The Hammond B3/Guitar/Drums format is among the most durable combo configurations in music. But its elasticity was perhaps never tested as greatly as on the Biscodini Organ Trio’s remarkable new release ‘Lockdown‘, which was recorded and co-produced remotely during the nationwide pandemic quarantine of 2020 by three gifted, versatile Los Angeles-based musicians. –Chris Morris
NEW! “Biscodini Boogaloo” remix pack, from Lockdown by the Biscodini Organ Trio – minted as a digital collectible, Limited Edition 1 of 10 Phantasma Smart Music NFT (non-fungible token).
NFT Package: “Biscodini Boogaloo” Session Remix Pack #1
Announcing the exclusive 1 of 10 minting of stems and session audio and MIDI files from “Biscodini Boogaloo” from Biscodini’s 2021 release Lockdown. The full-res 24-bit/48-khztems and audio are preloaded into two Pro Tools sessions, and accessible in folders to load into your DAW of choice.
Embedded in this 1 of 10 collector’s edition NFT:
- PT Session 1#: Drum Tracks:
- Kick, Snare, HH, Tom 1 & 2, OH, Room
- PT Session #2: Stem Tracks:
- Full Mix, Organ LH bass, Organ RH, Perc, Guit
- All tracks are in audio folders and can be imported into your own DAW
- MIDI file of organ part, separate tracks for organ bass and right hand
- Also included: PDF chart, MP3 mix
Auction URL: CLICK HERE
Band info, video and audio previews, full credits and liner notes by Chris Morris:
Biscodini Organ Trio:
Drummer Curt “Kirkee B.” Bisquera – a rocker who has played with… everybody… but some of his earliest pro experience came supporting his mother, a Hammond B3 player.
Organist Scott “ScoSco” Healy – a LA musical multitasker, Grammy nominee and longtime Conan band member whose grandma taught him Hammond organ at a tender age.
Guitarist John “Qdini” ChioDini – a Left Coast legend residing on the short list of the most revered and brilliant jazz and pop guitarists. Anywhere.
Video promo: https://youtu.be/jS30KNELB2w
I’m not one to ever toot my own horn, but I’ll toot it for this band. This band is killing, and it stands up to anything that’s out there in this genre. –Anonymous Biscodini Band Member
RECORDED MARCH 15th – JULY 31st, 2020 IN LOCKDOWN AT BLUEDOG STUDIO, BLACK COUCH STUDIO AND CHIODINI STUDIO
PRODUCED by BISCODINI and BOB DASPIT
ENGINEERED and MIXED BY BOB DASPIT and BISCODINI
MASTERED BY BOB DASPIT
ARTWORK by: JAYSON WON
LINER NOTES by: CHRIS MORRIS
RELEASED BY HUDSON CITY RECORDS, PO BOX 1651 STUDIO CITY, CA 91614 HUDSONCITYRECORDS.COM
All compositions by Curt Bisquera, Scott Healy and John Chiodini (BLUEDOG MUSIC, BMI – KIRKEE B MUSIC, BMI – Ginger Q Music BMI)
© 2021 by Biscodini – All Rights Reserved
Hudson City Records, P.O. Box 1651 Studio City CA 91614
Liner notes by Chris Morris:
LOCKDOWN: THE BISCODINI ORGAN TRIO
Curt Bisquera, Drums
Scott Healy, Organ
John Chiodini, Guitar
The year 2020 marked the 65th anniversary of the New York bow of organist Jimmy Smith’s influential jazz trio. Smith’s Hammond B3-guitar-drums format is among the most durable combo configurations in the music.
But its elasticity was perhaps never tested as greatly as it was on the Biscodini Organ Trio’s remarkable new release Lockdown, which was recorded and co-produced remotely during the nationwide pandemic quarantine of 2020 by three gifted, versatile Los Angeles-based musicians.
“We got locked down in March,” drummer Curt Bisquera recalls. “On Tuesday, March 10, I did a gig with my wife at Herb Alpert’s place, Vibrato, and John Chiodini played with us. Then, on Friday the 13th, we were standing in line at Trader Joe’s, waiting to shop the store’s empty shelves.”
Musicians everywhere were suddenly thrown out of work, as concert halls, clubs, and recording studios closed their doors. But Bisquera quickly concocted the inspired idea of cutting a new album, utilizing home studio gear, with two of his longtime collaborators, keyboardist Scott Healy and guitarist John Chiodini.
He says, “I thought, we’re all seasoned enough musicians to create from scratch on our own – I got the bouillabaisse, Scott has the flour, and John has the pasta. We can figure something out.”
The three players first united as the Biscodini Organ Trio at the landmark Studio City jazz club the Baked Potato in 2013. Healy had met Bisquera on a studio date in 2012, while Chiodini had worked with the drummer’s wife, jazz vocalist Daniela Spagnolo.
The musicians sport dissimilar yet ultimately complementary résumés. Bisquera, known by the professional handle “Kirkee B.,” is a rocker who has played with such talents as Tom Petty, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Seal, Bonnie Raitt, Morris Day & the Time, and international stars Johnny Hallyday and Laura Pausini; some of his earliest pro experience came supporting his mother, a Hammond B3 player.
Healy – recipient of a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for jazz composition, for his big band album Hudson City Suite – is well known to viewers of Late Night, The Tonight Show and Conan, where he worked as Conan O’Brien’s keyboardist for more than two decades, playing in the house band and backing a host of guest stars. His studio and live work included stints with Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Branford Marsalis, Ricky Martin, Levon Helm, and such blues talents as Hubert Sumlin and Son Seals, to name only a few. Though he is principally known as a pianist, he was first exposed to the organ via the Hammond M3 his grandmother had in her living room; he has flexed his B3 chops on both record dates and live gigs over the course of his career.
Chiodini – dubbed “Qdini” by big band leader Maynard Ferguson – is on the short list of the most revered and brilliant jazz and pop guitarists. After years under the baton of Arthur Fiedler in the Boston Pops, he relocated to the West Coast, working on the road and appearing on record with Peggy Lee, Hubert Laws, Natalie Cole, Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Nina Simone, and many others.
The busy schedules of its three members had allowed for the Biscodini Organ Trio’s live appearances on only a very irregular basis, but Bisquera was certain that he and his band mates could use the enforced isolation of the L.A. COVID-19 lockdown to creative advantage.
“Curt and I were talking,” Healy recalls, “and we were freaking out, and crying about losing our entire life. But Curt said, ‘Let’s make lemonade from lemons.’”
All of the players had recording setups in their homes – Bisquera in Westlake Village, Healy in Laurel Canyon, and Chiodini in Encino. It was determined that they would collectively write a new group of compositions, with Bisquera’s beats – cut in his living room, which sports an acoustically vibrant 18-foot ceiling – supplying the spine of the tunes.
“I just started out with the groove,” the drummer says. “The first one was “Donuts Spelled Backwards.” I came up with this motif of a Latin groove on the drums and I put together a simple arrangement in my head, an A-B format with a solo section. I recorded it like that, by myself, to a click track, and then I sent it to Chiodini and to Scott. I said, ‘OK, here’s the arrangement, go for it. Pick a key, pick a style.’”
Healy says, “Curt would come up with the entire form of the tune and the beat, the groove. The genius of it was that the form was there. He sent me a little tempo map, written out in Sharpie, about what the structure was. Then, to write the tune, it was basically just coloring it in, with the notes and the chords and the melody. But the form was already there. He was hearing a tune on a meta level, hearing a tune before it happened.”
“Scott would compose the song,” Chiodini adds, “and put on the organ, both the right hand and the left hand. He’d send it to me and I’d put the guitar part on it. It’s just a question of reacting to that. I’d listen to it a bunch of times before I played, and I prepared myself. I was also able to compose on a couple of the songs. I got Curt to use my track on the ballad we did, ‘Karen Stay Home.’ While I was arranging the song, it started fitting in perfectly. I found it just exhilarating writing to the drum track like that.”
As recording proceeded, the trio members enlisted Bob Daspit as engineer and co-producer. Daspit’s background is as eclectic as his collaborators’: He worked with the top Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer for a dozen years, and went on to log time with other top film music writers. After moving to Northern California, he served as hard rocker Sammy Hagar’s longtime producer-mixer, and worked on a host of other rock, country, and metal dates.
Explaining the process of full-on remote recording, Bisquera says, “We have a family Dropbox, where the four of us can access all of the material. I would do my drum take, and put that up into the Dropbox. Scott and John and Bob were then able to download those files, put them on their computer, and then they could do whatever they needed to on their end. Once that was all done, I would somewhat assemble it in an order, which was pretty much top to bottom how we recorded it, and then I’d send it off to Bob, who would mix it and master it for us.”
If one were to listen to Lockdown blindfolded, without any clue about the way the album was made, it would be impossible to imagine that the music was played by musicians hunkered down in three separate locations and engineered by someone hundreds of miles away in the Northern California community of Sebastopol.
Daspit notes, “Usually, when you get musicians of this caliber and you put everybody in one room, everybody’s listening to everyone and playing off of each other, and little spontaneous things happen in the moment – particularly with jazz musicians, because that’s what they’ve done from day one, listen to the other people playing. The lockdown was an unprecedented situation – we had to do it at home. In some ways it’s expected, because they’re all so good, that they can make it sound like they’re all in the same room when actually they’re not. That really all comes down to the musicians listening to the track and listening to each other.”
Query the members of the Biscodini Organ Trio about the music that has flowed into Lockdown, and they’ll conjure up a wild diversity of influences – jazz organ pathfinders like Jimmy Smith (naturally) and Shirley Scott, Steve Winwood, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum. Bisquera will reel off the names of players in R&B, funk, pop, and even punk.
“Because it’s a jazz organ trio, I didn’t want it to come from that traditional sense of Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes,” Bisquera says. “I was thinking of that, but because I’m a pop-rock drummer I thought, screw that. I’m going to tie my jazz drumming abilities to arrangements with a rock sensibility. That’s where I was coming from as a drummer. The jazz came from Scott and John.”
Healy says that the shape and stylistic reach of the album “is informed by Curt’s vision. These tunes are three or four minutes long, and there’s no room for an experimental solo, and we’re not going to take a couple of extra choruses to develop. We’re just going to hit it. There’s a pop sensibility.”
Though a record has never been made under more challenging circumstances, Biscodini’s players all express deep satisfaction with their work on Lockdown, which is as satisfying as it was unexpected.
Asked if he found himself being astonished by what he was doing as the record was being made, Chiodini says, “I was doing that all the time.” Bisquera adds, “I’m not one to ever toot my own horn, but I’ll toot it for this band. This band is killing, and it stands up to anything that’s out there in this genre.”
Healy may best locate what is utterly unique about Lockdown: “Part of the success of this record has to do with the stress, at least for me. It was good to have a beginner’s mind – it’s almost like the pandemic wiped my mind clean of anything that I’d been doing, that I’d been worried about, any projects, anything. There was nothing going on except thinking about the freaking lockdown.
“How do you make music under those circumstances? I think that gave us almost a creative edge. I got rebooted into a new space. This is not something I would ever have done in a regular life.”
- Chris Morris, January 2021
Chris Morris is a veteran music journalist whose work has appeared in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He is the author of Los Lobos: Dream in Blue and Together Through Life: A Personal Journey with the Music of Bob Dylan, and he is currently working on a history of the L.A. punk label Slash Records. He was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for his liner notes for the Rhino boxed set No Thanks! The ‘70s Punk Rebellion.