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Deke – Part 1

Jim Decrescenzo, "Deke" - 1958- 2014

Jim Decrescenzo, “Deke” – 1958- 2014

A Long Overdue Concert for an Old Friend Gone Too Soon 

Hi folks –

I’m starting a series of posts here chronicling the preparation for and performance of a memorial concert for my friend Jim Decrescenzo, who passed away Sept 5th of this year at the age of 56.

I’ve known Jim since I was 19 or so (actually, it’s a bit hazy), and he, Lou Magliente & I formed the basis of what was to become my first and longest running band, “A. Animal“.

Deke was a brilliant cat, and a real down to earth guy. The kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it. For the last 18 years or so he’s been living in Woodstock NY, making a name for himself as an expert woodworker and craftsman. But what most of hinds friends don’t know (or at least I don’t think they know – I can’t actually say because I haven’t met most his current friends) was that Jim was an AMAZING composer & musician. In or around 1981, Jim chose to give up music. His wonderful compositions were never performed. Now with his his passing and the blessing of his family, I have undertaken the task of performing Jim’s music in concert. This concert is happening in Woodstock NY on Wednesday November 19th – a memorial concert, if you will. The stellar band (handpicked by me – yes, I’m blowing my own horn here) includes musicians I know Jim would have appreciated – Brian Mooney (bass); Jason Furman (drums), Chad McLoughlin (guitar). Some of Jim’s tunes require more than 4 musicians, and for those pieces we’ll be joined by Ted Orr (guitar) and longtime friend Steve Rust (bass). Plus there’s 2 vocal tunes which I will be singing. All together there are 7 tunes – 5 instrumental and 2 vocal – and including such old favs as “The Sorcerer’s Ranch”, “Box 555”, “Trainride” and “Pines”. (If you low these tunes, believe me – you’ll want to hear them live.)

First rehearsal of Jimmy Deke's music, with Jason Furman, Brian Mooney, Chad McLoughlin and Neil Alexander

First rehearsal of Jimmy Deke’s music, with Jason Furman, Brian Mooney, Chad McLoughlin and Neil Alexander

When Jim gave up music he handed me a folder of his handwritten scores – they were exact & beautiful, s Jim was also learning music copying.  I kept these scores safe until I saw Jim again in 2005, almost 25 years later. I did see Jim once in the 1990’s – before our daughter was born – and knew then he had become a woodworker and had a child of his own. But it was very brief, and we lost touch again. In the interim, around 2001, I decided to produce one of Jim’s tunes, because 1) I loved his music and 2) it’s a great tune. Here’s a rough mix on Soundcloud:

When I finally did reconnect with Jim, we rekindled our friendship and although I tried to help him get back into music, he wasn’t able to find his way back…

In addition to his scores, there were the tapes: All of his tunes he had recorded and a Tascam 3440 4 track reel to reel. I had mix downs of his tracks on cassette tapes, which I’ve been holding on to for decades.  When I got in touch with Jim’s family, they expressed to me that they wanted to be able to distribute CD’s of Jim’s music to give out at the memorial concert. I agreed to take the tapes, have them transferred to digital, mix master & produce the, That’s still in progress as I write this.

In part 2 I will talk about the completion of the process. When the CD’s are done I will make them available for download via Bandcamp. Stay tuned for that.

Part 2 coming soon. As Always, thanks for reading. 🙂

– NAIL

 

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