Notes about the new CD "Wingin' It"

Wingin' It by MC Shoehorn © 2015 Michael Conley - Kutsubera Music SPR-007
1. 42nd Street Harry Warren & Al Dubin 1932
2. Ice Cream and Bubbles (vocal version- Introducing Eileen Konomi Conley)
3. I Hi Tabidachi  Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵) 1978
4. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do) Fred E. Ahlert 1931
5.  ZapaMan Theme  (vocal version- with Eileen Konomi Conley)
6. Roses Love the Rain
7. 42nd Street (vocal version featuring MC Shoehorn)
8. Ice Cream and Bubbles (instrumental)
9. ZapaMan (instrumental)
10. It's Not You, It's Me  ( dedicated to the memory of Derek Reith, 1971-2014)
All songs by Michael Conley except as noted. Lyrics for ZapaMan Theme by Eileen Conley
Michael "Shoehorn" Conley: alto, soprano & tenor saxophones, tap dance, fife
Gordon Lee: grand piano, Fender Rhodes
Miguel Bernal: conga, percussion
Scott Wardinsky: bongos, percussion
Damian Erskine: electric bass
Martin Zarzar: drums
Eileen Konomi Conley: voice on "Ice Cream & Bubbles", "ZapaMan Theme"
Kite Giedraitis: mbira, bass kalimba on "Roses Love the Rain"
Sound design on "Ice Cream and Bubbles" (vocal version) by Javier Goyes
Recorded and mixed by Kristopher White at the Map Room Studio, Portland, Oregon, USA
Mastered by Mark Frethem at Doctor Digital
Thanks to all who supported this project on Kickstarter!
Produced by MC Shoehorn
Associate Producers: Ira Perkins, Ryan Rogers
Some notes about this music:
The project came together after I was able to raise money on kickstarter to get the session going.  My friend Mauricio Valadrian is a producer at Univision TV, so I asked him to consider directing a video shoot of the recording sessions, one of me with 5 other players, one of me doing some of my solo numbers. He agreed, and along with this CD I am releasing a DVD titled "Dances with Instruments".
The CD title "Wingin' It'' refers to the spontaneous nature of the process. I brought the players into the studio completely unrehearsed except for a meeting with the piano player Gordon Lee. Also, my daughter performed on two songs, overdubbing  vocal parts, which I had intended to be a texture in the arrangement but actually sort of commandeered those songs. Her part on ZapaMan Theme is completely improvised in Japanese, which she is fluent in, and refers to fun and dancing, and tap dancing. So we were actually winging it. Also, wings are a tap step.
1. 42nd Street Harry Warren & Al Dubin 1932  For decades I worked as a tap dancer and musician having never seen the play, the movie, or learned the songs from this iconic masterpiece. Then I saw the show when a friend came to town in a touring production and the whole cast came to a jazz jam with me and we took over the place and stayed after hours jamming and riffing. After that I watched a DVD of the movie and learned a bunch of the songs from the show and it's sister productions, including "Golddiggers of 1933",  and "Footlight Parade". I try to channel the intense production values of Busby Berkeley into my horn and shoes and voice.
2. Ice Cream and Bubbles (vocal version- Introducing Eileen Konomi Conley)
This is a tune I started playing last summer which grew into its present form over months of playing it. The drummers really make this come alive! I decided not to tap on this one.
3. I Hi Tabidachi  Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵) 1978
The title translates as " A Good Day to Travel", and it is a very well-loved Japanese pop tune. Japanese music holds a fascination for me since my time working and living in Japan during the economic bubble years. I believe Japanese music is a rich vein of world music which is largely overlooked. I have recorded several other Japanese numbers on previous CDs.
4. I Don't Know Why (I Just Do) Fred E. Ahlert 1931
A few years ago my uncle sent me a recording of my late grandmother singing this accompanied by her brother, my great uncle, playing piano. They were obviously professionals, and their recording inspired me to internalize the tune and add it to my repertoire. The words are also really good.
 5.  ZapaMan Theme  (vocal version- with Eileen Konomi Conley)
I wrote this at the vibes two days before the recording session and thought it would be a perfect funky jam for the band. My 16-year old daughter Eileen came in to overdub vocals to this and "Ice Cream and Bubbles". I told her think of this one as Japanese cartoon superhero music and she improvised the lyrics as she sang.
6. Roses Love the Rain
This song is my love letter to Portland, city of roses. I wrote it one day in June when I showed up for a gig at the Rose Festival but it was rained out. I wandered about the grounds with my fife and this came out. I later arranged it for piano and mbira, an African instrument, and tenor sax, with the mbira and bass kalimba played by Kite Giedraitis of the Portland band Fools in Paradise.
7. 42nd Street (vocal version featuring MC Shoehorn) I love to sing, and I am really into these Harry Warren/ Al Dubin songs from broadway and Hollywood musicals.  I tried to do a completely separate recording for this, but I liked the feel of the sextet take better so I simply overdubbed my voice.
 8. Ice Cream and Bubbles (instrumental) This is how we laid it down in the studio, documented on the DVD "Dances with Instruments", before overdubs.
9. ZapaMan (instrumental) This is also the original version from the main studio recording session, documented on the DVD "Dances with Instruments", with no overdubs.
10. It's Not You, It's Me  ( dedicated to the memory of Derek Rieth, 1971-2014) This song started as a chord progression I came up with at the piano for a private lesson I was teaching. I started playing it more and more on my saxophones, and after my friend Derek took his life on August 20th, 2014, playing it became a way for me to channel the intense grief I felt. I had wanted to record with him, since we had a really special musical and personal chemistry. I did write lyrics in Spanish and English for this song, but I feel more comfortable letting my saxophone speak for me in this case.