Sunday, June 14, 2009

Casey @ Comfest

It's official - the Brian Casey Tribute at Comfest will be Saturday, June 28th, on the Jazz Stage from 5:00 to 6:30pm. The listing in the Comfest program is pretty vague, so FYI the performers will include Honk Wail & Moan, popCasey, Deb Colvin-Tener, and Mary Adam 12. Honk Wail & Moan will also be playing at Dick's Den that night from 10:00pm to 2:00am.

Also, the Official Program Guide has finally been posted on the Comfest Website - here's the piece about Brian that Steve wrote for it:

"When jazz composer and trombone player Brian Casey died suddenly last September at 36, he had written hundreds of pop and folk songs, film and dance scores, andseveral major works for chamber orchestra. He composed extensively in a huge range of styles for a wide pallette of ensembles. Most important, he was a vibrant leader of the local music scene.

In addition to performing with many Central Ohio musical groups, Brian served as accompanist for modern, jazz, ballet and African dance classes at OSU, Ohio Wesleyan University, Ballet Met, and Ohio Dominican College, where he was Director of Liturgical Music. He had performed his compositions throughout the US and in Europe and served as silent film composer in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

I don’t remember the day I first heard one of his compositions, the name of the song, what it sounded like or who was performing it. I do remember how lucky I felt to be at Ohio State that day, lucky to be a part of that fantastic new music.

Brian liked big ideas. That recital, which he shared with composer Gary Grundie, was big, with a huge horn section and strings. Later, after we got Honk, Wail & Moan rolling as a 5- or 6-piece group, we kept asking people to join the group: more horn, guitar and percussion players and rotating singers. He eventually even brought his trombone and electric bass to the gigs so we could do one tune with two basses.

We had dreamed of doing a full Big Band performance and a few years later we got to do one, with 15 horns (including tuba), the rhythm section, and singer Dick Mackey, in winter at Stache’s while the heat was broken. Brian was fond of saying, “They tore down the building after the one and only Honk, Wail & Moan Big Band gig!”

Brian was a good musician. He was a good uncle, one who would often write music for his nephews and niece. I think he knew they would grow out of toys but would definitely grow into music. He was a good friend to the local music scene and to everyone who had the pleasure of making music with him.

Fred Gablick seems to have put it best: Farewell Brian Casey! Have them charts ready for when we get there!"

Hope to see you all at Comfest!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Thousand Words

I'm happy to say that the powers that be at Comfest contacted me and asked to use this photo of mine in the memorial section of the Comfest program this year.

It's from Honk Wail & Moan's performance at Jazzfest 2008. At that time, things were going pretty well with the band - Brian and Steve had decided to add a couple more horns to the band for this gig, and Brian had updated or reworked some of his arrangements to take advantage of that fact. We'd had a couple of productive rehearsals and the band was sounding good. It was a great day at the festival, and the band was really "on" - there was a lot of good energy, everyone was playing well, Brian's tunes never sounded better, and we had a small but appreciative audience.

I had my camera (as usual) and was trying to get some shots in any time that I wasn't playing. At one point I grabbed my camera, turned around, and saw Brian standing there, also not playing. He looked like he had kind of taken a step back, and was surveying everything that was happening onstage. There was a slight smile on his face, and he seemed pleased with how things were going. "Yeah," I could almost hear him thinking. "This is the way these tunes are supposed to sound - this is what I've been hearing in my head." It was a pretty good day.

On the other hand, that weekend was unfortunately the last time I saw Brian. We played the Jazzfest, and then Dick's Den the following night - both great gigs. Then six weeks later, I was at his funeral - trying, along with everyone else, to come to terms with what had happened...

In any case, I'm glad I caught this shot of Brian, as well as some other good ones over the years. If you didn't catch them the first time, some more photos of Brian are on Flickr - just click HERE to get to them.

Speaking of Comfest, there will be a Brian Casey tribute there on Saturday June 28th, 4:45-6:30pm on the Jazz Stage. The set will feature performances by several bands including Honk Wail & Moan and Mary Adam 12 - hope to see you all there.