The inspiration for this album came to me one summer at the Aspen Music Festival just before I was going to move to Los Angeles. I was touched by the abundant beauty of Aspen and the extraordinary musicians who surrounded me. The composition "Castle Creek Shuffle " is an celebration of that experience.
Moving to Los Angeles proved to be productive and the remainder of tthis CD reflects my time spent in and around LA, beginning with my first impression of LA, "The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful.." The resulting col-lection of tunes, like LA itself, is rather diverse. Two of the compositions are "straight ahead" jazz, two have a distinctly Latin influence (including the arrangement of Caravan as a 7/4 mambo), there are two that have a gospel and blues influence, and the remaining couple simply defy such finite descriptions.
The musicians on Castle Creek Shuffle are some of the finest players I have worked with. Victor Cegarra, Paul DeCastro, Tom Hynes, Tony Lujan, Bart Samolis and Ray Yslas are among the most brilliant young musicians I have met in LA. Their collective backgrounds are kaleidoscopic, including stints with Clark Terry, Woody Herman, the Latin group "Opa-Opa," and the fusion group "Shadowfax."
Chicago is home to Laurence Hobgood and Paul McKee. I met Laurence, truly an accomplished pianist, at the Aspen Music Festival where we performed together for three summers, and Paul and I were fellow graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin.
Paul Romaine, whose enthusiasm borders on epidemic, is from my home town of Denver. He and I go back to Junior High School where we played our first "gig" together with a band called "Euphoria." That "gig" was at a junior high dance in the spring of 1974.
Words cannot describe the feeling Paul and I had driving down Sunset Boulevard, listening to the tape from the just completed session, recalling a time when we were kids fantasizing about recording an album in LA. Because of my experiences both musically and personally with these remarkable players , the making of this album has been one of the most rewarding times of my life.
I hope you enjoy Castle Creek Shuffle as much as I've enjoyed producing it.
-Jeff Benedict, January 1995