UNO Jazz Studies Professor Releases "Home Remembered"
UNO Jazz Studies Alvin "Red" Tyler Endowed Professor Brian Seeger has been recognized by New Orleans music media as one of New Orleans' best jazz guitarists. He recently released "Home Remembered," a CD featuring his European-based band Organic Trio. The group, which rarely performs in New Orleans, will celebrate with a performance on Thursday night at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on Frenchmen Street, a hopping music corridor in New Orleans' French Quarter.
Performing alongside Seeger will be two cohorts from The Organic Trio: renowned Luxembourgish drummer Paul Wiltgen and French organ-master Johnny Young.
"The record is actually named after a tune that I composed after Hurricane Katrina," said Seeger. "I wrote the tune and then I realized after the fact that it's sort of my hurricane Katrina song. It's sort of sentimental gospel-y jazz song."
"Home Remembered" is named after one of Seeger's original compositions and with the exception of one piece, a traditional jazz standard, features all-original music from Seeger's and Young's catalogs, Seeger said. The CD was recorded at the UNO studio, and engineered, produced, mixed and mastered by Seeger with help from the UNO Music Department, the UNO Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and SACEM, Luxembourg. UNO partners with Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro for performances throughout the year, including occasional concerts of the University's Jazz@theSandbar series.
"It's very much a UNO creation," said Seeger. "(This) would have been a very different path if I hadn't had the support of UNO to do it."
Seeger has performed and recorded alongside jazz greats including: Aaron Neville, Davell Crawford, Big John Patton, Jason Marsalis, Stanton Moore and many others, according to his bio. He has performed extensively in the U.S. and abroad, travelling to nearly 20 countries, including Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey, to share his music.
He has appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Umbria Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, where he has performed for years. Seeger, who holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music from the Berklee College of Music and a Master's of Music degree from UNO, has served as director of the National Guitar Workshop's Jam Summit and led clinics at colleges and schools in the U.S. and abroad. At UNO, he teaches advanced arranging, composition, music technology, and music business, directs ensembles, mentors budding producers and recording engineers, and oversees the busy recording studio and learning labs.
He will be in fine company on Thursday. Wiltgen has performed alongside jazz greats Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mike Moreno and Dave Binney, while Young has performed with the likes of Bireli Lagrene, Billy Cobham, Philip Catherine.
"This band is a band," said Seeger. "A lot of times when we're working in the jazz world, we're playing with this person or that person and we may or may not have a relationship with them. This is a group. We have a great musical connection but we also have a great personal connection. I think it ends up being reflected in the music because we're very sympathetic and it allows a very high level of communication."
The band has played together for four years, said Seeger. All previous tours have been held in Europe. This is the band's second time playing together in the U.S. The CD, in a way, belies the group's genesis.
Seeger, who began teaching as an adjunct professor in the UNO jazz studies program in 2002, produced a record for Wiltgen, two days before Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. The drummer, who was living in New York while going to school, provided Seeger a place to live in the Big Apple and asked him, while he was there, to also mix and edit the record.
"He dragged me into it against my will..." said Seeger, fondly, recalling the genesis of the band and his signature composition. "Just having him as a friend after the storm, we became kind of close to each other."
Wanting things to work out at UNO and to help musicians in the city, Seeger flew back and forth between the Big Easy and the Big Apple for three years. In 2002, he was hired at the University full-time and now after 22 years considers himself a New Orleans native.
When his friend Wiltgen subsequently moved to Europe and formed a six-piece band, he flew over during summers to help perform. Seeing success with his old friend, Seeger suggested they form a trio. When they met Young and saw his prowess on the organ, they knew that they had found their third.
"We just immediately....said 'OK, we have to do more of this' and we immediately started booking tours, said Seeger.
During the Organic Trio's September European tour, the Aachener Zeitung, a German newspaper from Aachen, Germany entitled "The Paperboy," said of Seeger: "He made American musical history come to life with fantastic ideas...Seeger brilliantly understands how to utilize new musical sounds while maintaining the authenticity of the jazz tradition."