Finally: Jack Warner Guitar Cityscapes

Jack Warner Guitar Cityscapes, with instrumental arrangements !

This new album is available to buy on CD or as MP3/FLAC download.

You can buy an actual physical CD on CDBaby

You can download the album as MP3s or FLACs from Amazon .com or I-Tunes, or Spotify

Talking about "Cityscapes" on the air:

Does this sound great so far? Want to take a brief in-depth look at the making of “Jack Warner Guitar Cityscapes”? Let me take you behind the scenes on how the sounds of the CD came to be…

This album came to be as a result of a bi-coastal collaboration between myself and composer/guitarist Jack Warner in Los Angeles. Working entirely over the Internet, we selected some of Jack’s best original solo guitar music, and I conceived of arranging a whole new album to showcase Jack’s composing and performing talents.

Each of the eight guitar tracks had been performed originally as a guitar solo (or a layered mix of guitar-only music), with no instrumental accompaniment. When we agreed to work together to “reimagine” the music, I conceived of a whole new album for a whole new audience. I decided to focus on arranging music to add to the original guitar tracks that would appeal to an audience who appreciates guitar music mostly in a concert hall or acoustic setting. In each case, I took inspiration from Jack's original melodies, rhythms, and harmonies to decide what kind of feel the “new” piece should have. The result is an album that takes the original guitar tracks, makes no changes in them themselves, but wraps them in a new, varied mix of instrumental accompaniments. I found that my previous experience scoring films came in very handy: you work with a pre-existing piece of art that you add to and reshape, but cannot alter in terms of timings or placement of dramatic items.

Ranging from large spectacular orchestras to intimate small ensembles, the new album has something for everybody. Some pieces are bold and brilliant, some are private and personal. All contain Jack’s original flair for appealing melodic fragments and brilliant playing technique, combined with my vision of colorful and dynamic instrumental textures, and all are thoroughly enjoyable. The guitar is the common element throughout, and thus serves as our travel guide. We go along for the adventure.

The first track, “Santa Ana Fiesta”, was originally a moderately-paced guitar solo that alternated between catchy melodic fragments and rhythmic strummed chords. The mood was definitely sunny and had a Latin character. I took that idea and incorporated it into an orchestral setting. Using a full complement of strings, winds, brass, and percussion, the piece took on a much larger, almost cinematic feel. Here is a taste of the original “Santa Ana Fiesta” guitar solo, followed by the exact same part from the new arrangement:

Santa Ana Fiesta

For “Pueblo Desperados”, an orchestra was used again for the new arrangement, but slightly smaller than for “Santa Ana”. Using only strings, trumpets, and percussion, I took Jack’s original guitar solo, which had a definite emotional urgency to it, and reinforced that feeling with layered upper strings, pulsing rhythmic accompaniment in the lower strings and percussion, and brass accents. I tried to observe the many guitar cadenzas as soliloquies and let the guitar tell its story “solo” at times. Here is a sample of the original guitar solo, and the new arrangement of “Pueblo Desperados”:

Pueblo Desperados

“Key West Breezes” had a very different feel as a guitar solo than the first two pieces. It felt much more like a jazz/pop studio recording than a symphonic work, so I gave it an appropriate studio treatment. Using only pitched percussion, piano, high strings, and light accent drums, the new piece feels like it might have been recorded in the heyday of the retro lounge era. Suspended cymbal and shakers also lend to the suggestion of tropical breezes. Here is a before and after sample of “Key West Breezes”:

Key West Breezes

“Santa Fe Moon”, as a guitar solo, had a dark color to it. It felt like a walk in the moonlit deserts of the Southwest, so I added an introduction (which I did on several of the original solos), and then used an orchestral arrangement that suggests mystery and wide open spaces. Occasional soft suspended cymbals hint at far-off whistling winds, as the guitar wanders. Still having occasional Latin accents, the orchestra comes and goes along with Jack’s original melodies and loping rhythms. Here is a sample of an original passage from “Santa Fe Moon”, followed by the new arrangement:

Santa Fe Moon

The original “South Beach Street Party” again sounded more like a pop/studio recording. Since I wanted to have a wide variety of instrumental colors on this album, so everybody could find something they especially enjoyed, he decided to go only-percussion on this one. The feel and style of Jacks’ original solo already suggested a wide variety of Latin percussion, so I tried to use everything I could think of at least once. In addition to the usual maracas, gourd, and tambourine, I added bongos, congas, djembe, super tumba, timbales, claves, and other instruments to keep the beat and accent phrases. Here is a short taste of “South Beach”, first as the original guitar solo and then in the new arrangement:

South Beach Street Party

“Hollywood Hustle” was another piece that seemed to suggest a large orchestral arrangement. With hand-slaps here and there keeping an insistent pace, and melodic fragments and advanced technical playing, Jack had created a guitar solo that could handle the challenge of large performing forces. I use a full orchestra again here, complete with grand piano, vibes, and 8 difference percussion parts. This was one of the few pieces where I would occasionally let the orchestra go big, and just weave the guitar part into the overall sound fabric. Check out just such a moment in this before-after sample from “Hollywood Hustle”:

Hollywood Hustle

“Monterey Rendezvous”, as a guitar solo, had a definite intimate, private feel to it. In keeping with my desire to have a varied album, I scored this piece only for woodwind quartet, harp, and light accent percussion. This also gives the listener the ultimate listening experience: that of being able to listen to a piece several times and hear something different every time, by choosing which line to focus on (this was another overall goal for the whole album). The guitar is occasionally virtuosic and impassioned, while the accompaniment relies more on long lines and chords. Check out this before-and-after section of “Monterey”:

Monterey Rendezvous

As I was conceiving the overall album, and varied instrumentations were a goal, it was the best circumstance that “Venice Beach Heat” lent itself so naturally to the last arrangement on my wish list: big band. For this piece, I used saxes, brass, string bass, drum set, and vibes/xylophone. Jack’s original guitar solo had a moderate pace to it, but the pace stepped up with the addition of insistent cymbal hits and bass walking lines. Although there are a few moments to catch one’s breath, the piece all but barrels toward its frenzied rhythmic conclusion. Here is a short before-after sample of “Venice Beach Heat”:

Venice Beach Heat


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