Late last year we told you about The Pneumatic Transit, a new project that features former Exotic Animal Petting Zoo guitarist Jeff Zampillo and original Umphrey’s McGee drummer Mike Mirro. We’d been stoked about their upcoming debut album Concerto for Double Moon, and how a couple members from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra were set to appear on it. All seemed to be going great… then tragedy struck.
Shortly after recording drums for the forthcoming effort Mike Mirro unexpectedly died. We’re not sure exactly what kind of health issues he had, but when we learned about what happened we reached out to Jeff for a statement.
He told us about his friendship with Mike and how the project formed.
The first time Mike and I had the opportunity to play together was beyond magical. I was invited to sit in on a free jazz set and the two of us connected on many different levels of rhythmic phrases. Following the set we hung out until sunrise, walking the snow-covered streets and making plans for The Pneumatic Transit. Shortly after we started rehearsing the compositions we linked up on a crucial aspect of creativity, friendship. In order to help pay for studio time Mike and I would play little dinner parties and private events. The last time we played together was at a wine tasting event. That evening someone requested that we play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I vividly remember looking over at him and saying, “I only know the first couple of bars of changes.” Mike looked back at me and said, “We got it man, lets just play it.” Within a minute of searching for the whole composition in a sea of ambiance we began playing the tune. After closing the final measure of music we humbly accepted a standing ovation. We just looked at each other and laughed.
The Pneumatic Transit will continue to move forward with the release of their highly anticipated album Concerto for Double Moon. Right now it’s in the final stages of production and is expected out early next year.
Here’s a new studio video from the band, a tribute to Mike.