Liner notes by Makanda Ken McIntyre
At first they had a tendency to be too punctilious, so I suggested they take off their jackets and ties, lean back, relax, and bend the notes so the "thing would swing." By the time we took the break between the first and second session, around five o'clock, there was such an atmosphere of esprit de corps that George invited his wife, Joyce to come to the studio to hear the remainder of the taping. More likely than not there were mixed feelings in his asking her - pleasure and relief - but whatever the reason, it reflects the tenor of this session that he thought she would enjoy it.
I am indebted to Selwart Clarke for securing such infinitely patient, cooperative, proficient musicians. The professional attitude and diligence rendered by Clarke and the men unquestionably contributed most toward creating the harmonious feeling.
In an undertaking such as this, there is an immense ego consciousness. Joe Louis once said, "You can run, but you can't hide." This is the position I occupy in respect to this music. I wrote it, orchestrated it, conducted it, performed the solos, and even did all the copying. Literally speaking, "This was my date." Any condemnations are mine, likewise any accolades. In any case, regardless of the pros and cons, for myself this was the most rewarding recording I've yet done. It enveloped me with a sense of having significantly moved toward achieving a completeness as a musician. On my previous albums, only one or two instruments besides the rhythm section are involved. Thus, my influence is quite limited with my harmonic, melodic, rhythmic, and orchestral concepts more or less omitted or just vaguely hinted at.
Much these days is said about the musician who is dedicated to himself and his music. I consider myself dedicated not to self, but rather to the extension of communication by means of music. I am concerned with trying to transmit laughter, anger, pain, joy, beauty, torment, character, sketches, flights to the moon, journeys to hell, etc. My concept is that there must be dialogue wherein the listener's ability to comprehend is taken into consideration, that to speak wisdom in "no-man's" language is tantamount to saying nothing. Even the most esoteric jargon is based on some previously understood expression. So it must be with music. The transition need not be apparent to everyone, but it should be apparent to someone. There are those who listen to my music and hear nothing, but there are others who understand what I am trying to convey. If there were none, I would have to begin again and go another way.
Miss Ann is a sixty-measure composition consisting of a sixteen, sixteen, twelve, sixteen form. The strings are used to accompany rhythmically and melodically. I named this piece after my mother-in law, a very sophisticated woman; hence the use of the flute is rather obvious.
Lois Marie was composed expressly for this recording. The form is eight and eight, with a two-measure intro into the release. This release consists of four measures, the first being in 5/4, the second in 3/4, the third in 5/4 and the final in 4/4, which leads directly into the last eight and an addition of three bars to complete the chorus. The writing on this piece, which is named for my sister-in-law who lives in Philadelphia, is extremely lush and full.
Chittlins And Cavyah is a blues. The title is indicative of the blues form (Chittlins) and the use of strings (Cavyah). This track exemplifies the fact that the strings can be used in a "bring it on down front" manner. The orchestra performed excellently and did bend the last note in each phrase of its final background chorus which is augmented in contrast with the drum, which, incidentally, is playing a tempo twice as fast as the bass. The extended ending with the orchestra sounding for some duration is the final chord before the "collection plate" is passed.
Permanentity was written in 1960 and is a twenty-two-measure composition in 5/4 time. Its form is five, five, seven and five. The strings are introduced in pyramid fashion in pairs ending with a sustained chord. Then the melody is stated. The orchestral background builds throughout the saxophone solo, and the drum maintains a subtle but sassy beat. After the final chorus, the strings reverse the pyramid of the introduction and end the piece.
Tip Top is a thirty-two bar piece written in 1960. The title is rather misleading with regard to the mood first set, and this as I intended. However, the listener will detect a change in attitude as the composition reaches the "Tip Top" before restating the melody. Bob (bassist) and Edgar (drummer) are exquisite in their filling in.
Kaijee (my three year old son) is a twelve-bar piece and was written this year. The introduction is eight measures with a drum solo in the fourth and eighth bars. Because it is showcased, the orchestra particularly enjoyed this track.
Reflections, written in 1960, is comprised of nine, nine, seven and nine measures completing a chorus. The orchestra is reflecting the melody as if one were in a mirrored room snatching glances from different directions. Edgar Bateman and Bob Cunningham contribute a really good feeling.
How does a relative newcomer get the opportunity to do this kind of an album? Well, one evening, George Wein, producer of this record, said to me, "Ken, I feel that your next album should exhibit your writing abilities. Your previous releases substantially prove that you are proficient on your instruments, but if your major concern is composing and arranging, then you should do something which will display those facets of your musicianship."
George, a musician himself, well understands that it is not enough to just record blowing albums. It is not enough just to be heard. That what is necessary is to do what you have concentrated your energies and geared your ambitions toward. To me every A & R man should be so involved with music that he comprehends not only an artist's needs in relation to what he has done, but also in so far as what he ultimately hopes to do. It is not my intention to panegyrize George, nevertheless, it is incumbent on me to acknowledge that without his perspicuity, I don't believe this album would have been recorded at this time.
While in school I had to write for full orchestra and almost all variations of ensemble. However, under those circumstances, one's compositions are rarely performed. Consequently, although I had less than a month in which to prepare all the material for this date, I sedulously applied myself knowing that I would hear the full affect of my endeavors.
There were several rehearsals of my own group - Edgar Bateman, drummer and Bob Cunningham, bassist - during this month. Selwart Clarke, the concertmaster for this date, came over one night and ran over his parts on violin while I played the melodies on piano. The other twelve musicians saw none of the music previous to the actual recording.