Goin Home A Retrospective
Release Date: June 10, 2016
Catalog #: BR8946
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century

Goin’ Home: A Retrospective

Gay Pearson’s Eclectic Ensemble

Gay Pearson composer, piano

John Lockwood bass
Phil McGowan drums
Tracy McMullen tenor sax
Lea Pearson flute
Shannon Allen cello

GOIN’ HOME… A RETROSPECTIVE is pianist and composer Gay Pearson’s second release on Big Round Records. The album is a live recording of her most recent annual chamber-jazz concert, featuring an eclectic ensemble with Gay Pearson on piano, John Lockwood on bass, Phil McGowan on drums, Tracy McMullen on saxophone, Lea Pearson on flute, and Shannon Allen on cello. This varied ensemble performs a wide variety of music with different instrumental combinations, from Astor Piazzolla to classic tunes of Chick Corea, Harold Arlen and Jerome Kern, to more contemporary original compositions by Pearson herself.

Quoting Pearson, “My compositions do not always begin with a simple idea of a single chord, but it is important to note that I always hear harmony first, out of which melodies may or may not evolve. My favorite and easiest approach is to change one note of a chord at a time and see where that takes me, or to start with a harmonic sequence, then decide how long it should be, at what intervals it will repeat.” This can be seen primarily in the sequence she utilized in her piece Chromatic Exploitations.

In her piece Pent-Up Love, Pearson fuses pentatonic riffs with inspiration from saxophonist Tracy McMullen’s My Truculent Paradise and suggestions of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, creating an entirely new and energetic contemporary jazz tune filled with technical improvisational skills and quartal harmonies.

Sea Journey and So Far Away, written by Chick Corea and Carole King, respectively, are co-titles of Pearson’s 2004 studio release. Inspired at the time by her move back from her home in Trenton NJ to Falmouth ME, Pearson was inspired to revisit and rework these pieces as well as in advance of her next move, “Goin’ Home” again, ultimately back to Newburyport MA. These newest versions are refined live performances, including a compelling bass/piano duo within Pearson’s arrangement of So Far Away.

Also revisited was her milestone and probably unique arrangement of Romberg’s Softly As In A Morning Sunrise which included 6 reharmonizations for 6 duets, each for different combinations of flute, cello, viola and bass from her 1998 release Alone Independent and Unresolved.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 C-Saw Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 1:23
02 Michelangelo 70 Astor Piazzolla, arr. W. Thomas-Mifune for cello and piano Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 3:54
03 Softly As in a Morning Sunrise Sigmund Romberg, arr. & reharmonized, Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, synth; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 4:05
04 Sea Journey Chick Corea Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 9:59
05 So Far Away Carole King, piano & bass arr. Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 9:05
06 Chromatic Exploitations Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 6:01
07 Piece of Cake Michel Camilo Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 11:25
08 Peacocks Jimmy Rowles Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 7:45
09 The Song Is You Harold Arlen Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 7:28
10 Goin' Home Russell Ferrante Gay Pearson, synth; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 6:05
11 Positive Vorticity Advection Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 3:06
12 Pent-Up Love Gay Pearson Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 7:26
13 Arise Lynne arriale, arr. Anthony McDonald Gay Pearson, piano; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums; Lea Pearson, flute; Shannon Allen, cello 5:34
14 Stick Slap Alan Pasqua Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 5:04
15 This Will Be My Shining Hour Harold Arien Gay Pearson, piano; Tracy McMullen, tenor saxophone; John Lockwood, bass; Phil McGowan, drums 7:30

All tracks recorded live October 18, 2015 at Unitarian Church Parish Hall in Newburyport MA

Session Producer Gay Pearson
Session Engineer Timothy Phillips

Cover Photography Joanne Arnold

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Brandon MacNeil

Audio Director Jeff LeRoy
Mastering Shaun Michaud, Nate Hunter

Art & Production Director Brett Picknell
Graphic Design Ryan Harrison, Brittney Tambeau

Marketing Morgan MacLeod

Artist Information

Gay Pearson

Gay Pearson


Gay Pearson received a B.M. in applied piano from Lawrence University in '65 and a B.S. in Meteorology from Purdue University in '83. During her twelve years of employment in air quality evaluation with New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection in Trenton, she also studied jazz harmony, theory and improvisation. Since relocating to Maine, she is finishing her eighth year of studying advanced improvisation and composition with Vardan Ovsepian, first in her home town of Newburyport MA, then via skype.

John Lockwood


John Lockwood, who teaches at Berklee, says, “I basically learned on the bandstand. I got called for these gigs that I shouldn’t have taken, I suppose, looking back. People just proceeded to shout and scream at me, and that’s how I learned. Piecing things together. So when I teach it’s the same thing. A student walks in, I teach them the tune, and—bang—we’re off. It’s pretty much playing all the time. Once we get into it there’s sheets and things like that, but it’s mainly playing and then talking about concepts. To me, it’s the best kind of learning. You learn fast.” His career highlights include a B.M. from the Berklee College of Music and performances with Gary Burton, Dance Umbrella, Donal Fox, the Fringe, Eddie Harris, Johnny Hartman, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Dave Liebman, Joe Maneri, Tate Montolia, Makoto Ozone, Joe Pass, Danilo Perez, Pharoah Sanders, Carol Sloane, Clark Terry, Kenny Werner, James Williams, and others.

Phil McGowan


Currently, drummer Phil McGowan can be found throughout greater Boston playing with some of the top jazz musicians in the area, who have included Bruce Gertz, Marshall Wood, Billy Pierce, Greg Hopkins, Russ Hoffmann and Ted Casher, among others. A New England native, McGowan was born in Newburyport MA in 1985. At an early age, McGowan joined with his brother and a local pianist to form a jazz trio, and began his career as a freelance musician. At this time he also began his studies with Les Harris, Jr., who has roots in Newburyport as well. With Harris as a mentor, McGowan was able to hone his skills by sitting in with various legendary musicians at the Press Room in Portsmouth, NH through his middle and high school years. Later on, McGowan was hired as a sideman by some of these musicians, including Herb Pomeroy, Dick Johnson, Ted Casher and Volker Nahrmann. McGowan holds a Music Performance degree in Percussion, with Jazz Studies concentration, from the University of Southern Maine, where he continued his studies with Les Harris while gaining familiarity with different types and traditions of music from around the world. Through his years at music school McGowan continued to freelance, finding himself in concert halls, clubs, music festivals and cruise ships, which ventured into Europe, Africa and Asia. Currently he can be heard weekly at the Andiamo restaurant in Newburyport MA.

Tracy McMullen


Tracy McMullen is an assistant professor of music at Bowdoin College. She has performed with Pauline Oliveros, Anthony Davis, Dana Reason and many others and can be heard on the Cadence jazz label.

Lea Pearson


A teacher and performer for more than 35 years, Lea Pearson studied music, education, psychology and anatomy and holds a BA degree from Hampshire College, an MA from Stanford University and a Doctorate in flute from The Ohio State University. She is a Fulbright scholar and the author of one book, more than 15 articles, and numerous resources on body use. A Certified Health Coach, she is educated in the Alexander Technique and licensed by Andover Educators, the leaders in injury prevention for musicians. Pearson has performed and presented residencies, workshops, classes and private coaching at more than 40 universities and music schools, military bases, festivals, conferences and conventions across the USA and Europe. She is a founding member of Dr. Tony’s Original Ragtime Band and former Artistic Director of the UUNIVERSE! Chamber Music Series.

Shannon Allen


USM student and cellist Shannon Allen is currently pursing a degree in music performance at USM’s School of Music (class of 2015). Born and raised in Portland Maine, Shannon began his cello studies with Katherine Graffam. He subsequently studied with Paul Ross of the Portland String Quartet, and currently studies with William Rounds at USM. He has been an active freelance musician throughout New England for well over a decade, and he enjoys performing in many different genres. Allen serves on the faculty of the Portland Conservatory of Music.


C-SAW is built on a C7 alt C#m7 vamp. Starting with measure 7, techniques are used that bring out the common tones as well as the tension tones between the two chords, which are not necessarily confined to a whole measure for each chord, and are intended to create seamlessness throughout. I submitted it to two competitions, one for the Red Hedgehog Trio in Boston as a trio for French horn, cello and piano for a concert in Pittsfield MA featuring the Brahms Horn Trio. (The trio got its name from the Red Hedgehog Cafe in Vienna, which was Brahms’ favorite cafe.) Up to two minutes was allowed, but I left it at a little over a minute. The later submission was for a one-minute piece for the 15 Minutes of Fame competition to be performed by the MAN trio for two flutes and piano. I simply increased the tempo to reduce the time by one minute. The performance is for the original instrumentation, plus bass and drums.

– Gay Pearson

My introduction to Piazzolla’s music was through the Princeton University radio station, where I had heard tracks from his last release Tango Zero Hour, which includes Michelangelo 70. Soon after I moved to Maine, I started researching his prolific output. I purchased some arrangements, which included 3 pieces for cello and piano, one of which was Michelangelo 70. Around that time I also performed Le Grande Tango with Loren Pearson at the Portland Conservatory. Since the original instrumentation included three chordal instruments (accordion, piano, guitar) the cello/piano arrangement sounded thin, so I included flute and bass to thicken the texture.

– Gay Pearson

This was the featured work on my 1998 album Alone, Independent and Unresolved, which received regular airplay on Temple University’s WRTI. A year or so later I was commissioned by my bassist Tyrone Brown to be a contributing arranger of this arrangement on his NAXOS chamber jazz release Song Of the Sun.

– Gay Pearson

Sea Journey was made famous by vibraphonist Gary Burton. It is the first half of the title track of my last studio album Sea Journey-So Far Away which was recorded in 2004 in my home in Trenton NJ, and inspired by my upcoming move back to Maine. My engineer at the time was also my drummer. He fortunately had a plethora of percussion instruments, which we decided to take advantage of to overdub and overlay a variety of percussion tracks. As a result the recording has exciting textural buildup. This performance will be quite mellow in comparison.

– Gay Pearson

As noted above, So Far Away is the second half of the title track. Although King’s recording has a folk-rock feel, I heard it as a rock ballad with an R&B feel, and at about half the tempo. However, the bass/piano arrangement I composed is too busy for the faster tempo. So, this performance includes some of both, with the tune and improvisations at the originally intended tempo, and the duet at half tempo.

– Gay Pearson

This piece was inspired by a simple harmonic sequence. Even though there is little room for improvisation, the format is similar to the standard jazz format where there is a head followed by improvised choruses based on the same chord progressions. But here there are two written-out choruses, with no return to the head. As I began to develop ideas, I decided to maintain lyrical lines for the sustained instruments. In contrast, the rhythmic and often percussive drive in the piano uses a variety of chordal techniques, many based on Brazilian rhythms I had been working on and accumulating. Some of the piano part I composed directly into the notation program, without first trying out on piano. Although I originally wrote the piece to submit to the Portland Chamber Music Competition for the required instrumentation of violin, cello and piano, I always had flute in mind instead of violin. For this performance I also included chord changes for the bassist, as I much prefer hearing the music with the fuller sound of the bass range.

– Gay Pearson

Dominican Republic jazz pianist Michel Camilo is one of my favorites. I’ve been listening to his albums for years. I found the sheet music for Piece Of Cake from an issue of Jazz Improv many years ago, and finally decided it was time to learn it and use it as an opportunity to work on some Cuban riffs. It is not a piece of cake to play!

– Gay Pearson

Peacocks is one of my favorite ballads, hauntingly beautiful in part because of its use of chromaticism, which lends itself to interesting harmonic color for soloing. A friend requested I include it.

– Gay Pearson

This is an up-tempo jazz standard I’ve been wanting to perform for the last few years. I’ve always felt the bridge lends itself to the classical sound of an Alberti bass, which I’ve made a point to utilize on last year’s concert, and in some music in this performance.

– Gay Pearson

Goin’ Home is my favorite tune of the Yellow Jackets from their 1981 album. I had decided to include it on this concert well before using it as the title and theme of the concert, bringing my two homes together… from Trenton NJ to Falmouth ME, and ultimately to Newburyport MA.

– Gay Pearson

Vorticity itself is way too complex to give any easy and quick definitions of, as it takes on many different vertical and horizontal shapes, forms, scales, and layers in the atmosphere and troposphere. But basically on the synoptic scale, positive vorticity is clockwise spin in the troposphere caused by troughs and ridges and other embedded waves or height centres. Advection is horizontal motion, so wind flow through a vorticity gradient (change with distance) will produce regions of PVA. PVA could apply to this piece because of the chord progressions coming full circle, plus broken chords in left hand of the piano part creating a rotational effect, all the while with large-scale horizontal motion.

– Gay Pearson

I had originally conceived this piece as very up-tempo based on the use of a permutation I had been using with pentatonic riffs. Though I initially called my piece Pent-up, I think Pent-Up Love is more suitable because my soloing includes a suggestion of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, and because of a recent personal experience with pent-up love. This is my first attempt at a more contemporary sound-ing and up-tempo composition to solo over. Though over the years I worked with quartal harmonies, minor sus chords and soloing in the Dorian mode over pieces such as Coltrane’s Impressions, I had never written anything in that idiom.

– Gay Pearson

Contemporary jazz pianist, Lynne Arriale was caught across the country on 9/11. The only way to get back to her home in NY was to rent a car and drive the whole way. This tune came to her on that journey.

– Gay Pearson

Vardan Ovsepian introduced me to this piece when he relocated to LA. He may also have performed it with drummer Peter Erskine. I love the title and the piece.

– Gay Pearson

I am revisiting this tune, which is also on Alone Independent and Unresolved, applying more advanced and hip soloing based on my years of work with Vardan Ovsepian. Although the harmonic rhythm gives the illusion of a slow and hymn-like melody, it really rips.

– Gay Pearson