This release is the second in our “Social Music at Troost” series and features a guitarless trio with David Watson on bagpipes (large and small), me on electric bass (ok, ok, it’s a guitar if you want to get technical) and soprano saxophone, and Rick on plywood crate, percussion, homemade horns, talk ‘n play and various tone and noise generating devices. It’s unusual instrumentation, even for us, which really highlights the spirit of experimentation that characterized these residencies. It’s a wonder that John and Jamie allowed, even encouraged(!) these kinds of shenanigans at their bar night after night but hey, it was a special time, and part of the fun of playing at Troost was pushing or sometimes obliterating the definition of what might constitute a “bar band”. David and Rick go back a few decades at least and were even neighbors on East 13th street until an eviction sent David packing for Greenpoint (really the outer boroughs back then) just around the way from Troost, where he’s lived ever since. Despite the long association, the two can only remember playing together a couple of times, but in the years just before the formation of 75 Dollar Bill, Rick and his wife Sue started hosting jam sessions at their old practice space on Greenpoint avenue and David was often in attendance. The group, which later on performed a few gigs as Love Layers (including at our Social Music residency in 2018) was mostly percussion and horns and the only amps allowed had to be small enough to fit in a paper lunch bag. Rick was persistent in inviting me to these sessions but it was a little while before I actually made it to one. Eventually I came through and as luck would have it that was the first time I heard Rick’s plywood crate, and basically the beginning of 75 Dollar Bill. David and I also went on to play some duos with him on bagpipes and me on violin, the first of which happened at, where else, Troost. So having David sit in with us at Social Music was sort of an inevitability, really. We rehearsed a couple of times and came up with a loose structure that left plenty of room for accidents of both the happy and other variety. Listening with a few years' distance, aside from cringing at a few moments where I am fumbling with the tuning--it’s hard to get a soprano or bass to play nice when the big pipes “A”=472Hz!--I hear music that incorporates the earthier rhythmic tendencies of 75 Dollar Bill, Rick’s atmospheric use of tapes and eccentric electronic devices (which so far haven’t appeared much in our recorded catalog) and the ecstatic, high amplitude textures David and I were exploring in our duo improvisations. Pretty good for a bar band. We do weddings too. - C.C. 11/4/21
Rick Brown: plywood crate, cowbell, homemade horns, vuvuzela
Che Chen: electric bass, c soprano saxophone, radio, bells
David Watson: homemade double reed, small pipes, highland bagpipes, cowbell
Recorded by Che Chen at Social Music #2 residency at Troost Cafe in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on January 2, 2017.
Editing and cover design by Che Chen
Mastered by Steve Silverstein
Photo courtesy of Ana Voci & Jake King
Liner Notes by Che Chen
Thanks to: John Ortiz, Jamie Eldredge, Troost/Sundown family, Patrick Holmes, Ana Voci & Jake King.
75 Dollar Bill was formed in 2012 in NYC by Rick Brown and Che Chen. Played on a deeply resonant plywood crate, Brown’s
elemental rhythms are the foundation and foil for Chen’s ecstatic, modal guitar style. While Brown and Chen are always at the band’s core, they frequently draw on an extended family of players live and on record, from trios to “little big band” to 25-piece marching band....more