I just spent a couple of great days playing the music of drummer Tim Horner. Tim and I have been playing together since the late 80s - he was regular member of my quartet for a long time, and recorded with me on “Rhyme and Reason.” His last record, “The Places We Feel Free,” is great, and if you haven’t checked it out, I suggest you do. Playing with Tim is always comfortable and familiar. But there is an extra edge now, and I think it has to do with the great writing he is doing - the direction his music has taken.
Sunday night’s concert was for a packed house at the Puffin Center out in Teaneck, and the band was an extremely musical collection of cats including Joe Locke, Jim Ridl, Steve Allee, and Dean Johnson. We played through some very challenging music, all Tim Horner compositions, save for a Denny Zeitlin piece called Quit Now, which opened the concert following a moment of silence, as a dedication to the lost lives in Newtown, CT two days before.
The first thing about this experience that was challenging for me was that a few of Tim’s pieces required some serious bass clarinet playing. I’m not a serious bass clarinet player. Well, I could be I suppose if practiced the damn thing. The last gig I did was a year and a half ago (see my blog "Sold!"). The great flautist Mindy Kaufman once told me she’s always two weeks away from her best. Well, that may have been true for me as well, but I had two days in which do two weeks worth of practicing. And believe me, after the rehearsal which exposed the truth, I did my best to find those two weeks.
One thing about the bass clarinet, if you don’t play it often, is that going to it from the regular clarinet is like breaking up with your 5’6’ girlfriend and starting to date a girl who is 6’5” tall - you just aren’t quite sure how to handle all of her. Well, I managed to get through the concert, although I felt like I was on a tight rope with no balance pole.
The next day I hopped into the Hippie-Mobile (AKA the Hipster) and drove way the hell out somewhere in New Jersey to a recording studio to record Tim’s record. I have to say having the concert the night before was a very important rehearsal. Tim said the studio was about an hour’s drive from the Bridge, but that is about and hour and twenty minutes in the Hipster, and I was five minutes late to the session. Everyone was in position, getting sounds, and I still had four horns to set up, reeds to wet, and a new girlfriend to wrestle with.
The session went great. The music is groovy, swinging, and quirky at times. Everyone played their butts off. I am totally psyched to hear this recording when it comes out. I’ll let you know ;).
By the way, the Hippie-Mobile’s windshield wipers decide to stop working, and I drove home in a light rain going about 40 MPH. Took two hours to get home...