Why I Chose Who I did for my Band

Posted by Marcus Category: Category 1

I have been asked why I chose the particular musicians for my band.  So I figured I would write a blog telling you all why.  I put a lot of thought into this answer……CAUSE THEY ARE FREAKING GOOD!  LOL!  BUT SERIOUSLY… that’s why.  This is not a literary work by any means….  It is written as if I was just talking casually so someone about it.

I have a dream that hopefully someday I can play in a band and tour doing my/their music.  Simple right? No.  In the Jazz-Improvised Music realm it is really hard.  (So many good musicians, and so little gigs.  So lots of guys and gals have to freelance to make ends meet.  I think that this disadvantage when trying to present Jazz to the public.  It’s not like we jam in the garage or basement and write songs together and build chemistry.  As jazz musicians we practice alone in the garage alone.  Then we put a band together with  great musicians we know to play music they have no attachment to (yet) for an audience….  Bad Jazz…. Bad Jazz…

So in choosing my band, (I know it is not possible at the moment cause i live in ATL and they all live in NYC)  I chose a group of musicians I would definitely want to write tunes with in the garage and jam or whatever. (Sigh someday….)  I read a book a while ago called Think and Grow Rich, and it talks about surrounding yourself around people who you want to be like.  It also talks about how you don’t have to be good at everything, just surround your self around people who are good at what you are not.  I’m not saying I’m not a good musician, I am just saying that I chose each person because they are great musicians and can do things that I aspire to do….

The Gang

Logan Richardson

Man, I first met Logan in 2006 when I moved to New York.  I was trying to find a day gig, so I applied to Sam Ash Music.  (I got the job.)  So my first day a work, I walk in the store and I hear this sax sound coming from the back of the store.  I’m saying to myself, Wow I have never anyone play sax like that! (Actually I was like what the F@$* is that!)  I walked in the back and it was Logan play-testing a sax.  We talked for a bit and he seemed a little quiet  but all and all a real cool dude.  He gave me a copy of his Debut CD “Cerebal Flow.  (still bought it on Itunes too)  I would listen to that every day on the train to work….  I had never heard compositions like this either! What melodies!  So I was absorbing all of this stuff and was amazed that this dude could put like a 11/6 bar in a tune and it just flowed!  I was floored by the two drummers as well.  One of the was Nasheit Waites (who I was familiar with) and the other Tommy Crane. (more about Tommy later.)  So my Composer Heros are Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, and Joshua Redman, Stevie Wonder.  So hearing this music definitely changed the way I compose now.  Logan is one of the baddest alto improvisers around. He has his own voice and dexterity that I have seen in few.  I am extremely lucky to have him on this record.

Adam Larson

Dude.  Adam Larson.  I first met Adam in 2007 when we were both selected to be in Betty Carter’s Jazz ahead.  We began talking and kinda hit it off.  This guy looked super young but talked very mature.  I was like ” Hey man how old are you?” He said “17.”  I was floored cause I had heard him play earlier that day and I was like no way!  Adam is one of the most amazing young tenor players around period.  I just remember being in rehearsals and this dude is playing some of the baddest stuff and he’s only 17!   Adam plays it so much energy and plays like every time could be his last.  (He doesn’t hold back!)  Adam definitely influenced my playing in this way.  His lines are really interesting.  I have learned so much from Adam and will continue to learn. I was at that point saying to myself he’s so young but has it all together.  I was like man!  I got to get it together. There is so much truth in his playing. No B.S.  Rhythm-Check. Sound- Check Harmony- Check. Ideas-Check. Also just a really nice guy and a great friend.  I am an Adam Larson Fan! I am truly humbled to have him on this project.

Pablo Masis

Pablo!  Wow where do I start with this guy!  I have the longest relationship with this guy out of all the members of the band. (Except Andrea)  I met him back in 2004-05.  We were both living in Omaha Ne at the time.  He was the first musician that I met that had the same passion for playing original music that I did.  Most guys and the jazz world just seem to be content with playing songs (standards etc) from the 30s and 40s.  Weird.  Don’t get me wrong great tunes but that’s all you play?  Anyways,  (I got off track) but, he gave me a CD of his band Unshut and I was floored.  I had never heard a trumpet player play with such mature phrasing and ideas!  So I started using him in my band.  Pablo definitely taught me a valuable lesson though just listening to his playing….. Quit playing the same material in every solo and, think differently..  Pablo understands the value of space which is key as an improviser.  His playing definitely comes for a very honest place.  Man seriously one of the most open musicians I know.  His tone on the trumpet is sick!  A Dear Friend. Seriously one of best young trumpeters around…. Y’all are sleeping on my man Pablo!

Andrea Lewis

Andrea!  Where do I start?  Not only is she an immense talent but the most passionate person I know.  (I’m not just saying that because she’s my wife!) She is definitely a student of music and the voice.  Especially along the lines of pedagogy…. I met her in Omaha in 2002. She wanted to sing with my band.  I was familiar with her work as a classical singer but had no idea she was into Jazz….  I remember hearing her and being like whoa! What a beautiful voice!  I loved the way her singing was very dramatic….. So we started working together. I have learned so much about life and music from her. I am forever in debt.  I listened to her inflections, clarity of the melody and started trying to approach melodies as if I was actually singing though the trombone.  Musically I think the most impressive thing about Andrea is that is able to shape the colors of her voice whether it be to evoke an emotion, blend with an instrument, in any style or soaring as a soloist.  I think this because of her knowledge of vocal production, and vast knowledge of different music i.e. Opera, Pop, Jazz, or whatever… My best friend.  I am humbled to have her on the record as well.

Sam Harris

Whew! Sam Harris.  I have only known Sam for a short time….  ( Sam where have you been all my life!)  He was recommended to me by Logan so I was not worried.  So I started checking him out on the web and such just to see what he played like.  I heard some of his music and I could not believe all the piano this cat was playing!   Listening to Sam for me is like a being on a roller coaster.  The way his lines twist, turn, and present themselves is breathtaking.  His understanding of harmony and form is ridiculous.  I think the sincerity in his playing shines through in every note.  What I like about Sam as a accompanist, is he just doesn’t comp chords to the songs, he actually creates parts to the song like as if he wrote it!   (And a different part, mind you, each time he plays the song!) In the short time that I’ve known Sam, I have learned sooooooo much from him.  I have a small obsession with harmony.  Listening/Playing with Sam is a Masterclass/Lesson in all aspects of music but especially harmony.  But all of that aside…. probably one of things that really stands out to me about Sam is, Articulation…..  The way that he plays eighth notes is Super interesting…. It’s not the “textbook” way but it’s Sam’s way, and it swings…  Once again, just really lucky to have him on the record for sure.

Aidan Carroll

A C!!  If you don’t know Aidan’s playing, he is So Dope!  Aidan is a rock.  Solid. But one that has flexibility as well.  (An odd trait for a rock, I know.)  When I was thinking of who to use on the recording on bass, it was a no brainer.  I met Aidan in 2007 at a session at the Manhattan School of Music.  Right off the bat I was so impressed with his feel, sound, intonation and his ability to read. I know lots of cats who can do these things but, not on the same level of understanding as Aidan. He gave me the feeling of like seeing an old friend who you haven’t seem in years but, you start talking and it feels like you were never apart. When sight-reading music that is new, he doesn’t just play the song, he PLAYS the song like as if he wrote it!  Man!  A complete understanding of his role at all times in an ensemble!  Aidan is also a great improviser with great sense of melody.  I think what most impressive to me about Aidan is that he really plays in the moment!  The music and what is going on around him dictates what he plays…. This is such a valuable lesson.  From the slick way he might suggest a new harmony, to staying grounded to give everyone else a foundation to spring from, playing free, to playing with soooo much soul.(Dude how are you gonna be playing in 7 and play something so soulful that it would make James Jamerson proud?)  Also just one of the coolest guys I know.  I am honored to have him on the record. Really.

Tommy Crane

Tommy Crane!!  Man I really don’t know what to say about Tommy.  He’s already said it for me with his drums.  I met Tommy in 2006 at Cornelia St Cafe on a gig he was doing with Logan.  For me drummers are so important to the band.  They are probably the most responsible for the shape of the music.  Some cats have it some don’t.  Tommy has it all of it, and then some.  I remember hearing him thinking….. I have never heard anyone play like that.   His concept of time to me is amazing.  To me he plays the drums like we should all play. Like in the place where a kid sits at drum set and just plays what ever he wants and has fun doing it.  I want to be in that space!!! I have learned so much from Tommy.   I think mostly orchestration…. (Oddly enough from a drummer)  The way he doesn’t just play a beat or pattern, but has his hands and feet working together to support/suggest things to the band.   Ridiculousness…… I feel like playing/listening with/to Tommy is like standing on the edge of a cliff with a good friend overlooking a beautiful valley.  You want to get as close to the edge as possible because it makes you feel alive and you want to get a better look……. But if you stumble and fall off the edge you know he’s got your back for sure. I am truly lucky to have him on the record.  Chambers of Crane!!!