After some time away from the Eyewitness concept, 1988 was coming to a close and I realized that I really missed what we had been doing, and I went back through some of the old rehearsal CSTEs from 1985. I discovered that there were four pretty unique and amazing unfinished pieces of music, compositions in the style of the tune "Casa Loco." By this I mean, long extended song forms with lots of room for improvising but which would also require lyrics and vocals from Manolo. I contacted Anthony and Manolo and asked them both IF they'd be interested in doing another recording, IF I could finished the writing. They both said, "Yes!" When the pieces were done, I contacted Manolo, and visited his home in New Jersey to try and make little 'demos' of the sections which would need his vocals and lyrics. It took awhile, but, what he came-up with was better than I could have hoped for. Now, came the big decision, what about the drum chair? Though it was so difficult to imagine doing this without Steve Jordan, it just felt to me that we had drifted apart...that our work habits and musical goals were now too far away from one another to make recording again an easy thing to do. It was also apparent that I was going to have to self-finance this recording as well, and, it would be a much more huge financial undertaking than anything before. At the time, the only name which came to mind on drums was Dave Weckl. We were all friends, and Dave had as good an understanding about the Eyewitness approach to music-making as anyone, so it was a logical and good fit. Though this recording cost me some $38,500, it's important to note that Anthony Jackson and Dave Weckl did it all for nothing, and to my eternal gratitude. These are the kinds of things true friends do for one another when things need to get done. Yes, if we had hit the 'jackpot', they would have shared in everything. We also divided all the new compositions in a 5-way split which acknowledged Steve Jordan's contributions as well. Highlights for me include: Dave's two drum solos on "Kamarica" and especially on "Mama Chóla".....the latter just kills....one of the great drum solos EVER recorded!; the playing of Anthony and Manolo throughout....and finally, "PUBLIC ACCESS" marks the first time I had ever recorded a song of my father's, here "Dedicated to You".....an old favorite of mine, inspired by the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane version. It was very emotional and moving to record this piece and I think all the guys could feel that. Though it was no easy task, Larry Rosen picked-up the master, and it was released by GRP in 1989. Since the beginning of the CD age, "PUBLIC ACCESS" has been my best selling recording, and a tribute to the muscle of GRP in those years; and, this was NOT a particularly 'commercial' CD for them because of the long tracks. The recording also marks the beginning of my long-standing friendship and working relationship with the brilliant engineer, Malcolm Pollack.
Graphic: Ned Shaw pen & ink sketch of Eyewitness for CD cover