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A collection of original compositions inspired by Acadia National Park.

About the Project

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Acadian Rhythms is a collection of original compositions and performances inspired by Acadia National Park, where I was Artist-in-Residence in the Fall of 2022.  Selected by the National Park Service, I spent 2 weeks in the park, exploring the vast area that is Acadia National Park, consulting with park rangers and locals, and exploring the history of the region to find inspiration for new musical ideas.  This is a process I really enjoyed, resulting in many ideas and inspirational concepts. A visit to Acadia National Park is an experience so many people have enjoyed over the years. It is easy to imagine earlier generations visiting the park having similar experiences to park visitors today. I tried to include this idea in the compositional process, with some “throwback” musical styles incorporated into the new works. I hope you enjoy the music!

Musical Inspirations

Bass Harbor - One of the many quaint “harbor” towns in Acadia, naming this composition after Bass Harbor allowed me an excuse to write a feature for electric bassist Elias Tona (“bass” harbor…!). The bass and saxophone play the melody together with the bass filling in between, leading to Elias’ awesome bass solo.

Tea Time - One of the popular Acadia National Park experiences is to enjoy popovers and tea at the Jordan Pond House.  I took the “Tea Time” inspiration to create a “T Time” composition in the style of my favorite “T” – saxophonist Stanley Turrentine.  This bluesy tune is reminiscent of his compositions and playing, a kind of throwback to that period – with Steve Allee playing Fender Rhodes and electric bassist Elias Tona and drummer Danny Gottlieb providing an infectious groove.

Quiet Side - Acadia National Park incorporates a large amount of land with roadways accessing park sites and many small towns and villages.  Mount Desert Island is the larger island, with many of the top tourist stops being part of the LOOP road found on one side of MDI.  The other side has less park stops, with more towns and less congestion.  This is known as the “Quiet Side”, a very enjoyable part of the Acadia experience.  This composition seeks to explore that feeling. The instrumentation of flute, alto and tenor saxophones is a contrasting sound to the other music on this project.  A slower tempo and 12/8 rhythmic feel provide a contrast as well, fitting in to the project concept of “Acadian Rhythms” – a collection of music with a variety of grooves and rhythmic concepts.  Dan Jordan’s flute solo is a highlight!

Schoodic Sunset - This slow blues is inspired by the amazing sunsets I experienced on many of the days spent in Acadia National Park.  The Schoodic Peninsula is another part of the park, where I was housed for my stay as Artist-in-Residence. The Schoodic Institute is found on the grounds of a former Naval Base with lodging, learning spaces and the Roosevelt Hall history center. Schoodic Point has a western view over the water, providing outstanding sunsets. LaRue Nickelson is the star of this track, his burning guitar playing matching the fireball in the sky as it sets into the ocean.

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Otter Cliffs - This up-tempo classic jazz style tune is a tribute to the “golden age” of the Acadia area, inspired by reading some of the history of Bar Harbor, the largest and best-known town on Mt. Desert Island. Bar Harbor history includes great stories of music and dancing at the Dreamwood Ballroom, and Prohibition era parties at the Bar Harbor Reading Room and Bar Harbor Swim Club. The melody and rhythms of this piece take on the slippery, darting movements of the otters that inspired the naming of Otter Cliffs, one of the stops on the Loop Road.  James Suggs provides exciting trumpet playing on this one.

Thunder Hole - Perhaps the second most visited spot in Acadia National Park, Thunder Hole is a natural phenomenon created over centuries of the ocean carving out the rock on shore to make a channel where the incoming waves explode when hitting the rock wall. The waves can come in and out multiple times before the “thunder” booms, it can be 10-20 minutes before the timing hits just right. When it does, the waves splash 20-30 feet high and the sound of “thunder” accompanies it for a crowd-pleasing experience. This is a fun musical journey, as the band all contribute to creating the sounds of the moving ocean tide, and the build toward the “thunder”.  A highlight is the piano/electric piano solo duet by Steve Allee (piano) and Per Danielsson (Fender Rhodes).  Bassist Mark Neuenschwander provided some creative sea gull/whale song sounds for this one.

Cadillac Crusade - Cadillac Mountain is probably the best-known destination in Acadia National Park.  Visitors vie for parking passes to access the top, part of a steady stream of cars making the “crusade” to be there for sunrise (the first view of the morning sun on the East Coast), sunset or to experience the 360-degree views throughout the day. The “Crusader” theme plays into the music as well, using the trombone and saxophone horn section sound and a funky groove as a tip of the hat to the iconic group– The Jazz Crusaders.

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