Alex de Grassi is excited to announce his newest album The Bridge due out on April 17th with Tropo Records and Six Degrees Records Distribution! The new album is a collection of compositions and arrangements that demonstrate the range of Alex de Grassi’s career and his prowess as a performer, musician and composer. The new release features six new original compositions plus arrangements of Gershwin (“It Ain’t Necessarily So”), Hendrix (“Angel”), and a pair of classic folksongs (“Shenandoah,“ “Sí Bheag Sí Mhór”) that bridge the many musical influences and experiences that have shaped his 42 years as a recording artist. Watch here
The Bridge is Alex’s first solo guitar recording in 17 years since his Now and Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (Tropo Records/33rd Street 2003), and was recorded by multi- GRAMMY® award winner and TEC Hall of Fame engineer Leslie Ann Jones at the legendary Skywalker Sound studio in Northern California. “I had played on a live audiophile broadcast at Skywalker the year before” Alex explains, “and after taking my guitar out of the case and playing a couple of notes in that space, I knew I wanted to make my next solo recording there. It’s a truly amazing sounding room, and with Leslie Ann on the other side of the glass, I knew we would capture the sound of the best concert halls I’ve ever performed in. I wasn’t disappointed!” Recorded without pickups, nor headphones to monitor and with simply great mics and four guitars including his signature model Lowden, Alex reflects, “it felt just like performing in one of my favorite concert venues.” The album also features sound engineer, Steven Miller, renowned for his work with many acoustic guitarists (including Michael Hedges landmark recording Aerial Boundaries) and various Windham Hill artists mixed the post production. Grammy award winner Gavin Lurssen of Lurssen mastering in L.A. mastered the album.
The upcoming release, The Bridge is 10 songs of beautifully performed and arranged acoustic compositions. Written over the last few years, Alex was inspired by the Albion River on Northern California’s Mendocino Coast. “When I was writing this album, the room I was working in had a direct view of the Albion Bridge—the last wooden bridge on the California coast highway 1. It is a narrow trestle bridge, 173 above the river and the sea, and on the National Register of Historic Places —in short, very dramatic. I imagined a lot of stories/scenarios about the people crossing that bridge—I even wrote one down,” comments Alex. Inspiration for the album title was also focused around bridging together many types of music that Alex loves including songs from composers Gershwin, Hendrix, two traditional folk composers influenced the song “Shenandoah,” and the Celtic melody “Si Bheg Si Mohr,” as well original compositions inspired by blues, jazz, classical and music from a variety of cultures.
The forthcoming album is full of standouts including the title track “The Bridge.” Alex reflects back on the inspiration from the Albion Bridge, “At night, headlights of cars crossing the bridge create a steady rhythm of flickering of light between the uprights of the railing, and that rhythm became the basis for the piece, a steady ostinato over which the long, syncopated notes of the melody unfold slowly. I wanted to convey both that image as well as the perspective of the driver approaching, crossing, and then arriving at the other side. For me, there is a sense of mystery, a little bit of danger, as well as getting lost in the thoughts of the unknown driver behind the wheel.” Along with other songs drawing inspiration from pop culture including “Mr. B Takes a Walk in the Rain,” where Alex asks the listener to imagine James Brown dancing the solo in Gene Kelly’s place in the classic film ‘Singin’ in the Rain.’
On “Angel,” Alex performs his interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s composition. Performed on the “sympitar” a six string guitar with 12 additional sympathetic strings (total of 18) he creates an acoustic effect that suggests electric sounds achieved by Hendrix. “Sí Bheag Sí Mohr,” is Alex’s arrangement of the 17th century Irish harpist O/Carolan’s classic and sticks pretty close to the original melody employing “cross-string” or “harp” style of guitar technique. “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” is based on Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald recording of Porgy & Bess a song that was Alex’s mother’s favorite and he often listened to it as a kid. “Eulogy in a Low Voice” is from the sudden and unexpected death of the luthier who built the guitar used on this recording. Alex explains, “The “low voice” refers to the sound of the guitar—a baritone guitar pitched a fifth below that of normal tuning, sounding closer to the range of a bass guitar. I wrote the first part of the piece almost in real time, then extended the composition with a bluesy section that hints at the classic folk song “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” The longer strings and lower pitch of the guitar allows for greater sustain both melody and bass lines.”