About the CD Spicy Jazz Adventure

About the CD

A long time coming

by Thomas Gunther

This album is indeed long overdue.
When Pamela and I first got together, we both agreed that we wanted to create music we can stand 100 percent behind. To Pamela it was very important that we picked songs that are personal to her. Stories that we all can relate to.

We  wanted to arrange the music in such a way that it surprises our listeners and take them on an adventures journey, as opposed to just playing ordinary head arrangements (head - solos - head).
To live up to those expectations, we kept refining each arrangement until we were completely satisfied.
Retrospectively, I'm really glad we didn't rush into producing this music. It is because of our commitment to our ideas that this album turned out to be everything we aimed for. Each delicately arranged song is different in style and instrumentation, and tells a story most everyone can relate to.
It is music performed and produced with tremendous passion and dedication. Music we are both ultimately very proud of!

What kind of music is it? (by Thomas Gunther)

The short answer

It's Jazz, and so much more.
An exciting stylistic cocktail of original and old familiar songs produced in fresh and unexpected ways.

The medium-long answer

The arrangements combine classic jazz elements with contemporary music styles. State-of-the-art technology was used to simulate horns and strings, and to add electronic sounds and effects.

I believe that our music can appeal to music enthusiasts, educated listeners, and professional musicians from all corners of the contemporary music spectrum.

The long answer

How does one describe music as diversified as ours?
Jazz has become a generic term used to describe so many different jazz styles that have been developped over the last 100 years, Where-to-Go that no one can really tell anymore what music exactly to expect from a so-called jazz band.

We could  try to explain our music by combining the word “Jazz” with more descriptive terms such as latin or swing, funk or smooth, cool or hot, classic or modern; and even employ such contradicting word combinations like Rock-Jazz and Pop-Jazz. Many - if not all - of these combinations could be used to describe some of the music on this album.

Instead of doing that however, we wanted to find a name that describes how we feel about our music. We truly believe that our music is indeed “spicy”, and each of our arrangements is a musical adventure. It’s the kind of Jazz that everyone who likes music can enjoy. Music that speaks to the heart and mind alike.

By the way, when searching for a name for this album I was tempted to call it "Jazz For Jazz Haters", because I truly think that a lot of people who don't like pure classic Jazz can fall in love with much of our music.

Not your classic jazz production

There are two types of approaches to producing a Jazz record.
One is to go into the studio with great musicians and a few sketchy ideas and simply let the magic happen.
We decided to take the other approach, which makes the arrangements the centerpiece of the production.
You find more info on this production at SpicyJazzAdventure.com/cd-production.

Each song tells a story we can all relate to

For Pamela it was very important that we picked songs that tell stories she and her fans can relate to. Once we decided on the songs we wanted to record, she added her own words or changed the original lyrics a little bit to make the stories even more personal and compelling. Our original songs of course were already tailored towards her.

Pamela: “This album is very personal to me. A lot of the things I sing about actually happened to me and friends of mine...and you, I'm sure.
Everyone has a secret, a weakness, a passion, an epiphany, a revelation, and music reflects every one of them, and so much more. Especially when it comes from deep down inside. There is a special feeling an artist gets when you get to share that realness with people. And that’s exactly what we did with this album.”

Our songs fall into 3 categories

First category of songs

There are the songs that simply make you feel good, like Feel Like Makin’ Love, and A Dream Is Just A Dream.

Second category of songs

Those songs talk about the little annoying and sad things life throws at us, like the loss of a loved one (Can You Feel Me?), your new flame who just won’t stop talking about himself instead of sweeping you off your feet with that long awaited first kiss (You’re Talking Too Much), those times when everything you do goes wrong (Everything Happens To Me), or the moment when the world just completely crashes down on us (Smile).

Third category of songs

And then there are those songs that go way beyond those personal miseries, such as my song Peace To The Middle East (the only instrumental on this album by the way), or our unusual rendition of Louis Armstrong’s famous song What A Wonderful World. This song is a great example of our approach to old familiar songs. We open and end the arrangement with the lyrics "Open Up Your Eyes, Open Them Up Wide, Open Them Up As Wide As You Can Open Them Up“. Why did we do that?
Very few people remember that the song became the theme song of the anti Vietnam war protestors. This inspired us to make our listeners ask the question wether the world is really so wonderful for everyone. (Pam sings “Is It A Wonderful World?” instead of “What A Wonderful World”.) To drill down on this thought even more, we composed a special section where Pam sings about those not so wonderful things that surround us. “Let Me Tell You Other Things That I See. I See Hurt And Pain All Around Me. People Fighting, People Dying, People Hurting People Crying, That’s What I See.”
Conclusion: no, it is not such a wonderful world we are living in, but it certainly could be one, if we only figured out a way to replace hate with love, and war with peace. But first we have to open up our eyes, open them up as wide as we possibly can, to realize that!

Why I loved producing this album

I loved producing this album for many reasons. Maybe the most important one is that I was able to use the “everything goes” approach, which allowed me to let my imagination and creativity go wild without any restrictions.
I like combining different musical styles and genre, changing things up and adding unexpected twists - to put it simply - do things differently from what one would expect.

Just working on this album as a keyboardist and composer would have been plenty of fun. But what I found even more exciting was creating those elaborate arrangements for different instrumentations including horns and strings, and then producing them with state of the art music technology and extremely talented musicians.

By the way, mixing the music myself was quit an experience too. As amazingly and thrilling is was to explore those endless possibilities, it was also an eye-opening (or should I say ear-opening) experience. It made me realize that the mixing process can be just as creative and challenging as composing, arranging and recording the music.

About Pamela

Pamela is truly a wonderful singer! The lyrics on this album are very dear to her and reflect many of her personal experiences. This is easily recognizable when listening to her soulful and deeply emotional interpretations. With her beautiful voice she opens an intimate window to her heart, soul, and life.

The Rhythm Section Players

The rhythm section players on this album are truly phenomenal. Bassist Chuck Webb ChuckWebbMusic.com combines impeccable timing and technique with a soulful and highly adaptive style.

Drummer Tom Hipskind TomHipskind.com is a living groove machine, adding the right feel and dynamic to every song.

Percussionist Bobby Delgado further enhances the music with his tasteful sounds and rhythms.

Recording, mixing, and mastering credits

Acoustic drums, percussion, and vocals recorded by Rick Barnes@Raxtrax.

Lead vocals on tracks 1, 2, 4, 8 recorded by Andrew Twiss.

Bass recorded by Chuck Webb.

Everything else recorded by Thomas Gunther. Mixed by Thomas Gunther. Mastered by Chris Bauer at audiomasteringservice (Dot) com.

Sponsored by Columbia College Chicago

I am very grateful for the generous financial support from Columbia College Chicago. As a long-time faculty member at the Music Department I taught many keyboard, arranging, and music technology classes, particularly as they relate to our unique and outstanding Contemporary Urban Music Program. The production of this album gave me the perfect opportunity to showcase my talents as a song writer, producer, keyboarder, mixing engineer, and music arranger, combining traditional arranging and recording techniques with state of the art computer based music production tools.