I am happy to say things are moving forward again! "ICONS" is a track that I've wanted to record for some time, however the last few months have been extraordinarily challenging for reasons I can't discuss here...
My eternal gratitude goes out to KEITH HOWLAND from CHICAGO. Keith is not only a remarkable musician, but is a truly great guy all around. As I neared the end of production on this piece, I sort of dreaded the obvious question, "NOW, who plays Magellan guitar solos?" - due to the "physical only" absence of Wayne (RIP).
I sent Keith my nearly finished tracks with "a few holes carved out" for his shredding....which of course he filled!
When I think of Chicago II, I am still blown away. Songs like "Movin' In","Poem for the People","In the Country" & "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon" just plain kick ass.
In 1975, I managed to get my hands on some of the old scores from the first 3 albums -with all the parts broken out. I marveled at the song structure and spent countless hours trying to learn every part for every instrument. That led to an epiphany for me...it was the WAY the parts related to each other that made it uniquely Chicago. One of those songs, 25 or 6 to 4, was the first piece I ever figured out.
Since I can only do one Chicago cover for various reasons now, this HAD to be the one! I don't believe in doing "sound alikes", going for an emulation of the original. I approached 25 like this...If Magellan was going to play this, how would I do it live? That's it. Its considerably different - and may take a few listens to get oriented.
Anyway, I am equally blown away that years later, the composer, Robert Lamm would become an amazing mentor and supporter of Magellan... talk about being really glad I bought Chicago II on vinyl with my paper route money... Nice investment!
Personnel on this track are:
Trent Gardner -Vocals, Keys, Trombone, Production, Arrangement Wayne Gardner - Rhythm Guitar Roger Patterson - Drums Apogee Akilina -Bass
About the classic Terry Kath guitar lines:
Having tried various sampling and other time stretching techniques, it was clear the original guitar lead would not easily work.
First, Chicago recorded those classics without a click/tempo track. The ebb and flow of time was a big part of the magic. However, when trying to make this production work, it was simply impossible to "line up" the Kath guitar leads against the time grid in my digital audio workstation (Studio One).
While not the ACTUAL recording of Terry Kath's classic solo/lead parts, here is how I got this version done...
I started off by filtering the original track of everything but the guitar frequencies. This left TONS of artifacts and other bleed over which was inescapable and unusable. I set up a gate so that only the loudest of the sounds would break thru (still out of time to the grid). I started feeding that impulse into guitar modeling software to create a digital version. It was really raw, but allowed me to get things into the digital realm.
Once I had that, I went thru the entire Kath performance note for note. After several hundred microscopic edits over a 2 month period, I managed to recreate the "impulse of Terry" and line it up with my timing grid.
That was the easy part. Getting the articulation and appropriate dynamic attack to the individual notes was the really challenging gig.
..Still, no other instruments were present at this point. The last steps were to take the new signal and feed that into guitar modeling software to get "re-amped" using a fender stratocaster model and a variety of other effects & amp models ..wah wah, distortion ,etc. The goal wasn't to replicate -only to find something that sounded good. And of course, finally, the process of obtaining appropriate licenses and clearances from the composer/publisher prior to distribution.
Robert Lamm wrote me a recent email after an early preview to say, "What an adventure! As far as I'm concerned, the wilder the better!" That's my favorite part about Lamm's outlook on music.
He in so open minded that he can listen to ANY piece of music and continue to find new things about it. In my opinion, that's the mark of his true compositional genius. TG
Can you guess the guitar used on Hour Of Restoration -Test Of Wills -Symphony? (I'll tell you later.) All of these have been used at one time or another on a Magellan recording. Under the circumstances, I thought this would be a nice photo gallery to share with everyone...sort of brings a visual to some of Wayne's work.
So thankful I still have his unreleased tracks that will make it onto upcoming recordings. Some songs may only have a couple of sections complete, so I will make it clear, at the appropriate time, which parts are which.
Our family is grateful for the many messages of condolences regarding the tragic loss of Wayne Gardner on February 10, 2014. We feel blessed for such warmth and outreach from wonderful people we have never met. Our deepest love goes out to you all.
"Cynic's Anthem" was written in Sept 2013. After I finished the first outline, I immediately decided on recording two versions. The first one came together faster than expected during the evening of November 07, 2013 after a good shot of caffeine carried me well into the am hours of the 8th. I broke out some synth patches and treated the sections (initially thought of as horn sections), as "keyboard based" though entirely different in terms of the parts. I am no fan of using keyboards to fake real horns. I would prefer to play and write horn parts using my old Bach 16 trombone, a gift from my mother way back in 1973. I still believe that horn sounds better than the newer models.
Anyway, the only thing still missing after the first round was background vocals. I contacted my friends in Chicago and some interesting discussions occurred. Jason Scheff agreed to add his vocal harmonies to mine, filling out the chorus sections. He did it so fast on his laptop while on the road, I had his tracks back in just a few hours!
Also discussed, was an alternate version with Tris Imboden on drums, a Keith Howland guitar solo, and perhaps adding a Lee Loughnane horn arrangement. I will post that version when it is complete.
I expect to make it available on iTunes ,etc this month. You can now have fun streaming the entire track.
The cynic -he said it "no man can find the truth" Philosophy -he's safe there born in his raging youth
Politician -paints a Monet Every stroke with a straight face Believers seeking refuge from lies they must embrace
Cynic's Anthem Rapid-fire All of those famous last words Down to the wire
The priest resigns for new religion yes -a classic hymn Chapter and verse collide as logic is condemned...
Cynic's Anthem Rapid-fire All of those famous last words Down to the wire
People laughing at pain while they fake their welcomes another bit of wisdom told
I just see silhouettes Pen my score with no regrets Nothing ever changes. Nothing ever changes.
Cynic's Anthem Rapid-fire All those - famous last words Down to the wire
No defenses -epic fail "So sure" -from your high horse fighting tooth and nail...
Written by Trent Gardner Soul Of The Sasquatch Music, BMI 2013-2014
Keith Howland from the band Chicago is featured on the new Magellan track, "The Better Suite". Keith shows off his versatility and pyrotechnics, so familiar to anyone who has seen him live with Chicago.
Thank you, Keith! We really hope to work with you again soon!
This tune is a 5 part prog excursion, clocking in at 8:32. It actually features another member of Chicago, with a beautiful "cameo" piccolo trumpet solo, performed by Lee Loughnane. Robert Berry (GTR, 3, ELP, Alliance) also provides some nice bass/r.gtr work.
“Good to Go?” is a Robert Lamm lyric I received back in November 2012. Our recent communication about continued musical experiments together – (post “Living Proof” -Robert’s recent solo album) have proven fruitful.
After playing around with some chord changes on my digital audio workstation, I realized what I wanted to do –play some trombone! Yes, something to fill my addiction to brass instruments while I worked on parts of a separate, ambitious prog piece which will soon follow this one.
I liked his lyric line “What you see depends on –where you’re standing” and “What you see depends on if you’re listening”. Within an evening, I created a BASIC piano sketch of the tune, beginning to end, as it exists now. I was happy about that. I spent the holidays filling in keys, drums, bass, a bit of guitar and dusted off the old Bach 16 sewer pipe to chase that brass dragon. Instead of writing parts down though, at least initially, I just played what I felt and left it alone. It needed the upper octave bad, but I decided to come back to it as the production got closer.
Anyone following Magellan since 1991 must wonder about our end game, especially after unceremonious exits from both previous labels. I was determined that in this song, having some fun was -objective one. Keep it raw, don’t over think it, and invite someone outside Magellan to participate. Well, it doesn’t take a large leap in imagination to wonder who the first call trumpet player might be given the lyricist! My friend Lee Loughnane, also co-founder of the legendary band Chicago.
As anyone who has listened to him over the Last 4 decades can attest, he is still getting better! Wow. He shreds on heavy classical, strength and breathing exercises constantly, which makes the relentless demands on his embouchure during world tours much easier. His tone is heaven for my ear drums. Scary to someone like me who hates actual practice (against my religion). The reality is Lee has put in the work. He can now reap the sonic benefits, right along with Chicago fans. I am looking forward to some of his solo works that will come as well. I have heard some of his new song ideas and he has an “entertainer’s sensibility” about his work. I would buy it in a second! What a band he is in –the depth there is insane.
Robert Lamm has been an amazing collaborator and mentor because unlike others I have worked with, he is OK letting me “being myself and running off in extended prog directions”. Even releasing my versions is cool with him. That shows a lot of confidence and maturity I rarely see. The last time I saw that attribute was in Steve Walsh when we worked on “Glossolalia” (the Kansas front man’s) solo effort together.
With every piece of music I submit to Robert, he always makes excellent suggestions and even sends me edited arrangement alternatives which I love receiving. Last summer, one of these submissions (current working title, “Shades of Grey”) got a “this could potentially be a C. song” response. That of course would be a thrill for me, but only time will tell as there are so many complex factors that allow any musical idea to survive long enough to make it onto a commercial recording.
Speaking of commercial recordings, with regard to Magellan, I have found myself in an interesting position. Magellan fans might think I am not busy enough producing prog music or being engaged in musical pursuits full time…. their theory as to why I have not released a full length Magellan album since 2007. Let’s clarify.
The fact is that I am involved in intense musical undertakings that may (or may not) ever be released. I operate as an independent producer and collaborator under a pseudonym on various music… and music business projects. Magellan is my personal musical experiment that continues. When (and if) it ever makes sense to release a full album in the new music market, I’ve got HOURS of material to draw from. It will happen.
For now, I am happy to release singles, which make MUCH more business sense, at least for me. By the way, the “Better Suite” (with Keith Howland from Chicago) will clock in around 8:30, so I am very excited about where things are going for the Magellan faithful. Big “Impending Ascension” style prog.
And before I digress too far, “Good to Go?” does have a question mark in the title on purpose. Robert’s main idea has plenty of meat on the bone, so to speak. It's all there in the art, but try to avoid the common colloquialisms for the phrase –you’ll be getting much warmer. By the way, that's one big canary atop the ladder –mmm, either some sort of scaling/perspective issue or perhaps nothing at all. Welcome to his rock house of contemplation on the back 40.
Trent P.S. meant to be played above 90db…
Good To Go? what you see depends on where you’re standing way up high, where the four winds blow what you see depends on where you’re standing so keep your eyes on what you know -Good To Go?
peekin’ round the corner down the block, or down below lost now in the thunder rolling every minute -its all you brother
got to take some initiative what you get and what you give don’t be afraid, don’t hesitate let yourself go before it’s too late
what you hear depends on if you’re listening like the tree that falls down in the wood what you hear depends on if you’re listening ..and be still now, there’s a message in her whisper Good to Go?
What more can I say? Its all up to you so come on take it
Are you good to Go? Are you good? Good To Go?
What you see is believable Wait it out -the impossible
Where you're standing now tell me - are you good to go? So tell me true -Good To Go?
Copyright 2013 Robert Lamm and Trent Gardner
Lyrics: Robert Lamm Music: Trent Gardner / performed by Magellan Trumpet: Lee Loughnane Trombone/Vocals/Keys: Trent Gardner
Soul Of The Sasquatch Music (BMI) Primary Wave Lamm (ASCAP) All rights reserved 2013 DNA Mastering