Thursday, September 10, 2009

...A Thousand Words

I meant to post this a while ago, but didn't get around to it for some reason (I'm not the best at this whole blogging thing). As some of you may have noticed back in June, the powers that be at Comfest contacted me and asked to use this photo of mine in the memorial section of the 2009 Comfest program.

It's from Honk Wail & Moan's performance at the Jazz & Ribfest in July 2008. At that time, things were going pretty well - 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 turned around and saw Brian standing there quietly, with one hand resting on his trombone. 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." All in all, it was a pretty good day - I think the photo says it much better than I can.

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.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Rumba Cafe Tuesday - hopefully there will be more to come soon from Honk Wail & Moan, the Brian Casey Composition Archive, and other Brian-related projects...

Rest in peace, Brian - we still miss you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rest in Peace

Rest in peace Brian Casey - the kind of peace punctuated by cacophony and woven with hidden melodies and decorated with towering cakes of deep meaning, frosted with the raspberry fluff of ridiculousness. That kind of peace. Love to you and all who are remembering you today.

Casey's Cosmos

Today it is a year after Brian's passing and I'm sure many miss him like it was yesterday. It hurts like it was yesterday.

I am so glad to have been Brian's friend, and although I didn't often enough, I'm glad I had the chance to tell him now and then I liked his music, his humor, his company. I am really proud to have known him.
Last summer Brian seemed happy the band had several performances and was sounding good and we were making big plans for the future. It may not be easy but a chamber orchestra concert, a 24 hour Honk, Wail & Moan reunion marathon are certainly things worth doing and we are going to try to accomplish some of the big things he wanted to do.

There were hundreds of memorable performances. Brian and Gary's senior recital. From stinky Bernie's basement gigs to the rooftop pool side gig atop a 21 story hotel, to the Enron executives party. Playing a fashion show on the sidewalk during Gallery Hop, one drummer nearly passing out during a gig in Chicago, the beach gigs in Thailand, spilling our coffee during dance classes, banging on 55 gallon oil drums and performing one of his silent film scores in a downpour.
I'm glad we had a lot of laughs. Sure, there were a few times we should have been more serious, like while playing for dance classes - sometimes we were having too much fun making music, sometimes we were just goofy!
I'm glad I got the chance to do some composing and arranging with him. The most powerful musical experience I've ever had happened while we were writing "When Sun Ra Gets Blue." We both agreed we really connected on it and I have not experienced that before or since.

There were lots of smaller musical connections over the years too. We would challenge ourselves during those dance classes. We would sight read tunes we had never played before, play tunes we knew in different time signatures or feels than they were written... We learned to trust each other musically. We might disagree on something but could convince each other and change each others mind.

Each of the 18 or so years I've been playing his music it got better and more interesting and brought me a lot of joy. I really wanted to be one of the people that got to play brand new Brian Casey music year after year, into my old age. I wish we didn't have to play his music without him, but we are going to keep playing it. His chamber orchestra music, his film scores, his folk and pop songs need to be heard. His artwork needs to be seen.

I am sad I did not get to know Brian better but I hope those of you reading this blog will post more memories & stories so we can all try to know a little bit more about him.
I'm thankful his family are so willing to share his art with the world.
Thanks to Michelle for organizing tonight's concert at Rumba Cafe!