Quiet Night Thoughts is my debut album that was released on July 10 2020. It features 5 original compositions written by myself and an additional one by Eri Chichibu, with each piece dealing with varying aspects of mindfulness and presence.
In dealing with these themes through music, I discovered early on that the artistic aesthetic would have to be autodidactic, meaning that music’s poetic narrative will be self evident intuitively, since the act of instinctively deriving artistic intent fully encapsulates the spirit of contemplation. Art often transcends the linguistic framework in which we base our cerebral pursuits, and it is in this transcendence that we rediscover love and beauty. As put simply in the words of Shakespeare:
“Sir, I love you more than words can wield the matter; dearer than eye-sight, space, and liberty, beyond what can be valued, rich or rare; no less than life, with grace, health, beauty, honor; as much as child e’er loved, or father found; a love that makes breath poor, and speech unable; beyond all manner of so much I love you.”Goneril (King Lear)
The title “Quiet Night Thoughts” is a reference to the poem 静夜思 (Quiet Night Thought) by 李白 (Li Bai), who wrote this while trying to reconcile both his duty as a Confucian Scholar and his growing disconnect from his hometown. One of the pillars of Confucian thought is “Filial Piety”, a respect for one’s own ancestors, and so being away from his family presented himself with a conundrum that challenged the tenets of Confucianism. The content of the poem itself is of 李白 contemplating these thoughts, and this story serves as inspiration for the album’s themes and title.
[静夜思 (Quiet Night Thought)
Bright moonlight before my bed;
I suppose it’s frost on the ground.
I raise my head to see the bright moon,
then lower it, thinking of my home.]
The painting in the album cover is one part of a triptych entitled “Say Nothing, Do Nothing, Be Nothing” by Choo Kuan Yeoh (a Malaysian painter). Its interaction of different blacks as well as the textural contrast of different surfaces embodies the philosophical core of this album, in the words of Choo Kuan: to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing, but just ride on the thoughts into the night.
I wrote the piece “Marco” after the death of my friend Marco Birro. We were in many labs and ensembles together at Berklee, and we used to show each ideas that we had been working on. In memory of him, I turned one of these sketches into “Marco” in an attempt to capture what our friendship was like, brief but fleeting.
- A Prayer in Spring
- Inner Monologue
- Blackberry Winter
- Wong Foo Jeng – Piano (1, 2, 3, 5, 6)
- John Koh – Upright Bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- Ilya Blazh – Drums (1, 2, 3, 5)
- Robert Mac Vega-Dowda – Trumpet (2, 3, 5)
- Ethan Santos – Trombone (1)
- Anton Derevyanko – Tenor Saxophone (2)
- Derek Song – Violin (2, 4, 6)
- Myra Choo – Violin (2, 4, 6)
- Jace Kim – Viola (2, 4, 6)
- Yi-Ming Hsu – Cello (2, 4, 6)
Produced by Wong Foo Jeng
Mixed and Mastered by Christopher Jimmy Lim
Recorded at Q Division Records by Colin Fleming
Compositions by Wong Foo Jeng (1, 2, 3, 4, 6) and Eri Chichibu (5)
Album Artwork by Yeoh Choo Kuan