RR: Your debut album, Fuse came out in 2003, and in 2007, that was followed up by True, which focused on jazz standards. You’ve also played some marquee venues, as well, on your own. Let’s talk about your development as a solo artist.
JH: I have a few different sides to me as well. People got used to seeing me in one genre, and were figuring that they knew all about me. It’s lovely that they know me at all. (laughs) I have a huge love of jazz and have that background, and I have a huge love of R&B and soul music. We recorded True in 2006, and that whole album was done live. It was actually a benefit for my aunt who was going through some really expensive alternative breast cancer treatment. I did a benefit concert for her, and I thought, “How can we make her a little more money?” We decided to go to the Barn [Trey’s Vermont studio] in for a couple of days, record an album, and see if we could sell it. That’s how that album came to be. It was never supposed to be anything but that. Which is lovely—we did it, everybody donated their time, and it was a really great thing. A couple of months later, Trey said, “Did you record at the Barn?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well, let me hear it.” I said, “O.K.” So I gave it to him—this was midnight one night—and he took it. I saw that we had a bus call really early for some flight at 6 in the morning, and he still had his headphones on, and he hadn’t stopped listening to it all night long. He asked, “Can we put this out?” And I said, “Sure.”
It was a nice project. It was just (laughs) a couple days, here and there, a couple of days in a row, and the guys on it were great. I really appreciated that they donated their time and skills. [Author’s Note: along with Hartswick on trumpet and vocals, True features pianist Joe Davidian, guitarist Nicholas Cassarino, bassist John Rivers, drummer Geza Carr, and tenor saxophonist Andrew Breskin.]
RR: Any other solo projects coming up?
JH: The last few years, living in Chicago, I’ve been doing a bunch of playing with some great musicians. I’ve been doing a lot of straight ahead R&B work. I have a new album that I just finished recording that’s an R&B album, and I’m really excited about it. The growth and history is really fun for me to go back and look at where I was a couple of years ago. I don’t know exactly when that album is coming, but we just finished recording it.
RR: That’ll mark three completely different solo albums for you—the first, funk; the second, jazz; and the third, rhythm and blues.
JH: Completely different, yeah. I guess they are equal difference apart, too [2003, 2007, and, hopefully, 2010].
RR: Very mathematical.
JH: (laughs) Yeah. Not on purpose. It just worked out that way.
RR: Who plays on that with you?
JH: That is Joe Davidian on organ; Corey Healey on drums, Dezron Douglas on bass.
RR: And Dezron has been with you off and on for a while, right?
JH: Yeah, Dezron and I go back around 10 or 11 years. He’s one of the greatest bass players in the world. He’s just really gifted. And then Nick Cassarino on guitar. We also had a couple tracks with Russ Lawton playing and Bruce Sklar on organ. We had a great time, just an unbelievable time. They are great guys to work with, too.
RR: I would assume that between TAB tours, you’ll be doing solo dates in support of your new material?
JH: Definitely. Yep. I get off tour, and I mix and master during the spring, and then it’ll be out in late summer, or something. But, yeah, I would love to do that, and the band is ready to go, really psyched about it, and so am I. You’ll definitely see some tour dates. (laughs)
RR: When are you planning on moving back to Vermont?
JH: The second I get home from tour. My family is up there, and [my husband’s] family is close by, and I have a really huge extended musical family that I value. They are all really close. Just to be on the East Coast, period—everything is so close between Boston and New York, and even Philly and, you know, Jersey. Everything is within driving distance. In Chicago, your two main cities that are closest are Milwaukee and Indianapolis. It’s nice just to be close to everybody, and to be able to go see music whenever, see your friends play, and play with your friends, and, more importantly for me, my whole band is based out there. It will be a really nice opportunity to get into some great music.
RR: What are the differences between the Chicago, Vermont, and New York music scenes from your experiences?
JH: Well…(laughs)…I have to say this diplomatically. The Vermont scene is a very welcoming, very arms open scene. If I am out seeing music, and I like it, we’d go up and say, “Hey—I’d love to play with you some time.” It is a very, very open scene.
New York has, obviously, a lot more to choose from. New York has its own vibe all together. There are a lot of really incredible musicians, and they all support each other. I feel like it’s actually not unlike Vermont when you get into it. People go out and see music all the time, and go out and support each other. I love that about New York.
Chicago doesn’t seem to have quite that warmth that the other two cities have, in my opinion. (laughs) I want to say it nicely. There is great music going on here. My husband works for Umphrey’s McGee, which is a band based in Chicago. We ended up at a point in our lives where we really wanted to get out of Vermont. He’s from Connecticut. He’s from the East Coast, too. We needed a change, and we ended up going out there in 2006. And we are just in the process, right after this tour, of being right back in Burlington.
RR: You’ve known Trey for a while. Is it refreshing in any way to be around him within the last few months?
JH: Yeah. I can’t express my joy in the last couple months. He’s a completely different person. And I say that with the utmost respect. He’s been through a lot. I love him, and
I’ve always loved him, but, he’s really just so incredible and healthy. It’s a joy to be around him every second that I’m around him.