I walked into the silver darkness: The new album by Mark Wingfield and Kevin Kastning will be released by Greydisc Records on June 21, 2011.
Read this entry on Mark's blog.
In late winter 2009, I received an email from someone whom at the time I did not know: Mark Wingfield.
Mark stated that he had been listening to my albums and rather liked them. He went on to ask if I'd be interested in recording an album with him. I visited his website and listened to some of his work. Mark resides in England, and is an electric jazz guitarist by genre, but not by any other definition. The more I listened to his music, it became apparent that Mark truly had a unique voice. I didn't hear clichés; I didn't hear the thinly-disguised work of other guitarists masquerading as his own. I didn't hear things I'd heard before, and while he was clearly in masterful control of his instrument, I didn't hear flashy technique being deployed for its own sake. In his playing, I heard a different voice; an unexampled approach to electric guitar. Even his instrument voice was unusual and as highly individualized as one's own signature. These are all qualities that consistently grab my attention. I returned Mark's email, thanking him for contacting me, and stated that I'd listened to some of his work on his website. I told him that I enjoyed it and was intrigued. Mark then sent copies of his albums over to me. I listened to his newest entitled Sleeper Street. I listened to it again. I wrote back, and said rather naively that I didn't play electric, and asked if he planned to play acoustically on a joint project. Mark replied that he didn't play acoustically; nor did he want me to play anything other than acoustically. He said we'd both just do what we do. I had never worked with an electric guitarist, and honestly wasn't sure if I wanted to. Or if it would work. I thought about his emails. I listened to Sleeper Street again. Then I listened to another of his albums entitled Three Windows. This was an atypical trio setting for saxophone, harpsichord, and electric guitar. I gave it a second listen. I realized that I could indeed work with Mark. I began to become both intrigued and curious about a joint project. I stopped hearing him as an electric guitarist, and simply heard him as a musician and composer. I wrote back to Mark, and said that yes, I would be interested in an album project. Little did either of us know that we would not be collaborating on just a single album, but instead this would be the start of a much longer and deeper collaboration and friendship.
I asked Mark what he had in mind. Specific pieces? Did he want me to compose something for us? Did he have duet compositions at the ready? He replied that no, he did not have compositions for us. I wasn't quite sure what or how we would arrive at an approach, but further listening to Three Windows assuaged any reluctance on my part. I knew it would all be OK.
A couple of months later, Mark emailed to say that he would be in the US in the fall of 2010. He suggested we schedule some studio dates, and I agreed. We convened at Studio Traumwald in Massachusetts on November 3 and 4 for two long and full days of recording sessions. Working together instantly felt comfortable. We would roll tape until well past midnight; then have long talks almost until dawn. During these late-night discussions, I recognized in Mark a kindred spirit.
After the recording sessions, Mark returned to England with the master recordings. A month later, he begin sending rough mixes to me. During the intensity of recording sessions, I often have little to no grasp or cognizance of what is actually transpiring. It is only later upon hearing mixes that I begin to decide if the sessions were a success. Upon hearing the roughs from our November dates, I was floored. We had hit upon some rather amazing pieces together. These pieces were completely improvised, or as I prefer to think of the process: composed in real-time. Yet they all sounded composed, like complete compositions. And these pieces had an emotional depth I'd not remembered at all from the recording sessions. Mark was excited about what we had on tape; as was I. It turned out that we had in fact recorded two full albums. The first album from these sessions would go on to become I walked into the silver darkness. The second album from the November 2010 sessions will be released in 2012.
Mark and I will again meet in the recording studio in November 2011 to record our third album. This time, it will be in Ireland at Bluebird Studios. Stay tuned.