In March 2020 New York City shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All music venues were closed, and performances cancelled. In addition to lives lost, and the emotional turmoil entailed; lost jobs, political violence, environmental devastation. Historically, in times like these musicians and artists have always stepped up, expressed what needs to be expressed, said what needs to be SAID. Yet, during one of the most significant, and consequential periods in modern times, musicians are being sidelined and forced to remain silent.
"The artist's job is not to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence"- Woody Allen (from "Midnight In Paris").
To find a way; I resolved to safely record a series of duet recordings in order to fully express musically, the intense emotions we are all feeling during this challenging period. What was originally meant to be a string of five duet recordings, eventually turned into a series of nineteen recordings over the course of summer 2020.
Some of the musicians involved have been leading figures in the avant jazz community for many years, others are relative newcomers to the scene. Some young, others with a lifetime of experience, more "grist for the mill". But the defining feature of each and every one of the musicians represented in this "Pandemic Duet" series is a distinctly unique, individual, and immediately identifiable voice on their chosen instrument.
These are not meant to be "masterpieces", or some "grand statement". These nineteen pandemic duets are honest, heart-felt dialogues between musicians with a voice, and the means to use that voice. We will not be silenced. We will ALWAYS find a way.
Wishing all good health & the deepest well being!
released March 28, 2021
Digital Album contains 8 full tracks for a total of 50 minutes.
Raf Vertessen - drums
Stephen Gauci - tenor saxophone
Recorded 8/23/20 by Rene Allain at Scholes Street Studio,
Mixed & Mastered by Michael Coleman
Produced by Stephen Gauci
supported by 4 fans who also own “Raf Vertessen/Stephen Gauci, Pandemic Duets”
This is a wonderful album! Dave Douglas is one of my heroes. He's more than a great musician. He has a vision for the music and a feeling for putting together a group which is unique. So, beside Joey Baron (another heavyweight and one of my absolute favourite drummers) he invited some young cats to this session. They play just great and make sure that this music sounds totally fresh, whilst at the same time being deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. Florian Arbenz