Friendships are priceless... Our journey is one of shared experiences. A few special people enter our lives, not all at once but each at just the right time. We learn special and valued lessons. We recognize the gift and embrace the friendship. It is what we need and it is priceless.
All praises to the Creator
This project is designed in a classical quartet style with percussion. It is a tribute to friendships and the fellowship among musicians. The collaboration and unconditional support of my friend and partner Daoud David Williams was the catalyst for getting this project off the ground and making this recording a reality.
Making a recording in a classical style, not too many tunes, make a statement and move on to the next idea, keeping it to the point. A collection of tunes, all but one are original compositions. They are fused by the collaborative efforts and energy of friends who are composers and performers. After designing the concepts, writing the melodies and formulating the primary harmonic structure of the original compositions, I called certain people to add their design of chords and special personal touches to round out the tunes. "Cross-Continental Spirit" is a group of very special people that together have a special chemistry and make wonderful, loving heart felt music. We have been a working unit for several years. Each musician brings a unique talent, the roles are clear and the music flows. A classic or natural combination of feeling, sound and language that transcend boarders and time... the Cross-Continental Spirit.
1. ATTITUDE (Ray Blue and Son Pho Duc) is about stepping up and stepping out.
2. CLASSIC MEETING (Ray Blue and Selby Mahlasela), composed together with a young South African pianist Selby Mahlasela. It speaks about souls and people who meet and immediately recognize their kinship.
3. SOFTLY AS THE MORNING SUNRISE (Sigmund Romberg). This well-known standard taken in a moderate tempo displays warmth, compassion and an energetic flame as it swings. This arrangement was inspired by my soul mate from South Africa, Eddie Joste.
4. MY FRIEND AND I TOOK A WALK (Ray Blue and Lionel Haas) ... to the tip of the cape in South Africa. Our last day together we walked, shared our thoughts, felt the wind, mist from the surf and watched the two oceans come together. It is dedicated to the gentle soul of the man who is my friend - bassist Eddie Joste.
5. TRANSVISION (Ray Blue) Root music. The title track celebrates the connection of all hearts, traditions and cultures. As our paths intersect we experience several transformations and find elements of true friendships.
Ray Blue – Saxophone
Daoud David Williams - Percussions (Tracks 3, 4, 5)
Michael Cochrane - Piano
Calvin Hill - Bass
Bruce Cox - Drums
Willie White - Percussions
Joan Minor - Spoken Word (Track 4)
Label: NeuKlang/Bauer Studios, Germany
All titles published by Funkturm Verlag, except title 3, published by Warner Bros.
Release Date: April 2006
Recorded and mixed Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, NJ
September 2004, February 2005
Engineer: Randy Crafton
Mastered at DB Plus Studio, New York, February 2005
Mastering Engineer: Gene Paul
Producer: Ray Blue
Co-Producer: Daoud David Williams
Special Thanks to: Thomas Jost and Matthias Achilles of Funkturm Verlag GmbH, Eva Bauer-Oppelland of NeuKlang Records.
About the Musicians
RAY BLUE - Saxophonist, Composer, Arranger and Producer
The rhythm section are players who hear my voice: my big, warm melodic sound and style. There is a connection with each of the musicians and the songs are written and arranged with each of them in mind. Over the years, rooted in New York, I have worked in jazz and r&b bands, ensembles and in big bands: Sun Ra Arkestra, Cotton Club Orchestra, and currently the Spirit of Life Ensemble. Recording/performing with Art Davis, John Patton, Wayne Dockery, Clifford Adams, Charles Davis, and Wycliff Gordon has helped me to develop a strong sense of blending within a unit, to allow space for the music to breathe and to play with heart.
DAOUD DAVID WILLIAMS - Multi-percussionist, Co-Producer
Daoud has a special talent for placing the proper colors in just the right places at precisely the right time in the music. The founder and leader of The Spirit of Life Ensemble has long standing relationships and associations with Carter Jefferson, Ted Curson, Charles Tyler, Benny Powell, Bob Cranshaw, Eddie Henderson, Mina Agossi, Joe Lee Wilson and many others. A multi-percussionist, Daoud uses his experienced and musically artistic wand to highlight the rhythms, colors and elegant textures of sound throughout the tracks of "MY Friend And I Took A Walk", "Softly As In The Morning Sunrise" and "Transmission".
MICHAEL COCHRANE - Piano
Michael Cochrane embraces the music and gracefully places his signature on each of the tracks. A master musician, composer and arranger, Michael displays all of these talents in his approach to the music. He support the music as eloquently as he delivered his solo. His previous work with Marvin Hannibal Peterson, Eddie Gomez, Sonny Fortune and others reflect his diverse sensitivity and clear cut know-how. Michael is a creative genius and his presence solidifies the chemistry of this band.
CALVIN HILL - Bass
Calvin Hill instinctively and skillfully anchors the rhythm section. Calvin's brilliant manner of blending his masterful musicianship , personality and instinctive flow gives the band its foundation and momentum. As he was for McCoy Tyner, Junior Mance, Pharaoh Sanders, Betty Carter and the Max Roach Quartet, Calvin Hill's bass work is the primal center of this music. It is a blessing to work with Mr. Hill.
BRUCE COX - Drums
Bruce Cox brought his unique style to this project. A master musician-drummer and percussionist, Bruce puts energy into the music that lights a flame of passion to all of the tempos and feels. He hears time, rhythm, melody and harmony and he executes his role in the band with dynamic sensitivity. Having toured and performed with George Adams, Stanley Turrentine, Woody Shaw and Dee Dee Bridgewater, Bruce has refined his technique and comfortably places his personality inside this music.
WILLIE WILLIAMS - Conga-Percussionist
Willie Williams is an extra ordinarily talented multi-percussionist. Teaming with Daoud David Williams, Willie provides the needed boost of polyrhythmic support and texture. He has extensive African drumming experience and enjoyed a long and successful tenure with the Spirit of Life Ensemble. The skills and styles that he brings provides just what is needed to fit and elevate the music.
JOAN MINOR - Spoken Word
Joan Minor is a talented vocalist. The sound of her voice, as you hear, is warm, clear and deeply touching. She delivers her message with convincing sensitivity. This, coupled with the sincerity in heart is why Joan is the member of this project. She adds her love to "My Friend And I Took A Walk".