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In Memory of Steve Kaplan

Most people will only know Steve Kaplan as an award-winning film and television composer whose music was featured on "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." The true depth of his compositional skills and musicianship, that span 25 years, is hidden in fleeting movie end-credits and many often microscopic CD album notes.

As a founding member of the music group Zazen, Steve Kaplan's contribution as a composer, keyboard player/programmer will long remain an inspiration in the hearts of those who listen to the music of Zazen.

When people pass away they are often judged by a multitude of opinions without any recourse to set the record straight. So, rather than speak on Steve's behalf, the following are extracts from a May 19, 2000 communication.

About Zazen ...
My favorite albums are from the Samurai/Atlantis Rising period. That was the style that we stumbled upon when we started playing together. Andy and Joaquin are fusion players and I have kind of a classical, film music background, and the styles fused together into a really neat original sound.

The later albums were a conscious shift to a more commercial sound. Rama aspired to a recording contract and believed no one in America would sign up a fusion band. So we went new age and hard rock simultaneously. The new age stuff did what it was supposed to do and we got signed.

About the present ...
I do a lot of commercial work, but I also compose privately for myself as well. Last week, I wrote a classical piano piece just for the hell of it, and maybe I'll record it in the near future. Also, my wife is a wonderful singer/songwriter, and we collaborate quite often on songs.
Lately we've been writing songs for a charity organization called Songs Of Love, which is a consortium of songwriters who are commissioned to write songs for specific children who are chronically or terminally ill. It's a very cool thing. They give you a data sheet with facts about the child, his/her situation, interests, hobbies, etc., and you work it into the lyrics of the song. When it's finished, it gets sent to the family and they have their own personal song about their special child. Very gratifying.

About the future ...
As far as the future is concerned, you never know what might happen. I am open to anything. I'm deeply interested in spiritual music, i.e. music composed for God, or one's higher self if you prefer. ... I continue to pursue this today, refining the work as best I can. Spiritual music is really all about motivation for me. It's all about who and what you're writing about.

Steve Kaplan died on Sunday evening (December 14th, 2003) aged 45, when his twin-engine Cessna crashed into a Claremont home while he was attempting an emergency landing. No one else was injured and it was later found that a structural failure in one of the plane's propellors may have initiated the event.

He was on his way to Etiwanda High School in Rancho Cucamonga to rehearse with the school's advanced jazz ensemble for a winter concert. They were preparing to perform Steve's last composition titled "Maniac Mike" (in honour of Mike Stewart from Maniac Mikes Cafe at Cable Airport). The 22-piece band played the composition the night after the crash for the first time.

Our Thanks

The Lila Publishing Team would like to add our personal thanks for Steve's considerable contribution towards documenting the history of Zazen and making the Zazen discography in its present form possible.

Most honoured to have known you Steve, and if only briefly, call you friend. May you journey well on the eternal path.