All You Can Do

All You Can Do

I thought I would add a little “track by track” analysis to better explain what I was thinking when I assembled this album.


“St. Germain Street” is the name of the Main Street of the hometown of my childhood. Though I have not lived there in nearly 40 years, I still harbor some fond memories of this street. These memories are largely comprised of sunny days riding my bike down this street or walking home from high school. This typically meant hearing passing car radios through open windows playing tunes by Burt Bacharach or The Beatles. I tried to give this song that same sort of “sunny ambiance.” The Beatles songs “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” were meant to be an homage to the childhood places of Paul and John and this is what I had in mind too.


“Sweet on You” and “Mary” are obviously for my wife. For years I resisted writing personal love songs and now, in one fell swoop, I put two of them back to back. Also, for years people remarked about how the majority of my songs were in minor keys and here there are two in major keys (E major and A major respectively).


“Astoria” is a minor blues set in Nuevo Tango rhythm. Initially the title “Astoria” was a nod to Astor Piazzolla, the progenitor of Nuevo Tango, but here the lyrics imply that “Astoria” is a place where peace and colorful scenes are all around.


“Amber Dawn” is an electric guitar excursion where I actually use guitar effects, which is rare for me. Again the tune is in a sunnier C major and E flat major.


“Butterfly” was inspired by nature. I wrote the song after observing the circuitous flight of a monarch butterfly and trying to write a line to match that meandering flight, ergo, the measures of 2/4 inserted against the 3/4 Musette Waltz. This undoubtedly is my most popular tune.


“Afraid of the Dark” overtly deals with Yin and Yang and cosmic duality. The lyrics point to the contradictions in all people and how dealing with darkness may be the only way to conquer it. Perhaps this is too big a concept to address in less than 4 minutes but it is, none the less, my intent.

“Beatnik Pie” is a sort of Gypsy Jazz/Bebop combo and is one of the more popular tunes in my live set.

“Afraid of the Dark” overtly deals with Yin and Yang and cosmic duality. The lyrics point to the contradictions in all people and how dealing with darkness may be the only way to conquer it. Perhaps this is too big a concept to address in less than 4 minutes but it is, none the less, my intent.
“Beatnik Pie” is a sort of Gypsy Jazz/Bebop combo and is one of the more popular tunes in my live set.


“Up Town” was used as the main title’s theme for the documentary “A Life Well Played” and again is a tune those who attend my gigs may readily acquaint with my writing.


“Johnny Appleseed” deals with the ongoing quest of all songwriters and musicians, i.e. the hope that the music we make can connect with others and plant some small seeds of happiness. It fits nicely with the overall concept of “All You Can Do (is all you can do”).


“Bangkok Sunset” was literally inspired by a sunset I witnessed there in 1994 and ends the album’s arc with a sort of “James Bond” ending.

Picure This Review

This should appear in the LA Jazz Scene online publication, but it won’t be until December. When that happens I’ll post a link to the review. Until then, I wanted to share.

Reynold D. Philipsek
Picture This

Reynold D. Philipsek has always loved overdubbing his guitars to create warm and varied musical landscapes. He began on the guitar when he was nine, joined the Musicians Union at 14, and has released over 40 CDs of his originals since 1989. While he has spent periods playing rock, his main focus in recent years has been jazz and Django Reinhardt-style Gypsy jazz. Among his main influences are Django, Johnny Smith, and Joe Pass although he has long had his own sound. Because he is based in Minnesota, he is not as famous as his talents deserve.

On Picture This, Reynold D. Philipsek performs 11 of his originals; six of them played solely by himself. While one song, the moody “Someday Maybe,” finds him joined by keyboards, bass, percussion and harmonica, and four other songs are duets (or a trio) with bass, keyboards, accordion, and/or percussion, the main emphasis throughout is on Philipsek’s guitars.

The concise performances are musical sketches that set moods and rhythmic patterns while creating a variety of colorful ensembles. The opener, “Bohemian Flats,” is both hypnotic and rockish while “Chrysanthemum” finds the guitarist creating more of a Django Reinhardt sound although the song is more modern. “Tango Blue” is a slightly eccentric electric tango. Philipsek switches to mandolin on “Silesian Mist,” jamming over assertive rhythmic patterns played by bass and percussion. “Someday Maybe,” which has Clint Hoover’s harmonica in the ensemble, is a touching and wistful ballad.

“Matka” has Philipsek playing a fluent lead over his guitars and Denny Malmberg’s accordion, “Goatee and Shades” is a swinging minor-toned blues in which the leader’s Djangoish guitar floats over Matt Senjem’s bass while “Rara Avis” (a relative of “Bye Bye Blues”) sounds like a piece that Reinhardt could have written in the mid-1940s. The vamp piece “Vienna Blues” (which not too surprisingly has some bluesy playing by the guitarist), an energetic and danceable “1969,” and the melodic “Pavane” conclude this fine outing.

Picture This is an excellent all-round showcase for Reynold D. Philipsek’s guitar playing and writing, serving as both a recommended acquisition for his fans and an introduction to those who are not familiar with his talents.

~Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian, and author of 11 books including The Great Jazz Guitarists.

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