My story about Stories

When vocalist Joe Catanio, a long time friend and colleague, approached me to take on the roll of pianist/arranger on his new album, he presented me a list of tunes that were his personal favorites. He wanted to record these songs because each one had a personal story associated with it (thus the title) and as such, a personal connection to the song. Recognizing the challenge in making each one of these renditions unique, I accepted the task.

My approach to each one of these pieces was to present the listener with a noticeably different rendition, rather than the all-too-familiar versions. Sometimes it was the intro that was unique or sometimes the "hook". In other cases I disguised parts of the tune in different harmonies and chord progressions. Sometimes it was the basic rhythm or "groove" that was altered. All this was done without fundamentally changing Joe's approach to his vocals.

We pondered how to go about the actual studio recording once the arrangements were done. That's when I brought in my producer/guitarist friend Jerry Stucker into the mix. Jerry took the project to new heights of professionalism due to his knowledge of recording studios, studio musicians and how to get the maximum performance out the musicians. The line-up of top notch musicians he brought in made the album a real joy to work on. Jerry also brought a pop vein into the mix and added some more arrangements. We co-wrote an original tune, It Could Have Been, which also features Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts on tenor saxophone.

Another high point for me was getting to include one of my original tunes, Lonely Dreaming, featuring lyrics by my old friend John Miller. This selection was recorded at legendary Capitol Studios in Hollywood with just myself playing on a magnificent 9 foot Yamaha C9 Concert Grand Piano and Joe singing using a microphone that Frank Sinatra once recorded with. The halls were plastered with photographs of the like of Nat King Cole, the Beatles, Dean Martin and others. Gold and Platinum Records were scattered everywhere. Parts of Joe's album were mixed and mastered there by Grammy winners.

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