David Lean Plays David Lean
This is my first CD. It includes seventeen of my compositions written over the last several years. Three pieces, Wondered How I'd Meet You, Benzie Blues, and my Christmas song, December Solstice, have been performed and placed on CDs by other artists, which encouraged me to think that my music was worthy of attention. I finally decided that it was time for me to play and record them. I also wrote lyrics for many of these pieces, including the three named above. Only the lyrics for the Christmas carol December Solstice are included in this jacket. Other lyrics may be obtained by contacting me. I am a registered songwriter with BMI, Inc., and all music on this disc is registered with BMI, Inc. I hold ownership of the copyrights to all this music (and lyrics), with all rights reserved. This work is a result of the support and encouragement received from many people. Thank you all. A large amount of credit and thanks goes to my piano teacher, jazz artist David Chown, who taught me music theory and jazz chords and voicings. Without him this music might not have happened. My wife, Jane, deserves top billing also because it was she who listened to me for hours without complaint as I searched, with much repetition, for the right musical phrasing for a piece. A not so understanding woman might have relegated the piano and me to the garage or worse. The rest of my immediate family, Sharon, Greg, Gillian and Eleanor, and David and Annette, also provided their share of encouragement. Friends Jon and Mary Armstrong boosted my confidence by inviting me to play for guests at occasional soirees at their lovely home - in a sense, these were my first gigs. Several pieces on this disc are, in fact, written to celebrate these family members and friends. The music is my gift to them as my way of telling them how much they have meant to me. I should also recognize with thanks the pastors and congregation of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah, Michigan, who provided the opportunity for me to play many of these compositions as well as other music in front of a large audience. But the most important foundation was laid for my music by my late mother, Frances Irene Lean (nee Wilson), who was an exceptional classical pianist and church organist, and my late father Walter Dallas Lean. To their memory, I dedicate this CD. They and their extended families instilled in me a great love of music. The mix of originals on this CD includes music of different genre, rhythm, and mood, not something I deliberately planned, but something that emerged naturally as I developed musical ideas. There are romantic ballads, a Christmas carol, stage musical tunes, swing pieces, a blues number, music with a Latin-American flavor, and two compositions that are set in a more classical style. I hope you get as much pleasure from listening as I did in writing and performing them. About the Composer/Pianist/Lyricist David Francis Lean was born in Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, in 1935. He now resides in retirement on Big Platte Lake near Honor, Michigan, U.S.A. An exceptional all around athlete in his youth, he became at the age of 18 the Australian champion in the 440 yd hurdles, the first time he had ever run the event. A few months later, in 1954, he became The British Empire and Commonwealth champion in the same event running a time less than a second slower than the existing world record. This performance attracted the attention of the track coach at Michigan State University, Karl Schlademan, and on January 1, 1955, he arrived on campus at Michigan State University to begin academic studies that led to B.A. and M.A degrees in economics, and subsequently, from the University of Michigan, a Ph.D. in economics. During his time at Michigan State he represented Australia in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games placing 5th in the 400m. hurdles and winning a silver medal in the 1600m. relay race. During his undergraduate years he was four times a Big-Ten Champion in various track events, captain of the track team in 1958, and a member of MSU's team that won the 1958 NCAA Cross-Country championship. After a career as an academic and as a government economist with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, he retired and moved with his wife from Washington, D.C., to live in the scenic northwest lower peninsular of Michigan. Putting economic texts and treatises aside, he decided to further his interest in music. After meeting David Chown, a well-known Traverse City jazz pianist, he began to study piano again at the age of 61, after a long hiatus of some fifty years. Beginning lessons had occurred between the ages of 10-13 years under the watchful eye of Miss Pansy Woods in the seaside town of Devonport,Tasmania. While those early years of classical instruction taught him how to read sheet music, there was not enough training then for him to develop a good grasp of music theory and chords. David Chown, with exceptional patience, set out to rectify this deficiency. The additional classical instruction and II-V-I jazz chord exercises provided by Chown ultimately enabled Lean to develop a proficiency in playing jazz standards from lead sheets. At home and in teaching sessions, he often improvised by letting his hands wander on the keyboard to play whatever the hands seemed to want to do, a technique that produced the musical ideas for many of the songs on this CD. An example of this "noodling" is Walking in Oaxaca, which was recorded impromptu in David Chown's studio and for which there is no written music to this day. Chown, hearing some of this "noodling," would pester him to write these melodies down while they were fresh in the mind. So began the process of writing music (something also to be learned). For many pieces, lyrics were developed in conjunction with the development of the melody, a process that also added to the learning process as music would have to be modified to fit the lyrics and vice-versa. The Music - Composer's Notes Wondered How I'd Meet You is the second piece I composed - the first was Jane. A romantic ballad with lyrics, it was in development when my son David Alexander Lean became engaged to Annette Schoonover. I immediately dedicated it to them and played it for them at their wedding, the song's first public airing. David Chown then recorded his own beautiful interpretation of it on his own CD, In a Mellow Mood (the lyrics to this song may be found in the cover jacket of this album). Swinging at J and M's is an up-tempo jazzy piece dedicated to friends Jon and Mary Armstrong. Playing their Yamaha grand for them and friends added spice to living in Benzie County. You Came Along and lyrics celebrates the marriage of my daughter Sharon Frances Lean to Gregory Fox. It is dedicated to them. A romantic ballad, it was played by David Chown at their wedding ceremony; Sharon's father was otherwise occupied giving away the bride. Gillian's Fanfare is a classical piece in nature and was written to celebrate the arrival of my first granddaughter, Gillian Samantha Fox. So happy were her grandparents on this momentous occasion, it seemed only fitting that a fanfare be composed. The music begins with a joyful crescendo (imagine trumpets sounding), and then moves into a calmer phase to reflect a sleeping baby. The mood changes as the child awakes and makes her presence known. The work ends with a loud fanfare to reflect the acclaim of family gathered around her. December Solstice is a Christmas carol that was intended to be a jazz waltz. The melody was written out rather quickly in the week around December 21, 2006, the time of the winter solstice, hence the title I gave it. On one of these nights, I awoke at 2 a.m. unable to sleep with the melody running continually through my brain. Lyrics began forming and I stayed up for two hours drafting them. Influenced by the time of the year, what came out of this writing was a Christmas carol. However, I am sure jazz musicians will have fun with it playing it as a jazz waltz. It is been sung at a benefit concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah, Michigan, by an award winning vocalist Miriam Pico, accompanied by David Chown at the piano; they have also recorded their interpretation of it as a single on a yet-to-be-released CD. I also performed it at the piano for my first time publicly accompanied by vocalist Gail Brandt at a Christmas Eve service at St. Andrews in 2009. Well received, this performance was, unfortunately, not recorded. I regard December Solstice as one of my best compositions. Here are the lyrics: December Solstice, Lyrics by David F. Lean (© January 27, 2007) Verse: Late in December when the sun seems to still, The birth of the Christ-child draws near. Star-guided wise men moving slow in the night, Approaching as angels prepare. Chorus: Hearth fires warm with excitement. Snowflakes drift down through the air. Children with great expectation await as did shepherds, with hope and elation, and Verse: So, in a stable a small boy was born, A Savior for all who would hear And bright happy children now wake in the morn To learn that Christmas is here. Swing Happy Lovers is a catchy song and dance swing piece. It was first performed at a benefit concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. Softly Comes the Rain is the second of two pieces on this CD that I describe as classical in nature. It was inspired by an approaching thunderstorm and tries to capture the building vigor of the storm moving in and the quiet that followed as it departed. This piece evolved first as an improvisation and was initially recorded without music. Shorter in length when it was originally recorded, it was extended later when I set out to write the music, using the recording as a guide, to make it the more complete work you hear on this CD. Book Club Bossa was written to honor the intelligent ladies of a small book discussion club, of which my wife is a member. This club is one of the many social activities that make living in Benzie County enjoyable. Gatherings about once a month, accompanied by afternoon tea, cake and cookies, are followed by dinner out with spouses who somehow seem to end up paying the bill: intelligent ladies indeed! It is one of three Latin-American flavored pieces on the CD - the others are Sunbather and Walking in Oaxaca. Benzie Blues is one of my earlier pieces. I wrote it gazing out my window at the freezing bleakness of winter -- the lake was ice covered, trees devoid of leaves, and skies gray with lake-effect snow clouds; a gloomy time indeed for some. At the same time, the country was poised to send troops into another War, state and local governments were facing difficult budget problems, and my septic system needed a major overhaul at great expense; things were not cheery at all. The lyrics reflect this state of affairs. This piece was recorded by David Chown's jazz trio, the DC3 (David Chown, piano, Jack Dryden, bass, and Randy Marsh, drums), and also received air time on a local broadcasting station. This interpretation appears on the CD David Chown and the DC3 On Jazz Street. The same trio gave the piece it's inaugural public performance at a benefit concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. This church is a swinging place at times! Eleanor and it's lyrics were written following the arrival of my second granddaughter Eleanor Mae Fox. I have always had a liking for stage musicals, so when Eleanor was born I thought this was an appropriate musical genre in which to cast a piece to celebrate her arrival. It is a happy piece with a toe-tapping beat meant for a chorus of singers and dancers. I love to hear and play Latin-American music. Sunbather is the second composition on this disc in that style. Lyrics have yet to be written for it, but the imagery for lyrics is of someone enjoying summer sunrays on a beach watching all the girls (boys) stroll by, with palms gently swaying in the breeze and waves spending themselves quietly in ripples cast up on the foreshore. Play it in a relaxed fashion. It's You is a ballad with a simple melody that provides a lot of room for improvisation. The music seemed to flow of it's own accord while being composed. Love Me is a romantic ballad written to honor my nephew Joshua D'Ancona and Rebecca Preiser on their marriage. The tune was in writing when their engagement was announced. It seemed only appropriate to dedicate it them and to have it be part of my wedding gift. Walking in Oaxaca was inspired by a trip to Mexico that included a weekend sightseeing in the charming city of Oaxaca. I was captivated by the artistic nature of the area around Oaxaca and the music heard at the evening gatherings of people in the zócalo (public square). Memorable was a pleasant evening dining at a hotel overlooking the lights of the city, with a full moon rising, while hearing melodic voices and guitars fill the air with beautiful Mexican songs. Returning home fresh with this memory, my hands began to wander over the keyboard to a Latin-American rhythm. What came out of this musical "noodling" is what you hear (imagine strolling through the streets and markets of Oaxaca). Need Her Here is a ballad in which the lyrics tell of a young man who is basically kicking himself for letting an old girl friend go and disappear to whereabouts unknown. He has lost contact with her so he sits and pines and laments his mistake and thinks about tracking her down. Two different musical styles are used in this music: a slower introductory stanza to reflect soul searching, which is followed by a more flowing section to reflect decision and movement toward the task at hand. Janie's Waltz is one of two pieces I composed to celebrate the woman I love -- Jane Allison Lean. The other piece is Jane. Each piece attempts to capture my wife's warm cheerful caring personality. They are both dance tunes. Janie's Waltz swings and should be played with some playfulness and energy. Jane is written in the style of a stage musical show tune and should be played cheerfully. Jane was actually my first written composition. It benefited from later touchups after I gained more experience in music composition. It is the last piece on the disc, but this does not reflect her position in the family pecking order. In ordering the music on this CD, putting Jane at the end seems to make the CD whole and complete, just as she has made me. It is a fitting finale! Enjoy the music and thanks for listening. David Lean.