The NextSteps Series Solo Projects Stage 1 (2000)
My plans to do a series of musical solo projects came about after I decided to stop all Jazzband activities, amongst others Acoustic Jazz Trio TRICEPS, in the spring of 1999. New MIDI technology provided me with the opportunity to play not only different instruments “by one keyboard” (bass, horns, strings, guitars, synthesizers etc.) but also to explore various drum styles connected with various musical styles (Jazz, Blues, Latin, Pop, Fusion, Funk and Beats & Grooves).
To check out the original website that was set-up and dedicated to Stage 1 of the NextSteps Series Solo Projects, click here.
Stage 1 aimed to produce a solo CD that represented the various possibilities of instruments and styles, kind of like a musical resume, to “cross over” from various Jazz bands to various musical styles played solo, hence the name of the CD: “NextSteps, Crossing Over – Bart Flos / Solo”. Here’s what I said about it in 2000:
“[The NextSteps Series Solo Projects Stage 1] contains several ideas and goals. First of all the music incorporates different styles, varying between solo jazz and blues piano songs, vocal jazz scat tunes, pop ballads and fusion style compositions.
Most of the songs are set up around the basic acoustic piano sound of a Boston-Steinway grand piano. The MIDI technology of today provides the opportunity to ‘play’ any kind of desired instrument to make songs sound as though they were actually performed by complete bands and orchestras. The result is a collection of different styles of music, to be applied in different directions.
Secondly, the recordings give some idea of what I like to do as pianist. It shows that I love to play jazz but that I also have an interest in other styles of music. You could regard it as a kind of resume from which I would like to invite other musicians to ‘join the party’. It states where I stand as pianist and I hope it will help me to reconnect with my musical environment”.
About the project
Bart: “My solo project NextSteps contains several ideas and goals. First of all the music incorporates different styles, varying between solo jazz and blues piano songs, vocal jazz scat tunes, pop ballads and fusion style compositions.
Most of the songs are set up around the basic acoustic piano sound of a Boston-Steinway grand piano. The MIDI technology of today provides the opportunity to ‘play’ any kind of desired instrument to make songs sound as though they were actually performed by complete bands and orchestras. The result is a collection of different styles of music, to be applied in different directions”.
“Secondly, the recordings give some idea of what I like to do as pianist. It shows that I love to play jazz but that I also have an interest in other styles of music. You could regard it as a kind of resume from which I would like to invite other musicians to ‘join the party’. It states where I stand as pianist and I hope it will help me to reconnect with my musical environment.
Last but not least, it was a lot of fun to do! I wanted to experience the challenge of converting all the hours of practising at home into a concrete musical product. I wanted to engage the struggle with myself to be less rational and more creative.
And I had a desire to combine these musical ideas with creative energy to hopefully stimulate other musicians, either to join in with me or to explore their own musical potential.”
Although this has been a solo project, there are numerous people who have indirectly contributed to this production.
These are all the musicians I have played with in the past years, both amateur and professional, all the great jazz musicians that have inspired me and many of the great minds of this world that have been providing me with the motivation and energy I needed to do this project.
Hopefully the result will help me to cross over to next steps in my musical journey; there’s no way back now!
Foto’s Hans Keur
May the music on this album inspire musicians to explore their own talents and to boldly go where no musician has gone before!
CD2: NextSteps, Bart Flos / Solo
|01 Crystal Silence||(C. Corea)||4:03|
|02 Naima||(J. Coltrane)||5:19|
|03 Crossing Over||(B. Flos)||6:05|
|04 Don’t Blame Me On Green Dolphin Street||(Fields, McHugh, Kaper, Washington)||6:43|
|05 Those Nasty Little Shepherds!||(Traditional)||3:10|
|06 Autumn Leaves||(J. Kosma)||5:57|
|07 Looking up to you||(B. Flos)||4:37|
|08 Do The Bart Man Blues||(B. Flos)||4:50|
|09 Paris And Beyond||(Softmachine, B. Flos)||4:46|
|10 Stella By Starlight||(V. Young)||4:02|
|11 Sea Of Tranquility||(B. Flos)||7:11|
|12 Blue Bossa||(K. Dorham)||2:38|
|13 Autumn Leaves [alternate take]||(J. Kosma)||5:35|
|14 No Way Back||(B. Flos)||4:32|
About the instruments
Bart uses the following instruments:
Boston-Steinway Grand Piano, Roland RD-600 Digital Piano, Fatar SL-880 Midi Controller Keyboard, two Roland JV-1010 64 Voice Synthesizer Modules (including “Session” extension board), Roland SR-JV80-16 Orchestral II Extension Board, Roland & Spectrasonics SR-JV80-13 Vocal Collection Extension Board. Musicator ©® (initial set up) and Cubase VST ©® provided the MIDI composition technology.
Total playing time 69 min., 31 sec. All arrangements by Bart Flos. All instruments played and all digital sounds performed by Bart Flos. No drum programming used. No digital acoustic piano sounds used. All acoustic piano sounds are real and produced by a Boston-Steinway Grand Piano. All other sounds are produced by means of MIDI technology.
Roland Voice Synthesizer Modules and Extension Boards produce all digital sounds. Although some sounds may sound pure and realistic, no means other than piano keyboards are used to produce them. Most sounds are unmodified and/or unedited except for studio mixing effects. All instruments, including drums and percussion sounds, are recorded ‘real time’ and subsequently copied and/or overquantized.
About the songs
Listening to the CD, you will notice quite some contrast between the songs. There are solo jazz piano compositions on one hand, played only on the Boston-Steinway grand piano. Some are ballad songs (Crystal Silence, See Of Tranquillity, Autumn Leaves), others have a more (stride) swing or blues feel to them (Don’t Blame Me On Green Dolphin Street, Do The Bart Man Blues, Stella by Starlight).
Two original pop ballad compositions are added to emphasize the possibilities of a core acoustic piano melody combined with MIDI sounds to form a complete “virtual band’’. Where Crossing Over contains some jazz influences, Looking Up To You is more of an easy listening type composition.
For fun, two jazz vocal scat tunes are mixed in. Only one MIDI soundpatch is used, the superb Full Scat Swing Voices of the Roland Vocal Collection Extension Board. For support, MIDI drums are added to enhance the vibe of this stimulating vocal sound. No doubt you will recognise the Christmas song “De Herdertjes Lagen Bij Nachte”, which took shape in the traditional Those Nasty Little Shepherds. Blue Bossa has been completed with an extra melody line before and after the main tune to support the vocal arrangement.
To conclude you will find three fusion like compositions on the album. In Naima you will notice that the acoustic piano is only used to emphasise John Coltrane’s strong melody lines. Paris And Beyond is a composition of a famous seventies fusion band, SoftMachine. It was taken from their 1977 “Live in Paris” album and subsequently arranged. No Way Back combines spontaneous chord and sound improvisations on a strong beat. Please note that both Paris And Beyond and No Way Back are played exclusively with General MIDI (GM) Sounds.
About the music
Rcorded at the Markant Recording Studio’s 1 3, Heeze, The Netherlands. Recording dates: 19/20/21st of April 2000.
Edited and mixed: 22/25/26th of April 2000.
Mastered: 28/29th of April 2000.
Recording engineer: Mark Derksen.
CD Production engineer: Joss Mennen.
Cover and Studio photography by Hans Keur and Bart Flos.
Art direction and graphic design by Arian Dams.
Marketing activities Herbert Bakker, R&B Arrangementen & Muziekprodukties, Waalre.
MIDI support: Rob van der Kloet.
Produced by Bart Flos.
I would like to thank the following people for their love and support:
First of all Yvonne, my wife, for her continues support of my musical activities parallel to my working career, her coping with the hours of rehearsing on the Bösendorfer Grand Piano at home and the hours of MIDI piano work on the attic.
Further more I would like to thank my parents, Andre and Truus Flos, for supplying the musical genes and other support for this project.
Besides that I would like to thank my employer, Origin (SPN/M&SC), for creating the opportunity and ability to combine work with pleasure.
I would also like to thank Ria Derksen for the daily lunch services and Mark Derksen for being technician and musician at the same time.