Intentions and inspirations in The Scenery of Life Unfolding. 

“I was in the throes of a solo recording project when I was invited to perform some duets.  I immediately thought of Shannon.  I enjoyed our work together in ’02 on Thumbnails and thought it a timely reunion.  Our first duo rehearsals inspired me to record the project.

Shannon is an intuitive musician who quickly picks up on a vibe and digs in.  I’d bring in tunes and draw on Shannon’s expertise to recreate them as a duo.  I recorded Optimist’s Folly and The Third Person as both solo and duet.  (Some of the solo album was recorded the same day as the duo!)  The duet performance brought out quite different qualities.  Sometimes I’d have a clear vision, and Shannon would know just how to achieve it.  Other times, we’d form a direction together.  Shannon commits to what is most musical and his input is always supportive.   He is a wonderfully honest and generous person whom it has been an honour to work with.

New directions and approaches arise when I hear a different perspective on my compositions.  It is exciting to manoeuvre my original concepts around the nuances Shannon brings.  In duet, nothing is hidden, and everything matters.  It’s a dance where two weave one integrated form.  A duo doesn’t requires such tight choreography as trio, yet retains a dynamic interplay not found in solo performance.

Echoes in Emptiness and Lost Friends are tunes I never got the most out of when I first wrote them.  There was potential that took me ten years of playing experience to to manifest.  Working from text on three other compositions gave me an opportunity to extend my palette and challenged me to match the drama and emotion of an existing story.  Normally, I follow whim when composing.  Here, given predetermined direction, I reached some darker colours, broader lyricism and new forms.

I was aiming to contrast light and dark, complexity and simplicity in the album.  Tears for the Summer, Darkening Shadows and The Scenery of Life Unfolding, were composed specifically to epitomise these themes.

There are many great bass and piano duets in jazz history.  It’s a sound I’ve always enjoyed.   In approaching the piano and bass instrumentation, I aim to respect of the traditions of jazz, the character of each instrument, and still be imaginative in arrangement.  The bass is naturally suited to underpinning the harmony and groove while the piano fills and plays melody.  With Shannon, I’ve found some other textures and explored less obvious arrangements.

I have intended to present a cohesive work that has development and narrative to it.  I hope listeners will enjoy the album - from the moment of unwrapping, through to the final chord and replacing the disc on the shelf.  I feel a deep gratitude that I can find this harmony in life, and offer it to others through my work.”


Jeremy Woolhouse,  2014

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