Music Journeys: Biscodini Organ Trio
The band members of Biscodini Organ Trio are well-established musicians who've been playing random gigs together for years. COVID-19 prevented that in 2020. But the pandemic brought together drummer Curt Bisquera, organist Scott Healy, and guitarist John Chiodini in an unexpected way - to record an album. The trio called the ten-track release Lockdown. Here on Music Journeys, the guys share how the songs came together, take us back to when the love of music began, and reflect on what music has meant to them. They even crafted a song with this program in mind called Mr. Mike, which you'll hear too. Thanks for listening.
2020 Shuffle plays...
If there's a theme to the first release from Biscodini Organ Trio, it might be the song 2020 Shuffle. Drummer Curt Bisquera, organist Scott Healy, and guitarist John Chiodini had to shuffle their plans like everyone else during the pandemic. While they couldn't get together for live gigs anymore, Bisquera had an idea.
"I'm going to record a drum groove, send it to you, and whatever you come up with will be the right thing," Bisquera said of the process. "I trust them and know how they play. There was no question of what they would come up with. I then called my dear friend Bob Daspit and said can you throw a quick mix on this. Bob did it within hours. The three of us were so blown away, we did another one and it just kept going and going. Within a two-month period during the 2020 lockdown, we were able to come up with this record. It was only fitting we called it Lockdown."
6 Ft. Distance plays...
"My mom was a musician and when she was 8 and a half months pregnant with me was playing in a jazz organ trio," Bisquera said. So whenever I hear a B3 organ, the thumb goes in the mouth and I start marching to a B3. I played in nightclubs with her. I was exposed to a lot of music because my mom's day gig was at the Columbus Records pressing plant. I always wanted to be a studio drummer. Three weeks prior to my high school graduation, I auditioned for Morris Day and the Time after he left Prince and went solo. There were over 50 drummers. I was the last one and got the gig, and that was the beginning of my career in 1985 of August."
Bisquera hasn't stopped since, recording and/or touring with some of music's biggest names including Sir Elton John, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, Johnny Cash, and Bonnie Raitt.
Biscodini organist Scott Healy also started music at an early age but in the Buckeye State.
"When I was a four-year-old in Cleveland, born in Shaker Heights and raised in Willoughby in northern Ohio, my grandma was a music teacher and a piano teacher and taught me the organ technique," Healy said. "This style of music is in my DNA. I was a freelance composer and studio player in New York for years. I started playing on television with the Conan O'Brien show in 1993. We came out to L.A. in 2009 and I was with Conan until 2018 and just set loose on the music world. Growing up in Ohio, I always envied people on the coast because they had so much more of a scene. The music business was all New York and L.A. and for some degree Chicago and certainly Boston. But it was only later in life that I realized how profound the Ohio upbringing was. The stuff was in my ears, so go Ohio."
Guitarist John Chiodini forms the rest of the trio. He's full of a variety of music too, having toured and/or recorded with Peggy Lee, Natalie Cole, Bobby Caldwell, Nina Simone, Barbara Streisand, and Michael Buble just to name a few.
"I started young," Chiodini said. "I had an uncle who played accordion. I had an uncle marry into the family who played lap steel guitar so we had a band. I got into music loving to play with other people. I listened to Rock and Roll early. I can remember playing in big bands when I was a kid. I was in the Boston area and moved out to L.A. and been working in L.A. with road bands and now loving Biscodini, man."
Beau Did He plays...
"To give Curt credit, he started with a drum track," Healy said. "I've been composing to drums for years but it's usually a loop and you cycle it and chop it up and send it out for collaboration. His tune was already there. There was no room for error. I just plugged a tune into it, and it worked. By the time John got these tunes, it was transparent and it flowed. We could do the performance from beginning to end in our own studio as if we were playing live."
"That was the whole idea, to approach it live," Bisquera continued. "Secondly, I wanted it to be fun with zero hassles and zero stress. What better to make music in your bathrobe and at your leisure. John added his genius to the song Karen Stay Home. He came up with a beautiful melody. It's a beautiful ballad. Whenever I play it in my studio, my wife and I dance to it."
Karen Stay Home plays...
"Composing to a drum track, I had never done it that way before," Chiodini said. "In composing that tune, it came out as a 24 bar tune. So I started putting it on there, and because the drum track was happening and flowing, it allowed me to go to a place I wouldn't have gone to on my own. I had such a great time doing it."
Donuts Spelled Backwards plays...
"That was the first song," Bisquera said of Donuts Spelled Backwards. "I sent that with just an idea of a Latin-like feel. I didn't know what it would sound like in song form, but I let those guys work it out."
"I'm really partial to that first tune we did because it had that fresh sound and took awhile to get those lines working," Healy added.
"The first one you sent Scotty, my fingers didn't want to do that," Chiodini said. "It really depends on the day as far as the song I enjoy the most. Sometimes that Boogaloo kicks my ass."
Biscodini Boogaloo plays...
"I think Jazz does weave in and out of every tune because we're all coming from that," Bisquera said. "But because of all our influences in the years, everything seeped in. Nobody told anyone what to do. For me it's the opening tune, The Mask.
The Mask plays...
"Because I defied anything and everything drums," Bisquera said of his love for The Mask. "That was recorded with a drum midi controller called the drum cat. Actually I wanted to do the whole record on that and prove to the drumming community it could be done. If I replaced it with real drums, it wouldn't have the delight I would have everytime it played, so for me that's my favorite.
Canyon Road plays...
As they remain hopeful for a time they can play live again together in the same room, each member of Biscodini remains grateful for the experiences they've had in music.
"I knew if I took another route in my life it would not be satisfying, and I would not be living my truth," Bisquera said of music. "That happens with everybody. We have a desire, and we don't follow through. Always in the back of your mind there's that little tapping of regret, and I just never wanted to live with that tapping going on. I wanted to know and feel every aspect of being a musician, which is the highest of highs and lowest of lows. It's not for everybody. It can be super stable, it can be super unstable, and anywhere in between. But that in itself is what makes it exciting and worth living for."
"The world of music made sense to me," Healy said. "I got it even as a kid. But all of my musicality was so self-centered. It took me a long time to realize that the purpose of music is to connect with the community and the world. It's about people and community and sharing and performing. That's what keeps me going. Suddenly since the pandemic, we're a global village. It's very invigorating to be on a that high level when you're recording. You realize you're making a permanent record that's going to last forever. It's a great feeling, and that's why I love recording."
"We deal with what everybody deals with, pain, happiness, stress and having a great gig and making dough and then two weeks later, what happened?" Chiodini added. "Playing live and communicating with a band, you're totally into it. You realize all of the sudden you are playing the same lick together. You live in the same zone, and you're feeling the same thing. It's incredible. The audience knows when it's real."