You mention your collaborator, Laurence Hobgood. Would you elaborate further on your working relationship with him for us? How do the two of you go about writing a song together?
I have to say that Laurence is fully 1/2 of the equation for success in my/our career. He is a super-genius player – virtually omnipotent at the piano. He is gigantically gifted at hearing and composing melodies and harmonies. We've been working together since the first record, and it's clear that none of my records would have been as complete, intelligent and personal as they were without Laurence's invaluable input. Plus, we've been out on the road together now for almost ten years. So, at this point, the connection on stage is almost telepathic.
As far as writing goes, each case is unique. Sometimes, he'll bring something to me which he already has written a chart for – something he has written with my voice in his head. I have on occasion written a lyric long after the tune was written – as in the case with “A Prayer For Mr. Davis” (The Messenger). Laurence wrote the music just a few days after Miles' death and I didn't hear it until a few years later. Sometimes, as was the case with “Never Say Goodbye” (Close Your Eyes), I will have written something out. In this case, something I had played on a number of gigs with a different rhythm section. Then LH and I (and Rob Amster, our great bassist) got together and hipped up the changes and arranged it for the recording. Sometimes one of us will hear a groove or a line and we'll work on it together. Most of the time these days, Laurence is in charge of the musical heavy lifting and I do the words. We are focusing on our strengths. But we respect one another's judgments in all areas and always try to hear what the other one is going for.