Songs of the Heart
Stephen Pollock: tenor saxophone
String Quartet: tracks 1, 5, 7, 9, 11
Zakarias Grafilo: violin
Craig Davis: piano, track 3
Amanda Ford: vocals and piano, track
Jeff Grubbs: bass, tracks 1, 3, 5, 7,
James Houlik: tenor saxophone, track
Sean Jones: flugelhorn, track 5
Thomas Kikta: guitars, tracks 2, 9, 12
Stephen Preston: baroque flute, track
Boots Randolph: tenor saxophone solo,
Vahan Sargsyan: piano, tracks 4, 6, 8,
Joe Saylor: drums, track 3
Michael Stephenson: soprano saxophone,
Recorded at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA throughout 2006 and
January of 2007
Thomas Kikta, Producer
Francisco Rodriguez, Engineer
Jesse Naus, Assistant Engineer
Edited and Mixed, Thomas Kikta and Francisco Rodriquez
Mastered by Francisco
Rodriguez and Thomas Kikta at Digital Dynamics Audio Inc., Pittsburgh,
Graphic design: Jim Manly, Digital Dynamics Audio Inc.
Photo Credits: Marlon Kittrell
Sax logo drawing: Stephen Pollock
Sliver star designed by Stephen Pollock, crafted by Larry Tallent
Liner notes: Stephen Pollock
Stephen Pollock plays exclusively on Cannonball
Saxophones. His mouthpiece is a Morgan L-5. He uses the Rovner
Eddie Daniels II Ligature and endorses Rico “Grand
Concert Select” reeds.
Check out Stephen's
first solo recording "So Near, So Far" on
Alanna Records #ACD6000.
To learn more about Stephen Pollock please go to www.stephen-pollock.com
The Alexander String Quartet appears courtesy of Foghorn Classics
James Houlik appears courtesy of Aerophon Recordings
Sean Jones appears courtesy of Mack Avenue Records
Boots Randolph appears courtesy of the Secret Society of Admiration!
1470 McFarland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Phone/Fax: (412) 563-4180
Mobile: (412) 512-0201
1. Autumn Leaves
arr. Mike Tomaro
2. A Mountain Dream
Pollock, arr. Thomas Kikta
Johnny Mercer/David Raskin, arr. Craig Davis
4. Tanti Anni Prima
arr. José Oliver Riojas
5. Nature Boy
arr. Mike Tomaro
6. Lover's Lament
7. Londonderry Air
arr. Glenn Haynes
8. Solenne In Quest'ora
Verdi, arr. Stephen Pollock
9. Wildacres Morning
Pollock, arr. Glenn Haynes
10. Bess You Is My Woman
arr. Stephen Pollock
11. Band of Brothers
Kamen, arr. José Oliver Riojas
12. Holding All My Love For You
Kamen, arr. Amanda Ford, Thomas Kikta and Stephen Pollock
Mom, Dad, Kim and the rest of my family for their love and constant
support. To Thomas Kikta, Francisco Rodriguez, Jesse Naus and everyone
at Alanna Records and DDAI for all your hard work on this project.
To James Houlik, Stephen Preston, Michael Stephenson, Boots Randolph,
Vahan Sargsyan, The Alexander String Quartet, Sean Jones, Craig Davis,
Jeff Grubbs, Amanda Ford, and Joe Saylor for their incredible musicianship;
it's been a privilege to play with you all. To Freda Silberman, Ed
Kocher and Duquesne University; without your support this recording
would not have been possible. To Thomas Massella, Glenn Haynes, José Riojas,
and Mike Tomaro for your beautiful compositions and arrangements. To
my colleagues in the New Century Saxophone Quartet for their support
and inspiration. To Robert Besen for his wisdom and advice. To Tevis
and Sheryl Laukat at Cannonball Musical Instruments for making the finest
saxophones I have ever played. To Rico Reeds for their support when I’m
off and on the road. And to Caitlin Obert-Thorn for modeling for
It was about a year and a half ago that I was sitting in the kitchen
of one of my best friends from High School when his wife noticed that
most of the tunes on my first solo CD "So Near So Far" were,
as she put it, "all songs of the heart." Humm… I
thought, there's the title of my next CD. Yes, this is another CD of
love songs. Basically it's a continuation of the same project with
tunes that I didn't get to do on the first CD but still wanted to record.
It's also been a chance to play and record music with some more of
my closest friends.
For this CD I again had the opportunity to work with my colleagues from
the Alexander String Quartet. Joining them for the string session was
the wonderful bassist from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Jeff Grubbs.
We recorded five new arrangements with two being from the amazing jazz
arranger/composer and colleague of mine at Duquesne University, Mike
Tomaro. The first of his arrangements was of Autumn Leaves. The
idea to do this tune came from my good friend, the legendary saxophonist
Boots Randolph. He had heard the duet of "Over the Rainbow" I
played with Branford Marsalis on my first CD and thought we could do
something similar with "Autumn Leaves" except we would use
strings for accompaniment. The solo in the tune is classic Boots and
I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to have him be a part of this
project. Thanks Boots!
A new piece of mine on this CD is the tune A Mountain Dream.
The arrangement of this simple tune was done by my producer, good friend
and President of Alanna Records, Thomas Kikta. He joins me on acoustic
guitar while my long time dear friend and one of the world's leading
baroque artists, Stephen Preston, joins us on flute. Like many of my
tunes this one also resembles folk music from the British Isles and Stephen
captures beautifully the Irish wooden flute quality that I had envisioned.
This piece was inspired by and written for an Angel.
Several months ago, Francisco Rodriguez of Alanna Records and the engineer
of this recording called me and asked if I would play the tune Laura on
a recording that Alanna was doing for Pittsburgh jazz pianist Craig Davis.
I knew of Craig and what a phenomenal pianist he is and was honored (and
a little nervous) to be asked to play with him. As anyone can tell, I'm
not a jazz musician and would never claim to be one but Craig just wanted
me to play this beautiful melody throughout the tune, and so I did and
the session went surprisingly well. Craig of course plays beautifully
as does Joe Saylor on drums and the incredible Jeff Grubbs on bass who
I would eventually use on the session to record the string pieces for
this CD. Since this piece also fit the theme of my project, Alanna Records
decided to include it on this release as well.
As on the first CD, I wanted to play some more of the passionate music
of Astor Piazzolla. While looking for a new piece I found a recording
of a lovely tune of his called, Tanti Anni Prima.
I contacted a good friend of the New Century Saxophone Quartet's, José Riojas,
to see if he would consider arranging the piece for me. The quartet met
José while on tour in San Antonio, Texas and as we got to know
him we found out what a wonderful musician and arranger he is. José arranged
(completely by ear) this beautiful work by Piazzolla for tenor sax and
piano. I'm once again joined by pianist, Vahan Sargsyan, who also played
on my first solo CD, So Near, So Far.
The second Mike Tomaro arrangement on the disc was of the haunting and
beautiful ballad Nature Boy. I have loved this
tune every since I first heard Nat King Cole sing it. Later on I heard
a very nice version with flute and trumpet in the movie Angel Eyes.
The idea of a duet for the tune with string accompaniment might be nice,
I thought, and I wanted to have the chance to play with a phenomenal
young trumpet player that lives in Pittsburgh, who also teaches at Duquesne,
Sean Jones. Sean, who is lead trumpet in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
with Wynton Marsalis, plays a beautiful weaving line throughout almost
the entire tune. Thanks Mike for these fantastic arrangements and of
course, thank you Sean! Very cool.
I have known Pittsburgh composer and close friend Thomas Massella for
many years. Our friendship goes back to when he, Thomas Kikta and I were
at the North Carolina School of the Arts together. To date Tom has written
four works for me or ensembles that I play in. He is a wonderful composer
and I asked him to write a love song especially for this CD. Lover's
Lament for tenor saxophone and piano is a wonderfully lyric
piece and its melody stays with me long after I play it. Saxophonists
should check out Tom's other pieces; they won't be disappointed. Go to www.thomasmassella.com.
I mentioned in the liner notes of my first CD that I had a string version
of Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) and that I might
do it on the next CD. Well, here it is. Glenn Haynes has once again put
his magical touch to this beautiful tune. I would again like to dedicate
this version of the piece to my Mom and Dad, my greatest inspirations
When I hear the words "tenor saxophone," the first person that
comes to my mind is James Houlik. He is, without question, the world's
leading concert tenor saxophonist. He was my teacher, my mentor, now
my colleague and friend for life. He is the closest thing I have to an
older brother. While looking for a piece to play with him and Vahan Sargsyan
on this CD I came across the duet Solenne In Quest'ora by
Guesspi Verdi from his opera The Force of Destiny. It's a duet
in which two friends declare their life long friendship to each other
no matter what. I can't think of a better piece for Jim and I to play,… and
Jim,… I can't thank you enough.
Glenn Haynes also arranged another original of mine called Wildacres
Morning. This arrangement not only uses strings but
includes classical guitar which is played by Thomas Kikta. This piece
was inspired by that awesome place in the North Carolina Mountains,
Wildacres Retreat. I spend one to two weeks there every summer teaching
and learning how to play the saxophone with my colleagues from the
New Century Saxophone Quartet and James Houlik.
The other saxophone duet on this recording is Bess you is
my Woman from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.
The pianist once again is Vahan Sargsyan and we are joined by my
dear friend and long time colleague from the New Century Saxophone
Quartet, Michael Stephenson on soprano saxophone. No one sings on
the soprano like Michael. I have stood next to him in quartet for
almost twenty years now and he still blows me away. Thanks Michael.
I LOVE YOU MAN!!!!!!
I have always liked the film scores of Michael Kamen and especially
his music from the TV miniseries Band of Brothers.
My younger brother is an officer in the US Army and has more than once
been put in harm's way defending our nation. I have so much respect for
him, and I know he liked the miniseries, so I wanted to record a version
of the main theme of Band of Brothersand dedicate
it to him. This arrangement was done by José Riojas. It is for
strings and piano and once again I am joined by pianist Vahan Sargsyan,
bassist Jeff Grubbs and the Alexander String Quartet.
Another Michael Kamen tune I really like was from the film Open
Range. We recorded Holding All My Love For You with
Alanna Records recording artist Amanda Ford on keyboards and vocals
and Tom Kikta on acoustic guitar. I have always loved Amanda's voice
and I feel like she really captures the emotion in this beautiful song.
Thank you both for being part of this recording.
Thanks so much for