A Song With My Father

Greetings! I hope 2012 is off to great beginning for all of you.

Looking back on 2011, one of the most profound musical experiences I had was when I was invited to record trumpet on an album that my father, Mike Nolan, had begun recording trumpet on 34 years earlier, but which was never released.

The Liffey Light Orchestra (www.liffeylight.com) had begun recording their album ‘Filaments‘ in 1977. Musicians such as my father were hired, studios were booked and the recording process was begun… But mid-way through the sessions, life led composer & bandleader Paul Egan along another path and the Orchestra’s unfinished album lay untouched for three and a half decades.

A generation later, The Liffey Light Orchestra re-formed and set about finishing the album. When Paul got in touch with me to see if I could finish the trumpet parts which my dad had begun, I jumped at the opportunity.

I arrived at the studio and sound engineer Philip Begley played the tape of one of the tracks that my father had begun recording 34 years earlier – a composition by Paul Egan called ‘No Road Back‘. As I listened to the louds and softs of his trumpet, the distinctive vibrato, the blasting confidence of his high register, my mind was flooded with memories of my father. Behind every note, I could ‘hear’ his qualities, his joys, his sorrows, each note like a mirror reflecting something of his spirit from his private inner world to the outer world we all share. It was almost like he was there in the studio with us.

After 34 years in the making, The Liffey Light Orchestra released their debut album ‘Filaments‘ (available on iTunes) in October 2011. Seeing my father’s name and my own name listed side by side in the credits has left me both proud and humbled. My father and I had often talked about playing together “someday”… But when he died in 2004, we had never had the chance. Apart from jamming with him during my trumpet lessons at home, I simply hadn’t yet reached a level of proficiency that was high enough to perform with him. Eight years after his death, ‘No Road Back‘ is the first time I have ever played with my father – his trumpet recorded before my birth, my trumpet recorded after his death. It’s amazing how music can sometimes be more than just music. Music can facilitate a closeness of souls, a kind of closeness that is beyond the limitations of time and place, even death.

I took a walk through the streets of Dublin – a city I love more and more as time goes by – and made a video to accompany ‘No Road Back‘. You can hear the song and come with me on a walk through the streets of Dublin here: Hope you enjoy it!

I thought I’d also take this opportunity to share a video of my father performing on ‘The Late Late Show‘, Ireland’s premier talk show, with his jazz quintet back in the 90s.

My thanks to Paul Egan for inviting me to be a part of The Liffey Light Orchestra. For more information see www.liffeylight.com

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