Captain Ghostnote, Robert, Ghostie, Cap
You’ll find several monikers adhere themselves to the artist who is our topic of conversation today. This is because they’re all buddy-buddy nicknames, since you will be hard-pressed to find a more sincere and downright PLEASANT individual in all your days.
I’ll give an example! I live where I do now in New York going on eight months. Previously I did not live too far. Yet, in both residences I had the thrill of receiving physical mail from the Netherlands! That’s because Ol’ Cap knows how to be a really good friend (besides cracking’ bass player).
At my previous residence, I doubt there was an event being celebrated. He just sent me some cool stuff because he thought it was cool. When I moved most recently, to Queens, he sent a follow-up, congratulating my Studio for finding a new Owner ha. What is more ‘Dawww-Worthy’ than that? To make mail exciting? That Folks … That’s a real friend.
With no joking in my voice at all I say the following – It was not a good day for me on a personal level when Captain dropped me a line, asking if I wanted the VIP treatment in the form of an early listen. I instantly said, yes, of course! Not feeling too great at the time, I was just excited for new music, better yet new Ghostnote! Only later in the day did this kind gesture dawn on me. And it made me a little tear-y! This is what you get along with a friendship like the one I have with Captain Ghostnote – Real. True. Sentiment. And it always shines in his music as well. Thank you, Robert. You made my day.
Here we are again!
The Captain returns full-style, reminding us why he earned his most-deserved title. Below is a quick analysis of the EP, Super Groovy Robot Butterflies. Then, a short Q and A with, Captain Ghostnote.
In this first track, Dragonfly’s Call, it’s like we’re being teased. The flow and the cleanliness of the arrangement bring me RIGHT back into my chair as if it were the first time listening to FM Jazz. And it’s stunning! And Ghostnote knows it. It’s why it’s the lead track! He’s inviting you in, but not those faint of heart.
You’re immediately sucked in by Shimmer’s tempered and paced beginning. The song leads into a line at the :20 mark that binds Jazz and Electronic in a way I’ve only heard constructed in this way, by this Artist. It’s very comfortable and subtle, though. Whereas I know my approach is not as fine, and would lend itself to too much bashing and crashing, we have a nice, smooth touch here. Guiding us through this vision where the world is a bit more ‘playful’ for a while.
As we enter the second verse, there’s a ‘fullness’ to the mix which requires recognition. You might end up saying, “Wait, Captain Ghostnote is a Band?” Nope. One dude. But he knows how to FILL A MIX.
But, we have not gone full-tilt crazy yet. There is the remarkable Stephen G (@Xandergee) accompanying the Captain for this EP which we can point finger of blame/awesomeness at for the soaring horns. We may be listening to the culmination of a correspondence conducted intercontinentally, but I defy you to prove that … Had I not just told you. This is because it sounds like they’re freaking standing next to each other! By the end, I’m not sure I will be able to convince you Captain Ghostnote is NOT a band.
the twang of just the tiniest amount of saturation on the sax. The overlain guitar harmonics. Bellissimo! Again, a great blend of roboticism, combined with Jazz roots greets us. That pleasant blend of both 1921 and 2021 at the same time.
By 1:20 we’ve hit the pocket, for sure. You will be unable to sit still as you find yourself groove like you hope no one is watching. I really hope no one was watching …
‘Butterflies And Bumblebees’
Warning! Side effects include; Bobbing head incessantly, Inflamed Gibson, Funkification, and in most cases this will be the music played in the background as you attempt to ‘dance way cooler than you actually are while someone is filming it’. No need to ask the Doctor, because Captain is who you are seeking to consult!
I had to have spun this 5 times before I poked a word into the laptop. This one was so bright and upbeat, I found myself letting it just go on repeat as I surfed the web, completely forgetting task at hand. Can’t say I minded this one iota. I think you will get equally lost in the best of ways.
‘Grasshopper Under The Sun’
Ok, here’s what I said to myself going into the next track, “Self, how is the Cap going to finish this off with no physical drummer?” Drums are such a root to Jazz that one might think it a bit masochistic of the Musician to approach a full release with no one beating the pulse into place. How does a nice layer of shine get added so adequately? In such excellent form? No hesitation rhythmically. There’s also no ‘note stuttering’, or confusion as to what to do melodically, since you are trying to make up for a lack of drums.
The answer is you won’t care. It’s also a heck of a sign off tune!
Cap, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to sit with me today and field some questions! I have to ask, in 2021, why a Jazz record? I don’t think you need to justify your artistic choice ever, but I’m curious about the back story!
Thanks for the invite Chuck! Always a pleasure chatting with you. Jazz is of all times. To me, jazz is about freedom and being yourself. About blue notes, listening closely to what’s played and react to groove, melody and harmony. It’s expression in the purest form. In fact, this album is closer to my jazz roots than the albums I did before. At the same time, I‘m inspired by my ‘electronic’ and modular peers -like yourself- and try to incorporate electronic sounds and quirky beats. My last ep ‘FM Jazz’ was very quirky, FM synth oriented and electronic; SuperGroovyRoborButterflies is both acoustic and electronic, but focusses more on a phat groove and playing acoustic instruments.
I spoke above about the bold decision in ‘Grasshopper under the Sun’ to not use a Drummer physically. Further thoughts on how I framed it in the analysis?
To me, playing bass is about subtle timing and ghostnotes! Groove is timing. And especially notes you DON’T hear make the groove… As a bassplayer I play a lot of ghostnotes – Captain ‘Ghostnote’! – and I’ve always been influenced by bassists who incorporate some form of rythmic element in their playing.
As a youngster I listened intensively to contemporary musicians like Larry Graham, Stanley Clark and Level 42’s Mark King, for instance. I’ve always loved the slapping and popping! At the same time, jazz bassplayers like Eddy Gomez, Charles Mingus and of course Jaco Pastorius were my heroes.
For the track ‘Grasshopper under the Sun’ I was just jamming and found the slide over the damped strings provided a nice time signature. The flageolets (harmonics) make for the harmonic aspect. I then decided to make it a 6-stem bass and added saxsolo bonustrack.
The acoustic version is on all streaming platforms; the ‘electric’ EWI-version is on the Bandcamp release.
How did you and Xandergee come to know one another?
Steve and I are both members of a group of international electronic musicians called ‘Electronic Curiosity Collective’, later reborn as ‘International Oscillators’. In a challenge called ‘Shelfmarchmadness’- a tribute to the founder of the collective, @shelfblack, who passed away in February last year – we were challenged to do a collab jam with one of the other members. I instantly knew I wanted to do a collab with Steve.
He played sax to the jam, and later to two of the tracks that are now on SuperGroovyRobotButterflies. Steve is a beautiful person and musician, who’s constantly experimenting with new ways to integrate sax and electronics.
Steve and I are a very good musical match I think. Steve is a teamplayer with probably more or less the same musical background I have. He obviously LISTENS to the music and knows/feels what and where to play. He paints with notes to the colorful background; thus adding a sparkling extra dimension.
The way Steve builds up tension is incredible. Steve feels the blueprint of the song and interacts with it. When I got his sax stems back from New York I added extra piano and rhodes parts to interact with his playing. Action – reaction. That’s what I love in making music. Making music alone is fun – making music with good musicians is a whole different level of awesomeness and inspiration!
For those of us who might be new web-surfers to our little Chuck W. party here, who IS Captain Ghostnote?
I like to think I’m an eclectic, laid back veteran jazz musician who’s always had a love for synths, grooveboxes and quirky beats.
As you know, I had a Jazz club in Amsterdam, worked for a Philips record company and paid for university playing bass in a jazz combo in restaurants, hotels and clubs. After 20 years I (re)started my musical career in 2017. Social media changed the landscape for musicians.
After 20 years I (re)started my musical career in 2017. Social media changed the landscape for musicians. Connecting with so many excellent electronic musicians, like yourself, opened my eyes (and ears) to an entire world of inviting possibilities.
Ambient electronics, DAWless, modular synthesis, techno influences…
I tend to get a little bit lost in the vastness of possibilities. I just want to do it ALL, and make any kind of music, as long as it is with awesome musicians. To me that’s the very meaning of the word ‘Jazz’: no set rules and boundaries, go with what you feel, interact with the ‘here and now’ and express yourself the way you feel like…
I’m so much in love with this title as well! SuperGroovyRobotButterflies summarizes what I’d expect in the title of a second Captain Ghostnote release. For those who aren’t in the know, please tell them how these four words make such perfect sense together as the title for this effort!
Groovy Butterflies was my working title and Steve came up with adding super and robot. And that’s really what it is. A quirky, groovy, acoustic, electronic, jazzy, smooth collaboration. To me personally, a butterfly is the colorful result of a lifelong metamorphosis. Bit like myself, because now finally, in my fifties, I finally start to realise I CAN pull it off and play the stuff I like without thinking ‘Nobody should hear this because it’s crap’.
There’s a prevailing theme of ‘Bug,’ then, ‘something relaxing’ – It’s in the titles.
It’s heard in the music. How did you manifest this theme and why? How does it fit where you stand as an Artist right now ?
Thats such a lovely and meaningful question to me bro! You probably know by now I love conceptual art and I think as an artist I want to let my heart speak.
SuperGroovyRobotButterflies is: laying on your back in the high grass on a lovely summer morning. Feeling the sun on your face. Smelling the grass and flowers. Hearing the bugs zoom around you. So soothing.
Something I often did as a kid. And something I just don’t get around to anymore as an adult. In a way, making music brings back the child who wonders, listens without prejudice, creates without limits and expresses himself without social conventions. The feeling life’s a blank canvas onto which you can paint whatever you want. Or even start painting without knowing where you’ll end up.
I believe I can point towards why I assume you told me you think the second track, Shimmer, is your best composition yet. It’s, even for your music, super chill. It’s chill, telling ‘Chill’ to take a chill pill. Possibly the heavy rhythmic swing plays into your fondness for the track. Also, as the consummate Collaborator I know you as, it might have something to do with the back and forths heard between Xandergee and yourself. Am I close ??
Definitely! Shimmer is a melody I wrote the moment I realised I was (re)starting the ‘musical career’ I basically left 25 years ago, when life just got in the way. The realisation that you can never be too old -or too young, for that matter- to chase you dreams and follow your heart. Shimmer is the colorful butterfly that comes out of his cocoon, carefully spreads his wings in the sun and shows his colors to the world. I sincerely hope people will find this album soothing, colorful, sunny and superchill.
Folks! Captain Ghostnote! Please be sure to listen to SuperGroovyRobotButterflies on Spotify AND you will want to be sure to grab it on the Captain’s Bandcamp as well. This is because the sneaky devil has pulled a ‘track switcheroo!’
As an interestingly awesome gesture, the final track released on Spotify will not be the same as the Bandcamp rendition. Don’t you want both track listings / bonus tracks? ? ? Well, I know what I’ll be picking up after done typing this. I’d like to thank both the Captain for stopping by and you giving this a read. Keep on rockin’ and rolling’!