Update - 13 Jun 2008: Added section for Aaron Solo and posted Creeper, which was initially written for a video game he created.

Update - 1 Mar 2008: Converted Blue Skies Trio songs to mp3, making them more accessible.

Update - 10 Feb 2008: Loaded songs from Blue Skies Trio Demo CD. Redesigned webpage.

Launch - April 2007

I mentioned that one of my hobbies is music, playing and arranging. I had the joy and priviledge of playing in a jazz group known locally as the Blue Skies Trio from 2003 to 2005. Our singer/guitarist was Troy Coman, who now lives in Florida. Our drummer was Garrett Needham, who lives in southern Michigan. I played the keyboard/synthesizer, which let me play a variety of instruments with my right hand, depending on which song and what part of the song we needed: vibes, brass, saxes, and various pianos(grand, electric, Rhodes, Hammond B3 organ, etc). With my left hand I play acoustic upright bass. We strived for a simple but tight sound, "exploring the Great American Songbook", as our drummer said. We broke up when Troy retired and moved to Florida, but I still play from our repertiore for personal enjoyment. Although I would love to play live again, I decided that I would record some of the stuff we did in our heyday.

Since I can no longer get together with Troy and Garrett in practical fashion, I am using a drum machine and a digital recorder along with my keyboard and synthesizer. The drum machine is very good for practicing, but it doesn't beat a real human drummer like Garrett, who really knew how to listen and respond to where we were going. Anyway, here are my first attempts at home recording my versions of two songs we used to do.

We always opened with Duke Ellington's Satin Doll . We liked the easy, snap your fingers mood this put the crowd in. The live version started with Troy singing the vocals along with just his guitar, then came bass, piano and drums. This version uses vibes instead of voice, and piano instead of guitar, but I think captures the intent of the live version. I did try to add guitar to this arrangement, but it really muddied up the song. I might try it later, exchanging guitar for piano throughout the choruses, as I think that would be cleaner. Also, I need to learn to play the keyboards to more closely mimic a guitar player. There is more to this than simply dialing up the guitar sound and going at it.

The next song I recorded is a medley. We made about 4 or 5 medley's, and played about 1 per set. We put together songs that we felt fit together in rhythm and style, and sometimes we altered the rhythm to improve the fit. This medley required no such alterations, as both are latin tunes from the same composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim: Girl from Ipanema combined with Desafinado This does use a very nice nylon string guitar sound from my synth, and I managed to get it to sound more like a guitar player than a keyboard player. There is no piano on this track for the same reason there is no guitar on Satin Doll: it muddied up the arrangement. Doing a home studio recording also allowed me to add an instrument I never used on stage: a pan flute. I tried to be careful where I used it, and I think it came out pretty good. My son Aaron helped me pick out this sound from my synth; he said "it was cool."

These are m4a files, which opens with iTunes. The uncompressed CD tracks are HUGE and would take a long time to post and download, but I plan to complete an uncompressed CD by the end of the year and send it out to family and friends.