Welcome to Encompassed, an album reflecting on the concept of travel. The music was inspired by my own travels and experiences, and I hope that the resulting musical journey is an inspiration for you. A journey can start in any direction—we are encompassed with possibilities. If you had a choice, where would you go? For the title track, my goal was to write a tune that could musically describe these possibilities, so I wrote a 12-tone melody that uses each note of the chromatic scale once. This became the opening theme.
Abroad was inspired by a performing tour to Russia, where I was awed by the vast number of cathedrals whose vibrant colors complemented the autumn leaves. The short days, cold weather, and unfamiliar foods reminded me that I was far from home.
Southbound was inspired by a tour to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba with a jazz ensemble. We were amazed by the deep musical traditions found in each of these areas and spent much of our time listening to the local musicians and learning the rhythms associated with merengue and Afro-Cuban styles. This tune was written in gratitude for the people and all that they taught us.
I wrote Eastward in response to a major move I made across the country to begin my master’s degree at Indiana University. I loaded all my material possessions into a 20-year-old pickup truck, irrationally thinking that the truck was going to explode along the way—something that did happen to one of my friends a year earlier. This tune expresses the anxiety I was feeling, but also the enjoyment of driving on the open road with an exciting beginning to look forward to.
The truck didn’t explode.
Adjusting to the east was difficult because I was distanced from everything I knew and loved in my home state of Utah. I was also distanced from my fiancée, who had just moved from Utah to Rochester, New York for her PhD program. We both struggled doing a long-distance relationship, so I wrote Intermountain West to reminisce on the memories we had made in the geographical region we still called home.
That’s when the COVID lockdowns began, and we found that our relationship no longer needed to be long distance. Still irrationally thinking my truck might explode, I was nervous to move. Yet, I was determined to see my fiancée in person, so I made the drive to Rochester. I was Driven North (technically northeast, but that would make for a much less cool title).
Once again, the truck didn’t explode.
At the end of Driven North, we quote the theme of Intermountain West to portray the moment when my fiancée and I saw each other in person for the first time in several months. We are now happily married and recently introduced a baby daughter to our family.
Thanks for joining me on this musical journey, and I hope it strengthens you on your own personal adventure!
Woodwinds: Steven Hardy
Trumpet/flugelhorn: Joe Palmer
Piano: Oliver Scott
Bass: Gavin Gray
Drums: Isaac Schwartz
Recording, mixing, mastering: Greg Thompson
All compositions by Steven Hardy