Gleaming Towers didn't begin life as Gleaming Towers. Its first title was Under the Harvest Moon. In the Autumn of 2005, long-time friend and musical co-conspirator (and violinist extraordinaire) Bruce Bowers loaded his family into their RV and drove out to California from their Wisconsin home. The impetus for this trip was that his daughter, Yazmin, had taken up a consuming interest in Latin music and had written and received a grant to come out to The Bay Area to study with Rebeca Mauleon, an accomplished pianist and teacher whose instructional materials Yazmin had found online. Pretty amazing for any 14 year old, but even more so since Latin music isn't all that prevalent in Northern Wisconsin. Yazmin's passion for the music, her boundless energy and her parents' encouragement all add up to what has become Yazmin's amazing talent. You can check her out here: LaBandaNueva.com.
I first met Bruce when he lived in California. He and I were both hired to play in one of the house bands at the infamous San Jose, California honky tonk, The Saddle Rack. In the years after the Saddle Rack gig, we found ourselves working together in a variety of recording settings, mostly at Dragon Studios. He was in a couple of bands for which I worked as a recording engineer and I hired him to play violin on a variety of film scoring projects I had composed and was producing. When Bruce moved to Wisconsin, we didn't lose touch, but the writing was on the wall, suggesting collaboration would be a lot more difficult long-distance [at least until the internet evolved to the extent that uploading and downloading tracks became common practice]. When Bruce became aware of my album Slider - Ambient Excursions for Pedal Steel Guitar, he contacted me to congratulate me on the album and to put forth a standing offer to be involved with similar projects in the future. Bruce is one of the only true Renaissance Men I've known in my life. He's a passionate musician, great dancer, skier, bicycling enthusiast, recording engineer, multi-instrumentalist, circuit designer and programmer; I'm quite certain there's just about nothing he couldn't come to understand and master, if he put his mind to it. As long as I've known him he's always played through (often designing and building it himself!) monstrously interesting equipment. He can make one violin sound like an orchestra with one draw of his bow.
So we made plans, and when he came out to The Bay Area, we took advantage of this rare opportunity to try to make some music together. He brought in a piece that he had already written. One morning, as we were setting up, I sat down at the piano and came up with the structure of what we would eventually call Under the Harvest Moon. After laying down that structure, I wrote the melody on pedal steel. Bruce played a bunch of percussion and violin on the piece. Then, with their California business finished, Bruce and family drove back home. For a while, we tried to finish Under the Harvest Moon long distance, but it was just too difficult, so the tune lay fallow.
Bruce has posted his own version of that piece, calling it simply Harvest, on his myspace page. Check out Harvest here: myspace.com/tbrucebowers.
Meanwhile, in June of 2008, I dug this track out, dusted it off, and decided to take the composition another direction. It never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it can sometimes be. Through Bruce Bowers and Charlie Albert (the owner of Dragon Studios), I became acquainted with Doug McKeehan. It was Doug who introduced me to Stephen Hill, the owner of Hearts of Space Records, the record label that originally commissioned Slider - Ambient Excursions for Pedal Steel Guitar. Since I was aware that Doug has produced a fair amount of Indian music, I turned to Doug for a referral when I decided to look for a tabla player to play on the former Under a Harvest Moon, turned Gleaming Towers. Doug suggested Salar Nader. Salar played on two Hybrid tracks, both Gleaming Towers and Arctic Front, in one session. Salar told me that he'd been playing since he was very young, and his effortless, yet amazingly intricate and interesting playing made it sound like he'd been playing tabla since before he was born. Oh, and did I mention that he was absolutely wonderful to work and hang out with?
Last but not least, Jeffrey Wash adds his unmistakable touch to this piece as well.