The initial elements of this tune came together my first Thanksgiving out of college; I was playing chords on an upright Kimball piano in my grandmother’s living room in Oak Park, Illinois. The title reflects that time of year when we were always in Chicago.
I revisited the rough piece periodically during a long period of years when I played only occasionally and, at times, not at all. At some point while plunking around on the piano it occurred to me to add a bass part.
I lived in New Orleans during college. I had the memorable experience of listening to the Delfeayo Marsalis Group play regularly at the Crescent City Brewhouse in the French Quarter. His beautiful ballad, “Adam’s Ecstasy, Eve’s Delight” from the recording Pontius Pilate’s Decision opens with a bass line which inspired the bass in my own tune.
Now with a bass line—and playing regularly again—the song began to take shape. Friends had introduced me to Jamie Wagner’s Strobe Recording in Humboldt Park during the previous year’s Chicago Jazz Festival; it was a comfortable, friendly place. We recorded there in December 2011.
Just two days before the session, our pianist cancelled. I was grateful that Ron Perrillo, recently returned from the West Coast, was able to step in for the rhythm section. He recorded with us between jazz club gigs the night before and that same day. His accompaniment of bassist Christian Dillingham is astounding, Ron having essentially just walked into the situation.
Horns play relatively simple, major harmony along with an augmented dominant chord through the first of three sections. Tenor saxophone harmony is played by Chris Madsen. Isaiah Spencer chose brushes and mallets for the percussion accompaniment. The second section with the bass line I mentioned has a staggered horn feel and dominant/sharp 11-to-major changes. I added the final section prior to the recording. It incorporates slash chords and an augmented major sound lingering as the final chord—a sound chosen to reflect sonically an unfortunate, and, at the time, unresolved family matter.
On this track:
Markus Rutz, trumpet
Chris Madsen, tenor saxophone
Ron Perrillo, piano
Christian Dillingham, bass
Isaiah Spencer, drums
Engineered by Steve Stokes at Strobe Recording.
Markus Rutz has studied trumpet from the age of 14. He continued his studies in jazz improvisation, trumpet methodology and ensemble concepts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of New Orleans. He has worked professionally with small group jazz ensembles and classical brass quintets in New Haven, CT and Chicago, IL, where he adopted Latin-jazz and salsa rhythms into his practice. Rutz is a member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, local 10-208.
In the summer of 2011, Markus formed the Musician’s Consortium of Metropolitan Chicago, an organization dedicated primarily to music performance and offering a referral service for music venue and event performances. An available recording called It’s Cooler by the Lake is one result of projects in recent years and features eight original compositions from which samples can be heard on musicofmcsqrd.net.
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago musicians in which songwriters and bands discuss a song and how it came to be alongside audio or video clips of the work. To submit your song for consideration, please email the music researcher.
Cover design by Erin Hauer