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Harold Fethe likes to work out new treatments for familiar melodies and song structures. He thinks of it as “…taking the song somewhere it always wanted to go, but was never invited by other artists.” Simply changing the tempo to “jump,” “swing,” or worst of all, “jazz up” a standard is never the goal.
Red River Valley was part of his jazz ensemble’s performance repertoire well before this recording. The only guidance on the bandstand was to think of a Western landscape, and play what comes to you as the camera pans across the scene. No strict rhythm, focus on the melody, and respond to the alternate harmonies in the arrangement’s unusual chord changes.
Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Buenz, who’d played the arrangement in live performances with Fethe for awhile, brought in a fretless electric bass for this recording. Its timbre and responsiveness, and Jeff’s inventive yet accessible playing, provide open, free countermelodies that work with Fethe's guitar.
From this valley they say you are goin'
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are takin' the sunshine
That has brightened our pathway a while
Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy who loves you so true
released September 26, 2016
Guitar: Harold Fethe
Fretless bass: Jeff Buenz
Engineers: Scott Sorkin, Tim Volpicella