Imagine my surprise seeing this on the Mass Pike today… OK … imagine how surprised I would be if I saw that.

My band, Heart of Hearing, has a new album that was released yesterday. We recorded it a few weeks ago, on June 3 and 4 at WGBH Fraser Studio in Boston.  The title is “Generosity.”  You can listen to it on all the streaming platforms – and I hope you will!.
Click here to go to it on Spotify, or  Apple Music  You can also listen from this website on the Music page.  But if you want to hear something right now as you read  click here and it will take you to “Por Ahora,” an “essential” tune already up on YouTube.

This is a working band. We play on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm at the Lilypad in Cambridge Massachusetts – our steady gig – our home base – our monthly “residency” where I have been playing for attentive and appreciative listeners for over 15 years.  We are: Rick DiMuzio on tenor saxophone, Andrew Schiller on upright bass, Dor Herskovits on drums, and me on piano – plus I write the music that we play.  Each one of these musicians is an accomplished composer, with his own band and his own albums, but this is “my” project.  I put “my” in quotes because this music and the way it sounds has everything to do with how we each contribute and interact.

I had written eight tunes that we had workshopped and performed, and I wanted to document and share them.  So three months out, I made a reservation for two consecutive four-hour evenings in the studio with my favorite recording engineer, Antonio Oliart.
Musicians will know this, but perhaps there are many of you who don’t. We each had our own sound mixing console next to us as we set up to play.  I could turn up the saxophone separately from the drums, making each instrument as loud as I wanted.   Each of us achieving the exact sound levels and balance we need to support us as we play, so that we are free to be completely comfortable.

After we had recorded the music – most of it first takes, we all went into the booth with Antonio to listen.   He isolated each instrument so that we heard only that one as he conferred with us each about the sound, making small adjustments that highlighted the richness.  He set the overall volume levels for each of us so the band blended.  And then as we listened back to the takes we could hear everything perfectly as our attention traveled through the music, instrument by instrument.   Antonio explained that there was no further mixing to do (adjusting the levels of the instruments as various members soloed), because he said that we were doing that as the music happened, subtly playing louder and softer to blend as required.

So we didn’t need to come back and mix or master the tape.   It was album-ready to ship at the end of the second evening.  This was rare – a first for me – not needing to spend hours mixing.  So I went home, took a picture of a small section of the Pakistani rug in my practice room – superimposed the title information on top – and we had our album cover.  The next day I uploaded the tracks and cover and information to the distributor who sent it to all of the streaming services and who keep track of all the “plays” and royalties I get.  And they sent me that hilarious picture of the album cover on a billboard.

I picked a release date of June 21, a few a few days after I would be getting back from a week at Avaloch Farm Music Institute in New Hampshire, where I had been awarded a fellowship, to go compose music for our band. Now I have three new songs to workshop for our next album.  And just enough time to write this letter to you.

So much fun!  All of it.

And though the “now” as you listen to this recording cannot be compared with the “now” of listening as it is played live in a room with other people, this chronicling of our current repertoire and the order that we arranged it for the album feels like producing something tangible, a work of art/music that I am so happy to be able to share with people all over the world – and not just in Cambridge.

I believe that the music speaks for itself, and I am grateful that I hear within it a reflection of values I hold dearly that I bring with me on and off of the bandstand.