Jeremy Udden: Far From Plain
Musicians Udden's age weren't staying in Boston at the time. "When I got to New York, there was plenty of people I wanted to play with and that wanted to play with me," he notes. "We hadn't connected in a while, so it felt good. That's still the reason I'm here. New York's not my favorite place to live. I go to Stockholm regularly, and I always think I want to live there. But it all comes out of the musicthe music I hear and the music I want to play; the musicians that understand our music are here. They do it at such a high level. That's the reason."
Plainville was formed and had places to play. Brandon Seabrook, Udden says, was key to the sound he wanted to capture. "Nobody really sounds like him. Originally, I thought I wanted a harp in the band. But then Brandon started playing, and the Plainville thing started happening. It changed the way I wrote, and it ended up forming around that. When I did the Torchsongs thing, I was proud of it, but I didn't know how to continue it. It came out, but it was like a time and a place. This Plainville thing seems like the center of my voice. I have other projects that I'm into. Plainville, for me, feels like it's the center of what I'm hearing when I write. It's changing, it's playing in new directions as well. I'm excited about that."
Udden's band actually played in Plainville and did a small Massachusetts tour. He also likes having singers join in. "We've done it with Aoife O'Donavan, who's a pretty well-known folk singer. I've started writing music that would involve her for Plainville, so there could be more vocal stuff," he explains. In addition to writing for Plainville, he occasionally does gigs with his Torchsongs unit, which is currently a trio with Ben Monder and Ziv Ravitz on drums. He plays with people like Andrew D'Angelo and Carlberg, and has two new projects that both involve saxophonist Petr Cancurra and drummer Richie Barshay: "One of them is Ethiopian music and the other, we play fiddle tunes," says Udden. "I play with some singer-songwriters as well, like Justin Keller. I play in his band. It's called Land of Lelandsort of an indie rock band. It keeps me interested."
So Udden's home continues to be New York and his schedule remains busy. "That's New York for you. It's all happening. It continues to amaze me. It's all happening at such a high level. You can't help but grow as a musician. Every style is being done so well. The definition of 'good' has broadened for me," he says. "In other cities, there are people that can do it and can't do it. In New York, everybody can do it. There's so many ways that good can exist here. It's overwhelming at times. I'm happy to be here and learn from that and try to contribute to that scene."
Jeremy Udden, If the Past Seems So Bright (Sunnyside Records, 2011)
Jeremy Udden, Plainville (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2009)
Nicholas Urie Large Ensemble, Excerpts From An Online Dating Service (Red Piano Records, 2009)
Jeremy Udden, Torchsongs (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005)
Either/Orchestra, Ethiopiques 20: Live in Addis (Buda Musique, 2005)
Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, Celebration of Spirit (CIMP, 2004)
Either/Orchestra, Neo- Modernism (Accurate Records, 2003)
Either/Orchestra, Afro- Cubism (Accurate Records, 2003)
All Photos: Scott Friedlander