Al Somma, Vocals
Larry Ham, Piano
Matt Munisteri, Guitar
Richard Crooks, Drums
Matt Hughes, Bass
Dan Levinson,
Clarinet and Tenor Sax
Deni Bonet, Violin
Randy Reinhart, Trumpet
Produced by Jeff Eyrich

Recorded and Mixed
by Dae Bennett at
Bennett Studios LLC
1 Depot Square
Englewood, NJ 07631

Mastering by Scott Hull at
Hit Factory
421 West 54th Street
New York, NY 10019

Photography: Damaso Reyes
Graphics: Ellen Carnahan

All songs arranged by Larry Ham
except "They All Laughed"
arranged by Andy Ezrin,
and "Two Sleepy People" arranged
by Matt Munisteri and Al Somma.


2003 Al Somma, all rights reserved.

SONGS OF INNOCENCE, SONGS OF EXPERIENCE

The idea came three years ago after a recording session at Peter Kyle's (5th House) studio in Brooklyn. I was a little stressed and started talking melody on the drive back to the city with pianist, Larry Ham and drummer Charlie Kohlmeyer. I began singing Berlin's "Isn't This A Lovely Day". I'd been in love with innocent melodies and had sung many of them... [read more]

1. They All Laughed (3:37) — G. Gershwin, I. Gershwin real | mp3
2. The Very Thought Of You (3.18) — R. Noble real | mp3
3. I Fall In Love Too Easily (4:08) — S. Cahn, J. Styne real | mp3
4. I'm Beginning To See The Light (2:32) — E. Ellington, D. George, J, Hodges, H. James real | mp3
5. 'Round Midnight (4:07) — T. Monk, B. Hanighen, W. Cootie real | mp3
6. Isn't This A Lovely Day (3:27) — I. Berlin
7. This Will Make You Laugh (5:47) — I. Higgenbotham
8. A Kiss To Build A Dream On (3:24) — O. Hammerstein, B. Kalmar, H. Ruby
9. Lush Life (6:04) — B. Strayhorn
10. That Old Feeling (3:43) — L. Brown, S. Fain
11. Walkin' My Baby Back Home (2:22) — F. Ahlert, R. Turk
12. Two Sleepy People (5:55) — H. Carmichael, F. Loesser

[continued] ...with King Vamp, a band I'd started in 1993. We'd done Tin Pan Alley and some A and B-side 30's stuff—Hot Lips Page and the like. Larry said, "Hey, I love that tune, nobody ever does it," and suggested we record it next time—a time which came three years later. During that time a concept was forming. I knew of William Blake's collection of poems he called "Songs of innocence, Songs of Experience" and it sparked an idea. The title seemed right for an eclectic mix of standards. So I gathered songs from Berlin to Monk to try and tell a story of the heart.

Fortunately, I ran into Kelly Flint (Dave's True Story), downtown. I told her I had some ideas cooking and that I needed a producer to get it done. Her husband is producer Jeff Eyrich of BePop Records. "Call Jeff tomorrow," she said. So, Jeff and I began meeting for lunches and talking ideas. I'd brought a basket of projects, including some ideas for Alison Stephens (Shinola Films). In two or three meetings we'd distilled our goal into a single concept—the same one I'd started with. I got in touch with Larry Ham. Larry lent his arranging talents to the instrumentation I'd imagined. He was also refreshed to do verse (introductions) that are usually left out of most jazz recordings. Larry wrote and arranged so we would (most often) have original entrances and exits and also pay homage to some of the finest writing there is by sticking to it. The outro to 'Round Midnight is pure Monk and Larry made sure we got the notes right.

In the end it was as if not one second had elapsed since our car ride three years earlier. I'd like to thank all the musicians, especially: Matt Hughes for his talent and sense of humor. Richard Crooks' a gift for creating the color of the moment; Randy Reinhart, for his good karma; Deni Bonet, it was better than I'd imagined—the track is magic. Matt Munisteri for his immense talent and generosity. Larry Ham, thanks for making my project your own. Very special thanks to Dan Levinson, my friend through a decade of sharing this music. Dae Bennett for your great work and patience. Finally, Jeff Eyrich, your balanced temperament and deference to the artist (while still demanding what you want to hear) are what makes a work of art the best it can be.

Johnny Santiago, Mario Flores, Ahmed Rashisada, Alex, Eric and the staff at Torch, thank-you for giving me a home to share stage lots of great musicians: Jill McCarron, Janice Friedman, Jesse Gelber, Misha Piatagorsky, Katie Koskow and David Cook on piano. Thanks to Ray Parker, Conrad Korch, Steve Brown and Nicki Parrott on bass; Ron Jackson, Adam Rafferty, Dan Converse, Ron Benhur on guitar, and especially Marc Cally. Grace, your pure heart continues to inspire me to love well. Frank Somma, thanks for believing in my eccentricity. Thanks, Michael Rubel, for listening. Lastly, my baby, Rachel, your love for all music and the art of the standard continue to inspire me. That a songwriter's longing is to embody their dream is what makes us do this. Your youth, honesty and impatient patience are one. Thank you for letting me hold the pictures of the process up to your scrutiny. Mom and dad, thanks for giving me a piano and Nat King Cole.

—Al Somma