The sounds of the South End urban environment outside in the summer consist of everything from sirens to birds to wind in the trees to folks ambling by yelling at nothing in particular.
It’s a unique blend of city sounds, but a funny thing happens when an outdoor jazz concert happens in the midst of that noise – it all blends together and becomes music.
“There have been times I’m in the middle of a solo and a siren comes by the Park and I just try to mimic the sound in my solo – blending it all together,” laughed Loomis prior to the July 30 concert. “The outside aspect of these concerts makes if very special. The sounds around you are one thing, but you also have the aspect of people coming by and finding the concerts. We love the people who make a plan to come, but you also have that aspect of people walking by and finding this surprise in the Park. That’s much different than a jazz club.”
Added Harris, “Make no mistake, if you go to a jazz club, it’s not quiet there. There’s people talking and the clinging of glasses and that kind of noise. There are also an etiquette there, such as people clapping after a solo. Outside, there’s just a different feel because you never know who might just wander by and decide to come up and start dancing to the music. It’s unpredictable.”
Loomis said as a musician it’s nice to be outside amongst everything that’s happening.
“What’s great for me being outside is you get to be a part of the huge mix of everything happening,” he said. “You have everything from birds chirping to sirens wailing by. That’s the sound of city life mingling with the music.”
And these aren’t just the standard musicians bringing their unique sounds to Library Park.
Both Loomis and Harris are two of the best jazz musicians in Boston, with Harris often taking his show out to the world.
Having progressed with his band, Kevin Harris Project, in the music scene in Boston, he then moved it to New York City in 2011 – splitting time for eight years between his home there, and his real home with his wife, Luisa, on Mission Hill. The couple has lived there since the early 2000s, and has become involved in Mission Hill through the arts.
Now, Harris still travels the world – he will be playing the Blue Note in Beijing and Shanghai in August and September – and still travels to New York for gigs frequently, but said he has been spending more of his time in Boston and Mission Hill these days.
“It’s been great to be back – the relationships are what I miss the most – friends,” he said. “If I had to sum it up in one word – it would be ‘friends.’ That’s what I love the most about being here. The music scene in New York is unparalleled, it’s true. But even playing back here, you realize how many people there are that keep you on your toes.”
One of those relationships is with Loomis, who has played with Harris for decades.
“For me, these concerts (in Library Park) are like a reunion because Pat and I have been playing together since the 1990s,” said Harris. “When I first came here in 1998, right of the bat we began working together. I learned more bebop with Pat than I learned in all my schooling.”
Loomis said he appreciates the Friends of the Library giving him free reign to bring in some of the best musicians in the city to the Park every summer – and it’s not just a typical concert. With Loomis heading up the show, it’s always a new twist on familiar tunes.
“There is world-class talent in this city; Boston is great for that,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for about 10 years and they don’t put the rush on me. I get to have a lot of artistic freedom…We always try to make if different and new. If we did the same kind of thing every concert, it would be ok, but kind of boring.”
A key example was on July 23, when Loomis welcomed Grammy Award winner Eguie Castillo for Latin-flavored jazz with his band. With Harris, they had a blend of original compositions that he has penned for play around the world.
Meanwhile, on Aug. 20, they will a Motown review with Loomis and the Nephrock! Allstars.
All concerts start at 6:30 p.m