Gigs are hard to come by in the COVID age, but creativity never stops. That’s evident with the Jack Breslin Trio‘s latest instrumental jazz album, Trio, containing all original songs by the three musicians.
With Jersey-City based Breslin on upright bass, Brian Princing on guitar, and Chelsea Hughey on drums, Trio was recorded at NLK Studio in Jersey City, and mixed by John Roccesano at Silver Horse Sound in Hoboken. These musicians have been playing together consistently, since 2014, and that familiarity shines through on the remarkably smooth and melodious collaborations that make up the album—which is now streaming on their website, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, Pandora, YouTube and other platforms.
We had a chat with Breslin about the album, the stunning videos (from the recording session, produced and edited by CourTney Collins of NLK Studio), and the challenges of doing music in this strange new world…
hMAG: What prompted this album?
Jack Breslin: This trio, with Brian Princing on guitar and Chelsea Hughey on drums, has been playing together since 2014 with multiple regular stints at a bunch of locations. We’ve had residencies at Eataly WTC, The Corkscrew, Finnegan’s, The Hutton, and played countless gigs besides. All three of us write our own music, so we have all been playing each other’s music for years. Chelsea told us that she and her fiancé were moving back near her family in Indianapolis in January, so we knew we had to get together and properly record a bunch of these songs before that happened.
Over two days in between Christmas and New Years, I set up NLK Studio in Jersey City Heights for our recording.
H: What can you tell us about the tracks, and what they represent?
JB: Everyone brought three tracks of theirs to record for our session. Outside of “Sketched Out” which I had just finished, they were all tunes we’d been playing together for a long time. I love playing original jazz with a band like this for as long as we’ve played together. We all bring our own tunes to the band, and the band shapes them and changes them. As we play them time and time again, the songs evolve. We play them differently every time, and some things stick and become part of them. For example, the very end of “Laurie” where the tempo and feel changes. We just improvised that as a band once and loved it so much we started doing it every time. We wanted to capture all those years of development, improvement, and collaboration.
All of us had at least one song we wrote for our “special someone.” Brian’s tune “Laurie” is for his amazing wife. “J.A.M.” was written by Chelsea for her fiancé James, and “Quiet Inspiration” for her grandfather. I wrote “Coco And Lemon” for CourTney and our son Leon before he was born.
Writing that song was crazy because it happened so fast. Sometimes songs take weeks, months, years to write. Thinking about becoming a dad, that song came to me and I wrote the entire song in an hour. My little love letter to my family.
H: Videos look sharp… how was filming amid COVID?
JB: My partner CourTney Collins shot three gorgeous music videos with the help of Brian Yost, who did the amazing lighting design. The thing about living with a filmmaker is that sometimes she wakes up in the morning and says things like “I had a dream, we have to make a music video.” So when I was planning to record this album, she worked with me to make sure we could come away with some gorgeous photos and videos.
Filming in the times of COVID is not an easy task. I set the band up more than 6 feet apart, and we wore masks whenever we weren’t filming for the videos. Everyone did their best to quarantine beforehand and stay safe during the session. We can’t wait to get back to playing for people, although the band will look slightly different.
H: What’s next?
JB: Well, that’s a tricky one. I’d love to be playing all over town to promote the album, but obviously that’s not much of an option right now. So I guess I’ll be pushing people to listen to the album until we can get back in front of people again. Chelsea has relocated, so while I know we will play again, the commute from Indianapolis might be a little much. The band will look a little different next time you see us.
In musical terms, I’ve already got some ideas for the next album. I’d like to expand my songs a bit for the next album, adding some horns. A lot of what I write, I imagine being played by a 5- or 6-piece band with horns. Brian is a great sport playing all my parts simultaneously on guitar, but I’d like to present my songs in a different, fuller way.
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