Rob Birdwell | Sweet Surrender

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Sweet Surrender

by Rob Birdwell

An intimate and heartfelt collection of Flugelhorn and Trumpet impromptus that showcase Rob Birdwell's distinctive sound, improvisation, and spontaneous craftsmanship.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Reunion
2:59 $0.89
2. Sweet Surrender
2:35 $0.89
3. When We Met
3:47 $0.89
4. Do It To It
3:30 $0.89
5. Magnolia Blues
2:44 $0.89
6. Elegy
2:27 $0.89
7. Apollo
3:35 $0.89
8. Bing Bong
2:13 $0.89
9. Three's The Charm
2:25 $0.89
10. How My Heart Aches
3:15 $0.89
11. The Waiting
3:52 $0.89
12. Homecoming
2:18 $0.89
13. The Unexpected One
3:34 $0.89
14. One Eleven AM
1:45 $0.89
15. Because of You
2:14 $0.89
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
It seems only fitting that a collection of spontaneously composed and performed music should have some similarly spontaneous liner notes. But trust me, you don't what to read my false starts, spelling errors, or endless ramblings. So I will edit and try to distill things a bit.

But when it comes to the musical side of my creativity (and especially my jazz/improvisational side) , although I don't fully understand how it works in that realm, things do seem to gel when I simply let go and give free reign to those mysterious forces and simply let them work their magic - let them say what they apparently need to say. And that's just what I did on this collection of music I affectionately call Sweet Surrender.

When performing with my musical collaborators in the group Sideways Portal, I enjoy the benefit of being able to musically "pong" off their respective "pings" and vise versa. The musical journeys we take are typically completely spontaneous and endlessly surprising. In that setting, musical alchemy happens in ways that simply can't be predetermined or planned out in advance. The "magic" (for lack of any other way to express it) happens as a result of experienced musicians listening and reacting to each other. But when alone in my own studio, when I "ping" (playing my Flugelhorn for example) the "pong" or musical reaction can only be imagined. Until this collection of improvisations, I was nearly convinced that it might not even be possible to capture my own spontaneity when left to my own devices. I always held out a faint hope though. And then one warm summer day in July, I simply cued up the recorder and began with a simple request of myself: begin. And so I did.

Each of these "songs" (save for the last one, "Because of You", which is my own original chestnut) is an original spontaneous improvisation, recorded in one sitting. Usually my first take - at least that was my plan! I often recorded two an evening over a total period of about 3 weeks. Making very limited use of my studio trickery, the honesty of the end result surprised me greatly. There I was musically: raw, pretty much naked, and (to my delight) vulnerable.

How did I record these offerings? Well, after just a bit of tinkling on the piano and/or flugelhorn, I would settle on some sort of musical setting (a couple chords, a hint of some development - but again, nothing was too preordained), then record the piano part in a single take. While laying down that initial accompaniment track I needed to think a bit into the future, knowing that the "other me" on the track was going to be blowing through the chords and creating new ideas, melodies, and playing off (or "ponging" from) the improvised piano part. So in other words, I'd need to leave room for stuff to simply happen. As for the second pass on Flugelhorn or muted Trumpet, I chose to remain as ignorant as possible about the chords I just played on Piano, preferring rather to let my ear do the work and only have a vague impression of where we were harmonically. That kept me on edge and would be the exact restraint I would be under if performing with another musician in true real time.

The immediacy of it all was such a joy. A few brief moments to capture a performance and then literally hours of listening back and marveling. And the beauty of it for me is that I still don't quite know that fellow who puts the horn to his lips or where he gets his ideas. I am sort of proud of him though and do want to nurture and protect him - he's often clumsy, stubborn and sometimes very shy. So to hear him (uh, me?) cut loose on these spontaneous offerings, well, I'm grateful. I think he is too.

It's amazing the bounty of ideas and stories that we all have inside of us at any given moment. The trick (or conundrum really) is how to transcend the internal and external forces that resist creativity from being expressed and to simply release the hounds and set the beast free. I suppose the Nike marketing team that came up with the "Just do it" tag was channeling Goethe when he said, allegedly, in part:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

As a kid, my mom and dad had this quote (among others) on our refrigerator and it continues to inspire!

I hope you enjoy the music on this collection - for me, it really was a Sweet Surrender!



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