was such an honor to have him, Charlie,
and also [jazz drummer] Peter Erskine on
the record. They were all so supportive
and happy to be part of the session. Their
enthusiasm was infectious and brought out
the best in all of us.
You also worked with a second guitarist,
Kevin Seddiki. Did you find this freeing?
Yes, it allowed me to take on both soloing
and accompaniment roles, both on the
album and in concert. But more important, I really like the sound of two guitars
at once—it’s sort of the nucleus of many
of my pieces, and it’s what I first hear in
my head when I’m composing. Working
with two guitars can be a little tricky,
though, because to the listener they can
be indistinguishable from one another.
This is easy enough to address in the studio, just by panning one instrument right
and the other left, but I’ve also found that
it helps keep the sounds separate to use a
I really like the sound of two guitars at
once—it’s sort of the nucleus of many of
my pieces, and it’s what I first hear in my
head when I’m composing.
nylon-string and a steel-string, which have
such nicely contrasting sounds.
Speaking of composing, what was your
writing process like for this album?
It wasn’t so unusual. I sat down in my
home on the beach in Miami and wrote
all the parts. I’d normally start with the
arpeggios that form the structure of a piece,
followed by the melody and a bass line, all
with lots of counterpoint. That’s the beginning skeleton of any written piece of mine.
From there, you can do anything.
Did you actually write out the parts, or
did you record them and play them for
the other musicians to learn by ear?
I did things the old-fashioned way: I wrote
out all of the individual melodic and harmonic parts—everything but the percussion—painstakingly by hand. Then I took
the charts to rehearsal and had my drummer, Peter Kaszas, and percussionist, Gumbi
Ortiz, work everything out. My only compositional input and my general rule of
thumb is that a percussionist and drummer
shouldn’t play the same things. Each should
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