Comfort Zone – The CD

“This is the sound of unfettered joy”
– Nick DeRiso

Island Jazz from Tom Gates

Comfort Zone CD by Tom Gates

Tom Gates: steel pans, guitars, kalimba, percussion
Glen Fisher: electric and upright basses
Steve Gadd: drums

Sunday Morning (Maroon 5) from the Comfort Zone CD:

Get the Comfort Zone CD or download the tracks from cdbaby here

Download the tracks from iTunes here

Connect The Dots from the Comfort Zone CD:

Comfort Zone CD by Tom Gates


















Thanks to:
Marjorie Mowry, Glen Fisher, Jay McGuigan, Joseph Remy, Steve Gadd, Clarke Rigsby, Peter Sprague, Othello Molineaux.

Special thanks to my long-time friends and musical partners James JT Taylor, Eddie Katz, Emilio Santiago, Jay McGuigan, Nico Gutierrez and Lynn Willard for their heartfelt contributions to this project. Thanks to Marc Katz for photos and video.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

  Tom Gates’ tenor pan created by Leroy Williams. Double 2nd pans by Mappo.

The muted pan heard throughout this recording is a tenor pan originally created by Othello Molineaux. I attached felt pads to the underside of each note to deaden the sound for quiet practicing. It sounded so good that it has become a major voice in my playing and writing – Tom Gates

I was lucky. The first steel pan player I ever saw is one of the best. It was 1972 and Othello Molineaux was jamming with some young jazz students at the University of Miami. I couldn’t believe the sound coming from that oil barrel he was playing. It drew me in and I found myself standing over his shoulder as he made magic with his pan.

I was in Miami to study guitar, but the steel pan was now a big part of my life (we call the instrument a steel pan or just pan, but steel drum is OK too). My dear friend Joseph Remy (JoJo), a talented multi-instrumentalist, played pan in our various bands and introduced me to Leroy “Ali” Williams, the master builder who had made JoJo’s steel drums as well as Othello’s and Jaco Pastorius’, and in 1980 I got my first tenor pan. I’m honored that Othello agreed to play a solo on Pan In A Minor. He soars and I am inspired by him every day.

My musical heroes are the great jazz composers of today. Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Bill Frisell and Ralph Towner have written timeless music. I’ve chosen some of my favorite songs of theirs and tried to do them justice.

I have been recording with my bassist/co-producer Glen Fisher for years. Many late night sessions in my home studio in San Diego exploring sound combinations, grooves and arrangements. A great creative partner and friend. When we conceived the idea for this project, the first question was “who’s on drums?”

I had been spending some time in Phoenix, Arizona doing gigs and hanging with friends and had heard that the legendary drummer Steve Gadd was now living there. Steve Gadd is simply one of the finest musicians on the planet. I had been listening to his impeccable playing since the 1970’s on recordings by artists ranging from Steely Dan and Chick Corea to James Taylor and Paul Simon. I contacted Steve through his website and proposed a session at my old friend Clarke Rigsby’s studio, Tempest Recording, in Tempe and he agreed to do it. Wow.

The sessions were amazing. Watching Steve conceive and perform drum parts on my arrangements was a thrill. Creativity and focus. “I just let the song play me” he said. Steve played fresh ideas on every groove, with perfect time and taste.

I took the tracks back to San Diego to add layers of pans, guitars, bass, chromatic kalimba, percussion, loops…

Peter Sprague is a southern California musical treasure. His guitar solos on Armando’s Rhumba and Mouna Bowa take the songs to a new place. Peter mixed and mastered these tracks at his studio Spragueland and brought clarity and depth to the arrangements. His input and insights are priceless.

– Tom Gates  July 2012