Say It with Music (& Words)
HOW AND WHY I RECORDED 'SAY IT WITH MUSIC (AND WORDS)' My last and only other solo album previous to this was my instrumental jazz CD "NELSON KOLE". I had every intention of following it up with a second album and I had written quite a few pieces leading toward that goal. But somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and became involved in various gigs and projects that took me off that course. Gradually my interests began to shift from instrumental writing back to songwriting. I had written close to one hundred songs for three different musicals and whenever time would allow, I always returned to writing songs. But other than the musicals there had never been a clear focus on where I was going with my songs. Then about seven or eight years ago, two things happened that without knowing it at the time, became the seeds from which this album would grow and also provide a clear songwriting goal. I wrote and produced three songs for a local singer in Los Angeles where I live, and I was asked to perform at a fundraising event for a local charity. My late close friend and collaborator Earl Brown introduced me to Paul Formanek a talented singer. Paul was interested in having me arrange and produce 4 cover songs to showcase his vocal talents but I felt it would be better for Paul if Earl and I wrote new songs specifically tailored for Paul. They agreed so Earl and I went to work and wrote HIGH MAINTENANCE WOMAN and ONLY WHEN I BREATHE. I had written YOU COME THROUGH FOR ME some years earlier and I thought it was a good match for Paul. Paul liked all three songs and we went into the studio and recorded. More on this later... About the same time my wife Lorrie had become involved and subsequently became co-president of the local charity PARENTS AGAINST LEUKEMIA. I was asked and was happy to donate my services playing piano for a singer at their annual fundraising gala. They asked if I'd also like to perform at the gala in addition to accompanying and I jumped at the opportunity. Necessity being the mother of invention, I quickly assembled a show for that event which combined familiar material and some of my own songs. That performance went well and motivated me to release the singer/songwriter in me that was apparently dying to escape. Prior to this, other people performed or recorded my songs...rarely me. As the years went on I continued to do shows for PAL and gradually was hired to perform for other events too. I promised myself that each time I was booked, I would write at least one new song to work into my show and eliminate a song that I hadn't penned. I also wanted to create tracks that I could sing and play along with. The beginning of that process marked the unofficial start of recording this album and most of the songs on the album fall into that category. A few exceptions to this were my songs SOMEDAY, COULD YOU REALLY FALL IN LOVE WITH ME and ANOTHER AMAZING DAY. I had written SOMEDAY like many of my other songs, to become part of my catalogue that I could hopefully place with artists looking for new material. I recorded a simple vocal/piano demo of SOMEDAY for that purpose. Sometime after this my sister Jill always on the lookout for interesting opportunities for me and an avid fan of AMERICAN IDOL, told me about their first songwriting contest and urged me to enter a song. I sent the vocal/piano demo of SOMEDAY entering it into the contest. I'll never forget the day when I was contacted by the show telling me my song had been selected as a TOP TWENTY FINALIST from over 25,000 entries! Although SOMEDAY wasn't chosen as the finalist, I felt it worthy to include on my album. I mentioned my friend Earl Brown above. Earl was an amazingly talented songwriter that I had the privilege of knowing and then the honor of writing with. Earl's best known song was IF I CAN DREAM the classic hit for ELVIS PRESLEY. Before we were writing together, Earl would hire me to record demos of his songs. One day Earl brought the beginnings of COULD YOU REALLY FALL IN LOVE WITH ME. I instantly fell in love with what he showed me and together we completed the song. I surprised Earl by recording a demo of it in my studio. That recording slowly evolved into the version on this album. ANOTHER AMAZING DAY was I song I wrote for a musical based on the DENNIS THE MENACE comic strip character many years ago. With three different lyricists, my Berklee college buddy Mark Milner, Pulitzer Prize winner Sheldon Harnick and famed songwriter Amanda McBroom, I had written over 50 songs for various incarnations of the show. Even though DENNIS THE MUSICAL never saw the light of day other than a small production that ran in Traverse City, Michigan many years ago, I always liked this song from the show and decided to include it. I enlisted the help of my friend Whitney Claire Kaufman to sing it with me. She's got the most cute, adorable and beautiful voice you'll ever hear and was exactly the sound I was looking for. Getting back to the tracks I had produced for Paul that I mentioned earlier, I wanted to include those songs on my album and asked Paul if he would be OK with me using those tracks. He generously gave me permission to do so. I made numerous alterations but the basic rhythm tracks and backing vocals were the same as when I had originally produced them for Paul. On and off it took me 4 or 5 years to complete this project. Whenever I had a spare moment when I wasn't gigging or on a deadline for a client, I would return to it. I played or programmed everything myself here in my studio in Woodland Hills, California other than the three tracks I produced for Paul. I enjoy writing what I call "stuck-in-your-head pop" but with a twist. I've always liked songs that are memorable but yet have surprises to keep listeners a bit off guard and I try to do that in my writing. I love many styles of music so I can't help but incorporate elements from those genres into my music. As you'll hear, I borrow from country, blues, jazz, latin and others. I've been influenced by songwriters and composers from Gershwin to Billy Joel, Tchaikovsky to Steely Dan, and Tom Lehrer to my absolute favorites The Beatles. I hope you enjoy listening to my songs as much as I did creating them! Nelson Kole.