Friday, November 23, 2012

                                   And So We Carry On


I have received so many inquiries about the cover art of my new CD  And So We Carry On, that I wanted to devote some time to discuss how the cover art evolved. I also want to highlight some key people involved in the project.

After working on getting all the music recorded, mixed and mastered to a satisfactory state, the next step was developing the packaging.  

And So We Carry On, is a musical affirmation of the spiritual power inherent in human beings. It's a source that provides us with the means to overcome the challenges and hardships we face in life. There is always something, consciously and subconsciously that moves us forward. We somehow manage to prevail beyond what we see as insurmountable tasks at hand. And So We Carry On  is an acknowledgement of this action, and it's empowerment. I wanted the packaging to embody this idea so I searched for a graphic artist that would be able to understand and implement it. 

Sometimes it's amazing how things happen...... Nioka (my sweetheart - the subject of track 3, Niokim) and Vallyn (my sister) were at an event that Nioka was producing. 

Nioka Workman
Me with my sister, Vallyn Anderson

They ran into a mutual friend, photo-journalist Yasuhiro Fujioka (Fuji as his friends call him).  When Fuji asked about me, Nioka and Vallyn told him about my new recording.

They let him know that I was seeking a graphic artist to package the CD. Fuji introduced Nioka and Vallyn to a friend of his that was in attendance. That friend turned out to be Hollis King, one of the most respected creative graphic artists and designers in the music industry.

Hollis and I talked on the phone and he asked me to get him a copy of the music so he could listen and see if he wanted to get involved. I told him the idea behind the project and he asked if I was leaning toward any particular type of cover. I heard from him a few days later and he said he really liked what he heard. He said this music required a special type of artwork for the cover - I agreed. Hollis asked me to come to his house the following week because he wanted to show me some samples from a few artists.

Hollis King - photo: Leslie Jean-Bart

Hollis King is former Vice President and Creative Director of The Verve Music Group (a division of The Universal Music Group) the largest jazz record label in the world. Hollis has worked with some of the greatest musicians in the business and has received many awards and citations including five Grammy nominations. He regularly lectures at FIT, SVA, Art Directors Club and The Society of Illustrators.   Hollis runs his own creative company and is currently involved in producing a groundbreaking project about Harlem, it's people, history and evolution. The project is entitled "Images Of Dignity".
It is a massive undertaking. A celebration of Harlems' creative and eclectic African American inhabitants featuring many photos and intimate interviews. I was very pleased to take part in the project. You will definitely be hearing about it soon.

And So We Carry On - CD Packaging

I made it over to Hollis' and viewed some great samples.
There were 3 or 4 pieces that I really liked but one in particular that I found myself consistently drawn too. I chose a piece entitled U Kill US, U Kill U. It was created by Rudy Gutierrez. The adaptation of this work became the cover art of And So We Carry On .

I wasn't completely convinced at first that this piece was right for the cover. Although it did emphasized hardship, imbalance and struggle, the other pieces of the idea - hope and empowerment were not so evident. I came around after Hollis explained that he heard my music as the antidote to what the very heavy and provocative cover art represents. Again I agreed. I also became aware that every time I looked at the cover I saw something I hadn't noticed before. 
As a result of collaborating on this project Hollis and I have developed a great working relationship and lasting friendship. I am honored and priviledged to have had his creativity and expertise applied to And So We Carry On.

U Kill US, U Kill U  - Rudy Gutierrez

Rudy Gutierrez's art has been described as Wall Medicine, ancient yet contemporary, urban in a sense and musical in feel. His distinctive spirit driven paintings are recognizable for their energy and passion and speak to the ills of inhumanity as well as celebrate the Divinity of us all. He has done covers for Santana and Roy Hargrove among others.

Rudy Gutierrez with his Santana cover

Rudy Gutierrez is a tremendous artist and I suggest you pay a visit to his website, see some of his other work and learn more about him.



I've just returned home, back in New York City from almost a month in Europe playing shows with Sonny Rollins. In the next blog I'll share some photos and insights about the trip. Till Then ........



Monday, November 5, 2012

The Forum - Jazztage   Leverkusen,Germany


I've been on the road in Europe playing shows with Sonny Rollins. So far three well received
performances in Vienna - Austria, Prague - Czech Republic and last nights' show (from where I am currently writing) Leverkusen, Germany. The great Sheila Jordan was in attendance and I was glad to see my friend Olaf van Paassen here as well.

Olaf van Paassen
Olaf is an independent film maker from The Netherlands, currently working on a documentary of Sonny Rollins and has been very supportive of my work. 

Reiji Maruyama
I also had the opportunity to meet and be interviewed by Reiji Maruyama for Japan's JAZZ LIFE magazine. Reiji is very insightful and asked me some interesting questions about my new recording And So We Carry On, and my working band, as well as my plans for the near future. I had a nice hang with both Reiji and Olaf after the show.

Ina B. Frenz, Me 
I'd like to say that I am glad to hear my friend Ina Frenz is recovering from a successful surgery. I know you couldn't make it to the show but we played some notes for you last night!  
Hope to see you soon Ina ....... 

It's nice being back in Europe, playing to these wonderful audiences, experiencing the people and cultures but I have mixed feelings about being away from home at this time. The storm that hit New York City and the eastern seaboard of the US has been devastating to many areas. I would liked to have been present to offer assistance to those who need it back home. No one in my immediate family was harmed but I know lots of people that haven't had power for over a week and there are many, elderly and others who need help of some sort. I offer my prayers to all those affected. Remember it wasn't just The United States that was impacted. There are difficulties as a result of the storm in already environmentally stricken Haiti, Jamaica and other areas of the Caribbean as well as areas of Canada. Please consider sending some aid to Haiti in whatever form you can.

The intent of my new recording  And So We Carry On  - music for the people, addresses the impact of events in our lives like the Superstorm Sandy. The music is my offering to help us move forward and empower us through times of collective and/or personal crisis.

If you haven't seen the video about the making of And So We Carry On, you can it view here:


 And So We Carry On holds this week at # 4 on the national Jazz Week Chart - but is flirting with higher standing!  If you haven't picked up the CD yet, the only place you can get the physical copy is from my website. It's available to download on my site and everywhere! 
Click here to:  Buy it Now

Excerpts from the latest review of And So We Carry On -

“There’s nothing syrupy or overly sweet about this music. There’s just plenty of great straight ahead playing from Clifton as he heads various groups through this set of his own compositions as well music by Rogers and Hart and Strouse and Charmin …. Fantastic soloing from Clifton, pianist Monty Alexander, trumpeter Wallace Roney and vibraphonist Warren Wolf along with a slew of other great musicians …. It’s evident that everyone involved were having a joyful, inspired time recording this CD, and you definitely get the same results from listening too.”
-       Bob Cochran / The Cultural Purveyor

You can read the full review here:


I'd like to continue to thank some of the people instrumental in making And So We Carry On

John F. Adams
My man John Adams offered his assistance in a variety of ways to this project, as a production assistant but also rendering his critical ear to the process. John is an accomplished musician having been the musical director for many artists like Freddie Jackson and Phyllis Hyman, in addition to work with Harry Belafonte and holding the Assistant Conductor chair for the Broadway musical "Your Arms To Short To Box With God".

John and I go way back. We formed the production company - Change The World Productions in the early 1980's along with Victor See Yuen, who performs on some tracks on the recording as well. Needless to say it was invaluable having John's expertise along for the ride!


Todd Whitelock, Brian McKenna, Me, Andy Taub


I was very fortunate to find Andy Taub and Brooklyn Recording Studio. 
Andy was recommended to me by Steve Jordan, who performs on 4 tracks on the CD. As well as being a superlative drummer/musician Steve Jordan is also an accomplished producer. When he recommended Brooklyn Recording I had to take notice. I'm glad I did, as it's proprietor Andy Taub is a beautiful guy, extremely skilled and took personal interest in the project. His studio is on par with any of the top studios in NYC and is imbued with his warm personality. Andy's engineering and studio made for the right combination to record this project.


I had heard of Todd Whitelock through the grapevine but hadn't had the opportunity to work with him before. He came on board as a result of my manager Brian McKenna's strong suggestion to have him mix the recording. I was a little skeptical at first, not because of any doubts in Todd's ability, but because for me, the recording engineer can be closer to the project as he/she is already familiar with my direction and the music. In this case Todd's fresh set of ears and expertise proved an exception to my position.
Working with Todd was a pleasure and we shared and exchanged ideas that ultimately enhanced the performances and overall elevated the recording.


I was also fortunate to have Marc Wilder, one of the top mastering engineers in the business on board to master And So We Carry On. I first met Marc at Sony Studios,NYC when he took on the task of mastering Sonny Rollins' "Without A Song/911Concert" recording. I knew what Marc had to work with as these were live recorded tracks not from the greatest source. I was very impressed with what he was able to achieve from what he had to work with. Marc's participation was the needed icing on the audio cake. 

And Thanks to Brian McKenna and MGP for helping me put it all together and releasing And So We Carry On, on his label - Daywood Drive Records.


From here we continue to:
Luxembourg - Nov. 8                                     
Geneva - Nov.12
London - Nov. 16
Barcelona - Nov. 20

I hope to see you at one of these shows!


I've been told that the CD cover for And So We Carry On is one of the most eye catching covers to come along in a while. In my next blog I'll discuss how it came about, and the major players involved. I encourage you to subscribe and share your thoughts.

Till then - Best Wishes ........