bobby shew




How My Heart Sings

Bill Cunliffe Sextet

Featuring Bobby Shew






Audio Samples:  Here's to Neil    Silverado Trail    Elsa


My knowledge of Earl Zindars a year ago was a few lovely tunes recorded by Bill Evans: Elsa, How My Heart Sings, Mother of Earl, and Soiree. Upon the urging of the intrepid jazz producer, Reed Kotler, Earl, who is 75 years young and lives in San Francisco, sent me a large book of tunes that he composed from the early sixties through the end of 2002.


Here's to Neal is a simple tune composed primarily of chains of 5th-moving chords. I composed a rather abstract intro, and arranged the tune in the form of a big band chart, with interludes and shout choruses. I especially like the interlude that launches the solo played by the great trumpet player Bobby Shew. After living in LA for 12 years, it's really great to finally record with this trumpet legend*.


City Tune is a hip melody that I wrote some busy counter melodies to, in order to simulate life in the big city. It ends with a free section, in which Shew imitates a car horn... a 20's car horn! I really enjoyed Bob Sheppard's alto playing, which you don't hear that often. Drummer Joe LaBarbera and bassist Jeff D'Angelo alternate between straight ahead playing and some spirited polymetric rhythms.


Mother of Earl is really a tribute to Bill Evans, who Joe played with for two years. I composed a five part chorale based on Bill's harmonization of the tune. Promising young trumpeter Justin Ray is added to the mix, and solos admirably.


Silverado Trail is a lovely ballad with hip Evans-ish changes that we did as a bossa nova. Jazz detectives will notice the alto flute/flugel/ trombone sound made famous by the Herbie Hancock Sextet, one of my favorite groups.


On the Bill Evans-made standard How My Heart Sings, we re-created the classic 60's Bill arrangement note for note, including the piano solo played by me and Bob Sheppard on his rare Bb flute.


Return to Love is a gorgeous ballad that I did ala Charles Mingus, with floating harmonies, bass clarinet obbligatos, and ethereal blowing by bassist Jeff D'Angelo and trombonist Bruce Paulson, both alumni of Doc Severinsen bands.


Earl's Blues is a 12 bar original that I expanded with an extended somewhat abstract intro based on some Earl Z. synth noodling on his own recording of the tune. I enjoy the varied textures you can get with this band; for example the bass and trombone duo in the middle, and the interlude and shout chorus that follow. Bruce Paulson is hip and soulful, as always. D'Angelo can get totally abstract, but is totally swinging when it's called for.


Elsa is a gorgeous and rarely played Zindars original featuring flugelhorn lead with slightly dissonant horn chords, all taken from Evans' original recording. I love doubling the horns with slightly extended piano chords, to make the texture a little more full. Besides Dave Brubeck, Earl Zindars was, to my knowledge, the first guy to really popularize jazz tunes with shifting meters. Heads or Tails is a cool tune that changes meter from 3/4 to 4/4, but in my arrangement it starts in 5/4 and goes to 4/4. Then the bridge is in 3/4. When Earl heard it, he called me, excitedly, telling me how much he loved the record. "But Bill," he added, "what the heck did you do with that tune. I can't tell what meter it's in!" We end the album on a somber and lovely note, with Earl's tune, Soiree. It, like this whole album, is a tribute to the geniuses of both Earl Zindars and Bill Evans. The arrangement is simple and direct, not unlike the way Bill played it Enjoy.


-Bill Cunliffe


*Bill and Bobby Shew can also be heard on "Bobby Shew - Gary Foster and Friends Play the Music of Reed Kotler"



August 31, 1975


To Whom It May Concern:


I have been acquainted with the professional musical life of Earl Zindars for twenty five years and have had occasion to record his compositions nine times on six commercial LP's. He is in my estimation a truly exceptional musician - a composer of highly developed craft, an outstanding song composer, a fine symphonic percussionist, an all around jazz drummer - and with all this I believe he has a solid view of music in general and the integrity that has always resulted in work of the highest quality.


Earl Zindars has my unreserved recommendation.



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