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Thread City Jazz Trio regroups to release new album

Published on November 21, 2022

Thread City Jazz Trio regroups to release new album

Thread City Jazz Trio performs in Eastern's Concert Hall

From left: Matt Bronson, Anthony Cornicello, Rick O'Neal

The album cover for the upcoming release

A revamped performance ensemble, Thread City Jazz Trio, featuring three music department faculty is set to release a new album this coming January. The self-titled release is an adventurous re-imagining of jazz standards through the fusion of the unique artistic perspectives of Anthony Cornicello (piano), Rick O’Neal (bass) and Matt Bronson (drums).

Anthony Cornicello

As fellow faculty at Eastern, Cornicello, O’Neal and Bronson inspire each other to be creatively engaged in bringing their own interpretations to jazz standards. Often, the members will try to play familiar pieces in the context of different genres. “There are some times we’ll walk in and we’ll be like, let’s try this as a Latin,” said Cornicello. “Other times, it happens in performance.”

Improvisation is a core aspect of the way the trio performs and is a skill that can keep songs from going off the rails. “That’s the beauty of jazz,” said O’Neal. Cornicello added, “In a certain way, you’ve kind of got to go with it.”

To Cornicello, jazz is a window to his nature as a performer: “I never realized how zen I am until I started thinking about playing jazz.”

“Sometimes, it happens in the middle of practicing and performing it,” O’Neal added. “That happened at the last show we did: Some things were not planned, they happened organically, and they were cool.” 

Bronson, meanwhile, has honed his improvisational skills from a young age. “In high school, I played in improvisational rock groups,” he said. He also has a background in classical music. He is excited by the diverse creative capabilities within the trio. “What’s cool is that Anthony, Rick and I come from different backgrounds, but we meet in the middle with jazz,” he said. 

Matt Bronson

The trio’s new album represents a new direction, largely because Bronson joined the band only about six weeks before the album was recorded. “I was getting to know playing with them,” he said. “In a certain way, we had to look at it from a different perspective,” said Cornicello, as Bronson’s voice behind the drum kit is different from that of former drummer Venlo Odom. “We had to sort of reconfigure some tunes.”

With the addition of Bronson, O’Neal said, the band rebranded, having formerly been called the Straight Up Jazz Trio. “It was a different band, even with only one member different,” he said. “There’s only three of us.”

While this album was Bronson’s first recording project with the Thread City Jazz Trio, he is no stranger to recording. Still, this experience was different, but in a good way, as he credits Bill Ahearn at Tapeworks Studio in Hartford for making his kit sound as good as possible in as little time as possible.

“Most recording projects I’ve done, you really have to dial in sound,” he said. Thread City’s recording experience at Tapeworks was an example of what Bronson calls a “fastball right down the middle,” as Ahearn helped the band hit the ground running.

Rick O'Neal

As for the circumstances surrounding the creation of the band’s new album, Cornicello said, “it was a lot of work.” Of course, there is more to it than that. “We’ve been after this for a while,” said O’Neal. “Of course, the pandemic didn’t help… We never got this far into the process where we had the chance to oil the machine, get ready to line up a studio, and we didn’t have money, either.”

Bronson, who joined the band long after they had the idea of recording the album, said that he was inspired to “contribute to it in a way that was authentic.”

Now, with the recording process in the rearview mirror, the album will be available in a variety of formats, namely CD. “It’s a format that I think jazz fans will still subscribe to,” said O’Neal. “We’re going to do all the digital platforms as well.” He said that it will be the type of album to listen to uninterrupted, from beginning to end: “This isn’t something you just listen to in the background, especially jazz. You pay attention to it.”

Written by Noel Teter

Categories: Arts, Music