Smitty: Yeah. Well, that was a great tune and Brubeck, what can you say about him? What a great musician.
MF: Yeah, and there was something so incredibly pristine and great about that quartet, you know, with Paul Desmond, Joe Morello and Eugene Wright, and Dave. It was just, and I had the pleasure of seeing them shortly thereafter when they came to San Diego, where I lived, and it was just was very enlightening.
Smitty: Yeah. Well, you have some great entertainers….I know we talked about this earlier, but you have some great entertainers and musicians on this album. I mean, Eric Marienthal that we didn’t mention, Andy Suzuki, ….everyone who lended themselves to this…Dwight Sills, I mean, you have such a stellar list of great musicians that you just know this was going to be a great album.
MF: Well, thank you. I feel the same way. It’s a treat to get the performances of all of theirs on one project. That’s kinda the advantage of working with different producers. Sometimes it can be confusing, and it can involve a lot of logistics trying to figure out everyone’s schedule and how to make things happen at a certain point in time. But the upside of it is to get all of these great performances by all these different players, and although it’s fun to sit down and make a record with one rhythm section as I’ve done in the past, especially like the Art of Tea and Sleeping Gypsy with that great rhythm section. And on Burchfield Nines, which what used to be like a stuffed kind of rhythm section. But I also really enjoy working this way where you’re using different players in different locales much of the time, and there’s so much interesting personality with all those players, the personalities which may then really contribute their talents and their point of view to the music. So, yeah, it was great to get Eric Marienthal on and Gary Meek played some beautiful stuff too on “Scatsville.”
Smitty: Yeah, it was great to see him on there, he’s been around for a while.
MF: Yeah. And it was a treat to work with those guys. I’ve run into them on the road over the years but never actually recorded with them, so that was a treat for me.
Smitty: Yeah, absolutely. Talk to me a little bit about how Jeff Lorber with “The Chemistry of Love” got your creative juices flowing. I remember reading something about that.
MF: Well, that was the one tune on the project that I had written before. I wrote it while just sort of sitting around, and a former producer of mine, John Simon, who produced and arranged Tiger in the Rain for me, did such a beautiful job; I ran into him and he was working on a project with a Japanese flugelhorn player who also sings, and he said “I’m looking for material for this guy. He sings sorta like a Chet Baker. He sings in English and he tries to sing that way and he’s actually a really interesting musician, a great flugelhorn player.” So I said “Well, I’ve got this tune,” I was nearly finished and I said “I’ll send it to John Simon.” It was recorded then by this great young musician named Toku, who was like a big sensation in Japan. So John Simon did a really beautiful arrangement and it was more in this quiet, sinuous kind of production where I think he had Ben Riley and Kenny Barron and Ron Carter. Actually then, he had this beautiful string quartet thing happening, but it was very different from the way I had heard the tune and the way my demo actually sounded, which I had recorded on a Fender Rhodes on a rhythm drum machine kind of groove. I’d always liked that tune and I thought it’d be interesting to record it and take it in this other direction, which was the way I had originally heard it, so I sent it to Jeff and I sent him my original demo, sent him the produced song by Toku, the Japanese flugelhorn player, and I said “You know, we should have more of a groove and with a strong kind of bottom and a foundation.”
And he knew exactly, almost without me saying anything what I had in mind, and it was a few days later he sent me a really great demo, which actually we ended up using almost all of on the final track, and that’s always the way it’s been with Jeff. When I first worked with Jeff in 1989 for Blue Pacific, which came out the following year 1990, I remember going to Jeff’s house with a tune called “Speak to Me” and I just played it for him on the acoustic guitar, and right on the spot he came up with the stuff that we actually ended up using on the record. So I’ve always had that kind of very easy communication with him and he always seems to find exactly the right point of view for the material.
Smitty: The cover art…I know you’re very particular about the cover art and it seems to really fit with the record title and the music itself so, yeah, talk to me about how you chose that one particular scene because it’s a beautiful scene on the front cover of the album.
MF: Oh, thanks. Well, that’s a painting that my wife and I bought it a few years ago from a painter up here who’s sort of a well known painter up here in New York. This area where I live is, to some extent, that kind of artist community, and he’s a very senior kind of guy now in his mid-eighties and he has a gallery here that’s quite well known. Anyway, he paints mostly winter scapes and beautiful kind of winter scenes of the mountains up here. But he does winter in Florida and I saw this one painting which he had done down there, which was the one on the cover, and this was about the time I was thinking about the cover and actually we didn’t even have it hanging. It’s kinda sitting in a corner, we were gonna re-hang it somewhere, and I said “Wow, this is great. This would be great for the cover,” although it was St. Augustine, Florida, I think is where he painted it.
MF: It really had this look of old Rio, the old parts of the city where many of the buildings have these beautiful courtyards and where many of those courtyards have these similar kinds of fountains. So I just thought that it would make a great image for the cover. (“The Yellow Fountain” by Dick Jeffery.)