A Day in the Life of New Duke…
We knew it would be a long day. The musicians in New Duke arrived at the Fairfield University studio where I teach my classes. The charts were laid out on stands that the eight musicians would sight-read and then perform a few hours later. Steve Moran, Rick Sadlon, John Fumasoli, Jamie Finegan, Dave Childs, Darryl Tookes and Don Mulvaney are pros and this is not unusual for players of this caliber.
I suggested that the band needn’t rehearse our older material when suddenly vocalist Darryl Tookes cleared his throat loudly into the microphone. Everyone laughed, reflective of the humor and camaraderie of our jazz-rock band. Our new tunes showed the band’s musical range from Billy Strayhorn’s Lotus Blossom mixed with Crosby, Stills and Nashs’ Guinnevere to Duke Ellington in a mash-up with James Brown. For this session I composed Twenty Seven, a tale of loss at this age set to a funk beat, Freedom Is, a Junior Walker influenced soul tune, and Legend of Robert Johnson, a second-line inspired homage to an American mythical blues figure. Writing for New Duke is inspiring and a great joy for me.
The rehearsal was over a few hours later and New Duke headed to Kvon Studios in Bridgeport to shoot a group photo. The band got in just before a huge rainstorm and after enduring the hot white lights of the studio, the photo session was over. Upon leaving the building, we got stuck in the antiquated freight elevator. Saxophonist Steve Moran piloted us to safety but outside we were drenched in the storm. Welcome to the music business…
New Duke then headed off to Guilford for a business meeting at the Stonehouse restaurant. The band discussed future plans at dinner and then departed to the Poetry by the Sea seminar in Madison, CT. where we performed that night. We ran through our set with great enthusiasm despite having a small crowd in attendance.
Packing up our equipment, it was an end to a long and productive day of music. We headed off our separate ways, into the night.
All was quiet except for the crickets.