When Europe headed to Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, Joe Fonda and I were there with the Michael Musillami Quintet. Our concert tour was cut short, and we returned to NYC with no musical interactions for the next few months. Basically, we quarantined at home, particularly as our city became the epicenter of this health crisis.
In June, Fonda called me up. He had met my old friend and partner in crime from many gigs and recordings, drummer Joe Hertenstein, at a pre-pandemic event. Both had spoken about getting together and working on some new music at the time and were wondering if I’d be up for joining. With coronavirus cases dropping locally, it was the first time in a while that such an idea could be entertained.
We started playing together once a week, everybody bringing in tunes – making music and socializing a little, creating a space beyond the grim realities of our surroundings.
A routine started to take shape. Fonda would come down from his place in Washington Heights and pick me up on the Upper West Side. We then would drive, all masked up, to Brooklyn, where Hertenstein lived on Ocean Avenue in a spacious apartment. There we’d play. After our rehearsal, we’d take a slightly different route than on the way in, going through the Lower East Side, SoHo and West Village in Manhattan, each time on the lookout for signs of a re-emerging vibrancy. Beyond that, we always liked to stop by our favorite Swedish bakery on 14th Street for a loaf of their cranberry-rye bread and a cardamom bun – everybody needs a little treat from time to time.
In August, our drummer told us that he and his wife Daisy had decided to leave the US for Berlin, hoping to sit out the situation, and return once NYC got back to a “new normal.” We concluded that our music deserved to be documented; we literally recorded this album the day before Joe left town.
Very proud of the results. This will always serve as a reminder of an insane period in mid-2020, when our gatherings served as a Remedy that kept our bodies and minds together.
Thomas Heberer, NYC, January 2021