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The Floor Ensemble | The Shoemaker's Children

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The Shoemaker's Children

by The Floor Ensemble

An eclectic jazz album containing exciting arrangements of jazz standards as well as fresh original compositions featuring 17 of Utah's first-call jazz musicians and special guests Eddie Daniels, Ellis Hall, and Nektarios Antoniou.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Pure Imagination Close to You
8:18 $0.99
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2. Just Friends
5:46 $0.99
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3. The Shoemakers Children
9:33 $0.99
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4. Dinner with Eddie (feat. Eddie Daniels)
9:37 $0.99
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5. The Good Fight (feat. Ellis Hall)
5:49 $0.99
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6. Oceans Apart
6:03 $0.99
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7. The Late Late Show
7:03 $0.99
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8. New Orleans Tsamiko
6:33 $0.99
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9. Yiayias Song
5:49 $0.99
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10. Exodus (feat. Nektarios Antoniou)
8:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The Shoemaker's Children...(The Story)

In February of 2016, as we approached my father’s 70th birthday, I found myself looking back over the years and being thankful to God for my parents and for all that I have been given. I was thinking to myself that I could honestly say that I have no major regrets at this point in my life. Suddenly, I was slapped in the face with the realization that my father Jerry, my sister Emilee, and I had never in our lives recorded together. This had occurred to me many times in the past of course, but never with such an extreme feeling of shame and responsibility. Three professional jazz musicians from the same household, each with a resume a mile long of performances and recordings with other known and unknown musicians, but no evidence whatsoever of father, daughter, and son playing music together. And here’s the most tragic and embarrassing thing of all: we had a recording studio IN OUR BASEMENT all those years we lived under the same roof.

Evidently the saying is true, “The shoemaker’s children have no shoes.”

That February day, I was struck with the fact that we had inadvertently set ourselves up for the potential regret-of-a-lifetime. The thought of something prematurely happening to any one of us without first having documented our musical voices conversing with each other and with our amazing fraternity of jazz musician friends became acute and unbearable to me. After all, death is truly the great “optometrist”, granting all of us that brief 20/20 vision as to what we “should have done” or “should have said” to our loved ones while we still had the chance to share our lives.

With that thought, I decided to seize the day. I called my wife Cassandra and told her that I wanted to document my father while he is still relatively young, healthy, and playing the best jazz of his life. I told her that I wanted my sister to be on the recording and as many of our “music family” we could get in the studio. I told her that I wanted to make a CD that would be for our children and our children’s children and that I would compose and arrange all the music. I told her that I wanted to record with a specific engineer in Salt Lake City and that all this effort was purely for archival purposes. And I told her that I wanted to pay for the whole thing ourselves so that we could have the artistic input on the overall project. And after all of that, my amazing wife didn’t say “yes”, she said “absolutely!” I have no words to explain my gratitude for her unwavering support of this project.

Thus The Shoemaker’s Children project was set in motion. I began writing and arranging that very day at our home in Lowell, MA. I would finish a tune and then send it electronically to dad in Salt Lake City who would paginate it and send it back to me as a pdf. Then I would send it to David Evanoff at David Evanoff Sound Designs in Salt Lake City and to the specific musicians for them to get familiar with it in preparation for the recording sessions. The music was recorded in three separate sessions from June to October using different combinations of 14 of our many close Salt Lake musician friends. Emilee flew in from New York and I from Boston which had its own set of logistical challenges. My daughter Sophia (8), and my son Luke (5), were coached
on the music and on studio etiquette and then added their vocal stylings to the mix. In addition, special guest artists and dear friends Eddie Daniels, Ellis Hall, and Nektarios Antoniou graciously added their talents. Once the music was recorded, we started the very challenging task of mixing the album from over 2,000 miles away.

But as each tune took its final shape, we began to realize that this album was turning in to something special. When Eddie and Ellis sent us their contributions, there were no further questions as to what had to be done. We decided that it could no longer be for archival purposes only and committed to print a limited number of CDs and to license it for download online. Because we weren’t originally concerned with a song’s duration, this decision forced us to edit several of the longer songs so that they could fit on a standard CD.

Therefore, we hope you enjoy this first installment of what will hopefully be many archival projects to capture and preserve the music of the Floor family in conversation with the many brilliant musicians that have become our “extended family” through over forty years of collaboration and friendship. Let it be noted that because of scheduling conflicts and time constraints, there were many other great friends and musicians that we could not get on this project. But this labor of love has given me renewed zeal for both the creative process and for the importance of the dialogue with those we love. Hearing my father’s voice on clarinet, my sister’s vocals, my kids’ vocals, and my saxophone, in rhythmic interaction with 17 of our amazingly talented friends, interpreting the music I wrote and/or arranged, all on the SAME recording, has brought great joy to my life. And now it has been documented for my children and my children’s children. I am so grateful to God for this blessing!

Finally, as a “life note” to all readers, may we all seize the day as it pertains to our loved ones! The moment you have the thought to make a recording with your father and sister, or call someone and tell them you miss them, or love them, or to ask for forgiveness, or to visit your 93-year-old grandfather, DO IT! Do not wait! The second the idea comes to your mind to buy your wife flowers out of the blue or to reconnect with an old friend, DO IT! Do not wait! The instant your soul is stirred to pour out love to others in ANY way, DO IT! Do not wait! For death comes like a thief in the night. Let it not deprive us of making music with those we love!

Glory to God!

Greg Floor
Lowell, MA
Saturday, March 4, 2017


About the Music:

1. Pure Imagination/Close To You - When I stumbled upon the fact that two of my favorite songs from my childhood have the same exact intervals with their first three notes, I set out to create a musical medley with them that would feature my sister Emilee on vocals with dad and me playing horn parts behind her. I also liked the potential of an arrangement of “Pure Imagination” which was expressed as “pure improvisation” and elected to interweave improvised solos after each verse of the tune. Denson quotes another famous tune from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. See if you can find it towards the end. We dedicate this to the memory of the great Gene Wilder who brought so much laughter to our household when we were younger. May his memory be eternal!

2. Just Friends - I arranged this famous jazz standard about 10 years ago to feature dad, Emilee, and me the last time we talked
about recording together, but it never reached the studio or the ears of an audience. It was the first tune we recorded for this project because it was a standard that we all knew and it was ready to go from day one. It served as the “ice-breaker” on the recording and set the bar high for the rest of the tunes. I hope you agree!

3. The Shoemaker’s Children - This original jazz waltz practically wrote itself which, for me as a composer, doesn’t happen very often. The guitar melody was a last second addition to the composition that, with Kenji’s help, adds greater depth to the tune. The original title was Seize the Day and was going to be the title track of the project. However, upon researching that title, I found it to be way too overused and so opted to rename the tune. I’m hoping that this instrumental piece inspires the listener to seize the day, and not to put off our loved ones until it is too late. As long as the Shoemaker has life in him/her, love requires shoes be made for the children now! It is with this sense of urgency that The Shoemaker’s Children project is being produced.

4. Dinner With Eddie - As I was sifting through my old ideas for a new tune, I stumbled on this fun piano ostinato line I wrote in 2001 while still a student at the New England Conservatory and used it as the basis for this composition. The chord progression was inspired by a Joe Henderson tune entitled Y Todavia La Quiero and the chorus section was a little shout out to Spain, by Chick Corea. I was having trouble with a title until one of my musical heroes and mentors agreed to honor us by playing on this track. Playing with the legendary Eddie Daniels is having dinner with a wise holy man on whose every word you hang. Thus, Dinner With Eddie seemed like an appropriate title. I hope you enjoy this three-course feast with one of the great jazz masters of our era! Thank you, Eddie!!!

5. The Good Fight - One of the more challenging composition assignments I was given while at the New England Conservatory
was to choose some lyrics and set them to music for only voice and acoustic bass. Several years prior I had written a poem about the inner struggles of being an authentic Christian, and dug it out to use for the assignment. I chose a reggae feel because Christians are called to be “in the world” but not “of the world”, and reggae has a very “worldly” stereotype which would work well as a setting for my lyrics about the inner “Good Fight”. When finished, I was quite proud of my tune and turned it in. I got a good
grade on it but was nervous to do anything further with it because the subject matter was so personal to me and yet so taboo to many in the musical community. All these years later, my dad suggested that I arrange something for the great Ellis Hall to sing, and immediately I thought of The Good Fight. There is no other voice in the world that I would rather have sing these lyrics. I quickly added horn parts and arranged the current version for Ellis, recorded the music with the guys in Salt Lake City with me singing the lyrics, then sent the recording to Ellis. When he heard it he called me and said, “Wow, that’s a lot of lyrics!” But he agreed to the collaboration and promised me he would “Ellisify” it, and that’s exactly what he did. There are no words to describe the emotions upon listening to it for the first time. The song had been transformed beyond my imagination. I was only expecting a lead vocal track from Ellis but I got so much more. He created vocal harmonies to the lead line I sent him, he sang ALL the backup vocals from soprano to baritone, and added keyboards and Hammond organ. Take a listen for yourself. Thank you brother Ellis for sharing your soul and for adding so much soul to my song about the soul!

6. Oceans Apart - This is dedicated to my beautiful wife Cassandra. When we started dating we were seldom in the same time zone. It was painful (to me anyway) as we always seemed to be an “ocean apart.” Today, she is my wife and best friend and one of my heroes as she continuously shows me the meaning of love, commitment, and humility. This song is through-composed but has improvisatory freedom for Jay on drums and Kenji on the electric sitar. I tried to musically mimic the ocean and to create a sense of longing in the piano line and melody. The electric sitar was Kenji’s idea and adds to the uniqueness of the tune. Additionally, having so many different instrumental textures and timbres creates a totally different feel from the other compositions. Since this recording, trombonist Bill Tole lost his battle with cancer. May his memory be eternal!

7. The Late, Late Show - Here’s another arrangement I did to feature my sister Emilee with a small group. I had never heard this
song before, but Emilee found it and was playing it at her solo cocktail piano gigs. She liked it a lot and sent it to me to arrange. Several years prior, I had the honor of playing a burnin’ fast duet for soprano saxophone and vocal scat with Maureen McGovern on her arrangement of Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. It was so much fun and so challenging, I tried to write something similar for dad, Emilee, and me to play. This is one of those tunes that’s so hard, it will probably never get played after this recording because nobody wants to spend the time to work it up again. I hope you find it as amusing as we did.

8. New Orleans Tsamiko - The Tsamiko is a Greek folk dance that is in 3/4 meter with pulses on beat 1 and beat 3 and usually
has straight eighth notes. It is one of my favorite Greek dances due to its infectious beat and the majesty of the dance step. A New Orleans shuffle on the other hand, in 4/4 meter with swung eighth notes, has a more bouncy and carefree characteristic but is equally pleasing to my ear. So I set out to unite these two rhythms and came up with the New Orleans Tsamiko. Admittedly, I didn’t spend too much time on the title. Opa!!!

9. Yiayia’s Song - This song is special and therefore needs some explanation. “Yiayia” is Greek for “grandmother,” and my Yiayia, who I shared with seven of my cousins, was exceptionally special. There isn’t enough space here for me to elaborate on the difficulties she endured in her life, or the depth of her character, or the breadth of her influence on each of the eight grandchildren and on all who knew her. Suffice it to say, therefore, that all eight of us, 19 years after her falling asleep, hold her in our hearts as one of the greatest examples and influences in each of our lives. About the song: When we were growing up, Yiayia, with her Edith- Bunker-like singing voice, used to wake us up in the morning with the “Good Morning To You” lullaby. When she died in 1998, I sat at the piano and wrote this goodbye lullaby to her that begins and ends with a quote of “Good Morning To You.” In this arrangement, we recorded my daughter Sophia (8) and my son Luke (5) four times each to represent the eight grandchildren. The song begins with the “grandkids” singing “Good Morning to You” as we used to hear Yiayia sing it to us when we were little. Then my new melody comes in representing the passing of time and the falling asleep of our glorious Yiayia. Finally, the song concludes with my sister Emilee singing “Good Morning to You” again, but this time as an adult many years later. With the passing of time, the loss of innocence, the absence of our beloved Yiayia’s voice and guidance, and the difficulties of life, the lullaby’s words stay the same, but the melody necessarily comes out differently. This song attempts to reflect the joyful sorrows of life and is dedicated to the woman that all eight of us had the extreme joy and honor to call “Yiayia.” May she rest among the Saints!

10. Exodus - Exodus was originally commissioned and composed in 2006 to accompany a photography exhibit, also called “Exodus,” by the world-renowned humanitarian photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado. This was a difficult task because his sobering black and white photographs graphically depicted human suffering. In truth, the only soundtrack for such pictures should have been silence. But something was expected of me other than silence. I decided, therefore, to focus on prayer and used the last verse of Psalm 37 as the lyric in English and later in Greek: “Forsake me not, O Lord my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord of my salvation.” I set these lyrics to Byzantine Chant in Plagal the Second mode (mostly) and invited an amazing chanter, my Koumbaro (best man from my wedding) Nektarios Antoniou to do the honors. The original performance of Exodus obviously had a much more somber tone than the current version. I wanted this version to be almost cinematic and grand in scope since I no longer had the photographs of human suffering as a backdrop. I hope you’ll agree that the band more than delivered.

Special Thanks To:

My wife and co-Producer, Cassandra, for her love and unwavering support; my daughter, Sophia, and son, Luke, for the joy they give me and for putting up with all the hours I spent in my “man cave” working on this project; my mom, Connie, my dad, Jerry, and my sister, Emilee, “we FINALLY did this!”; all of the musicians who participated for only a fraction of what they are worth: Jay, Keven, Geoffrey, Kenji, Denson, Evan, Phil, Dan, Steve, Kurt, Reed, Herschel, Dave H., Bill, Ricardo, Nektarios, Ellis, and Eddie; Dave Evanoff, for his friendship, hard work, professionalism, and for teaching me the importance of having a sound engineer who is first a musician. Dave was truly the X-Factor on this project and I am so thankful for his involvement; Ellis Hall and Eddie Daniels for their friendship and for taking time out of their busy lives to honor us with their artistry; Jay Lawrence for his musical
input and extra help in scheduling the recording sessions around everyone’s busy lives; Vess, Sophie, Stephanie, Pano, our Koumbaroi, and all of our family and friends for their encouragement and support; Brent Beech for keeping my horns in excellent working condition; Keith Parietti for letting me use his tenor saxophone every time I come to town; Papou Bill, my father Jerry, my
sister Emilee, and all my musical influences, too many to mention; above all my Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom belongs all glory!

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