Saw the Fire [Brooker / Fisher / Reid]

Xyra [USA]

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Xyra, voice; Andrew Cann, piano; Don Stapleson, clarinet; Jeff Spencer, bass guitar; David Ray, drums and percussion

XH-C: allow me to start by saying that Roland from the Palers' Project has been a friend to me, since the early days of Xyra & Verborgen. Introduced by National Public Radio personality and then band manager, Richard Fuller, we were humbled to find our music so blessed as to be ordained suitable for a large presence on The Procol Harum website.

Over the years, Roland invited me to contribute to the earlier Palers' compilation project, but there were always some sort of barriers logistically or personnel-wise. Finally and ironically, it was following major surgery after a car accident that the pieces came together. This effort was my first performance, following a C3 (cervical spine fusion). The band got it in eight takes and I got it in three, to my astonishment.

Certainly, Palers and members of PH might find the intro to our tribute selection a little odd. Allow me to explain: in the midst of the arrangement process, Andrew Cann began playing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata on the grand piano in our living room. He noted that this might work well as an intro to Saw the Fire, since the key and the chords are the same. Ha! We wondered if Brooker, Fisher or Reid were conscious of the connection. Since Beethoven is in the public domain, and the entire band loved the idea, we decided to let it stay.

Xyra the Acorn Goddeess (photo by J Matt Senkow)

Our efforts seemed thwarted. Even when we tried to make it happen, this time, several musicians were on tour or unavailable for one reason or another. Anthony Wellington wanted to play bass, but was on tour in Japan with Victor Wooten. My original drummer, Norm Thorne who also underwent surgery, needed more time to recover, and master guitarist, Michael Fath, who wanted to be included, broke his hand. Nevertheless, Andrew Cann had already committed to playing piano and Don Stapleson to playing clarinet. Our plan was to try adding Jeff Spencer on bass, and that was it. Don felt we really needed drums to pull the whole thing together, so Jeff Spencer looked up an old friend: as the healing forces gathered, and came to my aid, so did drummer/percussionist, Dave Ray.

Arranged and produced by: Xyra Harper-Cann, Andrew Cann, Jeff Spencer, Dave Ray and Don Stapleson.

Recorded and engineered by Val Cain, Hallowe'en weekend 2005, and mastered 2 November 2005.

Andrew played a Yamaha grand piano, Dave played a Yamaha custom rock set supplied by the studio, with his own snares. Jeff normally plays guitar, so his bass is 'a Yamaha cheapie', bought from the music store he used to teach at for around $125, including gig-bag. Don uses a Buffet R-13 clarinet, Genusa mouthpiece, Bonade ligature, Vandoren V-12 #4 reeds.
Our studio of choice was one we had never used before Avalon Recording Studios of Bethesda, Maryland. One of the reasons we chose it was because it has a grand piano and two isolation booths. Avalon also boasts Grammy winners on its client roster, and a solid reputation among artists: what a find! When we arrived, we were expecting Damon, the owner, to run the boards: Val Cain, the engineer he asked to fill in for him, seemed too young, at first. However, he proved to be one of the most brilliant with whom any of us had worked! All members involved themselves in the production. After making a few final tweaks the following day, Val played back a mastered version worth showing the world. Many thanks to Andrew, Don, Jeff, Dave and Val! All of us would like to express gratitude to Roland, for suggesting the song ... and Brooker, Fisher, and Reid for writing it! Developing our rendition was a challenging, but most gratifying  endeavour!


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Jeff and Xyra
Drummer Dave Ray Jeff and Xyra in the studio
Dave's shirt is in honour of his team, The Giants, winning the football game that day. Jeff's USMC shirt commemorates Marine Marathon day, which he missed to do the recording.
Andrew, Xyra, Dave
Listening to playback Andrew and Jeff in the studio
Val Cain again
Val at Avalon (equipment listed here): the board was the bigger one, as Xyra used the bigger studio. Don during the recording of this track