Ken Maiuri’s Clubland: Trio Eavesdrop releases debut CD

  • Bobby Bradford

  • Eavesdrop

Published: 3/30/2016 3:18:14 PM

Kara Rose Jurkowski and Laura Marie Picchi had been performing together for years in dance/funk/pop bands, but they felt inspired to fill their spare time with a side project, something acoustic and simpler. Picchi suggested they add her high school friend Kerrie T. Bowden to the mix, and suddenly, in September 2014, the harmonious trio Eavesdrop was born.

The three women liked the blend of their voices and started by singing covers of some of their favorite songs, with the vocals as the main focus (accompanying themselves on acoustic guitar, a little percussion, a stomp box). 

“It was interesting for us to sing in a group where the vocals are not rivaling a loud band — it's like learning to use your voice in a whole new way,” Jurkowski said in an interview last week. “And since it’s stripped down, you are more vulnerable up there, so it took a little bravery!”

Eavesdrop began performing on a weekly basis and audiences liked what they heard, Jurkowski said.

“We started to have a following and things took off in a way that we were not expecting. The most frequently asked question we would get was, ‘Do you have any music I can buy?’ So we all agreed we should start writing some original material.”

The three women organized a band retreat to try creating their own songs as a group. They spent a long weekend at a family friend’s welcoming home, on a dirt road in the woods of Becket.

“We went there with no expectations. We just wanted to try to write together and see what came out of it. Maybe one, maybe 10 songs … who knows?” said Jurkowski, who mentioned Fleetwood Mac, The Staves and The Lone Bellow as some of their common influences. “We hunkered down in that house for three days straight — no TV or phone calls, just sitting by the wood stove, writing, listening to music that inspired us, and taking turns cooking delicious food for each other.”

Eavesdrop left the retreat with a handful of songs, excited about how natural it was to write together, Jurkowski said. “No one owns a particular song — every one is ours. It is such a beautiful, fulfilling, creative experience. I have never felt anything like it.”

The trio is planning a summer tour out to Ohio, down to Nashville and back home via New York City. None of them has ever gone on tour before, or visited Nashville, but the music-powered city was suggested by some of their fans as a must-play destination. Since Picchi and Bowden are big country music fans, and they all love to travel, they’re definitely going.

“This will be something to scratch off the bucket list,” Jurkowski said. 

Eavesdrop will celebrate the release of its debut EP of four original songs, “Afterglow,” with a show at the Iron Horse in Northampton April 8 at 7 p.m. Grayson Ty is the opening act.

Jazz magic

Glenn Siegel is the founding director of the Magic Triangle Jazz Series of concerts (bringing legendary artists like Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, Cecil Taylor, William Parker and many others to the University of Massachusetts Amherst since 1990), and he’s also one of the Valley’s most-knowledgeable and trusted jazz experts. He’s seen and heard it all — except for the rare instance when he hasn’t.

"I have never heard [cornet player] Bobby Bradford or [saxophonist] Hafez Modirzadeh perform live, and I feel safe in saying that virtually no one reading this has either. "That's why I wanted to invite them to Amherst, ” Siegel said in an interview earlier this week. "They are exactly the kind of musicians that I love to present: profoundly influential artists, revered by their peers, but largely unknown to the general public.” 

The Bobby Bradford/Hafez Modirzadeh Quartet, which also features bassist Ken Filiano and drummer royal hartigan, is the next featured concert in this season’s Magic Triangle series, at Bezanson Recital Hall on the UMass campus Thursday at 8 p.m.

Cornetist Bradford, now 81, made a long-ago decision to stay local, teaching and raising his family and spending his entire career in Los Angeles, rather than follow the typical musician’s path to New York. It’s kept him under the radar of the average jazz fan, but Siegel pointed out that Bradford has been one of the most influential musicians in the Los Angeles jazz community, collaborating with famous players like saxophonists Ornette Coleman and David Murray (a former student of Bradford’s), guitarist Nels Cline and others. 

Saxophonist Modirzadeh has shared stages with masters like Don Cherry and Steve Lacy and is, according to Siegel, “one of a small handful of jazz theorists who have advanced our understanding of the ever-changing nature of jazz. His deep study of the intersection of Persian and African-American music, forged inside and outside the academy, will provide future generations with a lot to chew on.”

Siegel called Modirzadeh’s three albums on the Pi Recordings label “magnificent. They make the hand-wringing of the jazz establishment about the death of the music moot.” 

Siegel said Modirzadeh is having the historic concert professionally recorded for a planed future release.

Ken Maiuri can be reached at clublandcolumn@gmail.com.




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