My upcoming album Day to Day is a huge step for both my career and personal growth. Since college I’ve set goals for myself and timelines for meeting those goals, and I’ve tried to meet all of them right on track. I’ve been so big-picture focused since I decided to pursue music and now that I’m deeper into my career, I get tired of being the “big-picture” guy all the time and find myself trying to slow down and take life day to day. After years of living one way, the concept of living day to day and just staying in a present moment is not something I do well. But there are reminders all around me – things like a spinning ceiling fan, a jolly rancher sitting on a table, a dream about visiting Italy, a glass of wine accidentally knocked over. At least once a month on a gig I’m bound to spill a glass of wine and when that happens (as long as it’s not destroying expensive equipment!) I can choose to get upset with myself and be filled with regret over the damage done or I can choose to accept that it’s just another thing that happens every now and then in our day to day lives. We all spill our metaphorical glasses of wine every now and then and it’s important to allow ourselves to just be in that present moment. After deciding which songs I wanted to include on this album it became very clear that the one thing they each had in common was that they were all inspired by day to day life and everything that that encompasses – both the mundane and the extraordinary, the melancholy and the ecstatic.
As Day to Day is my debut album, some of the songs I wrote as long ago as my college days, like Ceiling Fan and Jolly Rancher. I never felt much of a pressure to release an album quickly and with that, I was able to really take my time with each of the songs – I would spend as long as 4 or 5 months working on a single song until I was 100% happy with it. For example, back in college John Daversa, who was a great mentor to me, would tell me that Ceiling Fan was great but that it ended too abruptly. Since anything John Daversa says is like the word of god, I took that to heart and for the first time worked to continue developing the song into more of a story. I was able to push my writing past where it had gone before and ended up learning how to be more intentional about the way that I write music. This is a practice I’ve tried to do with all of the songs I’m including on Day to Day and the title track Day to Day is a good example of how my writing has developed over the years.
The album features Shai Golan and Walter Smith III on saxophone, Luca Alemanno on bass, Anthony Fung on drums, and is produced by my good friend and mentor Josh Nelson. I chose a band that not only played my music incredibly, but also shared my enthusiasm about the music and more importantly related to it. Playing my music in that sort of environment was inspiring for me and was a huge source of encouragement throughout all the challenges that accompany the release of a first album.
I can’t wait to share this music and hope that the album serves as good reminder both for myself and for its listeners to stay in the present moment and live day to day.
- Michael Ragonese
"The album has no shortage of contrast and ranges from up-tempo vehicles for showcasing soloists...to more introspective pieces like "Day to Day." The title track paints an evocative narrative arc with its melody and opens up into one of Ragonese's most compelling solos."
Blue Whale, Little Tokyo
Photos by Ricky Chavez
In the Studio
Tritone Studios, North Hollywood
Recorded by Talley Sherwood at Tritone Studios, mixed and mastered by Nathan Alef, produced by Josh Nelson.
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