Brian talks about the album LOOKING IN THE EYE OF THE WORLD
"Butterfly" was written by my friend Herbie Hancock. It is such a beautiful tune and I wrote the lyrics for that. Herbie is a Buddhist , and in Buddhist philosophy the butterfly is the symbol for the soul. I try to actually explain that with the lyrics. When you die, the butterfly is finally leaving the body and returning to its source.
Savannah liked Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man". We have been doing it live; Karma wanted us to do it in a more HipHop style. Karma has created a whole new funk rhythm backtrack for the piece. I'm really knocked out with this version.
Several years back, I was asked to write some tunes for a Freddie Hubbard album. He is my favourite trumpet player. Freddie was not so well at that time. He was in a phase where nobody knew whether he was going to turn up or not. I wrote two tunes. One was untitled but as Freddie never turned up I decided to call it "Freddie's Flight". Obviously, he had flown somewhere and just disappeared. Two years after that he turned up at one of my gigs. He had blown out his lip and couldn't play. He said, I should rest my lip now for at least a year. He is out there doing things again. It's a pity; I would really have liked to work with him. This is probably one of the best tracks on the album.
While driving through New Mexico and Arizona on our way home after many weeks on the road, we always succumb to the calming influence of the desert and the big sky. We love the South West and we understand why the Native American populations call it the land of enchantment. Every time we drive along the I 40 heading directly to California, we get this very peaceful but windblown feeling. In "Homeward" Karma, Savannah and Chris have captured it.
A lot of young people kept asking for "Light My Fire". Savannah took a lot at it and said, yeah, I'd like to sing that song. On the live album she absolutely knocks that one out of the ballpark. Originally from the Trinity's "Streetnoise" album, she delivers a fantastic rendering of this Jim Morrison/Robby Krieger composition. When I heard the first Doors album I really wasn't impressed with that tune. The band did not really swing, it just went by me. But then came José Feliciano. When I heard that, I thought, oh my God, we got to do that tune!
Eddie Harris and I were going to make an album together. We had played together on a TV program in Baden Baden, "Ohne Filter". I had covered "Listen Here" and "Freedom Jazz Dance" on the albums Befour and Second Wind. Eddie kept telling me," You've got to play more of my tunes, Brian". He said "those are the best covers of my tunes I ever heard". Which is a tremendous compliment. At the end of the same year I send a Christmas card to him and his family, and they send me a letter saying obviously you haven't heard but Eddie passed away a month ago. I was absolutely devastated by that. "Meet Mr. Eddie" my tribute to the great Eddie Harris.
Savannah insisted that I re-record "Looking In The Eye Of The World". I wrote that tune in London in 1969. The words do explain how I felt at this time. There was a lot of conflict in the world; people were suspicious of one another, and were fighting for territory. I said that if I had the power, I would change the disposition… "That man has for man, that men have for men, that nation has for nation, suspicion that I see, looking back at me. When I'm looking in the eye of the world." That really says it all.
Chris Winston and I wrote "Ghosttown" for Grover Washington Jr. who loved the tune. He wanted to record it and have me play on the recording. Suddenly he became very ill, and was unable to record another album. This is a dedication to his immense talents, and his kind words of appreciation for my music. It is also the old "street name" for the neighbourhood of Venice, CA, where I happily reside. There are a lot of artists, and there is a big school of American abstract art. Also, there are all these musicians here, my friends: Andy Summers from the Police, who I've known for many, many years. He lives in Venice. And Keith Emerson, my buddy, from Emerson Lake and Palmer, he lives nearby and we go out to see music sometime. Venice has a mixed population of Black, White, Hispanics, rich people, poor people, film stars, everybody. I love that mix.
When I came to the states in 1973, with the album "Closer To It", there was a radio station in Cleveland, called WMMS. They were absolutely crazy about this album. Apparently they were playing a song of the album every 15 minutes. Suddenly, the album broke on the billboard charts, eventually in the Rock, R&B and Jazz charts - all at the same time. This woke up RCA, the company I was with at the time, and they had never seen anything like that before. Also, Cleveland has always been a great place to play, a fantastic audience. With the new Oblivion Express we played in a club called "The Night Town". It reminded me of pubs in England. Immediately when we went in, there was this excitement; it was a very mixed crowd, half black, half white. With this tune I was trying to create the electricity of going to play there on Saturday night. This energy like "Come on Brian let's have it". Also, I wanted to give it a sort of Jazz Messengers approach. In my mind I had this picture of this club in the late Fifties where the Jazz Messengers and bands of that ilk might have played.
I did not play "Season of the witch" for a really long time, simply because I did not have a female singer. Now, all I have to do is to play the intro and you notice how people have wanted to hear these tunes again. I had this middle solo improvising over the normal changes. Suddenly I was playing a chorus from Giant Steps, the Coltrane tune; I don't know how I wandered into that, but now I enjoy doing that. People come up and ask me what's that tune, I have heard this before. And I always look out in the audience to see who figured out what it is.
When playing a concert in Golden/Colorado, our promoter brought his two year old son Jamie to sound-check. Jamie was crazy about music, but could only pronounce the word as "Mugusic". When we started it was obvious that Jamie was crazy about the drums. Grabbing a couple of breadsticks off the table, he stood in front of the stage drumming to the music. Karma presented him with a pair of drumsticks, which increased his excitement. That evening he came to the gig and flailed the whole 90 minute set with us, after which, exhausted, he fell asleep in his mothers' arms. I decided that I had to write a tune for him to play to.
Whenever we arrived at sound check while on the road, Karma, Chris and I would always break into a smoking jam that inevitably left the soundman asking, "Man, what was that? You ought to record that". Of course, whatever it was had already disappeared into the ether. So we decided to go into the studio and lay down some "Sound Check" funk.
01.Happy Overture (2:02) 02.Butterfly (6:12) 03.Troubleman (4:41) 04.Freddie's Flight (5:59) 05.Homeward (6:51) 06.Light My Fire (5:27) 07.Meet Mr. Eddie (5:50) 08.Looking in the Eye of the World (4:39) 09.Ghost Town (6:35) 10.The Night Town (4:56) 11.Season of the Witch (6:56) 12.Mugusic (4:10) 13.Soundcheck (6:05)