Reflections is a collection of original compositions by Japan-based trumpeter Neil Stalnaker. This is a moody and introspective set reflecting his experiences in northern Japan after the March 2011 earthquake/tsunami to the birth of his third child Momochan to his 2012 diagnosis and battle with throat cancer (for the 2nd time).
Joining Neil on this recording is Japanese pianist/composer/arranger Ayaki Saito. Ayaki is a very busy pianist in Tokyo and throughout Japan and Asia. Ayaki is also a Yamaha artist/clinician and a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
All compositions by Neil Stalnaker. Recorded at Meguro River Studio, Tokyo, Japan in August 2012.
Usually we think of the phrase, "calm before the storm." With this song I was thinking about the "calm after the storm" as I stood in the city of Kamaishi on the northeastern coast of Japan after the March 11, 2011 tsunami. I was standing in the street of a neighborhood in which every house was completely destroyed. Occasionally, someone passed by seemingly lost or walking in a daze or maybe still in shock.
In 1991-92, I went through the full course of several operations and eight weeks of radiation therapy because of stage IV throat cancer. Now 20 years later, I find myself once again going through a similar process because of the recurrence of throat cancer. I thought, maybe naively 20 years ago, that I had "beaten it." However, recently I heard people using the word remission. Honestly, it had never dawned on me that my cancer situation 20 years ago hadn't ended. Even now its difficult for me to think it had only gone into remission and has always been there.
I spent hours a day, day after day, month after month, going to the beautiful and serene riverside location to practice. Hopefully, in this composition I captured some of the feelings I experienced. Almost everyday, an eagle came and circled overhead for a few minutes while I played.
In the middle of this cancer situation, on March 2, 2012, an angel came to assist me. Thank you Momochan...
Recently, while briefly living near the Kitakami River in the northern Japan prefecture of Iwate, I started waking up at 4-5am and going to the river for walks and photography. I was amazed at the enormous amount of activity...bugs on dew-covered plants, eagles flying overhead and fishing jumping.
Now We Wait
Sometimes we find ourselves in an incredibly stressful life situation. We've done everything imaginable to resolve it but, it seems like we've "hit the wall." So, in the wee hours of the night, we wait. We wait for an answer from within...
Almost everyday and evening I was near the Tonan Bridge practicing. What a beautiful location to practice. A huge open space with mountains on all sides in the background. The beautiful Kitakami River flowing swiftly down from the mountains.
***Bonus*** FREE DOWNLOAD (eBook)
Cancer? Now What? by Neil Stalnaker
On December 16, 2013, I sat in a cafe in Tokyo thinking about
the ordeal with throat cancer over the past two years and the
lingering effects from my first experience with stage IV throat
cancer in 1991. The following is stream of consciousness writing
from an afternoon in Shinjuku (Tokyo).
I hope this gets into the hands of those who can use it immediately...
You will get a PDF (3MB) file.
released 23 March 2013
Neil Stalnaker - trumpet
Ayaki Saito - piano
Norihiko Hibino - engineer/mixing/mastering
All compositions by Neil Stalnaker (BMI).
Recorded at Meguro River Studio, Tokyo, Japan
Recorded in August 2012.