I've been producing Jay Rosen (1961, Philadelphia, PA) for about 10 years. For almost half of that time Jay has been prodding to do a solo drum recording. We tried around the turn of the century, but the parts never equated a whole and since then his thrust had been met with my parry until...
Afterhis father died (Jan. 28, 2005), Jay spoke to me again of this project, saying that he had stuff he had to "get out" and felt he now had all the parts for the whole. I was somewhat resistive and even more skeptical, wanting to avoid both compromising our friendship and professional relationshipand being a participant in setting up Jay for a disappointment that involved something I had no doubt was important to him.
Even so, I agreed to extend our efforts on behalf of his efforts but with the absolute understanding that I had my doubts going in and that those doubts would have to be erased before I'd consider a release; no guarantees. My goal was to produce a record that would satisfy a concert listening and hold up to later revisits. An easy directive—heck, I'm not the drummer. On the other hand, I've seen Jay put himself—and be put—in other situations that many wouldconsider extremely demanding and risky for a percussionist and succeed past "just meeting" the task.
The task is not easy for a solo record of any instrument. The strategy was to record in one hour sections with plenty of rest between sets. Jay arrived on the evening of the 20th, spent a coupleof hours setting up the drums/percussion, and got some sleep. Around noon the next day he did a rather prolonged sound check with Marc and we began the first set around 2:30 p.m. Jay opened appropriately and traditionally with a press roll, went into an exposition on the toms, then stopped, picked up the snare off the stand—its calfskin head ripped open—and said, "Well, there's one..." I asked him if he needed another head and he said, "No. I've got another drum." That's preparedness. He then launched into Part #1, following a similar trajectory of the previous (incomplete) take.
Once we got underway it quickly became apparent to me that one hour sets would be greatly made up of silence: the space that followed each drum statement when Jay would go mute and withdraw into himself to re-energize and re-conceptualize. As the takes mounted, I soon appreciated their self-containments; each construction a self-contained solo drum unit as opposed to a series of "drum solos." And, for this listener, there was the pleasure of the construct and development of the improvisation therein, as well as from the anticipation of each new exposition's direction and form.
These sessions are a cumulation of many things: a relationship of son to father, 43 years of life, 10 years with CIMP, and Jay's 40th CIMP release. Ten years ago it was apparent to me that Jay was an unusually sensitive drummer with quick, often uncannily intuitive ears and a range of expression. Overthe years I've seen Jay mature further in all these areas and watched his drum paraphernalia expand. But the basic set is the same and the organ pipes (used so effectively on Part #6)—even the propeller (Part #9)—are still in tow, all part of the growing depth and maturity of Jay Rosen.
Solodrum recordings often get lost in technique; it is, after all, not the paradiddle—it's the paradiddler. Certainly there is technique to be admired here, but both Jay's and my aim is about the music. With any CIMP recording, my aim is to present a concert listening, to transport the willing, ina dedicated listen, to an emotionally satisfying musical experience. For me, this recording satisfies that aim.
Jay chose to stay in a consistent rhythmic spectrum which forced him to not only approach each piece with individual creativity but also to give special attention to subtlety of expression and musical nuance. Within that spectrum, however, is a wide contrast that includes the humor of Part #5 and the sobering suggestions of Part #6. And while Jay reaches in his statements, he continues to stay listener-friendly, even on the more expansive multipart pieces such as Part #7. Inspiredby a serious occurrence, this concert is both passionate and very intimate, but throughout it is celebratory of a life and hopefully in some way also becomes
celebratory to the listener.
Robert D. Rusch - March 22, 2005