Here We Go (April 5)
The seed for this project was planted about 12 years ago, when I was a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I became hooked on American roots music after listening to Folkways' Anthology of American Folk Music on vinyl, and spent many hours in the music school library pouring over folk music histories, fiddle tune transcriptions, and the like. I had already been listening to some jazz musicians who incorporated folk aesthetics into their improvised music, but I began really tuning in closely to these craftspeople, like Bill Frisell, Ron Miles, the Brian Blade Fellowship Band, and a lesser-known saxophonist named Jimmy Giuffre. Giuffre has had a small following as a west coast, "cool jazz" musician, and, in keeping with that western theme, he produced some very folksy, western kind of music with his band, "The Jimmy Giuffre 3." The most well know of his tunes in this vain – "The Train And The River" – opened the legendary documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day. This tune has always stuck with me as a quintessential "folk jazz" piece of music.
The Jimmy Giuffre 3 at the Newport Jazz Festival
After being inspired by this music, I started trying my hand at the combination myself. For my Senior Recital that year I made almost all the repertoire what I would classify as "folk jazz." I adapted some fiddle tunes, combined some Bill Frisell tunes into a suite, and threw in a couple other pieces that have an old timey, Americana quality to them. I considered forming an ensemble dedicated to this type of music and recording with that ensemble. I tossed those sorts of ideas around with musicians around me, like Greg Garrison and Grant Gordy, and knew that – if this was ever going to happen I would have to ask Ron Miles to be a part of it. But I never got around to it. After graduating I kept with other endeavors – playing as a sideman, focusing on teaching for a while, getting married, starting a family.
As I set out to set music goals for 2022 I was overwhelmed with all the ideas I've ever had flooding back into my mind – bands and recording projects and teaching plans and multimedia ventures and so on – and got to the point where I decided I needed to pick one project for the year. The folk jazz project was the one that pestered me the most on any given day, and possibly my longest-standing idea, and so I decided on it for this year's project. Shortly after this decision I heard of Ron Miles' untimely passing. Ron was a great friend and inspiration to countless musicians, myself very much included. In reminiscing about Ron and his sound, I was further bolstered in wanting to make this folk jazz project come to life – now as a sort of tribute to the man who largely inspired it.
So here I am, beginning the process of creating an album: choosing tracks, composing new tunes, arranging classic songs, assembling the ensemble, conceptualizing the sound and the look of the cover art and collateral, and publishing updates like this one. I'm excited by both the process and the anticipation of finally releasing this thing I dreamed up 12 years ago.