Genius Loci Mixtape is a collection of songs, the first in a series of several, from recording sessions with talented jazz musicians all over the world. Many are inspired by the genius loci, the spirits of place, in each of these cities. Some are invented around beautiful poems I’ve come across while travelling, poems originally in Catalan or Spanish, sung in translation thanks to the talents of A. Z. Foreman and A. S. Kline.
The songs are melodic and straddle genres, like ancestral folk songs that morph into stream of consciousness free jazz or vice versa. This is music to transport you to other worlds in your imagination. Free jazz and improvising has changed the way my brain works (hopefully for the best), making me nimble and adaptable, singing in the moment or singing dreams from a moment ago. And the musicians featured here are well-versed in spontaneous and evocative instant composing.
This music was created in evocative places like the second cellar of an old building in Paris, a raucous music festival next to burial caves in Sulawesi, an artist’s studio filled with paintings in El Raval in Barcelona, and our home studio behind in a brick cottage in the snow in Montreal. The many creative musicians performing with me include Michel Lambert, Reg Schwager, Barre Phillips, Glen Ferris, Greg Burk, François Théberge, Alexandre Grogg, Fendy Rizk, Bona Alit, Davide Barbarino, Julien Osty and Laurent Charles, all on a great variety of instruments including piano, guitar, harpsichord, bass, saxophone and trombone.
I’ve been vagabonding with my trio with Michel and Reg and our recording gear again this summer, visiting Bali, Java and Japan. So as I prepare our next recording, Genius Loci East, with all the music we invented there, we are excited to release this first collection.
Below is the first video to accompany the music. This song, A Windy Day, is based on Anne Bronte’s poem Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day. I released it earlier in the year as a single and a remastered version appears on the new recording.
We recorded it at Greg Burk‘s studio in Ostia outside of Rome. We walked beneath the majestic trees around Greg’s home with his little dog Mambo ahead of us so when it came time to settle in to make some music, somewhere between swimming, eating pizza and cracking pine nuts, this favourite poem of mine by Anne Bronte felt utterly right. And it feels even more apt now that Greg has embarked on a social media mission to save trees and our climate with his Musicians for Climate Action initiative which you can support by following the group’s Facebook Page.
Afterwards we continued on to stay at the Ozu artist residency near Lazio. There we’d feast on truffle linguine and spend our evenings drinking wine while sharing delicious dinners and bright ideas with fellow artists who ran the residency or were attending it. We composed and recorded there as well among all the metal sculptures and candy factory gear.
I filmed most of the video imagery at the beautiful Parc Mont-Orford when the trees were almost past their peak in fall foliage season. Hopefully the tree spirits in all these places, England where the poem originated, Ostia where we recorded it, Orford where I filmed it, will approve!
Many of these recordings were made during artist residencies and travels that were awarded funding. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and and the Roadmap for Canada’s Official Languages 2013-2018 Education, Immigration, Communities, and also the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for these activities.