In the north american way of jazz, Craig Hartley appears like a real phenomenon by his capacity – capability – of creation and his ability to interpret his life and his musical experiences into songs. “The more I reflect on my pieces, the more I become aware of how I think, generate and develop art”. But, the most amazing is the material and the simplicity with wich Craig Hartley talking about that. It seems that this guy – this genial pianist – is like a musical sponge, inspired by as simple occurrences as people in the street, in bars, shops, people he met at the corner or he talked with, some thoughts, moments and diverse emotions. Create for him is “that inexplicable, uncontrollably spontaneous creative process that takes the mentally stored past and employs it to fashion novel amalgamations that are sometimes recorded, sometimes nostalgically cherished, or sometimes too easily dismissed or discarded”. A music that reflects, among other topics, a rare combination of the symbiotic relationship between the spontaneous creative and the subconscious reflective processes that is memory, a present reflection on the temporally distanced past. So every song have his spontaneous history. Let’s, now, listen to Craig Hartley himself:
Books On Tape
For many years, I would sneak into Yale University‘s practice rooms and play for hours, something I continue to do today. You can imagine the variety of musicians one would hear: pianists, vocal groups, various classical ensembles, among other talents. This particular piece was inspired by my experiences at Yale and was developed while in the University’s classrooms.
One of my most influential teachers and mentors was Gary Dial. Dial introduced me to a variety of musical concepts, now vital to how I think about and write music. However, the most valuable piece of knowledge I learned from Dial was how to develop my own concepts and musical voice. Dial 411 started as an assignment for one of Dial’s lessons, so this piece is named in his honour.
During my time as a student at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, it was my privilege to have the legendary Jackie McLean as a mentor. McLean started the African American music studies program at the Hartt School of Music (now the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz) and cultivated a number of musicians including the trombonist Steve Davis. Froghollow was inspired by my years playing in Steve Davis band, and is named after the Hartford neighbourhood where we used to perform every week. I learned a lot on the band stand with Davis throughout the years and had the opportunity to play with a lot of jazz greats in Froghollow, such as trumpeter Eddie Henderson and saxophonist Jimmy Greene.
I Should Love You More
I’ve always wanted to write a piece reminiscent of an old standard from the great American songbook in the style of Rodgers and Hart and Cole Porter. I Should Love You More is drawn from personal experience and is one of the first pieces for which I wrote lyrics.
K2? was the name of a small coffee shop I frequented when I was a college student. I spent many hours there transcribing, writing, and listening to music while drinking coffee and watching the eclectic mix of customers pass in and out of the shop.
Why Not was inspired by my experiences playing with legends Anthony Braxton and Mario Pavone. Braxton and Pavone are constantly pushing boundaries and incorporate many different styles and concepts in their work.