I got to know John Orsi’s work in backwards order. First, I found a CD by his terrific ensemble, Knitting By Twilight at KKUP and was happy to get it on the radio show. After awhile he sent me earlier work and I could see the progression and could tell ,even in his early work in the 1980s , there was talent and taste aplenty. Based in Rhode Island, John drums for the improvising group, Incandescent Sky, as well as producing the Knitting By Twilight albums. Below, his tape from 1989, “Surface And Features”.
Whilst living and playing in Boston during the mid 80’s with the trio It Play, I was at the same time rehearsing with the late and great bassist Richard Toro. I’d come to Providence once a week, usually on Wednesdays for an evening rehearsal. During the daytime hours, Richard graciously allowed me access to this music room, where within could be found keyboards and a super 4-Track recorder from Tascam. All of this allowed me to work out ideas for future works, the gear for which I didn’t/couldn’t have room for in my tiny flat back in Boston. I was hooked. Those 4-Track experiences were my first foray into the format, and the ability to overdub parts, heretofore only achieved at the pro studios, was a revelation. I had time to attempt different arrangements, without having to worry about the clock on the wall. What a luxury! All of this, plus a faster tape speed and noise reduction!
I wrote a lot during this period, but only one track from those sessions titled “In A White Room” has seen general release. First on a cassette release called Surface & Features (which I sent along to you a couple of months ago) and then years later within a cd version with bonus tracks (enclosed with this letter), on the decidedly humble homemade division of it’s Twilight Time, The Library of Music, which exists for the purpose of releasing archival recordings. I’m anxious to return to those demos, but first must realize the new Knitting By Twilight album, now in the mixing world.
Returning to Richard and I. We did carry on with those Wednesday evening rehearsals, and ultimately recorded an album titled, appropriately enough, Music for Bass and Drumset, released 11 April 1986. We were able to play a string of dates in support of the album, but then Richard became too ill to continue. He passed Independence Day 1987. A tremendous personal and professional loss.
What followed was an incredible gesture. In his will, he appointed me beneficiary of the Tascam Recorder, as well as a splendid Roland Juno synth he had purchased not too long before his passing. He wanted me to carry on with this gear, as he knew I’d become attached to same. I utilized the Tascam for another ten years or so, before it’s transport became too dodgy to be reliable. But boy, those tape heads have an untold amount of hours on them, and I am forever grateful. I still use the Juno synth, and in fact, it’s made contributions to all of the Knitting By Twilight albums thus far, including the one presently under construction.
And there you have it my four track backstory.