Pianist Billy Test and bassist John Goldsby are proud to present I’ll Be Around, their first album as a duo, which features six enduring songs by some of the most influential composers of the past 100 years. I’ll Be Around celebrates the transparent beauty of piano and bass duo music and spans a century of the popular music tradition—with “Rockin’ Chair” penned in 1929 and “my future” composed in 2020. Test and Goldsby have been making music together for over five years, exploring a wide range of genres and styles as members of the renowned Grammy Award-winning WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany.
I’ll Be Around showcases the duo’s dedication to uncovering the core meaning and vibe of classic compositions, as they reinterpret songs by Billie Eilish, Frank Sinatra, Hoagy Carmichael, Alec Wilder, Kurt Weill, and Antonio Carlos Jobim. From the dreamy pop atmosphere of “my future” to the heart-wrenching melody of “I’m a Fool to Want You,” from the nostalgic swing of “Rockin’ Chair” to the sophisticated straight eighth-note feeling of “I’ll Be Around,” from the dramatic musical theater of “Lost In the Stars” to the exotic bossa nova of “Zingaro,” Test and Goldsby bring their unique touch and sensibility to each track. A sampling of beautiful and meaningful songs from the past 100 years, I’ll Be Around ischaracterized by melodic richness, peaceful rhythmic sophistication, and harmonic complexity.
Goldsby and Test recorded the album at Topaz Studios in Cologne, capturing the spontaneity and intimacy of their combined wisdom in the recording studio. They play with passion and precision, creating musical vignettes that reflect their mutual respect and a deep connection to the compositions. The elegant arrangements highlight the melody and harmony of each song while framing each improvisation.
“my future” was written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell during the 2020 pandemic lockdown. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Eilish says, “it was exactly where my head was at—hopeful, excited and a craaaazy amount of self-reflection and self-growth.”
“I’m a Fool to Want You” was first recorded in 1951 by Frank Sinatra during a tumultuous time in his personal life—balancing a pending divorce from his wife Nancy and a torrid love affair with Ava Gardner. Sinatra recorded the definitive version of his composition in 1957 on his album Where Are You?, arranged and conducted by Gordon Jenkins.
“Rockin’ Chair,” written in 1929, became a huge hit for composer Hoagy Carmichael. The song was first recorded by the composer himself, followed by subsequent recordings throughout the ‘30s featuring jazz legends like Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Mildred Bailey, and the Mills Brothers. The fetching melody and unusual ABCA structure make “Rockin’ Chair” a beloved jazz standard, even 100 years on.
The title song of the EP, “I’ll Be Around,” was written in 1942 by Alec Wilder. The tune proved to be wildly popular and rose to the top of the charts several times in the ‘40s. Test and Goldsby approach this gem with a laid-back, straight eighth-note feeling that captures the sentimental melancholy of the clever melody and harmonization.
“Lost In the Stars” comes from a 1949 musical of the same name by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson. It was Weill’s last work for the stage before he died the following year. The song “Lost in the Stars” expresses the doubts and struggles of Reverend Stephen Kumalo, an Anglican priest in the musical who faces a crisis of faith.
“Zingaro” tells the “story of a musician who eventually has to pawn his violin, has no place to work, is left without his music, totally empty-handed,” says composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. The song, from the 1967 album A Certain Mr. Jobim, expresses a desire to escape from life’s arbitrary and sometimes unfair challenges.Test and Goldsby explore the inner depths of the moods, twists, and turns found in this masterful composition.
I’ll Be Around [Bass Lion] will be released on all major streaming platforms on April 28th, 2023. Test and Goldsby will perform album release concerts throughout 2023.
“my future” (Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell)
“I’m a Fool to Want You” (Frank Sinatra)
“Rockin’ Chair” (Hoagy Carmichael)
“I’ll Be Around” (Alec Wilder)
“Lost In the Stars” (Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson)
“Zingaro” (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
Billy Test: Piano
John Goldsby: Bass
Producer: Robin Meloy Goldsby
Recording and Mastering: Reinhard Kolbialka, Topaz Studios Köln
Cover Photo: Ruud Breuls
Cover Design: Julia Goldsby