Don Strong | Seasons of Love

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Seasons of Love

by Don Strong

Beloved vocal jazz standards redefined, re-imagined and re-mixed with energetic, updated, R&B grooves. Featuring Grammy award-winning pianist Fred Lipsius and an ensemble of great jazz/funk players from Minneapolis.
Genre: Jazz: Soul-Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. A Foggy Day
4:19 $1.29
clip
2. Fly Me to the Moon
4:35 $1.29
clip
3. April in Paris
5:40 $1.29
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4. Come Rain or Come Shine
5:23 $1.29
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5. Summertime
4:51 $1.29
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6. On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
4:50 $1.29
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7. Autumn Leaves
4:43 $1.29
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8. Moonlight in Vermont
3:31 $1.29
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9. Ariele (Little Girl Magic)
4:20 $1.29
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10. It Had to Be You
3:54 $1.29
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11. Pennies from Heaven
5:15 $1.29
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12. They Can't Take That Away from Me
4:10 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
SEASONS OF LOVE
DON STRONG
vocalist / guitarist / producer

The Players:
Don Strong- vocals / guitar / piccolo guitar DS
Fred Lipsius- piano / keyboards FL
Nathan Norman- drums NN
Jeff Bailey- acoustic and electric bass JB
Lee Blaske- keyboards LB
Serge Akou- 5-string electric bass SA
Greg Paulus- trumpet GP
Special guests:
Andrew Schwandt- tenor sax on "A Foggy Day” AS
Tom Pieper- acoustic bass on “Ariele" TP

The Songs:

A FOGGY DAY
By George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
DS, FL, JB, NN, GP, AS

FLY ME TO THE MOON
By Bart Howard
DS, FL, JB, NN, GP

APRIL IN PARIS
By Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg
DS, LB, SA, NN

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE
By Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer
DS, LB, SA, NN

SUMMERTIME
By George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, and Dubose Heyward
DS, LB, SA, NN

ON A CLEAR DAY (YOU CAN SEE FOREVER)
By Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner
DS, FL, JB, NN, GP

AUTUMN LEAVES
By Joseph Kosma, John Mercer and Jacques Prevert
DS, FL, JB, NN, GP

MOONLIGHT IN VERMONT
By John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf
DS, FL, JB, NN, GP

ARIELE (Little Girl Magic)
Words and music By Don Strong and Don Strachan
DS, FL, TP NN

IT HAD TO BE YOU
By Isham Jones and Gus Kahn
DS, FL, JB, NN

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN
By John Burke and Arthur Johnston
DS, LB, SA, NN

THEY CANT TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME
By George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
DS, FL, JB, NN


Don’s Narrative:

From 2000 to 2003, I had been doing a series of successful vocal quartet gigs at a several of the then many jazz venues in the Twin Cities. I was eager to record some of the new grooves and hip-hop flavored treatments of jazz standards that my quartet had been experimenting with. There was a particular pianist that I had worked with, whom I was very excited to record. This most excellent musician, was an expert accompanist to several prominent local jazz vocalists. In addition, he had a great handle on R&B and gospel flavors, that I really wanted to tap into.

The morning of our early session was the first time I ever heard the now-popular expression “I feel you”. I got a text about an hour before our recording date. It reported that our pianist had a sudden work conflict and would be unable to make our creative appointment. Needless to say, I was not happy. This musician was to be the harmonic backbone, perhaps the key, to my new concept and sound. I called him to express my chagrin. Upon hearing my emotional outcry of disappointment, he replied by saying… “I FEEL you”. Since this urban slang term of compassionate sympathy was unknown to me at the time, I was dumbfounded. You FEEL me? You FEEL ME? So, feelings aside, I had to find another pianist at 9:00AM on a weekday morning who could make a recording gig in one hour in Excelsior, Minnesota AND who could expertly and artfully play jazz, funk, R&B, and gospel to boot. It seemed an impossible request. However, Nathan Norman, our marvelous drummer, suggested soft-spoken Minnesotan Lee Blaske, a well-respected local player who actually lived in the picturesque little town where the studio was located. By phone I asked Mr. Blaske if he would be comfortable playing untraditional, somewhat funky grooves on jazz standards. He quietly assured me that after recently doing string charts for Janet Jackson, he would be quite able to catch my musical drift. He was 5 minutes away from us and miraculously- he was available. That day, we cut four excellent tracks with Lee, Nathan, Serge Akou and myself.

With film school and a day job in full swing, it took me a year to get back to SEASONS. For the next eight tunes, I had the honor to work again with my old friend Fred Lipsius of Blood Sweat & Tears fame. We had worked together in Boston on PARADISE LOST & FOUND, the 1993 CD release of my original tunes which also features Fred. Mr. Lipsius was in Minneapolis a few days early for an annual Worldwide seminar presented by ECKANKAR- a spiritual interest that we both share. He agreed to record piano on several tracks at “Suite B” my basement home studio. With some funky Yamaha hip-hop drum loops as a metronome, Fred played amazing comps as I sang. Old pal Mark Buchanan was our recording engineer. Shortly after, bassist Jeff Bailey, Nathan Norman (or “Mr. Tasty” known for his melodic, always tasteful, drumming) and young trumpeter Greg Paulus were called back to Monkey Pod to fill in the rhythm and solo blanks. The ensuing musical melange was magic.

Due to several long detours with film, school, work and life, it took me fifteen years to get to mixing and mastering SEASONS OF LOVE. Thanks to Todd Fitzgerald and master engineer Josh Levy at Winterland Studios, we were able to re-assemble all of the digital puzzle pieces and let this bad baby boy finally jump up and sing for the world to see and hear!
. . .
I want to express profound gratitude to all my teachers, supporters and collaborators over the years, especially the following: the awe-inspiring and liberating jazz guitar guru- the late, great Bruce Johnson, Manhattan singer-songwriter Pat Holley, my dear vocal coach from the mid-80s in NYC, my friend and collaborator Fred Lipsius, Grammy award-winning master musician, pianist, saxophonist and arranger. Many thanks as well to recording engineer Glenn Curtis at Monkey Pod, Mark Buchanan at Creative Air, my wife and collaborator in life, Semerit Michele Strachan for her beautiful artwork and compassionate patience and all the wonderful Minneapolis musicians who shared their skill, art and creativity in making this fine record.

This CD is dedicated to the memory of Louis Cruz, my dear, longtime musician friend and collaborator.

In all seasons, love lives always.

— Don Strong

4 July 2019


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