Veteran multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson and accomplished guitarist Rob Piltch have reissued their seminal 1982 recording Bells and added two newly recorded compositions.

Out now on Modica Music, the release is titled Bells… Now and Then and features newly remastered recordings of the duo’s classic compositions.

The original recordings were captured in Thompson’s home studio in Toronto and were engineered by Piltch. The nine tracks created from their three separate sessions in September and December of 1981 and January of 1982 became the cherished album Bells, originally released on the Umbrella record label.

“It was like time-travelling,” Piltch says. “And both titles of the new songs we recorded — ‘Circles’ and ‘Days Gone By’ — were relevant to me, for obvious reasons.”

“Circles,” the new Thompson composition that opens the reissued album and was also the title track of Jim Hall’s 1981 trio album, alludes to their collaboration coming full circle. “Days Gone By,” which closes the collection, was previously recorded by pianist George Shearing on his 1992 album How Beautiful is Night, and nods to the decades that have passed between sessions. Both new recordings pick up on the magic the two musicians felt in Thompson’s home studio 42 years ago.

“I think I was too young and stupid to be intimidated,” said Piltch, who was 24 at the time he started working with Thompson, who turned 42 by the time the sessions were completed. “But I was also very familiar with Don. He was part of my formative years, in a way — from having heard him with the great Canadian guitarists Ed Bickert, Sonny Greenwich and Lenny Breau, all the guys I grew up listening to. Plus, Don was not about having any kind of aura or anything. He was always about just playing music. So I felt comfortable with him.”

Thompson held a similar admiration for Piltch during the original session for Bells.

“Rob’s mastery of the instrument was ridiculous,” said Thompson, now 84. “He studied classical guitar with John Williams and he was also seriously studying composition when I met him. One of the things we did at the end of the original record was a thing called ‘Chant,’ which was a Gregorian chant that he was orchestrating for a string orchestra. And he decided to just play the whole thing on the guitar. That’s how serious he was when he was 24. Yeah, he’s the real deal.”

Here’s the track listing:

  1. Circles
  2. Caribe
  3. September
  4. Stratford Stomp
  5. Bells
  6. Kyoto
  7. Moon Dance
  8. Red Dragonfly
  9. Nexus
  10. Chant
  11. Days Gone By

Don Thompson and Rob Piltch’s Bells… Now and Then is out now on Modica Music.