David Caceres: Double Threat Coming Forward
Leading up to the new CD, Caceres was teaching in Houston and playing all kinds of gigs in 2006, "juggling between the creative aspect and the make-a-living aspect of it." He built a studio in his house, with a new Steinway piano. A friend who used to play it all the time urged him to try New York again, while he lived in the house and played piano, so he could live in the saxophonist's house. "He bugged me for six months. I thought, 'You know what? There's nothing going on here. I'm not married. No kids.' I thought: I need to do it. This is an opportunity. I took off [to New York], and moved in with [guitarist] Mike Moreno." He spent his time "going out. Sitting in. Donny McCaslin would let me sit in different places. Going to the jam sessions."
Caceres did a gig at New York's 55 Bar and Pierson was there. "The next day I got a call from him. He wanted to talk. We got together. He asked me about my career and what I was doing. What I wanted to do. He checked out my other records. I said. 'I would love to record another record. If you're offering to produce it, this is exactly what I need. Someone to produce it so I all I have to worry about is the playing and the singing.' Matt had this vision for the record. The idea was to do a record featuring both my vocals and saxophone. He went to point where he said, 'You might be considered a vocalist/saxophonist rather than the other way around.'
"He said, 'You need to do something that features your vocals, because there are a lot of great sax players, but not many that do both of these things.' That's where it all started." Caceres was doing some writing, but Pierson was sending songs for his consideration as well. "Matt was thinking about marketing and selling CDs, so his concept was to have songs that are by popular people, but are so obscure that unless you're a fan of Stevie Wonder, Van Morrison, Maxwell, you wouldn't know these songs. But if you see those names on the CD, it was going to catch your eye. So he started introducing me to these different songs. Being a Stevie Wonder fan, I knew both of the songs I have on the record." Others, he didn't know.
He notes, "One of the songs, 'Sacred Path,' is from my third CD. But [Pierson] liked it so much he thought we should rerecord it." One song Carceres wrote was used in the studio, to warm up with Stewart, Parks and Grenadier. "We came out of the gate recording this song and it was a little bit too intense. It didn't fit the vision of the record. But the other one that has lyrics, 'Gratitude,' did make the record."
His experience with those musicians is one he treasures. "These guys were great in the studio. Aaron Parks was really helpful. He was the most vocal in making suggestions for the songs he played on ... I really enjoyed playing with those guys. I really dug the orchestra stuff Gil [Goldstein] arranged. I love the way it sounds. I'm happy about it."
He's aware of musicians like Hancock and Branford Marsalis, who jump into other genres when the spirit moves them. He shares that attitude.
"For me, it was finding a middle ground of finding a soulful aspect, but still being able to improvise. Even Kenny Garrett has his Happy People (Warner Bros., 2002) CD. I have my [all jazz] trio CD." He said the recording "is coming out on a different level market-wise. I am happy with it .
"The order of the songs was created by Matt," Caceres continues. "I understand the order of it, because it's about selling the CDs and having the ones that would get the most airplay toward the front. Then as you back end of the record, there's more improvisational, freer songs on there, which you could actually stretch out on. At this point, with that record I could see myself out there doing gigs where I could do 'Gratitude' or 'Sacred Path' or 'Bird of Beauty,' where it has a form for stretching out a little bit. Or I could see myself doing something straighter and simpler like 'You Make It Easy.' Somehow, we were able to get these different styles on the same record. I think it opens things up for me."