Greetings, One & All~
It’s a cold, gray, rainy day in the Sonoran Desert: the perfect opportunity to hunker down in the home office with a hot mug of cinnamon apple spice tea and send out your December 2023 A 440 Newsletter. They say good time passes quickly, so by that measure this year has been oh so good; time now to wind things down, lay the groundwork for a peaceful and prosperous 2024, and savor the flavor of the winter solstice holiday close to the hearth. Be warm, be well and be in touch!
New STC Single
True to form, this year’s twelfth new monthly single release The Feather from your intrepid contemporary instrumental trio STC drops today, December 1st. This one takes me back to the first Return to Forever album Light as a Feather, not so much stylistically as in the acoustic lightness of touch with which you can hear the musicians listening to one another and responding with sensitivity and creativity. This new song and all our previous 2023 releases can be previewed, streamed and downloaded with one easy click on our home page URL below. Enjoy our music in joy, and let us hear from you!
Rob Paulus Project
The sophisticated yet spacious sonic architecture of the new Rob Paulus Project continues to evolve toward year-end completion and a 2024 release. International singing sensation Solvei was in Tucson recently for some creative development of the Solvei: Connection live show here at The Boom Boom Room, and popped in to Saint Cecilia Studios to lay down some exquisite vocal overdubs on the strings-and-skins bed tracks Rob and I recorded earlier this year. Also in the house that day was guitar guru Marshall Jones, adding his masterfully mellifluous touch to Rob’s composition Wait For Me. As always, ace engineer Steven Lee Tracy was at the helm: somewhere Cecilia the Patron Saint of Music is smiling! Watch this space for updates on upcoming overdub sessions with Old Pueblo jazz giants Matt Mitchell on guitar and Jason Carder on trumpet, flugelhorn and French horn.
Pete Swan Presents brings RC3: The R. Carlos Nakai Trio featuring AmoChip Dabney and Will Clipman to Tucson’s premier jazz club The Century Room for two shows at 7 PM and 8:30 PM on Thursday December 28th. This rare hometown appearance by the world’s foremost Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai in a sophisticated musical trialogue with the Old Pueblo’s ubiquitous multi-instrumentalist AmoChip Dabney and your peripatetic pan-global percussionist Will Clipman is the don’t-miss concert event of the holiday season. With a combined 19 GRAMMY nominations and well over 100 albums among them, these three internationally renowned musicians together bring unparalleled depth and breadth and an irrepressible joie de vivre to their exhilarating live shows.
info & tickets at
I can’t think of a sweeter way to ring out the old year and ring in the new than my monthly musical service at Unity in the Valley in Sahuarita AZ with folk-rock goddess, peace warrior and Unity musical director Amber Norgaard on Sunday December 31st at 10 AM. Happy New Year, indeed!
Photos of the Month
Rain in the desert is always a blessing; waking up to this recent rainy sunrise was doubly delicious!
Later that morning the sun broke through and illuminated Harriet III, the third-generation matriarch of our resident Cooper’s hawk family, warming herself high in our Raptor Rapture Tree.
Warmed up and hungry, Harriet proceeded to settle in to the understory of the palo verde tree outside our kitchen window to await a breakfast opportunity.
One-tenth the size of Arizona’s iconic roadrunner but no less fierce, this cactus wren is poised to strike amid the bristling thorns of a cholla: easy to see why it’s our state bird!
J. Edgar the Javelina arrived too late to Hoover up this morning’s feeding. . .
. . . but to my delight he was joined by his new female companion Josephina!
This triptych took lucky timing and a quick shutter finger to capture the kerfuffle between a female Gila woodpecker and a male black-chinned hummingbird over nectar rights at the feeder outside our breakfast room window; I’m happy to report it ended peacefully, with both feathered friends drinking their fill!
I’ll close out this month’s tip-of-the-iceberg portfolio with an impressionistic rendering of the rising full moon, with gratitude for nature’s inspiration here at Rancho Improvisoso.
Poem of the Month
The Tantalizing Nearness
Don’t you love these moments of clarity
when time pauses for a split second
and everything that has ever happened
or ever will happen is happening right now?
Some sniff dismissively at finding wisdom
on the back of a teabag tag, but I’ll take it
wherever and whenever it comes: it might
drive you crazy, but I aspire to live precisely.
Things acquire an air of inevitability when
one simply does the next necessary thing,
not as a chore but as a sacrament: cold rain,
hot tea, the tantalizing nearness to perfection!
© Will Clipman 2023
~May your winter solstice holidays
hold quiet time close to the hearth~
The next iteration of the dream is always the most interesting.
poet ~ percussionist ~ maskmaker ~ storyteller ~ performing artist ~ educator
Close to the Hearth: Your December 2023 A 440 Newsletter
Greetings, One & All~