Reflections on the story so far....
I'm listening to the tracks as they sound after five sessions at Playroom Studio. Most of the work so far has centred around preparing the template tracks and adding Tom Phelan's keyboards. The results are really positive, with Tom adding so much to the arrangements, including both great solos and a lot of new music improvised from the existing material.
A few months ago, I organised an exploratory gig at The Verdict in Brighton whose purpose was to 'comprovise' new music from key themes and fragments from the Trees repertoire. The players on this gig were Trees regulars Milo Fell on drums and percussion, Tom Phelan on piano, Paul Nieman on trombone, Beccy Rork on saxophones and myself on bass. The music that came out of this 'Roots and Branches' session encouraged me to integrate this approach into this round of recording sessions, with the inclusion of open sections in each piece allowing for such 'comprovisation'. Tom is a master at this, and has added wonderful new sections to each piece.
Rather than recording the whole group live in a large space, then editing and repairing the results, and overdubbing new material as we did for Heart of Oak, I decided that this project should be a studio recording, done in the way in which I worked on studio albums with The Enid years ago, and as I recorded 'Palimpsest' ten years ago. The Cloggz album 'Sawdust and Spangles' was also created this way, with rhythm tracks recorded first and the other parts overdubbed. The process is equally creative, albeit in a different way, with the arrangements gaining a degree of flexibility and malleability that recording the whole group together, as we did with Heart of Oak, does not allow in quite the same way.