Jherek Bischoff

Liaisons, Sondheim and Baseball

November 23, 2015 by Jherek | Comments Off on Liaisons, Sondheim and Baseball

A couple years ago I was approached by virtuosic pianist Anthony De Mare about a wonderful project called Liaisons: Re-Imagining Sondheim From The Piano. Liaisons is a project celebrating the music of Stephen Sondheim. The enthusiasm of Anthony and his team was extremely inspiring, and what started out as a small celebration turned into a project including 36 composers from all corners of the music world.

I recently received the final CD in the mail and it made me really stop in my tracks. As I stared at the cover, at the ECM New Series logo, I realized a full circle moment in my musical history occurred.

Early on in my musical journey I was extremely in to jazz. I was a deep listener of jazz and focused all of my time on trying to become a jazz musician. Many great jazz records have been put out by ECM, and those records greatly influenced my musicianship. But even more specifically, my (very brief) time at college was spent studying jazz, but one day everything changed. I was walking down a hallway and heard the most incredible music I had ever heard. I stopped in my tracks, walked into the classroom, and walked straight up to the teacher who was in the middle of teaching a classroom full of students! I asked in a fevered pitch: “WHAT IS THIS MUSIC?” The music was Arvo Pärt. I had never listened deeply to classical music – it had just never found its way into my life. At that moment, it entered my life like a ton of bricks. It was everything I wanted from music – drama, space, complexity – it was just incredible. I walked straight out of the classroom to the record shop, bought the record, and quit school the very next week. I wanted to focus on music on my own, and find my own footing in this wild new world!

To see my name on the cover of Liasons with the ECM New Series imprint, along with great Jazz composers like Wynton Marsalis, and Classical music greats like Steve Reich, it totally blew my mind.

Beyond all of this, it is so incredible to be part of a project celebrating such a unique and glorious mind like Sondheim’s! As a teen, I was really into baseball and was pretty good at it believe it or not, but I started to get super deep into music when I was cast in a high school production of West Side Story. I started skipping baseball practice to go to musical practice, and realized I was going to have a lot more fun playing music than baseball. In a roundabout way, Sondheim is partly responsible for my quitting baseball (Thank you, Sondheim!). I certainly would never have made a living from baseball, so it was a good move.

So, what seemed in the beginning to simply be a request to write a new arrangement of a song for some music enthusiasts, ended up bringing back and tying together all of these individual moments from my musical history! Thank you Anthony de Mare, Rachel Colbert and, of course, Stephen Sondheim!

By the way, my arrangement was just premiered in NY at Symphony Space, with Sondheim in attendance! It was reviewed in the NY Times.

For more information about the Liaisons project, check out an interview with me and some of the other composers for the project here and buy your own copy here.

What Do 8 Tubas Sound Like?!?!

November 10, 2015 by Jherek | Comments Off on What Do 8 Tubas Sound Like?!?!

Ahoy Ladies and Gents,
I am home from a wild trip in NY! It was exhausting and wonderful. So much Chinese food…
I had the extreme honor of playing the ribbon cutting ceremony of St Ann’s Warehouse’s new space. They asked for something unusual and fun, so of course the first thing that came to mind was a tuba octet! Here is a video of a rehearsal and big reveal of the space!

I also did arrangements of some tunes by artists that have a shared history with St Ann’s Warehouse. We covered Kate Bush, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Marianne Faithful and Nick Cave, all on tubas with my man Zac Pennington on vocals. It was deep…literally.

Later that week, Zac and I had a performance of our band Crying Music at Le Poisson Rouge. Check out lots of photos and a sweet review on Brooklyn Vegan here.

The following week I performed four nights at BAM with cello virtuoso Maya Beiser for the Next Wave Festival, to critical acclaim from The New York Times.

My time in NY was topped off by a performance of a tune I composed for Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The Performance was with BYC and Kronos Quartet at St Ann’s Warehouse. It was the first time I had heard the piece and it was absolutely thrilling. Here’s an excerpt:

As per usual, as soon as I got home, I hit the ground running! I have since arranged and recorded some new arrangements for Sara Jackson-Holman, written an arrangement of Schubert’s “Die Forelle” for Meow Meow and the San Francisco Symphony, made a new arrangement of “Kule Kule” for Kronos Quartet, and am putting the very final touches on my upcoming record Cistern. Slammin!

Lots more to come very soon! Hope you all are well!

Resolutions Die Hard!

September 2, 2015 by Jherek | 0 comments

Haha! Well, that was a New Year’s Resolution fail! Oh well, it’s not because I don’t care! I have just been a bit busy as usual!

Many exciting things have happened since my last post:
I curated the Seattle contingent of a Bang On A Can Marathon at The Moore Theater, featuring: Shabazz Palaces, Eyvind Kang & Jessika Kenney, Morgan Henderson (Blood Brothers, Fleet Foxes), Gust Burns & Greg Campbell, Jim Knapp, Scrape Ensemble, the Bang On a Can All-Stars, and of course, yours truly! It was 6 hours of nonstop brilliance!

I went out to Australia (AGAIN!) to play at Womadelaide with Robert Forster (Go-Betweens).

I played at Carnegie Hall with Amanda Palmer and Cibo Matto for a tribute to the music of David Byrne & The Talking Heads.

I also started working with my friend Craig Wedren on some TV soundtracks. I helped out a bit with the new Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp which was a real dream come true! I was a huge fan of the original movie before ever hanging with Craig, so to be even a small part of the team was a blast.

I also worked on the new Starz series Blunt Talk, which premiered August 22. It is produced by Seth MacFarlane, written by Jonathan Ames, and stars Patrick Stewart, yes, THAT Patrick Stewart!
I had a much more substantial role in making the music for it and the show is hilarious! It’s been really great to learn the ropes from Craig. He simultaneously held my hand, and trusted me immensely with large tasks. A great mentor indeed.

Beyond all of this, I have been wrapping up my next record Cistern! I finished the record and am working on the artwork right now. I also filmed most of an 8-part music video series, some of which will be part of the roll out for the record, and some of which will accompany the live show. I have been filming all over the world: Australia, the Pacific Northwest, California…it is E.P.I.C. (I don’t know what this is short for, but it shows how E.P.I.C. it is).

Thanks so much for checking in! Stay tuned for more news about Cistern and don’t forget to check out Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp and Blunt Talk!