Jherek Bischoff

Happy New Year!

January 10, 2016 by Jherek | Comments Off on Happy New Year!

Swinging by to say Happy New Year and give you a little update!
There are a bunch of really big, great things brewing that I will announce soon, but in the meantime, the new year has started off pretty full on!
Last week, I helped my friend Amanda Palmer record a new tune. The song is called “Machete” and it’s a really epic song about her best friend who passed away last year. She was visiting L.A. for the holidays and mentioned she had a new song ready, so we rented out Studio 3 at legendary EastWest Studios, which was an absolute privilege. This is the room that Pet Sounds was recorded in as well as many other great records and tunes, such as The Mamas and the Papas “California Dreamin” to Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. It was a really fun, geeky day.
We put a band together, with Ryan Lerman on guitar, and none other than Ben Folds on drums! No surprise, he is a really good drummer. One of those good-at-everything dudes.

Jherek Bischoff and Ben Folds

Ben and I bonding over our shared love of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Tracking in Studio 3 at EastWest

Tracking in Studio 3 at EastWest

The next day I recorded strings with a few of my friends at The Rattle Room: Crystal Alforque on violin, Lauren Baba on viola and Aniela Marie Perry on cello. I was a bit bleary-eyed because I had to wait until we finished recording the piano, drums, guitar and bass, before I could arrange the strings. So, after being in the studio for 12 hours the first day, I went straight home and arranged until 5 in the morning, then got up a few hours later to head over to the studio again. Here’s a sneak peek:

I am now finishing up the mix and it will be released in February via Amanda’s Patreon, which you can check out and support here, and also read a couple of really sweet blogs Amanda wrote about how the song came together here and here.

It's The Pits! banner

I also wanted to mention that if you are in L.A. next week, I am playing at the La Brea Tar Pits on Friday the 15th as part of 5 Every Day’s event “IT’S THE PITS!” It will be a set of primarily ambient music, accompanied by a string quartet and clarinet, performed amongst a bunch of fossils. How cool is that?! It’s all-ages and free and you can get more info on the Tar Pits website here and on Facebook here.

More soon!

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!