The Housewarming Project is a jazz trio that moves with the grace of a chamber ensemble and sings with the soul of the singer-songwriter movement. The trio is led by award-winning pianist Jeremy Siskind (winner of the 2012 Nottingham International Jazz Piano Competition, and second place winner of the 2011 Montreux Solo Piano Competition), who - armed with a Master's in English Literature from Columbia University - began writing music and lyrics inspired by poets such as Jorge Luis Borges, Seamus Heaney, and Derek Walcott. The first collection of songs, which deal with love and loss, horror and heartbreak, are movingly delivered by vocalist Nancy Harms and colored by woodwind master Lucas Pino on the 2012 Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records release, Finger-Songwriter.
Finger-Songwriter was hailed in ecstatic terms as "one of the most remarkable recordings I've heard in a very long time" (MinnPost), "One of the best albums I've heard all year" (emusic.com), "the most exciting musical project I've heard in a long time" (Jazz Police), and "winsome . . . literate and spry" (The New York Times). Emusic.com placed it in its top 100 albums of the year (of any genre), and independent blog www.birdistheworm.com named the CD the fifth best jazz disc of 2012.
With Siskind in the lead, the band started touring in 2012, primarily performing in-home concerts. From the summer of 2012 to 2014, the band played nearly 70 in-home concerts in 18 states, making new friends and converting unsuspecting audiences into new jazz fans. The music is ideal for in-home concertizing - as Harms ushers listeners into the trio's world with her innate story-telling abilities, Pino colors the music with whispering tenor work, mournful clarinet, and murmuring bass clarinet, and Siskind sonically rounds out the music with sparkling, Debussian harmony.
By 2013, Siskind's songs caught the attention of some of the world's great jazz vocalists, such as Kendra Shank, Peter Eldridge, and Kurt Elling, who all joined the trio in the studio to record Housewarming, an album that features nine new Siskind compositions, as well as four covers, "Whispering Grass" by the Inkspots, the standards "Moonlight in Vermont" and "I Could Have Danced All Night", and a tune by singer-songwriter Adem called "Everything You Need".
Themes of domesticity reverberate throughout the album, which reflects on what it means to have a place where you belong, a theme that Siskind grapples with often. He explains, "two-and-a-half years ago I suddenly picked up my belongings and moved from New York to Kalamazoo, Michigan to pursue a job offer. Since then, as the Chair of the Piano Department at Western Michigan University (since 2014), I've been floating between the two - very different - places, with my heart truly in New York, and all of my stuff in Michigan. Housewarming also serves as homage to Norma Winstone's album Somewhere Called Home, as Winstone's group is a major influence and kind of the "parent group" for Siskind and his trio.