"Kwambe" is the first recording of Gerry Hemingway (vinyl only) and features a collection of projects that overviews the development of his work of the 70's in New Haven, Connecticut. It is included here as it has the very first published recording of the trio that would eventually be known as BassDrumBone. A variety of groups are featured. The title track features an adaption of Anthony Davis' working group of the late seventies with the inclusion of both Wes Brown on Ghanian flute and bass and Mark Helias on bass. Jay Hoggard plays both the ballaphone and vibraphone, Anthony Davis on piano and Gerry plays both drums and vibraphone. "First Landscape: A Suite in Three Parts" features a trio with George Lewis and Anthony Davis. One of Hemingway's earliest solo works "Walking Alone the Tall Trees Sang" is included and the album closes with "Speak Brother" the first recording of the collective trio, BassDrumBone with Ray Anderson and Mark Helias. (vinyl only and still in print)
"Oahspe" (recorded in the fall of 1978) is the first full record of the collective trio, BassDrumBone, which was formed in 1977 . The first recording of the trio is of the piece "Speak Brother" which appears on Auricle Record's first release "Kwambe" The word Oahspe (pronounced Oh-wahs-pay) means earth, sky and spirit and comes from a prophetic book of the same name written by a mid-nineteenth century by ....It served as the group's name for a short time until it was discovered that there was a practicing group of Oahspeans based in Anaheim, California. When the leader of this group informed us that she had contact with 'Jehovah The I Am' and said she had been told we should switch our name to "Snowflake" and then "our music would far" we decided a change was in order. The record features works by everyone including Mark Helias' "Gyro" which features a lengthy phase repetition (15 against 14 if I remember correctly) which a few customers mistook for a skip in the record. One of Ray's early works "Gibberish" receives an inspired performance here. And my first & only recording of "Beef" is included that is brandished with a vibraphone solo that ends with light bulbs being thrown on the keys. It was recorded in New Haven at a wonderful space, the Educational Center for the Arts, by Dean Roumanis with M.L.A.S. audiophile analog machinery. It is a recording whose quality, both technical & musical have held up very well over time (vinyl only and still available)
In maybe one of our most strategically confusing moves, our collective trio finds it's second recording under Ray's name. At the time Ray had no particular project of his own that he wanted to do so he asked BassDrumBone (then a trio in search of a name) about doing this date for Black Saint. What followed was years of misunderstandings about our collective trio being a group led by Ray, which it never was. All that aside there are some gems on this date recorded in New York City at Classic Sound by David Baker. "Tapajack" one of Ray's, dedicated to his now departed tap dancing wife, Jackie receives its recorded premiere here. Mark's beautiful ballad, "Limbo" which was slotted to be on the previous Oahspe release but had to be cut, because of a recording problem, is sweetly rendered here. The only recording of "Paucartambo" a piece Gerry wrote that features steel drums and a rare appearance of Ray on congas has a very cooking rendition on this date.
"You Be" was recorded in the fall of 1985 at the famous Ludwigsberg studio in Germany and is the third recording of BassDrumBone. Our producer Stephen Meyner had overlooked that I don't travel with a drum set so when we arrived Gerry was faced with rummaging through the closets and basement of the studio trying scare up something resembling a trapset. In the end you would never know it, but if you had a look at what he taped together out of microphone stands and toilet paper rolls you would be amused. Another one of those "challenges" of being an improvisor. The record open's with Helias' "Question Mark" a stable in our repertoire ever since. Also by Mark is "Boxcars" for the traditionally challenged which gets a spirited reading here. Ray has a work on here we have never done since called "Stole Stroll" and as well the title track is his, a piece that has had a wide variety of interpretations in its day. A more extended work of Gerry's dedicated to the late master drummer and personal friend Edward Blackwell called "Edward's Dance" has a very lovely performance here, as well as the blues "Pumbum".
Recorded at the Bergozzi studio on BassDrumBone's 1987 European tour, this fourth recording of the trio, was to be followed by a six year hiatus of the band. The title track, "Wooferlo" has it's first incarnation here. Also receiving it's first performance here is a very early work of Gerry's entitled "Space". Mark has many works featured here including his first recording of the work "Beau Regard" and also "Sambali" which shows up on the the later "Hence the Reason" cd on Enja. One of the favorites on this cd is of his much older work called "Arocka" which sports a quite demented interplay. Ray has his first version of "Alligatory Crocodile" which was to be later converted into the moniker for one of his bands.
This recording was the first to be released since the group returned to active touring in 1993 after a six year hiatus. Recorded with and without an audience at the Bim Huis in 1995 the recording combines a few new versions of previously recorded material including "Speak Brother" (originally released on "Kwambe") re-titled "Speak Again Brother". Most of the recording features previously unrecorded material including two from Ray, "Lips Apart" and the title track "Hence the Real Reason" several from Mark including "Moto Proto", "Last One in, First One Out". Also featured on the recording is one of Gerry's we had played for years, often as an encore but never recorded, "When Zweeble Walked By". The recording is by my one of our favorite engineers, Dick Lucas.
BassDrumBone's sixth recording found it's home back on Auricle Records where we first recorded. Culled from our private archive this record features a number of works that were never released previously, including Ray's "Elegy for Willie Vargas" which was recorded under a different name on his 1980 quartet album for Moers Music, and also "Portrait of Mark Dresser" which also originally hailed from that same record. Mark Helias' "Question Mark" has a very powerful live performance here along with a magical version of a piece originally titled "Mudpie Anthem", here retitled "Mississippi Mud". A work I later developed for quintet and released on the record "Outerbridge Crossing" called "Endorphin" is heard here in it's original trio version and a newer work, part of my meat series, called "Pork" is featured as well. That work dates from a performance in 1996, but most of the rest of the pieces come from live recordings from 1986 and 7. (still available through this site only)
This BassDrumBone CD was recorded in 1997 at the Bim Huis with one of our favorite engineers, Dick Lucas. The plan was to have this released on Enja to followup with "Hence the Real Reason", but it never came to be. Dick Lucas felt so strongly that this recording should be out there that he offered to put it out on his own label, Data Records. There is some wonderful performances here, including a trio recording of two pieces that turned up soon after on Johnny's Corner Song (AUR-4), including that title track, here renamed as "Johnnie Jones" and also a trio version of Mark's beautiful ballad, "Gentle Ben". Also featured is a tipping (our word for, among other things, swinging) "Kinda Garnerish", a piece of Rays for pianist Errol Garner. Perhaps the most distintive work is the title track is Mark Helias' "March of Dimes" which gets off to an unexpected start with a vocal rendition of the theme. Rendition is one word, perhaps oral reconstruction might be another. Tipping over!. The recording marks the group's 25th anniversary and needless to say is beautifully recorded. (available through this site).
"The Line Up" was the first of two recordings for the Clean Feed label and released in 2006, on the eve of our 30th anniversary. The recording began a new tradition for BassDrumBone of studio recordings at Acoustic Recordings in Brooklyn. Recorded in April of 2005 it was later released on Clean Feed Records of Portugal in late October/early November of 2006.
"The Other Parade" was recorded shortly after Gerry's expatriation to Switzerland in December of 2009. It was also recorded in Brooklyn at Acoustic Recordings with the engineer Michael Brorby and later edited and produced by Mark Helias. in 2007 we received support from Chamber Music America for writing the works which appear on this recording. Indeed the works were in consideration of our 30th anniversary as a working group. These works received many performances over the next two years before we went into the studio.
The Long Road was recorded on August 9 & 10th in Brooklyn, NY again at Acoustic recordings with Michael Brorby engineering. This may well be the most significant recording project we have endeavored to create as it celebrates the 40 years of our long journey together in a a way we have never explored before, with inviting two of our friends to join us on a few pieces. Each of us wrote new work (or in one case a reworking of an older theme) for both guests. Jason Moran joined for the afternoon of August 9th and Joe Lovano on August 10 and needless to say we had a ball ! There are 5 additional new works for the trio and we rounded out this double CD with two live performances from 2013 in Lausanne which give another feeling for the dimension of our work in the context of a giving a concert. We kept the length of each CD to about 50 minutes which we feel makes for a more manageable length of listening. The CD release date is November 15, 2016.