Can you go a little further on the relationship to your compositions with narrative stories? Is there an open ended approach you prefer to leave up to the listener? To let them decide the story board as it were?
M.S. - "This kind of ties in with what I was saying above. Not only do I want the listener to experience a kind of timelessness, or elasticity, but I want them to feel like they've been taken to different places, different worlds. Sometimes that's drive by a particular narrative or idea with the compositional framework, sometimes it's more subconscious. My own writing process is generally to try and get out of the way of the music, and let whatever is there take shape. Whatever I'm hearing/feeling, as long as there's a sense of authenticity and something personal, I try to let it flow and write according to what the music tells me. I think that allows the music a certain openness that may attribute to why there's hopefully something new each listen. Maybe something about that leaves more room for interpretation by the listener or player; I don't know.
Some of the pieces have a more specific idea in mind during the writing process though. "Mrs. Heimoff" was about a woman who sat down the row from my family in my childhood synagogue who was very vivacious. One day I was thinking about her and the opening melody popped into my head, and within an hour or so I had written that tune.
"Dream Machine" was inspired by the work of artist/writer/inventor Brion Gysin. I had luckily stumbled upon an exhibit of his work at The New Museum on Bowery, and was really blown away. He used this technique for writing called cut-ups, where he would take a four or five word phrase and keep rearranging the words to extract new meanings from it. William S. Burroughs, his artistic partner-in-crime, would do the same with whole pages of prose. I went home that night and wrote out 3 different pieces based on that idea. "Dream Machine" was the first of them, and originally it was just titled "Brion Gysin #1," but I re-named it partially to reference and pay homage to his invention, the "Dream Machine," which generates lucid dream-like images in someone's inner vision, and partially because I felt like the piece functioned as one.
Some of the other pieces got their name in hindsight because they evoke a certain mood or story or feeling. "Ghost of the Prarie" reminded me of a Wu-Tang Clan-style bass line with a melody that was Charlie Parker-esque, so the title is a reference to Ghostface Killah, but also how the ghost of Charlie Parker can haunt so many jazz musicians who can't/won't escape his influence, and his own origins from the Midwestern prairies.
"Breathe" reminded me of driving up PCH in California, and the rhythms of the ocean and how the waves and tides coming in and out is like the ocean breathing. When I started meeting with Sandra Reichel, who brilliantly designed the cover art, poster and CD (as well as the DeSoto Sound Factory website and my own personal site), she had the idea of tying in these different characters from the music into the art, which I was completely on board with, and to make myself one of them, which is the nose and the hat on the cover (paying obvious homage to Dali, one of my favorites.) We expanded some of those ideas together, and wanted to make the cover art and packaging an intrinsic part of the artistic presentation. And since part of the musical agenda is to take the listener to these different worlds, we wanted the art to do the same."