We’ve noticed that many of our early supporters and listeners want to apply the label “jazz” to our arrangements. It’s true that as chief arranger, I have a tendency to complicate chords and navigate song arrangements in a style befitting my jazz background. But the reality is, Mobtown Moon contains a lot of different grooves and musical ideas smashed together willy nilly…rock, gospel, choral music, chamber music, and yes, jazz. If there’s a certain something, a certain vibe, running through tunes like “Breathe” or “Money,” it’s the kind of vibe that only rock/pop listeners would call jazz. These tracks don’t display the improvisational approach that generally qualifies something as straight-ahead jazz.
We do, however, have one tune on the album that was arranged specifically for jazz combo treatment: “Any Colour You Like.” Essentially a two-chord improvisational guitar/synth jam to begin with, my new version was written specifically for four of Baltimore’s finest improvisers, Russell Kirk on alto saxophone, Todd Marcus on bass clarinet, Jeff Reed on acoustic bass, and Eric Kennedy on drums. These four gentlemen have played together and with other local heavyweights for many years, and each man also boasts significant performance and recording credits with regionally, nationally, and internationally known jazz masters and young lions.
On September 28, they came into The Wood & Stone Room to record the track live. This is the only track on the whole record where we have employed absolutely no overdubs. It’s also one of the sparest, simplest tracks: a kind of sonic rest period between the thicker, more complicated arrangements on either side of it. What you’ll hear on the record is exactly what they played that day (we chose one “take” out of the five they did that day). I was proud and excited to showcase some of what they do best–improvising collectively, listening deeply to each other, interacting from a place of pure (though highly trained) intuition, and creating a complex conversation out of simple melodic and harmonic elements.