When Dom Flemons set out to make his 2014 release Prospect Hill, he knew he wanted it to be an eclectic record. For variety, he assembled two different bands, each one a fantasy line up of top players.
The first sessions coincided with a rare North Carolina snowstorm. Dom took shelter in a Durham studio with Ben Hunter, Joe Seamons, Guy Davis, and engineer Jason Richmond.
“Ben and Joe are a musical duo who I met at the Port Townsend acoustic blues week in the summer of 2013,” Dom remembers.
The folk singer Guy Davis, of course, is one of Dom’s heroes: “The chance to get to work with him finally was a dream come true.” As the snow fell outside, the band jammed on Dom’s tunes, forging sounds that ranged from swinging old-time blues to the martial beats of fife and drum music.
As the first sessions came to a close, Dom was hearing strains of New Orleans jazz.
“I mentioned to Jason that I would love to record with some jazz musicians to get some alternate versions of the songs,” Dom remembers. With Richmond’s help, Dom got together a cohort of musicians with roots in modern jazz, free jazz, and bebop.
“[Jason] called upon several musicians who he had worked with previously. All of the jazz musicians came with great distinction,” Dom remembers. Channeling Dixieland and “trad jazz,” the group placed Dom’s songs in an altogether different context.
“These guys came in with open minds, and they did a great job in creating the soundscape for the other half of the Prospect Hill album,” he said.
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