Music at Night (and Other Stories) –
The New York Second

Music at Night (and Other Stories) –
The New York Second

“From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstacy and death – all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.

After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

Music at Night – Aldous Huxley

Available on music platforms

Flophouse magazine

“Walkate/The New York Second and Becker/Fagen of Steely Dan have in common high-level musicianship and a great ear for detail and definitely delivered a must-hear.”

Musik an sich (German) review

“There is a brilliant play with the instruments: after less than two minutes I’m already overwhelmed by the impressions.”

Jazz Dergisi

“When the record comes to an end, we are left with wonderful modern harmonies, masterful solos and a happy smile on our faces.”

Music at Night is a “New York Second” project produced by Harald Walkate and Teus Nobel, with a septet of established and up-and-coming jazz musicians, including Thomas Pol and Mark Alban Lotz.

Inspired by the essay collection “Music At Night” by the English writer Aldous Huxley, these nine compositions are like stories, with plotlines, unexpected twists and different chapters, trying to “express the inexpressible”.

Pianist René van Helsdingen:

“This is music for a film that isn’t there but that I can see before me; it’s constantly moving, it’s Philip Glass and Steve Reich. The compositions are diverse, sometimes swing, sometimes modern, sometimes I hear Beatles, sometimes cacophony. Yet it is unmistakably one concept, with strong melody lines and with ever-increasing intensity and modal progressions that lend themselves perfectly to free improvisation.”

The Music At Night compositions are reflections of the night. The starting point is often calm and sometimes still, but this night has no curfew – the stories aren’t bedtime stories, instead they leave you awake. Time and again the peace is disturbed by agitation, horns entering into an unwelcome conversation with the melody of the keys, or coming into conflict with each other. Often the calm returns but, after these outbursts, it’s an uncertain calm.

There are certainly moments of harmony and stillness in the music. There is, however, an undertone of tension that keeps you feeling that something is about to happen.

It’s ironic that this project is only now really taking shape: in this day and age when the quiet lockdown evenings are more suitable for subdued arranging work than for exuberant jam sessions. What will happen when these seven musicians, locked up for too long, can finally get on stage together is the next chapter.

Van Helsdingen:
“It’s important that these compositions should be played – they lend themselves to improvisation, which is what jazz is all about. It matters for the young generation, they must be given every opportunity to gain experience, to profile themselves, to ‘express the inexpressible‘.”

A very cool new milestone for the group was being invited to play music from Music at Night for VPRO Vrije Geluiden, the pre-eminent music show here in the Netherlands… This is the footage!

Thanks to VPRO for inviting us and making us look & sound so good.

In March 2022 The New York Second was a finalist in the Karel van Eerd Music Award with compositions from the Music at Night album. The jury: “great musicians, beautiful arrangements, a wonderful band to listen to.”

Watch the full KVEMA-performance:

From the liner notes:

The New York Second’s Music at Night, through its story-telling, ‘says’ things about the world, but in specifically musical terms. The drama is there: the setting of the scene, entrances, exits, mounting tensions, suspended actions, climaxes, resolutions. But these are no “stories” that can be put into words. It’s all music, rhythms, melodies, themes, variations. And, luckily for me, there’s also the non-drama, the sounds, the timbres, the pulses, the moods, the breathing, the swaying, the swing, the silence – texture, not text.

Line-up

The project is produced by Harald Walkate, who also wrote and arranged the compositions, in collaboration with Florian Ross and Jos Pommer. Co-producer is Teus Nobel.

Recordings were made at the Wedgeview studios, spring/summer 2021.

Samples

The project is supported by the Sena Performers Music Production Fund of Sena Performers, which aims to provide financial means to professional musicians for the realization of the production of sound recordings.