman's smart Malamute, and the cello as his stronger, good-natured Rottweiler.  The former gambols and picks snappishly while the latter galumphs along.

"Cheifetz, who has worked in the past with classical guitarist and composer Bryan Johanson, says, 'They write in very different styles, although both are inspired by nature.'  Chasman's work is 'kind of folk and country and classical combined, but he has a real nice feeling for melody and how the cello and guiar can work together.' "

--The Oregonion

Paul Chasman composed the music on this CD. Most recently he has composed and recorded two sonatas for solo guitar, transcribed and recorded Sergei Prokofiev's Seventh Piano Sonata for solo guitar, and played as a member of the Acoustic Guitar Summit (which also features Doug Smith, Terry Robb, and Mark Hanson). Paul writes a regular column on his website sharing insights on a range of musical issues, guitar techniques, and theory.

Hamilton Cheifetz has received international recognition as a performer and recording artist. Fanfare Magazine wrote: "Cheifetz is unquestionably a magnificent player." A former student of Janos Starker, he has played at the White House and Sydney Opera House and has often been heard on NPR's Performance Today. The winner of the Piatigorsky Prize, he is Professor of Music at Portland State University, cellist of the Florestan Trio, and has been guest artist with the Toronto, Milwaukee, and Oregon Symphonies.

Doug Smith has studied guitar since childhood, ultimately majoring in the classical guitar. After hearing fingerstylist John Renbourn, Doug switched to the steel-string. He has over a dozen recordings to his credit, including his popular CD's Order of Magnitude and Alone at Last. His music is heard on radio, TV, and film. He thanks Paul for the opportunity to resurrect his classical "chops" for this project.

 "The trio works together with considerable chemistry.  Chasman and Smith interweave their guitar voicings with fluid ease, and Cheifetz's cello exudes its usual warmth.  There are moments of pluck and Baroque brightness. Exquisite musicianship."

--Willamette Week

To describe Paul Chasmans music and the sounds that emerge from his guitar is almost a spiritual experience for people familiar with his history of musical development.  To hear his Guitar combined with Cellist Hamilton Cheifetz and Guitarist Doug Smith is a musical journey not soon forgotten. These Musicians truly play for the absolute love of their instruments and the purity of sound that is seldom found in today's musical world.  Having discovered Paul Chasman on previous CD's (Real Songs, Sonatas & Prokofiev), in addition to some of his earlier works, I feel I have had an inside track on a musician that is coming to the forefront of todays World class Guitarists. Do not miss the opportunity to become familiar with Guitarist Paul Chasmans musicianship and songwriting.  Truly a musical experience that will give you a new perspective on the infinite array of sounds and emotions that can be brought forth on an acoustic and classical Guitar. This CD is treasure.

--Jeffery A. Brown on Amazon. com

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Accompanied by Dan and Laurie Gatley on bass and vocals, Paul Chasman returns with 11 new original tunes that will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you think. With his trademark sparkling guitar at the forefront, Paul’s poetic lyrics contrast life and mortality; grief and celebration; and light that penetrates the dark.