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Stephen D. Anderson:
“Remembering the Rain: The Music of Bill Evans”

(Art of Life AL1022-2)

Discography | Digital Downloads | About the Music | Interview | Liner Notes | Selected Quotations

Stephen D. Anderson: "Remembering the Rain: The Music of Bill Evans"

Stephen D. Anderson: solo electric guitar

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The Two Lonely People
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Very Early
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Only Child (for Hannah)
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Time Remembered
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Turn Out the Stars
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Remembering the Rain
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Blue in Green
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Waltz for Debby
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Haunted Heart
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Peace Piece
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Digital Downloads {top}

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About the Music {top}

Art of Life Records is proud to present guitarist Stephen D. Anderson's recording debut. More than two years in the making, Stephen has created a sonic masterpiece with his unique solo guitar arrangements of Bill Evans' compositions. Stephen doesn't simply underpin the melodies of Evans's pieces with stock Jazz guitar chords on his way to improvising over their structures. Rather, he initially treats the forms of these compositions much the same way a Classical guitarist would approach the keyboard works of Bach or Albeniz: arranging them for his instrument while preserving as much as possible their original compositional integrity and unique character. After uncannily replicating the chord voicings, counterpoint and voice leading of Evans's original scores, Stephen returns to them as an improviser, basing his airy, lyrical inventions on the pieces' harmonic and melodic construction and seamlessly shifting their tempo, feel and mood just as Evans did.

There's another significant presence drifting through the music on "Remembering the Rain". Stephen's old friend, the late Lenny Breau, was the first to capture Evans's musical ideas on guitar and in the process created a whole battery of innovative guitar techniques. Stephen makes use of some of these innovations in his own playing, particularly Lenny's simultaneous chord/melody technique in which two and three note, rhythmically independent chords support the melodic line. It's easy to imagine how delighted Lenny would have been to hear Stephen apply this device so beautifully and successfully to interpreting the music of the man who inspired the technique.

But influences and inspiration aside, Stephen's deft playing and creative vision are the core of this CD, along with - of course - Bill Evans's timeless compositions. In tandem, these attributes make "Remembering the Rain" both a stunning solo guitar album and a stirring, heartfelt tribute to one of the greatest masters of 20th century music.

All tracks have been digitally mastered using 24-bit digital technology.

Liner Notes {top}

Since my first encounter with his music, Bill Evans has been a source of inspiration and an artist of immeasurable influence. My own experience with his work has grown more personal through the years, kindling a desire to explore the music on a deeper level. This project is the fruit of that effort.

Above all, I sought to convey the spirit of the music and contribute something original. But I also wanted to pay homage to the composer and his legacy. So, while I followed my own path and direction, I made an effort to explore some of the music's history.

Solo performance involves a unique range of dynamics. The aspect of time is fully at the discretion of the soloist, which offers wonderful creative freedom but requires intuition and discipline. The same can be said for the tonal possibilities. In addition to greater harmonic freedom, one has the opportunity to shape the music in ways that are not available in an ensemble setting. I become most involved when I'm able to engage these elements, exploring nuance of tone, color, balance, etc. For me, these are the real attractions and rewards of solo performance.

I have selected songs that have special meaning for me, all of which were written by Evans with the exception of "Haunted Heart". His recording of this somewhat obscure song made an impression on me early on so I wanted to include it. Among his compositions, "Peace Piece" is unique. I have chosen a different approach for this piece, as well as for "Turn Out the Stars". Both arrangements employ three guitar voices/tracks in counterpoint, which I overdubbed for the recordings, a technique that Evans explored as well. My selection of "Peace Piece" was also influenced by current events and the conflict that we, in our folly, seem determined to unleash upon a world ever at odds with the concept of peace.

I wish to express my appreciation for the support of Art of Life Records during the course of this project, for friends past and present and especially for the music of Bill Evans.

Stephen D. Anderson

Interview {top}

Please click here to read the Stephen D. Anderson Interview by Gilbert Isbin from February 1, 2007.

Stephen discusses his musical background and shares his thoughts on the making of his album, "Remembering the Rain: The Music of Bill Evans".

Selected Quotations {top}

I don't quite know how Stephen D. Anderson has pulled it off, but after four listenings so far, I find a new freshness each time, with nuances and textural complexities that went unnoticed before. With a clear, clean tone and unpretentious style on the electric, Anderson also has an advanced, naturally musical instinct working here. There is a deep respect and love for the music and that comes through to the listener. He's light and airy when it's needed (Only Child) and more reflective and plaintive when appropriate (Blue in Green). Considering there is no bass, and of course, just the six strings of the fretboard, he gets satisfyingly close to indicating the ways in which Bill moved around chords on a piano, yet with an individual flair. And it's always rewarding to hear the right changes right where they should be. The Two Lonely People is a good example of this, the tune moves all over various tonal centers by way of what we call two-five-one progressions. Mr. Anderson deftly handles it all, tritone substitutions intact, and knows when to keep it simple and direct, within the already tricky harmonic context, yet its always clearly presented. He often makes great use of harmonics on the guitar, and quite tastefully too, never overbearingly or gimmicky. He creates rich sound canvases with this and other techniques, especially on the sustaining endings, which often serve as a facsimile of Evans' own signature codas of arpeggiated and melodic runs. Anderson takes his time with the music, aware of nuance and color, paying heed to the glorious melodies, though never coming off as self-indulgent or formulaic. When he takes a rare occasion on some tunes to add his own musical comments to the heads, whether hanging on a chord, or playing the uppermost extensions without a direct sense of its root, its always done honestly and for a good musical reason. The listener is always aware that it's Bill Evans music happening, and not just a set of chords to blow on. There is no studied "cuteness" here, just a warm and forthright, almost classical approach that makes all these songs sound on guitar like the old friends they always were on piano.

The Bill Evans Webpages website has made it a general practice not to review non-Evans releases, keeping rather to the pianist's own voluminous work. There's just so many CD'S by Evan's former sidemen and tribute releases by those who profoundly felt his influence, that too many would get lost in the shuffle. A while back, we made an exception for Tierney Sutton's album of Evans compositions Blue in Green because it was simply a special and unique recording. We make that exception again here for the talented Stephen D. Anderson, a gifted guitarist who musically conveys deep personal warmth and a profound empathy for Bill's music. He's been able to creatively translate some of the master's pianism and aforementioned compositional magic to his guitar. That he has done this in such a delightfully captivating and genial spirit is a far better and a far truer tribute to Bill Evans than has been done in a very long time. Don't miss out on this one!
Jan Stevens, Webmaster - The Bill Evans Webpages
Jan Stevens 2006. Used by permission of the author.

Stephen D. Anderson is not the first guitarist to do a keyboardless tribute to the late pianist and composer Bill Evans, but his unaccompanied solo interpretations of pieces either written or performed by Evans are impressive. Anderson, who was inspired in part by the late Lenny Breau's arrangements of Evans' compositions, gets to the essence of each piece, turning out one lyrical setting after another. Not only does he explore the pianist's most widely known works, but also less familiar pieces like "Only Child" and "Remembering the Rain." Highlights include the magical performance of the bittersweet ballad "Time Remembered," and the equally moving take of the mournful "Turn Out the Stars" (which incorporates three overdubbed takes in counterpoint) the deliberate, spacious approach to "Blue in Green," along with "Haunted Heart" a standard recorded on several occasions by Evans. This commendable CD should be of great interest to fans of both jazz guitar and Bill Evans.
Ken Dryden - All Music Guide

Stephen's playing is so soulful and beautiful. From the first notes I was drawn into the music. This is not just any Jazz record, but a true testament to Bill Evans by an incredible player.
Bert Lams - California Guitar Trio

What a beautiful CD! Stephen's playing is absolutely amazing and his arrangements are superb. World Class solo guitar playing along the lines of Ted Greene and Lenny Breau.
Paul Richards - California Guitar Trio

Thank you so much for your beautiful CD. You really have captured the essence of Bill's music.
Don Thompson - Musician

I received Stephen D. Anderson's-"Remembering the Rain: The Music of Bill Evans" CD from you yesterday . . wow! It is a beautiful collection of sonic images and pictures that are masterfully played and produced. Thank you for your work in bringing this work out. No doubt, there are many who will enjoy listening to this beautiful music. Interesting to me, as a guitar student, is how Stephen kept the guitar "out of his way" in the presentation of the music. That ability -- to transcend the instrument's natural challenges and limitations -- is the result of someone who has worked extremely hard to achieve at that level, in other words, an artist.
David H. - Michigan

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