This is my 3rd album. For years now, Ive been trying to integrate a bunch of things that dont ordinarily fit into pop albums: improvisation; stark emotional honesty; dark and surreal humor; cinematic dream-like narratives; strangely inevitable melodies; chamber music arrangements; experimental values. The goal is to incorporate these qualities into 2, 3 or 4 minute songs that sear themselves into the listeners brain and remain fresh and inevitable at each listening. To my mind, this is the ultimate subversive enterprise I was signed to Mercury Records in 1998 because of the unanimously great reviews I got for my first album, Living It All Wrong. I made that album from money I had saved working for 10 years as a word processor in New York law firms. The fluorescent lights had burned depression deep into my brain, and the songs came from many lonely years spent at the upright piano in my small Brooklyn walk-up apartment.
The Man in a Jupiter Hat was the album I made for Mercury. Producer Roger Peltzman and I spent our budget on great New York musicians: Lenny Pickett and the Blues Bros. horn section; downtown string masters Mark Feldman and Erik Friedlander; guitarist Dave Schramm; and Cherish The Ladies pennywhistle player Joanie Madden, among others. The album came out great, but as soon as I turned it in, Mercurys parent company, Polygram, was bought by Seagrams (Universal) and everything was put on hold. In 2000, I put Jupiter Hat out on my own label (Bonafide), and I got more great reviews — including a profile on NPRs All Things Considered and a cover story in KEYBOARD Magazine.
. . . which brings us to now. In February 2004, I took the band I had been working with for 6 years — Byron Isaacs on bass and vocals (hes also in the band Olabelle) and Bill Dobrow on drums (also with Martha Wainwright and now The Black Crowes) into the studio to record the basic tracks for Ive Forgotten Everything. Ed Haber (producer of Linda Thompsons critically acclaimed return to recording, Fashionably Late) shared my vision of highlighting this tight, piano-driven trio and trying to make a spontaneous and great-sounding album with echoes of Traffics John Barleycorn Must Die, Lennons solo work and Cecil Taylors anarchism yet with a coherence and concision all its own. I think we did it!
One good thing about living in New York City (aside from the food and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) is that you can call great musicians, and they probably will play on your record. Teddy Thompson (vocals and guitar), Steven Bernstein (trumpet and slide trumpet), Joel Frahm (tenor and soprano sax), Rob Burger (Hammond organ), Will Holshouser (accordion), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Greta Gertler (vocals), Pete Galub and Johnny Spampinato (guitars) — it was a lot of intense personalities and a lot of fun.
And then to top it all off, me and Ed went out to Connecticut and got Jay Newland to mix the album! (He mixed and engineered the two Norah Jones CDs and a Charlie Haden/Hank Jones album that I love called Steal Away.) Jays place was nice, but kind of cluttered with Grammys.
And now its out there. I sincerely hope you like it! Feel free to play it for anyone who might be interested.