Three Musicians


pianist * composer * recording artist



JOAN STILES piano, arrangements

JOEL FRAHM, tenor saxophone (soprano-track 4)

MATT WILSON drums (except tracks 6, 7, 8)

Produced by Joan Stiles and David Berger

Recorded by Mike Maricano at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY

Mixed by Alex Venguer - Brooklyn, NY

Mastered by Oscar Zambrano - Zampol Productions, NY, NY

Graphic Design by Joan Stiles and Samantha Berry

Collage Art by Joan Stiles

Joan Stiles’ compositions are published by Oo-Bla-Dee Music (SESAC)

My favorite songs

Hello, Beautiful

One of These Days

One Funky Cat


  1. 1.  Everything’s Coming Up Roses 

  2. 2.  In the Sunshine of My Funny Valentine’s Love

  3. 3.  West End Boogie

  4. 4.  You Don’t Know What Love Is

  5. 5.  Lucky to Be Me

  6. 6. All the Things You Are

  7. 7.  Blood Count

  8. 8.  O.W.

  9. 9.  Introspection

  10. 10. Nutty

  11. 11. Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?/Can’t Buy Me Love

  12. 12. Bebopicity

On the way to the recording studio, when the F train pulled into the Fort Hamilton Parkway station, there was Joel, standing on the platform with his saxophones. He was centered and framed by the subway doors, positioned exactly across from where I was sitting. Laughing at the Jungian synchronicity of it all, we knew it was a good sign.

I remember the first time Matt, Joel, and I played together with no bass player—we had so much fun! That’s when I knew I wanted us to record with this instrumentation. Without the bass’ insistent heartbeat, my left hand was liberated and we became freer to interact—to shift between different grooves, improvise counterpoint, make up “on the spot” reharmonizations and use “space” as an organizational and framing element.

Listening to the tracks, I can still feel the atmosphere of intense concentration and open-eared, open-hearted interplay within which we explored a wide range of emotions. Themes of LOVE gone right (“My Funny Valentine,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Lucky to Be Me,” “All the Things You Are”) win out over LOVE gone wrong (“You Don’t Know What Love Is”). Existential issues are confronted in Strayhorn’s “Blood Count,” and on Monk’s “Introspection,” we give voice to the fleeting fluctuations of mood that we move through in our inner lives. We get down to the basic pulses and drives of the blues on Mary Lou Williams’ “O.W.” and on my “West End Boogie.” We enjoy getting “Nutty” (taking Monk’s title quite literally), and we pay homage to jazz composers, Gillespie and Dameron on my “Bebopicity.” In our MONEY medley, we comment on the recent financial crisis, pitting the desperation of “Brother, Can you Spare a Dime?” against the non-materialistic “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” Maybe we’re doing a little whistlin’ in the dark, but we begin the program by asserting that “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.”

LATEST RELEASE on Oo-Bla-Dee Records

Preparing for the project, I spent months conceptualizing, arranging and composing, but at the sessions, we got into some “good trouble” and the material evolved. Two intended selections were dropped on the digital equivalent of the “cutting room floor” (imagine zeros and ones as cutouts by Matisse or stenciled numbers by Jasper Johns). And, three saxophone/piano duets (originally recorded for video) were included in this collection for their relaxed, spontaneous feel and color change. 

I have long felt an affinity for the medium of collage—the work of Schwitters, Bearden, Rauschenberg and especially, Braque and Picasso. Their use of ephemera and juxtaposition (which makes them modern) influenced my approach. On “Valentine”/”Sunshine,” for example, we construct a musical “combine” (Rauschenberg’s term) by using three themes—the two in the titles, plus one by Bach. On “Lucky to Be Me,” I improvise variations on other Bernstein love themes while Joel plays the main melody; and on “Bebopicity,” his figures from “Groovin’ High” are “responses” to my “calls.” I was even motivated to try my hand at making my own collages with acrylic paint and papier colle’  (one of which is on the cover).

Finally, at the studio, by playing together in the same room with no isolation booths, we created a more intimate physical setting. At our best, we were successful in forming a model egalitarian society, one in which at any given time, though, as Orwell posited “some…are more equal than others.” So, dear listener, here is our musical offering, Three Musicians.

--Joan Stiles

LINER NOTES by Joan Stiles

Radio campaign - Mark Elf, promoter (

Press Campaign  - Terri Hinte, publicist (

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