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THE LAST SONG IS THE FIRST SONG. HUH?  

by Mark Esakoff

The birth of the CD, Bamboo Blue, began inside a little bungalow in the coastal town of Santa Barbara, California where our band Chasm would rehearse.  We always started out by jamming to the same A-minor blues before getting down to our serious practice. This warm up jam later developed into what is now the CDís opening track, Bamboo Blues.  These rehearsals took place in the home of Michael Whipple (Chasm co-founder) where he often fed everyone dinner afterwards. He liked serving up his latest experimental culinary creation such as Cajun blackened shark tacos or curried lamb-burgers between big Portobello mushroom cap buns, saying he was trying to balance extremes between taste and texture.  I donít know, but it sure was good! The food, not only the music was world fusion. Eventually these bungalow sessions came to an end when Michael relocated to Oregon.

Chasm carried on as a foursome with Brad Strickland on guitar, Arne Anselm on bass, and I on guitar & marimba along with various drummers sitting in. Later Brad brought Aaron Winters onboard as a steady drummer with his hi-bred djembe trap kit. It was during this period that new songs were written, developed and improvised in front of live audiences, unlike the music from the first two Chasm releases (self-titled CHASM and Panorhythmica) that were developed during the recording process. By the time we hit the recording studio for Bamboo Blue we were quite ready with various arrangements of each song to pick from. The sessions went very smooth and some first takes were chosen to be on the album.

After the four of us recorded our parts I asked Michael to reunite with the band ~ virtually that is. He agreed to track his flute, percussion and keyboard parts up in Oregon and send them down to me as digital files. I then transferred them to what we had already recorded andÖ ka-BLAM!  He was back in the band. Also, guest musicians from our past joined the sessions such as drummer Brad Ranola who is featured on the song Soothsayer Swing, Bodhi Jones with his big drums on Now What? and Mark Freddy who sings on the final track, A Balance Of Extremes (a ditty Michael and I wrote long ago but never recorded until now).

At the end of the recording process it was this track, A Balance OF Extremes, that we disagreed over. Michael thought the song did not fit the jungle jazz vibe of the rest of the album and therefore should not be on the CD. I agreed with the vibe part, but as producer I still thought it should stay. Conceding this, he then suggested I remix the song to make it even mOrE different than the other tracks by pumping the drums, fuzzing the flutes and slap-backing the vocals. Counter intuitive!  I loved the idea and felt that as long as it was the last track on the album, no matter how unrelated to the rest of the music, when played on a CD wheel it could sound like the first song on the next disc. Huh? What? Iíll let you the listener be the judge of all this. 

© 2000-17 Sticks & Stones Music (BMI)