|NOTES: “The Songs of West Side Story”
This was a milestone event for me, considering that Leonard Bernstein had such a tremendous influence on my musical awareness. As a child I would watch this film every time it was on TV. My parents actually had the soundtrack record, I must have been 4 or 5 years old and would sit when nobody was around and just listen to it over and over again. It was stunning how the pieces had such attitude, the orchestra was so pumping, and the performers were so aggressive, and yet it was so melodic and captivating.
David Paich was the producer and mastermind behind this record. The line-up consisted of serious heavy hitters like Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Selena, and many more. I remember speaking to Selena over the phone when she was in the studio recording her track for the record. This was her last recording.
The piece on which I performed is called “Rumble”. The concept was to bring together two bands in a dueling musical atmosphere (I know… how unlike me, right?)
In the film, “Rumble” is sort of the do-or-die dance that takes place between the Jets and the Sharks. The arrangement was done so 2 bands would face each other. The bands were Chick Corea’s Elektric Band (Chick Corea – keyboards, Dave Weckl – drums, Frank Gambale – guitar, Jimmy Earl – bass, Eric Marienthal – saxophone) vs. Steve Vai’s Monsters (Steve Vai – guitar, Simon Phillips – drums, John Pena – bass, David Paich – keyboards, Lenny Castro – percussion.)
It was staggering to be in that kind of a musical atmosphere in the studio. It was this incredible wall of sound from some of the most talented musical giants on the face of the planet.
At one point, Chick went to the piano to do an improvised intro for the piece. Never in my life have I ever seen a man so divinely inspired on an instrument. When he finished, the rest of us could hardly play, feeling that we were benevolently granted the musical stimulation of what the history of man has evolved into in it’s most refined and profound melodious awareness.
We just looked at each other like idiots.