“Quicker Than The Eye” by Cadwallader, Asetta & Dixson
Ive had this idea in my head for a long time, writing a collection of tunes for a CD about magic. You might well ask, why?
As a child, I was captivated by the notion that magic was possible in the world, and that the unseen was just as real as the seen. I reveled in the belief that leprechauns, witches, ghosts, dragons, fairies, giants and goblins really existed. It seemed completely possible that the things just outside of my vision would one day make themselves known to me. I believed that the word Abracadabra could make something appear or disappear if only it was said just right, and that invisibility and flying werent reserved only for dreams. Making magic was a skill to be perfected, like writing and playing basketball. I marveled at real magicians of the past - Houdini and The Amazing Blackstone - and was later dazzled by the high-tech sorcery of David Copperfield and Doug Henning on television.
My life has always been filled with magical tales: Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, the happily believable comic books and cartoon films of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers. I was thrilled and terrified by the adventures of Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion in The Wizard of Oz, and the Tales of the Arabian Nights, with flying carpets, magic lamps that were home to genies, giant flying rocs, evil wizards and all the rest were my happy refuge on rainy days.
As an adult, starting with Lord Of The Rings, I explored just about every fantasy epic I could get my hands on, and have largely managed to keep a belief in things magical and supernatural alive. I believe that The Force is with me most of the time, and like all of these stories that from childhood have enchanted me, I believe that love and faith will ultimately triumph over hatred and evil.
Writing the music for this cd was greatly enjoyable. I was engaged in both the challenge of writing the songs and coming up with the titles that conveyed a magical idea or image. I confess that I actually had a list of titles before I had any music written, and that I had many more titles than I needed. Some songs I wrote first, and then applied what seemed like an appropriate title from my list. Other songs, though, were written having first been given a title. I say all of this only to let you in on the secret that not all songs are about something - but some definitely are.
I had already decided that Quicker Than The Eye would be the title of the cd, and I was committed to it being a samba. I have always loved Chick Corea's "Spain," so it also seemed natural to write a recurring unison line that would set off the various sections of the piece. The title "Dirty Tricks" is, Ill admit, a stretch, but it seemed to portray the funky feel that I was going for with this tune.
I had originally written "My Lovely Assistant" as a two-beat swing tune, and I wanted to use the tune but couldnt reconcile that style with the rest of the songs Id written. It was Arti who suggested the straight eighth note feel with brushes, and that was a true inspiration that brought the song to life. Houdini came into being as a pair of altered scales a whole-step apart - the resulting melody is suggestive of mysticism and the repeating cycle of unresolved chords implies the infinite and eternal. After all, Houdini did say that if there was a way of returning from the hereafter, he would find it.
"Can You Keep A Secret" is my gentle reminder that even if we know the secret of a trick, maybe it would be best to keep it to ourselves and not spoil the effect. "Nothing Up My Sleeve" is anything but gentle, a rocking blues-shuffle that also borrows the turnaround from Chick Corea. I love chord progressions that avoid resolution until the last possible moment, in this case not until beat one of the form.
Years ago Nat Adderly wrote two tunes, "Fun and Games" that were recorded on Cannonball's album, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, and I have always thought that it would be fun to use the same kind of wordplay for a couple of songs. For this cd the two tunes turned out to be two halves of the same phrase and the first of these, "Now You See It...", is a medium-up swing with a straight-ahead groove and a repeating riff that separates the thematic repetitions and solos. The second, "...Now You Dont", is an up-tempo modal swing that goes out on a couple of musical limbs.
"White Doves and Purple Silk" seems to me evocative of the beauty of movement and color that a truly great magician imparts to his performance. And "Prestidigitation" is just that: a fast-fingered foray into the realm of musical magic.
To my parents Rex and Lois Cadwallader, already gone from this life, I lovingly dedicate this music, both in the writing and the making. Ill be eternally grateful to them for bringing music and magic into my life and for letting me have my dreams.
And to Nancy, who encourages and helps me to bring my musical dreams to life, Night and Day, you are (still and always) the one.
The real magicians in this musical adventure, though, are Mike and Arti. Their unflagging energy and emotion, their creative soloing and their solid supportive musicianship have given the music more than just the illusion of reality, and that's what real magic is all about.
We started mixing this album on Friday the 13th, the day Harry Houdini said hed communicate to the world from beyond the grave. Thanks, Harry - it was nice working with you!
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