The Island Song 

    I wrote The Island Song as an assignment for a jazz composition class with my teacher James E. Smith in 1999. The song's chord structure is based on George Gershwin’s "I Got Rhythm" which is in a rounded binary form (AABA) and is 32 measures long (without the verse). My assignment was to write a bebop/hard-bop melody based on Gershwin's tune. I made the song twice as long (64 measures) so that the chords would last twice as long also. I then wrote the melody. The melody is influenced a lot by two songs - St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins and Christopher Columbus by Chu Berry. I also added in devices from bebop like the use of diminished arpeggios and tritone substitutions. The bridge (B section) of The Island Song is an improvised solo over the chord changes (the easy way out). The feel of the song is a Calypso-Jazz feel similar to the way St. Thomas is played by a lot of jazz musicians.
    I tried to record The Island Song 3 times before I had a band that could play it right. Maybe that was because of the form being longer or the song having so many different elements to it. I don't know why. To me it's just a simple tune but that is probably because I wrote it. I found the right team of players in 2006. I had John Toedtman on bass, Jeff Hufnagle on piano, Jim Leslie on drums, and myself on guitar. This group was able to interpret exactly what I heard in my head when I wrote this song.
     Kids really love The Island Song a lot (but they don't like playing it because it is hard to play). I have a lot of fun playing this tune and I always get a big response from the audience when I play it live. I hope that you enjoy listening to the recording of The Island Song!