Fearfully I put this together. I have never tried to be a front man before, I was always safely hidden away in a group or as a sideman. But I faced my fears and slowly started to make a band. I called on some of my oldest friends and favorite players to help me put together enough of a program to play a set. Mixed in among my tunes were songs that I had always liked to listen to and to play.
Alex Ligertwood, one of my oldest friends and fantastic vocalist, David Garfield and his extraordinary keyboard work were key in getting this off the ground. Steve Farris (Mr. Mr.) and Michael P. O'Neil (George Benson) with their two styles of guitar work that enrich the music so much, Jimmy Earl, powerhouse bass player with Robben Ford and Chick Correa, Bikki Johnson, a wonderful artist, bassist and the only girl in the band to play second bass on Woody Creek, and to top it off Gerald Albright (Sax's) multi instrumentalist, and a star in his own right, Jason Weber (Sax's) a very talented newcomer from San Diego, and Lee Thornberg (Trumpet and Trombone) session master and resident of the Leno Show Band.
Marcel east decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up, so he brought down his pro-tools rig with engineer Mike Aarvol and recorded the whole thing. It was a great night!
About a year after the recording was complete I finaly got around to listening to what Marcel had recorded, and I was stunned by the quality of the sound and playing. Because it was all put together in such short notice I felt that some of the arrangements could be better. By that time, I had befriended Clarke Rigsby, a real journeyman guitarist, engineer and producer in Phoenix. I played him the tapes and he loved the performances and immediately got stuck into making things happen.
We set to work touching up the songs. Sam Pilafian, a tuba player and music professor at Arizona State University offered to help with the arrangements as did sax player Jerry Donato. The section comprised of Tuba virtuoso Patrick Sheridan, Phoenix Symphony trombonist John Lofton and trumpeter Peter Green worked wonderfully together on the arrangements so that they seemed like they were there on the night of recording.
Then there was that one song that just didn't have the sparkle of the others. "Put It In" was on my hit list. We had played it well on the night, but there was something missing. It was at this point that another friend came to the rescue. Phoenix area drummer Mike Florio was at Clake's house listening to the work-in-progress one day, and trying to figure out a way to stop me from axing the song from the album, though they agreed that something was missing. After some discussion they called me out on the road with Tom Petty in some hotel room and told me their idea. Would I object to them asking the legendary Joey DeFrancesco to play on the rogue song to tie it together. With THAT I had no problem at all. A couple of days later they called me up to let me listen over the phone to what he had done.... SOLD! Listen to that track and weep... Joey nailed it in a couple of takes... Just listen to how he listens to the other musicians and plays off of what is going on with every instrument. What a player!
Clarke then went on to mix the tracks and master the album with Dave Shirk at Sonorous Mastering in Tempe. That brings me to the album cover. Tony Amato was the art director for this project. He had a conversation my girlfriend Delia about how, when I sweat on stage, the heat from the lights makes my head steam. He thought that would be a great idea for a cover, so he got photographer Mike Woodall to figure out how to make my head stem in Phoenix when it was 100 degrees in the shade. The answer THE ICEMAN. A crazy man that makes beautiful ice sculptures in Phoenix' very hot climate. He has a giant refrigerator that he works in, and he kindly loaned it to us. Wrapping my head in a scalding hot towel, whipping it of and shooting the resulting steam plume was the way the album cover came about. All artists suffer for their music, I guess I went the extra yard for mine.