Tales from the Back Catalog: “Newburgh: An Urban Romance”

Today’s “tales from the back catalogue” concerns an unreleased recording that I produced in 2002. My family and I had just relocated to Newburgh New York, in the spring of 1999. Newburgh has one of the largest historic districts in the state, and it’s charm was very appealing. We had been spending considerable time getting to know the local artistic community which was composed mostly of visual artists, sculptures, poets and a few other folk. Nita & I seemed to be the only music people. We were taken with the whole scene.

Then 9/11 happened, and we responded as artists – with new works & collaborations. I began collaborating with Hudson Valley poet Mona Toscano. Together we worked on a project for CAP – Community Arts For Peace. We received a small grant for new work. My contribution was “Newburgh: An Urban Romance’. We held a reception and performance at our house – in effect a House Concert before I had even heard of the term as it is used today.

In the audience that day was a young film maker named Merle Becker, who was at that time making a film called “Saving Newburgh” about the political trials and tribulations that I had not yet become aware of. She expressed an interest in using some part of the music in her film, so I went about the task of organizing a group, rehearsing & recording the piece.

Ultimately the music was not used in the film and the finished recording “sat on the shelf” as it were, since 2003 when I went ahead and made a final mix & master with my longtime friend and engineer Ryan Ball. Releasing it on physical CD was an expensive proposition at the time; plus I have my reservations about the work – I’m not happy with the overall quality of my playing, I couldn’t get the band I wanted and there were other problems etc.  – so there it sat.

I continue to work with Mona fairly regularly and at a recent performance she asked me about the Newburgh recording. I decided then to post it up on Bandcamp. It’s a piece from my past, and I’m not really the same person anymore – there’s a lot I would differently today – but it’s a completed work. And thanks to the magic of the modern internet & it’s available tools for music promotion, it can finally be brought to light. Plus it’s my only “Jazz Suite” to date, inspired by Duke Ellington and that style. Thanks for listening.

– Neil 8/16/13

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