Busman's Holiday CD  

Busman's Holiday

Busman's Holiday

Some of the music I’ve spent the most time with in my life was the electric Miles Davis recordings from “In a Silent Way” up to his 5-year disappearance from the public starting in 1975. I’ve always marveled at the freedom of the jams and the post-recording production Miles and Teo Macero put together to create these albums. So this album was an attempt to experiment with those methods.

Bringing in only sketches and phrases, the core group of myself on electric piano, Brian Groder on trumpet, Chris Farr on saxophones, Chico Huff on electric bass, and Vic Stevens on drums met in July, 2009 and recorded the basic tracks to 3 of the tunes. Several months later Vic and I did a free form jam with a Waldorf Blofeld module. And that was the seed material for Busman’s Holiday. What followed was, even for me, a highly unusually long fleshing out and re-creation over 7 years. I wasn’t working on them full time and years did slip by between sessions, mostly out of not being able to see the big picture. But finally, it came in a flash. What developed was the freest album I’ve ever done.


Busman's Holiday (parts I, II, & III)

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl: fretless bass (part II), Korg Wavedrum (part III), synths:

  • Kurzweil PC88 (electric piano) with Phaser Moogerfooger
  • Xils Poly KBII (harmony with sax)
  • Arturia Minimoog (harmony with trumpet)
  • Roland VK-7 (organ)
  • Logic EVD6 (clavinet)
  • Korg Wavestation (clavinet)
  • Arturia CS-80V (pads on part II)
  • Arturia SEM (pads on part II)
  • Sonic Charge Synplant (bass drone on part II)
  • Native Instruments FM8 (arps on part II)
  • Camel Audio Alchemy (arps on part II)
  • Xils Labs Poly KBII (teble melody on part II)

Brian Groder: trumpet

Chris Farr: tenor sax

Chico Huff: electric bass

Vic Stevens: drums


A simple ABA kind of form with the B section containing a sidewalk hustle from a Coney Island ride. It's called "Busman's Holiday" because that's what musicians do with time off: make more music, but stuff that's closer to their heart than the commercial demands of life allow.

Click here to see the lead sheet for the tune.

The Bishop (Phase I & II)

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl: Fender Rodes electric piano, Moog Moogerfoogers


Some spontaneous solos played on a vintage Fender Rhodes Suitcase piano running though a series of Moog Moogerfooger pedals (Ring Modulator, Phaser, and Analog Delay to be exact). The Rhodes was obtained from an Atlanta musician named Randy Bishop who had had it in his basement for a very long time. He gave me a deal and an afternoon’s good conversation. Retrolinear, Inc. restored it to like-new condition. And I love the sucker dearly.

Band of the Writhing Son

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl: synths:

  • Kurzweil PC88 (electric piano)
  • Camel Audio Alchemy (pad soprano)
  • u-he ACE (pad alto)
  • Korg Legacy Cell (pad tenor)
  • Arturia CS-80V (pad bass)

(last 4 with Moogerfooger MURF and Analog Delay)

Brian Groder: trumpet

Chris Farr: soprano sax

Chico Huff: electric bass

Vic Stevens: drums


Years ago my son Miles put together a band whose goal it was to be the worst ever. More of a performance art statement than a real musical one. It wound up sounding like the Locusts and they made some incredible noise with lawn chairs on their heads and many physical gyrations. Hence this title. The synthesizer pad that runs through the tune is comprised of four unusual virtual synths, each playing one note at a time. This is an experiment to work like Stevie Wonder had to on those early incredible albums he did.

Click here to see the lead sheet for the tune.

Blowhole (A Day In Congress)

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl:Chapman Stick, synths:

  • Waldorf Blofeld (sequence)
  • Arturia CS-80V (pads and melody)
  • Logic EVP88 (electric piano)
  • Roland V Synth GT (solo)
  • Xils Poly KBII (solo)
  • Antares kantos (guitar treaments)

Vic Stevens: drums

Miles Hartl: guitar


This is the tune that started as a spontaneous jam between Vic and me, using the sequencer and sounds within a Waldorf Blofeld module. We did a second pass the same day and threw in some overdubs. Then followed a lot of experimentation. Miles added guitar Godzilla impersonations in July 2014, which were extensively reassembled and processed. The synth solo used controller data to simultaneously tweak two synths in opposite ways, morphing waveforms and moving filters. This was the toughest tune of the album to pull together and will definitely separate the fans from the dilettantes.

Blather and Scheme

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl: synths:

  • Kurzweil PC88 (electric piano) with Phaser Moogerfooger
  • Roland VK-7 (organ)
  • Humanoid Sound Systems Enzyme (FX)
  • Arturia CS-80V (pad on bass solo)
  • Fender Rhodes suitcase piano with Moogerfoogers
  • ReaKtor OP-X (polysynth solo)
  • Rhythmic Robot Shortwave (melody after drum solo) with Eventide H910 Harmonizer

Brian Groder: trumpet

Chris Farr: tenor sax

Chico Huff: electric bass

Vic Stevens: drums


Brian and Chris float a melody on top of an independent groove and Chico and Vic get to stretch. The most straight ahead tune on the album I guess.

Click here to see the lead sheet for the tune.

Smedley

**Click to hear**

Dave Hartl: chromatic harmonica, Chapman Stick, synths:

  • Stylus RMX (drums)
  • Logic EVP88 (electric piano)
  • Roland VK-7 (organ)
  • u-he Zebra (melodies)
  • Sonic Charge Synplant (melodies)
  • G-Force Virtual String Machine (strings on trumpet solo)
  • Camel Audio Alchemy (high B on trumpet solo)

Chris Farr: tenor sax

Brian Groder: trumpet


I took the sax and trumpet solos out of the unused portions of “Busman's Holiday” (or as it was called then, "Ol' Rotten Top"), time-stretched and pitch-shifted them, and wrote a new tune around the spontaneous gestures Chris and Brian had played, cackling in glee thinking about how confused they will be when they first hear this in B minor and go, “I don’t remember playing this.” It gave me a chance to play Stick and harmonica and have fun playing with time while still keeping a groove. “Smedley” is a great name with a built-in sneer. I don’t know who he is, but I suspect he blathers and schemes in Congress somewhere (aHA! A clue to conceptual continuity within the album!) And what’s with these gas masks, anyway?

Updated January 1, 2017.

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