I WAS HERE
I Was Here is Ryan’s first album as a leader, first album of all original compositions, and first album he recorded and mixed in his studio. It features Ryan on bass, Doug Carter on piano, and Peter Buck on drums. This band has been performing regularly for over 5 years, and that level of trust is evident on every track. While the compositions range in style, Ryan’s penchant for melody, subtle (at least, sometimes) shifts in groove, and love for non-standard song forms is prevalent.
A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT THE SONGS
Underwater Meditation – The floaty drums and sparseness of the melody on this song remind me of being underwater for some reason, but with the goal of slowing down and allowing the surroundings wash over me – and that’s how I like listening to this tune.
This was my attempt at writing a song that had no melody. I focused heavily on placement of rhythmic “hits” and let the drums float all over the place. I realized much later that even though my desire was for a melody-free tune, in reality, it’s there – and it’s pretty well emphasized!
Falling Into Place – The interlocking nature of the three instruments drove me to go a little “mathy” in the second part of the tune as a contrast to the momentum of the primary melody. I wanted to see how these little “tumblers” would fit back into the melody, which inspired the title.
Up until this song, my approach to drums was to describe to the drummer what I was sort of going for, and then letting them do what they do. While Peter took this part to another level, it did start with me writing a specific part for the drums. In fact, I can say the same about Doug and the piano part, too.
Detour – This song started out as a straightforward (for me, anyway) tune to play and solo over, but as I thought more about the title, I realized that it needed a middle section that could evoke Southern California freeway detours, which often seem to make no discernible sense, and sometimes send you back where you just were. This is the only song on the album that has no solos, which is ironic given that improvisation is often a necessary skill in driving around Los Angeles.
Skinny Jeans and Tumbleweeds – When I was in grad school, one of my instructors asked everyone to write a tune for the quarter, and I thought it would be hilarious to make this world renowned, serious jazz pianist play a reggae tune. So I wrote this and it turned out better than I expected. I edited it down to accommodate a trio, and violá. My band mates groaned for a while every time we got to the bridge, but I just can’t seem to let a simple song be a simple song. Good thing too, because what they play over that part is, in technical terms: rad.
Sakapfet – On my honeymoon in St. Lucia, I kept hearing the locals say this word over and over. Finally, I asked someone what that word means. Apparently, sakapfet essentially means, “What’s up?” So I had to write a tune with that as the title. In the studio, I decided at the last minute that I’d play a solo introduction, and the rest of the tune turned out to be I think the best representation of the band’s experience performing as a group.
E for Effort – Sometimes, you just need to play a samba! This song was originally inspired by the Freddie Hubbard tune Skydive, and I wanted an excuse to play a fun unison line with the piano. The piano and drums introduction was another spur of the moment decision in the studio, which is a testament to last minute ideas! Doug and Peter just set this tune off perfectly.
Things Change – I wanted to write a tune that was different from anything I had written up to this point. I was inspired by a Snarky Puppy song, of all things, and wanted to write my own slow, groovy, almost R&B type tune. But to make it live up to the title, it had to really shift gears from one part to the next, and within each part. I liken this song to tasting Campari, or Brussels sprouts: give it time, and the right preparation, and you’ll learn to love it for its nuances and distinction… right?
Tinkering, Exploring, Grooving
Ryan has been playing bass since the age of 15. He plays jazz, rock, R&B, pop, and even a little country around Southern California. He writes music that often explores a simple idea like, "I wonder if I can come up with a tune that has no melody?" Or, "I wonder if a song with three different time signatures can groove?" His music has been described as visual, melodic, challenging, and maybe just a little outre.