The songs on Rich Hinrichsen’s new jazz album have been in his head for as long as 35 years. One of them he composed in the band room of Mark Morris High School, from which he graduated in 1980. “I was trying to impress my girlfriend,” he said this week.
“Some of this music has been around been around for a long time, and I’ve finally gotten around to recording it. I’ve also gotten to the point on the piano that I could play it.”
Hinrichsen is releasing the album, “Midnight Labors,” at several events, including a March 29 event in Longview.
Though this is the first album of Hinrichsen’s compositions, he’s been playing since childhood. He took up the violin at age 8, switched to double bass at age 11 and added piano two years later. He’s played in a jazz group at Lower Columbia College and has kept his hand in the music since, even though his profession is fisheries consultant. He most recently appeared locally as part of the folk duo Walking Willows.
Though he’s primarily a bass player, Hinrichsen said he likes being able to tickle the ivories, too. “I really like stepping into the piano role,” he said. “I have more control of the melody.”
He plays piano and/or bass on all the songs in “Midnight Labors,” which range across a wide variety of jazz genres. “I would say it would be globally inspired,” he said, with Cuban, Middle Eastern and American ragtime styles.
“Sleepy Eyes” -- the song he wrote at MM for his girlfriend of the time -- has a Latin flavor. A few years later, he penned “A Bird is Leaving,” a slow melancholy melody about a high school breakup.
Hinrichsen’s piano solo “Kaylie & Kellie” is an upbeat number reminiscent of Scott Joplin. It’s named for Kaylie and South, twin sisters who were his childhood friends. “I’d take a detour by their house (on his bicycle) even when I was 11 or 12,” he said.
Hinrichsen enlisted several other musicians for the album, including trumpet/flugelhorn player Gavin Bondy, a member of Pink Martini.
The album’s cover also has a Longview link. It’s a graphically altered version of a photo taken by Fran Reisner, a Mark Morris grad and professional photographer. Hinrichsen enlisted a model friend to sit at his piano for the photo, which represents a club scene. The waiter is his 17-year-old son, Christian.
“He doesn’t want to have anything to do with jazz,” Hinrichsen said. “He’s an opera singer.”