If my debut solo project, ‘Mountains of Fire’, was essentially a vehicle for breathing new life into a series of well-known standards, this CD offers the listener far more in the way of totally original material. To counter-balance this, I have included some old favourites such as I Should Care, They Didn’t Believe Me and But Beautiful, as well as some lesser-known tunes which deserve more recognition like Victor Feldman’s inspired A Face Like Yours and Billy VerPlanck and Ervin Drake’s groovy So Long Sadness.
I am delighted that Nimbus has reissued ‘Red Letter Days’. The overall feel of this recording is quite different from that of my debut CD (also reissued on Nimbus), ‘Mountains of Fire’. Whereas ‘Mountains’ was essentially a swing album, very much inspired by the vibrant, straight-ahead improvisations of Oscar Peterson and Monty Alexander, the musical and emotional reach of ‘Red Letter Days’ is far deeper. True, there are some swingy tracks – Hannah’s Riff and So Long Sadness for example, Jim Mullen’s bluesy guitar greatly enhancing the performances. However, elsewhere it is the more intimate, conversational style of Bill Evans that provided the stimulus for the majority of the music on the album. Of course, there is a vast difference between ‘being influenced by’ and ‘slavishly copying’. The aim of any true artist is to transcend one’s influences. It is my hope that I have achieved this on ‘Red Letter Days’.