Jack Brand | Batik Journey

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Batik Journey

by Jack Brand

A wide-ranging mix of styles make up this mesmerizing and captivating album - songs of struggle and emergence, of darkness and light.
Genre: Pop: Piano
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Introit
0:31 $0.99
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2. Sacrifight
3:16 $0.99
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3. Ascending
2:59 $0.99
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4. Drowning
5:01 $0.99
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5. Grey
3:43 $0.99
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6. I Am (feat. Gillian Shepodd)
3:11 $0.99
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7. This Old Dream
3:46 $0.99
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8. Dry Bones
3:37 $0.99
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9. In The Quiet Stillness (feat. Michael Johnson)
2:30 $0.99
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10. Carry On
4:21 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
When Jack Brand was 6, a piano teacher called the house looking for students. His mother polled the family for interest but his older sister was the only one who decided to take lessons. Later that night, before Jack fell asleep, something inside him made him call his mother into his bedroom where he told her he had changed his mind, and also wanted to take piano lessons. Thus the musical journey began...

One of his first piano teachers included heavy doses of music theory and ear training in the lessons, and Jack didn’t know any better than to think this was just the norm, as opposed to an extraordinary gift. His understanding of music theory led him in future years to explore the musical secrets of every type of music he encountered - and to be able to listen to and figure out whatever popular songs he put his mind to. Self-taught as a teen on guitar, he made a pact with himself in high school never to go to bed without having learned one new thing that day - a new chord or a piece of a song he wanted to learn. More than once he would lay in bed, realize he had not met the day’s goal, jump up and grab the guitar, and quickly and quietly figure out something before sleeping. He preferred learning by ear, and never considered himself anything but a lazy sight reader.

Born into a family of engineers, he dutifully enrolled in college as a student of Electrical Engineering. This was to last only a year, when he realized he just wasn’t cut out for it. His father, a PhD Engineer, drove him the 3 hours to the University of Missouri in Columbia to help him figure out how to be a music major. Since piano was his main instrument, he was sent upstairs to audition for the Piano Performance professor, who after hearing a few bars, diplomatically suggested perhaps he should go back downstairs and have a chat with the head of the Theory department… A year into a Theory major Jack took his first Composition class, and after the first couple of assignments the professor pulled him aside and persuaded him to please switch to Composition as his field of study. He did. Jack was writing his composition assignments in a way he secretly thought was cheating: “I would just make up pieces I thought sounded good.”

Post college, Jack’s musical interests were evenly split between his “classical” training, and his love for pop, rock and folk music. He studied filmscoring at UCLA, and worked on developing his songwriting craft. While his day job and raising a young family kept his musical pursuits off the front burner, his commitment and desire to create music never wavered.

After relocating to Seattle, the music focus returned and Jack entered songwriting partnerships, was a founding member of the band Shades of Red (which released 2 CDs), and began scoring short films. In 2007 another aspect of his musical persona emerged, as he co-wrote an original musical, 87th and Viridian, in the short span of 6 weeks. The writing team then cast and produced the show at a local community theatre, where it ran to enthusiastic audiences.

In 2011, Jack found himself band-less, and with no musical projects on his plate. But he now had 3 new musical goals: Recording a solo CD, polishing and packaging 87th and Viridian, and landing a feature film to score. While he wanted to work on all 3 at once, he had to prioritize, and the solo CD won out as first in line.

==

“Batik Journey” was born out of Jack’s desire to take a break from co-writing and joint musical efforts, and to entirely call his own shots for a CD. He would write all the songs (and sing on most), and make all final decisions on arrangements and production. He contacted his longtime recording partner, Steven Bell, owner and engineer of state of the art studio Top of the Hill Music in Duvall, Washington. Steven was on board with Jack's vision, and enthusiastically agreed to support the endeavor. Jack began bringing in bits of developing songs - music always first before lyrics - and he and Steven would pick up whatever instruments they felt would work, and create rough demos for Jack to return home with in order to work on the balance of the music, and the lyrics. As each song was finished, over the course of 2 years, Steven and Jack would call on musicians they knew to come in for final recording sessions. Over 20 musicians contributed to Batik Journey, including guest lead vocalists on two songs.

If you were to ask Jack what genre the songs on Batik Journey are, he would ask back, “Which song?” From a cappella choral, to pop-rock, to piano ballad, a jazz-show tune, to a Johnny Cash-styled country-folk number, the listener is constantly surprised as the album progresses. “I never did like the approach,” Jack says, “of being locked in to one genre - of saying it was necessary to decide ‘what your sound is’ in order to have a ‘target demographic’. That seems artificially limiting to me - however the music is supposed to come out, it comes out. Look at the Beatles - Eleanor Rigby was on the same album as Tomorrow Never Knows.”

A similar lack of limitation applies to Batik Journey’s instrumentation. “We used whatever instruments we felt would fit any given song. In some cases they were the standard piano/guitar/drums/bass, but if a song called for accordion, or saxes, or french horn, or hammered dulcimer, we didn’t hesitate to use them.” Jack played several instruments himself, including piano, guitars, bass, synth and organ.

The leadoff song is the short “Introit” - “In the quiet stillness there is sound; beyond the darkness light is all around. Listen, listen, you will hear.” The tone for the CD is set: overcoming challenges, and keeping the hope that one will emerge on the other side of whatever life throws our way. The songs are drawn from Jack's own experience, also a new approach for him. “Emotionally it’s easier to write fictional lyrics, about other people or situations. But I made the conscious decision to mostly write from within.”

Songs such as “Drowning”, “Sacrifight”, “In the Quiet Stillness” (an expanded version of the Introit featuring Michael Johnson on vocals), “Grey”, and “Carry On” speak to the theme of overcoming barriers and “making it to the other side”. The balance of songs address topics such as hanging on to our childhood goals (“This Old Dream”), wistful remembrance and acceptance of life (“Ascending”), and in “Dry Bones”, Jack ventures into the surreal and disturbing. A tip of the hat to the musical 87th and Viridian is “I Am”, with a beautiful guest vocal by Gillian Shepodd, who sang the jazzy song in the original stage production.

"Making this CD took a huge effort, but was extremely gratifying. Working with Steven Bell and all the other musicians made it a most enjoyable journey. I hope the listeners enjoy the music, and can identify with these not-always-sunny songs, as we have all faced challenges in our lives, and figured out how to persevere, and carry on."

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