The Pulse: The Music of Bob Stata

Total Time — 2:08:17

DISC ONE — 65:31

  1. MAÑANA TIME 3:06
  2. CLAUDIA, MY DEAR 4:20
  3. SHADOW DREAM 3:52
  4. BARRY’S MAMBO 3:38
  5. THEN AND NOW 6:23
  6. THE CHOICE 3:49
  8. SLIDE 4:12
  9. SONG FOR AKIRA 3:01
  10. NEW DAWN 5:41
  12. GET THIS 2:08
  13. THE PULSE 3:08
  14. COMING HOME 2:49
  15. SONG FOR KAI 3:09
  16. STICKY SEED 0:16
  • All compositions by Bob Stata – Ilikai Music BMI

DISC TWO — 62:46

  1. UN POCO LOCO 4:55
    (Bud Powell)
    EMI Longitude Music BMI
    (Charlie Parker)
    Atlantic Music Corp. BMI
  3. POINCIANA 9:12
    (Buddy Bernier/Nat Simon, based on an
    arrangement by Ahmad Jamal)
    Anne-Rachel Music Corp. ASCAP
    (Matt Dennis/Thomas Adair)
    Music Sales Corp. ASCAP
    (Charlie Parker)
    Atlantic Music Corp. BMI
  6. WINDOWS 5:06
    (Chick Corea)
    MCA Music Publishing Co. ASCAP
    (Nancy Hamilton/William Lewis)
    Chappell & Co. Inc. ASCAP


  8. UN POCO LOCO 5:46
    (Bud Powell)
    EMI Longitude Music BMI
    (Charlie Parker)
    Atlantic Music Corp. BMI
  10. WINDOWS 7:06
    (Chick Corea)
    MCA Music Publishing Co. ASCAP
  • Produced by Paul Hofmann
  • Disc One recorded August 23, 2004 and August 8, 2005 at Soundtrek Studio I, Kansas City, MO
  • Engineered by Ron Ubel / Mastering by Jeff Schiller
  • Disc Two recorded October 22-23, 2002 at Dynamic Recording, Greece, NY
  • Engineered by Aaron Ripley; original sessions produced by Devin Kelly
  • Digital editing by Mike Farrington / Final mastering by Jeff Schiller
  • Art direction and design by Keith Kavanaugh

The Pulse:
The Music of Bob Stata

“Jazz at its best signifies the vitality
of the individual.”


After complaining of headaches for some time, jazz bassist-composer Bob Stata – my friend and colleague of twenty years – suddenly and surprisingly found himself diagnosed with a terminal illness in late-2003. His first response? To write the most upbeat tune imaginable! Bob named this Mañana Time (guitarist Bob Sneider and I have recorded a different version, included on our latest duo album, “Escapade”) – a jaunty Calypso tune reminiscent of Sonny Rollins’ classic St. Thomas. Throughout 2004 and well into 2005, Bob and I became closer than ever before, as the Statas waged a valiant and courageous struggle against Bob’s disease (brain cancer) – until God took him home in June 2005 at age 52.

“The Pulse” is a celebration not only of Bob’s music but also of his life, a life which profoundly touched many. One thing I briefly recalled during the memorial service was my observation that throughout this difficult struggle I never – not even once (and I was with him nearly every week over his final eighteen months) – saw or heard Bob react in anger or in bitterness to his prognosis. Though this would certainly have been justified given the circumstances, Bob instead would ask about me, my daughter, and my students! Or, we’d take thirty minutes to recall some great Herbie Hancock recording we both loved. Always the optimist – this is the rare man Bob was. Though I was his piano teacher (as well as his friend), I thank him for teaching me by example how to dwell on the positive, no matter how bleak things may appear.

Most of the music heard on disc one was created by Bob over the highly stimulating one-year period from December 2003 (when he first received his diagnosis) through December 2004, as Bob’s tremendous burst of creativity concluded with his final composition, The Pulse. It was my great privilege to be of assistance by transcribing Bob’s wonderful musical thoughts throughout these twelve months. Many of the tunes were first improvised by him at his piano (for instance, Shadow Dream); some melodies were simply sung or hummed (including Slide and New Dawn); and at least one – Sticky Seed – was ad-libbed on the double bass as I hurriedly wrote down his notes and rhythms.

From week to week I found myself continually inspired as I wrote down these compositions. My sole aim was to faithfully transcribe Bob’s vital musical ideas without inadvertently adding any of my own, and I recall many instances thinking “Aha! Now, that’s an intriguing harmony…” I also found (and still find) Bob’s titles very interesting. Logically, The Choice was written on Election Day 2004. Coming Home contains a brief melodic snippet of the Beatles’ tune She’s Leaving Home. Slide refers to two things: the glissandi and grace notes which decorate the melody, and the half-step harmonic movement of the roots (the bass line’s ‘sliding around’). Though only Bob knew for certain what he had in mind, I cannot help but think of The Pulse as representing his brave inner spirit…a pulse which is so clearly evident in every composition here.

Much of this music draws upon styles Bob knew and loved so intimately: bebop harmonies and melodies, romantic and impressionistic piano pieces, Afro-Cuban and Latin rhythms, and blues. Appropriately, echoes of the great jazz pianist-composers Tadd Dameron, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Barry Harris are heard throughout, as it was these men whose innovative syntheses of these genres so informed Bob’s musical personality (as well as my own). Claudia, My Dear (named for Bob’s devoted wife) is a direct reference to Monk’s Ruby, My Dear. Song for Akira and Song for Kai are Bob’s loving blues-based tributes to his children. Barry’s Mambo, another bluesy tune, is a fitting tribute to Barry Harris. Strollin’ With the Cats is dedicated to his close friends Bob Sneider, trumpeter John Sneider, drummer Mike Melito, and – I am honored to say – yours truly.

Disc one’s material consists exclusively of solo piano performances and was recorded over a two-day period, while separated by a year. The reason? With Bob’s approval, I recorded the first ten of these tunes before he proceeded to compose six additional compositions. I will always be thankful that he was pleased with my interpretations. Sadly, simple logistics prevented me from being able to schedule my recording his final six pieces while Bob was still here to give them a listen. (I am sure he has heard them from heaven, however…)

As with so many MHR projects over the years, this music was recorded at Ron Ubel’s Soundtrek Studio in Kansas City. I must say, Ron outdid himself with the piano sound (which is no small feat; Soundtrek’s engineering has always been consistently superb). I may have had more fun playing Ron’s instrument this time around than during any other session since our affiliation began – back in 1992. Aware of Bob’s long relationship with the double bass, I enjoyed playing in the lower register of the piano more than I usually do – in some cases ‘pretending I were Bob,’ I suppose. I also recorded – and have included here – new versions of tracks from Bob’s two fine earlier CD releases: the lovely Then and Now (originally recorded by Bob in 1998 and released on “Solid State”) and the brisk blues tune Get This (the title track from a swingin’ 2003 session).

While Bob was a very talented composer, he was more widely known as a bass player. And so, I am pleased to present the selections heard on disc two (the ‘bonus disc’), all of which stem from a 2002 trio session led by drummer Devin Kelly, and featuring Bob’s wonderful bass playing. While this music was never intended for commercial release, the three of us very much enjoyed playing together. At the time of this session (October 2002) I had of course played numerous times with Bob over the years, but not yet with Devin; and it is a testament to Devin’s leadership that the group sounds as cohesive as it does. I sincerely appreciate his allowing me to ‘borrow’ this session to include as part of “The Pulse.”

The trio music is primarily bebop-oriented (given the two Charlie Parker classics and Bud Powell’s frenetic masterpiece Un Poco Loco), with a few standards included (How High The Moon and Everything Happens to Me, both of which the beboppers loved playing; and our version of Poinciana, based on my transcription of the famous arrangement by pianist Ahmad Jamal). We also include the engaging waltz Windows, an early piece from pianist-composer Chick Corea.

I sincerely hope you enjoy “The Pulse” – I am in love with the material and will continue to perform new versions of Bob’s beautiful pieces in concerts and other venues. This music will always hold a significant place in my heart, as will my many fond memories of Bob.

Paul Hofmann