New Album: Hazelrigg Brothers – SYNCHRONICITY: An interpretation of the album by THE POLICE
SYNCHRONICITY: An interpretation of the album by THE POLICE, featuring George Hazelrigg (piano), Geoff Hazelrigg (bass) & John O’Reilly Jr. (drums).
Commemorating and Celebrating the Fortieth Anniversary of the Fifth & Final Studio Album by The Police
What The Critics Are Saying About the Trio’s Debut album, Songs We Like
“…the group has searched for – and found – a process of recording that captures to perfection the experience of hearing a piano trio in the real world – warm and interactive, organic, the bass embracing drums like it does from the seat in one of the front rows of a small jazz club, with the piano dancing inside that musical abrazo, on this highly-engaging debut”
– All About Jazz
“I can’t recommend this album highly enough and I hope to see the Hazelrigg brothers live on the European stage’s sooner rather than later.” – Jazz in Europe
“…one of the best pure trio recordings of the year” – Audiophile Audition
Perfectly expressing the political and social temper of the early 1980s, the original landmark album, Synchronicity, was a near-constant soundtrack to George and Geoff Hazelrigg’s upbringing, and a huge influence on their artistic future. Hazelrigg Brothers celebrates the 40th anniversary of this classic album with Synchronicity: An interpretation of the album by The Police, an audiophile experience full of the fire, power and dynamics that have become their trademark. The album was recorded in one room using two stereo microphones, captured in DSD. Available June 2, 2023 on 180 gram vinyl (mastered from DSD), CD, and digital download through Native DSD, on OuterMarkerRecords.com. “Murder By Numbers” will be available only in digital formats (CD and download).
The origins of this recording go back forty years to Princeton, NJ with two precocious kids tuning into MTV and discovering a whole world of music. The opening notes and images of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” captivated their young minds, and they were entranced by the videos for “Synchronicity II” and “Wrapped Around Your Finger.”
“There were a ton of videos that we saw on MTV, but those had such major influence. That shapes your brain when you’re a kid. That record is in our blood,” said Geoff. George added, “Synchronicity I is punk as f*ck! It’s so exciting when you hear that riff in the intro. Also, that is the bit of music that Geoff used to test VLCs in the first years of Hazelrigg Industries.” On that note, outside of playing music, the brothers’ “day job” is Hazelrigg Industries HazelriggIndustries.com, as designers and manufacturers of high-end studio recording gear used by top producers, engineers and artists around the world.
The Hazelrigg Brothers did an arrangement of “Synchronicity II” for a recording they made in the nineties, so the idea for this album had been marinating for a while. George elaborates, “We’ve been on this kick with The Police for a long time. We worked on the arrangement for “Miss Gradenko” for years. It went through dozens of iterations before we wound up with what we have on this record.”
This album was born out of love for Synchronicity, arguably The Police’s crowning achievement, and a desire to commemorate and celebrate the album’s fortieth anniversary. “I remember being in high school and having that record on nonstop; I had it in my Walkman forever,” said Geoff. Getting right to point, George added, “I think so many of the songs on the record really resonate, I mean, they’re all so good,” a sentiment most of us can wholeheartedly agree with.
More on the music with the Hazelrigg Brothers:
Geoff: It’s got that sequencer part, and we do some of that mechanical kind of playing, but it draws you in, in a hypnotic kind of way. It’s a cool opener, and as a group I think we excel at playing really dynamically. It’s not about how loud you are, it’s how soft you get, because everybody’s always playing as loud as they can. But how soft can you get? And with that tune, we really go from here all the way down. You know, it’s this kind of push pull dynamic thing that happens while maintaining that level of intensity the entire way through. That’s the trick.
Walking in your footsteps
George: It’s about dinosaurs.
Geoff: Yeah. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs?
O My God
George: It’s an illustration of how they were still an underground punk band. “O My God” is questioning religion during the Cold War, which was still a taboo thing to do at the time.
Geoff: That was the blues on the record, because every jazz album needs a blues, right?
George: This was a challenging one. That song is way too f*cking punk-ass. And it’s a 12 bar blues.
Geoff: That song is about the lyrics, right? And it’s not just the lyrics, it’s the lyrical performance.
George: He doesn’t sing it, right? He speaks it: “The telephone is ringing. Is that my mother on the phone?” And so we had to adapt a melody that wasn’t actually part of the song. But how were we going to capture the lyric of it, and then how were we going to frame it so there was something to grab onto? It was like we need to make it sound like… Chopin, you know?
George: The ultimate Cold War song.
Geoff: You know, it’s only two minutes, but that song has more notes in it than probably any other song on the album.
George: When we first arranged this song, I did not have the facility, the technique, to play it. I went through years of piano studies to finally get to the point where I can play it as well as I can now. I credit that two-minute piece for more of my later technical development as a piano player than almost anything else.
George: It has elements of the other songs before it, and sort of puts a bow on that entire first half of the record. There’s a lot of chaos. The breakdown section is the same as the ending of “O my God.” It’s like this chaos that you’re barely, barely holding onto. And so I’m doing a lot of muting and stuff and Geoff’s doing all this screechy bass stuff and John’s playing screechy cymbal sounds. It’s a lot of sound design.
Every Breath You Take
Geoff: The mega-hit from the record.
George: There’s that iconic guitar line, which we carry through the entire song, other than the bridge section and the outro. I don’t play any other notes. It’s a monophonic line that I carry the entire time. Geoff’s playing that melody in that baritone range that has a certain sinister element to it, and it becomes this two-voice piece.
King of Pain
George: Well, we didn’t have a marimba, so John played an mbira. That is the tune where we wind up sounding most like a jazz trio. By the time the outro hits, we’ve distressed the song completely.
Wrapped Around Your Finger
Geoff: Another song that has a lot of lyrical imagery, and our job was to just take that mysterious imagery and do our best to apply it without the words.
George: When Geoff plays the melody on the second verse, he hits the high note and slides to that next note. There’s something in the piano that echoes his high note, and it sounds like there’s an echo on the bass.
Geoff: If you listen to the last chorus, it sounds like we overdub a synth in the middle. It’s just the way the composite sounds come together.
Tea in the Sahara
George: What “Tea in the Sahara” captures is how beautiful all the instruments in that room sound. It captures what is so phenomenal about that 1887 Steinway and just the massive size and tone of Geoff’s 7/8 bass and the delicacy of that birch Gretsch kit, and how John approaches playing cymbals. It’s all just the delicate – impossibly quiet at times – detail, of just how fine those instruments are.
Murder by Numbers
Geoff: I think harmonically and form-wise, it already lends itself to the format probably more than any other song on the record. I mean, it starts with a drum solo and it ends with a drum solo.
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