"Nightfall" liner notes...

Nightfall is Ken's second CD. Ken played piano in an acoustic quartet on his first CD, entitled Squorkle. All of the tunes were jazz standards, except for the title tune and original composition, Squorkle. The Squorkle CD was a fledgling effort that he produced in a very limited supply. Nightfall, by contrast, is a collection of all original tunes and has a mixture of rock, fusion, straight ahead jazz, a ballad, and even a hip-hop tune. It features only two musicians - Ken and Terry O'Mahoney. Terry plays drums on six of the nine tunes; Ken uses the synthesizer on all of the songs to produce a variety of synthesized instruments - from flute to trumpet, from guitar to vibraphones, from bass to background vocals.

Modern synthesizers allow musicians to produce a good approximation of many acoustic instruments. Synthesizers with sequencers and multitrack hard disk recorders allow one musician to play all of the parts of a tune. Ken takes advantage of this technology to play all of the parts of his original songs on the synthesizer - except for Terry's drums on six of the nine tracks. He composed, arranged, performed, and recorded Nightfall on his Yamaha Motif in his home studio and then transferred the synthesized tracks to his Korg D1600 multitrack hard disk recorder, and mixed and premastered the tunes.

Eleanor, the first song, is named after Ken's mother who was also a pianist and influenced Ken's playing from early on by her piano playing and choice of recorded music in the home. Eleanor is a straight-ahead jazz tune with bass, piano, flute, trumpet and drums. Pedal points at the beginning, and throughout the song give it some tension that resolves into a nice walking feel. Terry provides some very tasty drum work with just the right amount of dynamics and interplay with the rest of the instruments. Breezy was originally written with a light rock beat. When Terry replaced the synthesized drum track with acoustic drums, he changed the feel to a decidedly more Latin one. This really spiced up the tune. A percussion interlude blends synthesized percussion with acoustic drums. Island Rainbow is a Caribbean-type song that features the steel drum. The name reflects the intended genre with Latin percussion and a flute lead part. With Terry taking a pass on this one, Ken provides all the drums and percussion effects.

Phineas de Feline is named after Ken's Maine Coon cat. Phineas' appellation derives from the great jazz pianist, Phineas Newborn. The song started out as a bebop tune but evolved into more of a rock feel when Terry replaced the synthesized drum track with his acoustic drums. Ken chose electric piano, saxophone and electric guitar as lead instruments.

Blues for Toni is an up-tempo straight ahead blues with piano, bass, drums, flute and sax. The walking bassline gives the song a nice sense of momentum. Terry adds excitement by taking the tune out with a big band drumming style of hitting the accents. The title tune, Nightfall, is based on the chord progression of Cole Porter's Night and Day. It is a ballad and utilizes a sax in reverb that is reminiscent of the David Sanborn sax style. A Hammond B3 organ sound rounds out the voice selection along with the electric guitar and electric piano accompaniment.

That's That is a fusion tune cast in the genre of Spyro Gyra and their ilk. Terry sits this one out. Ken adds some synthesized percussion parts to fill out the percussion section in the absence of acoustic drums. The synthesized slap bass part helps to define the fusion feel. Hop To It is an effort to produce the hip-hop style in an original minor blues tune. With Ken using a synthesized drum track he edited, Terry also sits this one out. Majority is based on the chord changes of Gigi Gryce's tune, Minority. With Terry's deft and tasty drum licks, the rhythm switches from a rock feel to a Latin one and back again for both the flute and vibes' solo that adds diversity and interest to the song.

All in all, this is a competently composed, arranged, performed, and recorded CD that offers a wide range of arrangements and styles that will keep the listener's attention.

Chris Fitzgerald, January 2003
Jazz Instructor, Bellarmine University and University of Louisville