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Jazz: World Fusion Moods: Featuring Guitar Latin: Latin Jazz

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Vincent Pasternak

The Barcelona Note Book features eight original compositions played on a classical guitar. The songs started out as simple sketches for me back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s when I lived as a student in Barcelona, and I was content at that time to play them out as simple guitar solos. Back then, I recorded these songs however I could: first on cassette machines or quarter inch stereo tape decks. Eventually, when the opportunity arose, I moved my material on to 4- and 8-track machines where I added sand blocks and a triangle in order to mimic a real rhythm section. I also threw in a bit of scat singing to go along with my guitar melodies.

Writing lyrics came much later. I always knew what the imagery for these compositions was about: an old Spanish monastery; a little village where the only paved road was a main street that passed through the center of town; a sunny afternoon party where little children tried their luck at whacking candy and toy trinkets from a piñata; a young family’s excursion via funicular up to the top of Barcelona’s Mount Tibidabo. The songs acted as musical postcards to my friends, each one sent with a personal greeting that said, “Wish You Were Here”.


Even though many, many years were to pass by from their inception, those musical impressions from my days in Barcelona remain as vivid and real to me as the first time I experienced them. And the simple sketches have been now been filled in with the help of a number of incredible soloists and musicians. Ken Lovelett is the driving rhythmic force using his vast array of drums and percussion instruments, many of which are hand made at American Percussion by Ken in his Mount Tremper, NY workshop. Jim Curtin played spot-on bass lines during the earliest sessions we did at Sonart Recording Studios. Pete Levin added keyboards, string arrangements, and Hammond B3 organ tracks. His brother, Tony Levin, took time out from his busy touring schedule to lay down 4- and 5-string electric bass parts while Peter engineered. Jordan Jancz brought along his bows, his cello and his double bass, and longtime friend and music collaborator Barbara Truex played dulcimer on Aurelia.

I‘m still dazzled by the beauty and emotion brought by the many soloists who appear on The Barcelona Note Book. Nicole Pasternak’s lead vocal and vocal harmonies bring sweetness and clarity to every track she sings on. Roswell Rudd’s trombone makes Eulalia’s Happy Day one of the happiest days ever. Ralph Lalama, on tenor sax, takes us for a joyous ride along La Carretera a Bilbao. Sala Jordi has not one, but two soloing highlights for me: Pete Levin’s buttery smooth piano solo in the middle of the track, and where Mederick Bellaire’s mandolin and Pete’s keyboard start trading fours during the song’s outro. Ali Ryerson’s Piñata flute solo soars throughout the entire song. And during Aurelia, Steve Gorn instills a perfect, pensive melancholy mood with his bansuri flutes, while Mederick Bellaire’s absolutely lyric electric guitar solo guides us home on the final track of the CD.


All told, it’s taken over 47 years for me to bring these songs to you. I do hope that you’ll find the wait was worthwhile…

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