In the late 1960s, following a lead given by Bob Dylan when he left New York for Woodstock to make music with The Band, there was a trend for rock musicians settling into studios in rural locations with the intention - as the language of the time had it - of 'getting it together in the country'. Many musicians still like to retire to rural idylls to create, if only because it keeps them out of the pubs in the cities, but this is not an option that has hitherto been available in Hong Kong. Most studios here are in apartment or commercial buildings in distinctly down at heel parts of town, and small trays of rodent poison are generally a fixture in the isolation booths. It isn't always easy to direct the innermost workings of your soul into your instrument while simultaneously wondering whether a rat is going to run up your leg. Bucolic bliss for musicians is available now, however, thanks to a hi-tech facility opened in Sai Kung Country Park by bassist Peter Scherr who has just completed his first album there, The Blue Album, to be released next month. Scherr's bass playing has been a vital part of the Hong Kong jazz scene since the early 1990s, and you have probably heard some of the music he has composed for films and television, but the quiet American seldom steps out as a leader. Naturally enough for a former orchestral double bass player - he originally came here to join the Hong Kong Philharmonic - Scherr judges the success of his playing not on how good his solos sound, but on how good the ensemble sounds as a whole, so it is hardly surprising that the inaugural release for his new 1/Hr recording label is very much an ensemble work. Featuring Australian musicians Simon Barker on drums, pianist Matt McMahon and Hong Kong-based guitarist Guy Le Claire, alongside Scherr and tenor saxophonist Bruce Huron, The Blue Album is a double CD composed almost entirely of the leader's compositions. It is commendably uncluttered by bass solos. Hong Kong Folk Song is something of a feature for Barker, and reflects his interest in ethnic Asian percussive traditions. Huron's saxophone is on occasion perhaps a little more to the fore than the other instruments, but the load is generally evenly shared. It is, in other words, very much a composer's album. The title has more to do with the weather than the blues, although the one piece Scherr did not write, and with which the album begins, is a version of John Lee Hooker's Tupelo. It is an interpretation which the late composer probably would not have recognised as his tune, but of which, given his work with Miles Davis on The Hot Spot soundtrack, he would, I think, approve. Scherr's dream studio - attached to his home where the musicians stayed while recording - has been set up with panoramic views of the country park clearly visible through its sound- proofed windows. Glorious blue skies were a feature of the sessions, although according to Scherr these were enjoyed more by the other players who were able to lounge in the sun between takes while he wrestled with the engineering and production challenges indoors. Certain tracks, most notably Western Pure Land, reflect this mood of rural tranquility, but much of the music is a great deal edgier - as you might guess from some of the titles. One angry sounding piece is called Don't Ask, Don't Tell, reflecting Scherr's disgust at the hypocrisy behind the US military's approach to the issue of gays in the service, while another, Bang Utot, sports the name of a fictional disease from William Burroughs' novel The Naked Lunch. Others are easier on the ear, including Keith, a tribute to Keith Jarrett. The album is also the fruit of Scherr's interest in Brian Eno's ambient music and in 'arch forms' - compositions that begin with a simple melodic idea or riff and build to an intense, often seemingly chaotic climax before subsiding again. Although much of the playing is improvised, a good deal of the 'chaos' is actually scored. 'These pieces are generally of symphonic proportions and develop surprising power,' says Scherr. 'The arch forms alternate with ambient pieces - relatively static treatments - which calmly allow small portions of the original melodic material to be stated over a hypnotic and reflective tapestry of sound.' It is not music that could possibly have been recorded in one of Hong Kong's regular studios where creativity generally comes a poor second to getting a track down as quickly as possible. Although Scherr is undertaking commercial work to pay expenses, his principal ambition for the place is to produce further recordings of this nature, both under his own name and for other artists. Guy Le Claire's recent solo album Xin Xin was recorded there and Scherr has also been recording with a trio called Quiet Focus featuring Toby Mak on trumpet and Ken Rose on guitar for an album he hopes will be released next year. In the meantime Scherr will be launching The Blue Album at 7.30pm on Wednesday, November 12 at the Fringe Club Volkswagen Gallery in Central with a short talk during which he will play excerpts from the album. Admission is free, and copies of the CD will be available at the event, and at any time afterwards from Scherr's website ( www.peterscherr.com ). It's worth checking out.