My contemporary jazz group MusiQology retreated to the hills of Connecticut recently to workshop some new music as we prepare to begin a new season of live concerts and to lay the groundwork for our new recording. It was a great experience and reminded me of my pre-musicology, “back-in-the-day” life; the time when all that concerned me was my personal practice habit, rehearsing with a band or a singer, and putting on a live set of music.
It was unique experience. The band and I stayed in a large farmhouse on the 300-acre Three Rivers Farm, which houses the campus of Promisek, self-described as “Catholic educational and environmental association dedicated to facilitating the emergence of an authentic lay spirituality for our time, in dialogue with the people of other faiths.” I got the hook-up for the opportunity from my colleague Tom Connolly, a professor emeritus of musicology and a member of the community here. There was no cell phone reception and the internet service was very difficult to come by. So without all of the distractions of modern social networking we were left with our thoughts, the music, and the time and quiet to get some work done. The retreat was both productive and relaxing–you might describe it as a spiritual weekend.
MusiQology Rehearsal at Promisek
We had myself on keyboards and MusiQology drummer Joshua Orlando, Tony “the Big Cat” Smith on trumpet, guitarist Joe Battaglia, and a new bass player, Michael Taylor. The time spent with these musicians in this perfect setting—a music salon, complete with a Baldwin grand piano was exemplary. I made a pot of chili, copied the charts, and spent the weekend rehearsing and chilling. The vibe was very productive as we experimented with the material—tweaking, massaging, and pushing around different parts of songs until we were satisfied that something works. We also put some good energy on some of the material on the first CD, which we will play at our upcoming hit at Chris’s Jazz Café on October 13th at 8:00pm.
We presented the result of our work on a Sunday afternoon concert for the Promisek community as thanks for providing this great experience to the band. My new song “Match Play,” inspired by my love of golf was a crowd favorite. I can’t wait to record it to share it with the rest of MusiQology’s audience.