Gordon Withers: Cello Sketches for BELLS≥ “North American Spirituals”

The playlist below includes four examples of what BELLS≥ has been doing towards our next album, a collection of music called North American Spirituals. If you saw any of our performances on our tour last August, you heard quartet versions of another two of the pieces (“The First Ray” and “May You Bury Me”), both of which were written thus far with the group’s then-current line-up in mind.

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A Note on the Recent BELLS≥ Tour

My band BELLS≥ recently completed a week-long tour, performing seven consecutive nights, sharing the bill with Nashville’s Friendship Commanders and D.C.’s The EFFECTS. We are grateful for their fellowship, to say nothing of their extraordinary talents. Their nightly performances were each an inspiration and their company a delight.

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Recording

My band, BELLS≥, was in the studio for 5 days last November.

In my experience, most recording has been a matter of capturing a given group’s routine at its best, by which I mean the performances we’ve been after were essentially definitive versions of the songs we’d rehearsed or performed prior to the session. Some of this was no doubt financially-driven. Studio time is not cheap and except for the two LPs I recorded when I was in Jawbox, much of my recording has been fugitive, donated, committed on the fly or in off-hours, in friends’ home studios or with portable gear. This mode, given that I’ve almost never been in improvisational groups, generally requires readiness, organization, and rehearsal. At the least, one doesn’t want to prevail over an engineer-friend’s generosity, and besides, the music one writes for such sessions is prepared to be recorded quickly.

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