One Late Hour With a Steinway

Includes Bonus CD:
Far From Yesterday: 25 Years of Music from Sandy Owen


  . . . actually 51 minutes. This was recorded
in a single continuous take late one night and
is unedited. I was of a particularly receptive
spirit and remember basking in the tones and
vibrations of the piano from the very first
chords. I had decided which piece to start with
but after that had no idea what tunes I would
play — the Steinway and I made it up as we
went along.

(click on underlined titles to listen to sample)


One Late Hour with a Steinway
(solo piano)

1. For a Gentle Friend
2. A Hug from a Friend
3. Back Home
4. He Belongs
5. Impromptu #75812
6. Judea's Dream
7. Peacock's Dream
8. Irish Tune from County Derry
(Danny Boy)
9. Slow Dance at Midnight
10. Higher and Higher


Bonus CD

Far From Yesterday:
25 Years of Music from Sandy Owen

(ensembles and solo piano)

1. Far from Yesterday
2. La Vida
3. Rainbow
4. Desert Journey
5. End Credits from "The Forfeit"
6. Freeway Fantasy #4
7. Tuolumne Calls
8. 28/4
9. Victory Theme
10. Beanface Boogie
11. Traveling
12. Heart Crossings I - Passage
13. A Farewell
14. Shadows
15. Distances

(see below for detailed track descriptions)

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One Late Hour With a Steinway
Track Descriptions

1. For A Gentle Friend (6:37)
This was written for Laura-Lee, formerly a Los Angeles jazz disk jockey who played what she loved and loved sending it out on the air waves. This was intended as a simple tune that she could play on a Fender Rhodes electric piano. She was fond of a piece of mine called Far from Yesterday so I put a reference to it in the bridge section.

2. A Hug from a Friend (7:41)
I realize this is a very sappy title, but I have no better way (other than music) to describe this familiar warm experience. The inspirational clutch was from my next door neighbor Harrison, who also created the cover art for the Heart Crossings and Night Rhythms albums.

3. Back Home (6:33)
This simple folksy piece reminds me of the special feeling of returning home after a long absence, in body or spirit. There is a comfort and ease which doesn’t exist elsewhere, no matter how wondrous or beautiful.

4. He Belongs (2:44)
This was written by the late Patricia Pratt in 1964 as part of an original musical called Able Adolescence. Patty was my brother Ted’s high school music teacher, and she brought jazz and so much more into our lives. Though she died at an early age of 26, she is one of my major influences and heroes.

5. Impromptu 75812 (2:56)
This is me uncovering a new melody. The big number may not be entirely accurate but stumbling across a new melody is something I have had the great pleasure of doing many times — just not usually during a recording session.

  6. Judea's Dream (4:32)
Judea played five random notes on the piano, and I molded them into this tune. She should probably have writing credit

7. Peacock’s Dance (5:52)
This started as an experiment in subdividing the 5/4 time signature. The basic measure is comprised of two identical three-note phrases, each one lasting 2-1/2 beats. The result turned out to be more natural and musical than expected so I expanded it by adding a simple flowing melody on top to smooth it out. There were frequently peacocks around the yard when I was growing up and this rhythm reminded me of their walk.

8. Irish Tune from County Derry
(Danny Boy) (2:56)

Simply one the most emotional and best melodies ever. I had been listening to it some time before the recording session, which is probably why it showed up here.

9. Slow Dance at Midnight (5:14)
I’ve always envisioned the video for this tune: the scene is a large stage, dimly lit, empty except for a concert grand piano on one side, top down. Two dancers walk on, perhaps after a performance on the same stage. I walk on, start to play, and they go into a beautiful slow dance
together. The camera captures the mood by making slow circles around the stage. Fabio is my body double.

10. Higher and Higher (5:45)
Here, the left hand creates a fast 6/8 rhythm, in contrast to a very simple slow melody played by the right hand. There is no more glorious sound anywhere than that of a gospel choir in full voice, and that is what I had in my mind in the chorus section.


Far from Yesterday: 25 Years of Music from Sandy Owen

This is not intended as a “best of” collection, but rather as a series
of illustrations of the directions and musical travels I have made
in the past 25 years: 1975-2000. Some of the ideas predate that time,
but most of the tracks are taken from my previous 11 albums (nine as a
solo artist and two with the trio
Iliad). Rounding out the compilation
are two new solo piano compositions and part of a film score.

Track Descriptions

1. Far from Yesterday (4:24)
This was the first piece of mine that I heard on the radio. It was a thrill to hear myself on the exact same station on which I had been listening to my heroes and influences for so many years. This style was an especially unique soundwhen it was released in 1975.

performed with the trio Iliad from the album Distances (1975) courtesy of Northern Lights Records
percussion: Ted Owen
bass: Larry Andrews

2. La Vida (5:44)
The title means “The Life” and is named for my great aunt Vida, who always seemed to have a wonderful perspective on life. This piece is especially fun to play live. It can, however, get somewhat lengthy, usually with an extended percussion “solo” on which everybody in the neighborhood gangs up.

soprano saxophone: Paul Carman
percussion: Ted Owen
from Themes in Search of a Movie (1985)

3. Rainbow (3:14)
I have heard from quite a number of people who have used compositions of mine for special occasions, especially weddings and sometimes the passing away of someone close. I remember a couple who told me they used the “Soliloquy” album for background music during the delivery of their child. They played the whole first side of the album and successfully planned it out so that this track (the last one on the side) was playing during the actual birth. To be included in some of people’s most momentous occasions — birth, marriage, and death — is by far the finest honor my music has ever received. (I’ve also been told of the music being present during conception, but I suspect those were not entirely planned events.)

from Soliloquy (1982)

4. Desert Journey (6:45)
This is a new piece which uses some harmonic
patterns that I have not explored before. The main theme has, for me, a particularly intense emotional content, and for reasons I cannot explain, creates visions of the vastness and timeless majesty of the great deserts.

5. End Credits from ‘The Forfeit’ (2:52)
This is a medley of some of the themes I scored for this film and was used as the credits were listed. The opening and closing melody (“Molly’s Theme”) is for a little girl taken away by a teacher who has become attached to her. The second main theme (“Sarah and Connie”) portrays the emerging friendship between the teacher and a journalist secretly doing a story on the kidnapping.

soprano saxophone: Paul Carman
cellos (many): Melissa Hassin
From the film The Forfeit, Hall Films (1992)

6. Freeway Fantasy #4 (4:44)
The general idea of the Night Rhythms album was to have the music evolve in the studio, unlike my usual approach of having all the tunes worked out ahead of time and using the studio simply to execute those ideas. Paul, as engineer and saxophonist, was the perfect person to do this with. This track started with the percussive guitar riff subdividing 5/4 measures in half. It evolved around Paul’s improvisation on the half-step chord changes. What little there is of a melody first appears under the sax solo a minute or so in. Some synthesizer and percussion were gradually added as felt appropriate. When I heard the test tapes it immediately reminded me of driving on the LA freeways late at night, listening to after-hours radio and letting my mind wander.

soprano saxophone and percussion: Paul Carman
from Night Rhythms (1989)

7. Tuolumne Calls (5:08)
Most of the summers when I was growing up our family spent time in the Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite National Park, and I have been back many times since. We recently had a reunion there celebrating my brother Barry’s 50th birthday and amidst all the memories I was reminded once again of the special place Tuolumne holds in my soul. I almost never sit down at the piano with the intention of writing about something; instead I simply spend time at the keyboard and only later do I sometimes realize where the music came from. That was the case with this piece.

oboe: Tom Evans
tenor saxophone: Paul Carman
from gioia (1996)

  8. 28/4 (7:35)
This recent composition began as an exercise in playing 4/4 in the left hand while playing 7/4 in the right. I discovered that dividing a series of identical 4/4 measures into 7/4 measures creates a different, slower sequence of four notes and that this whole thing repeats every 28 beats. Once the novelty of this wore off, music started to appear. In the middle section, somewhat faster, I alter the basic fundamental 4/4 pattern, which in turn creates a different four-note sequence upon which I build new melodies

9. Victory Theme (6:59)
The intention here was to create the feeling of emergence after a long difficult struggle — not an energetic celebration but rather a deep quiet satisfaction. The horns and drums provide a kind of military tone to the piece. In the middle section the two horns were directed to improvise together creating chords withlong passing notes. I love what Paul and Steve did with it.

fluegelhorn: Steve Crum / soprano saxophone:
Paul Carman / percussion: Ted Owen
from Themes in Search of a Movie (1985)

10. Beanface Boogie (3:30)
I think I will always have a soft spot for Boogie Woogie. It is one of the few styles in which a solo player can generate a real groove, and the first tune I wrote was a boogie. “Beanface” is a nickname my two brothers and I gave to our Dad, and since he introduced me to Boogie this is a dubious homage to him. The whole album “Boogie Woogie Rhythm and Blues” was a challenging attempt to infuse the drive and joy of the traditional Boogie bass lines with more contemporary harmonies and structures.

from Boogie Woogie Rhythm and Blues (1986)

11. Travelling (4:41)
This piece reminds me of riding on a bus or train and daydreaming as the scenery passes by. Brent does some beautiful oboe work here and although he told me he could not improvise, the soaring quality of his impromptu (which he did reluctantly) tells a different story.

oboe: Brent McMunn
percussion: Ted Owen
from Themes in Search of a Movie (1985)

12. Heart Crossings I – Passage (4:45)
This is one of my favorite melodies. Most of the time composing feels morelike a process of discovering an idea or melody rather than one of molding or forming a melody out of nothing. As a result, I experience sharing one
of my compositions as, “Look how wonderfully these notes go together,” as opposed to, “Look what I made.” This piece is a perfect case in point. It is one of the simplest possible melodies with some of the simplest possible chord structures — yet I had not heard it before and was delighted and moved when I found it. I hear an elegance and grace in its simplicity.

from Heart Crossings (1988)

13. A Farewell (4:24)
For me this piece captured the mixture of emotions that surface when you have to say goodbye. There is, of course, the sadness and longing, but one can’t help reflecting on the entire history that is there and softly celebrate having had the chance to know them.

cello: Marston Smith
english horn: Brent McMunn
from Montage (1984)

14. Shadows (4:02)
When I first played these notes, they seemed to have an eerie and almost ominous quality. As much as my former wife Donna loved my music, she didn’t want to be in the house when I played this piece — it made her too uneasy.

from Themes in Search of a Movie (1985)

15. Distances (3:30)
When I was sixteen I tried an experiment of playing some specific wrong chords with the right bass line. I stuck with it long enough to hear the music that was there in spite of my having decided it was wrong. This piece was the result of that experiment and it has been recycled several times. This version is the most recent incarnation. I’m frequently amazed by how the same sound can seem so wrong at one point in time, and then at another time feel so natural and right. Such occasions remind me of the limitations I put on my listening.

cello: Marston Smith
soprano saxophone: Paul Carman
from Montage (1984)

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