"Composing allows me to explore the musical concept that frames the structure and mood for improvisation. In Mystic Heights the composer in me steps forward.
Ode is an elegy for one of my spiritual teachers, with variations over a passacaglia bass. The ascending theme and mood of Devotion was aroused by Joe Lovano's optimistic and full-hearted saxophone sound. In Bare Hearts, I pay compositional homage to Richie Beirach for a three-note motive borrowed from his haunting song Leaving. Little Flower and Amour both display a broad formal design. In the first, a diatonic theme leads to a rubato improvisation that roves to distant harmonic regions, while the second employs pungent right-hand chromaticism over a constant left-hand ostinato. In Exiled Dreams, dedicated to my late friend and brilliant saxophonist Thomas Chapin (1957-1998), an other-worldly feeling is created by the floating melody and tempo interspersed with bi-tonal embellishments. Finally, Mexico, a lyrical bolero composed during a visit to the American Southwest, and Spree, a lilting Jazz waltz, are works that date back to the mid-1970's and are recorded for the first time on this CD. -Armen Donelian"