Red Brick Hill

SSC1748 2024-07-12

Track List

Last Star, Last Night (prologue) - 0:50
NanCee - 2:11
ascent - 3:05
blue, mostly - 3:42
abyss - 1:31
Last Star, Last Night - 7:43
AppleHands - 5:59
Beneath Bequeath - 4:36
harbinger - 5:01
here. still. - 2:07
Red Brick Hill - 13:03
furthering - 0:45
still. here. - 3:44
Last Star, Last Night (epilogue) - 3:24

Musicians

Dezron Douglas - bass
Jonathan Blake - drums
Marquis Hill - trumpet
Gregoire Maret - harmonica
Joel Ross - vibraphone
Christian Sands - piano

Things of beauty can come from the release of one’s traumas. Harry Skoler experienced the loss of a friend as a teenager, a passing that deeply impacted the clarinetist/composer and left an indelible mark on his person. On his new recording, Red Brick Hill, Skoler revisits the past and delivers the story instrumentally with an incredible array of musicians in an effort to cleanse his soul, keep his friend’s legacy alive, and to, hopefully, help others with such burdens through the gift of music.

Skoler grew up in a house his father designed at the top of a red brick hill. Though there weren’t many children in their neighborhood, Skoler was able to develop deep friendships with a young girl named Nancy and a quiet, serious boy named Bill. When they were teenagers, Bill moved away from the hill but first brought Skoler a box of his childhood toys and trinkets. It wasn’t until later that Skoler was walking with a friend and saw Bill’s mother pulling into his friend’s house.

Curious as to her appearance, Skoler asked his friend about Bill. His friend told Skoler that he wasn’t supposed to tell him anything. Pressing the friend, Skoler found out that Bill was dead. Running back to his house in a frenzy, Skoler dove into the past weeks’ newspapers, only to find an article relating Bill’s suicide. Devastated, Skoler received no solace from his parents and found that they had even asked that others not tell him of Bill’s demise.

The loss and the actions of those around him had lasting effects on Skoler. It was only through making music that he was able to deal with the loss and feel the spirit of his lost friend. Through time and with help, Skoler was able to confront his emotions and find appropriate outlets to express them. In 2022 Skoler began work on a new project and it was producer Walter Smith III who encouraged Skoler’s decision to take the story and work it into a musical narrative.

In August 2022, Skoler and his son went to New York City to record the album at Sear Sound. Prior to the session, Skoler told the story to which his son replied that Skoler should tell the ensemble that he and Smith had assembled, which included vibraphonist Joel Ross, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Johnathan Blake, the story. The musicians listened to the story with empathy and promised to tell the tale through their playing. The recording evidences the ensemble’s empathy, as the music highlights the ensemble’s connection throughout.