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    FTM: The Kanstul Wayne Bergeron / Model 1600 Trumpet


    2016 - 04.20

    This month I acquired something of supreme importance in my own little world: a new (to-me) Trumpet.

    actual reaction quote: "Ughhhh its so beautifulll"

    It’s been amusing to share this news with my musical cohorts and hear their reactions. Several of them commented “new toy!” or “playing with new toys is always fun!” which is true… however I think that players on non-wind instruments don’t grasp what a leap this is for the core of my musicianship. Unlike pedals or other musical accouterments, to a horn player a new axe is the foundation of the sound, the origin of everything. And build quality changes a lot. Sitting in front of a new keyboard or a different drumset will certainly inspire a different result, but a better brass instrument is something even more powerful. Many instruments won’t affect the actual technical facility of the player… but this, this does.

    Trumpet playing has been a constant in my life for close to three decades now. I’d say it’s maybe not the “main” quest in my life, but it’s the top side-quest. One with a sprawling cast of characters and a gigantic outlay of time invested. A lot of the time when you practice you’re working to improve some aspect of your capabilities; range, speed, clean attacks, tone, accuracy when doing lip slurs, etc. Well my level in all of those little skill-tree branches just jumped up, some of them significantly. That, and it all “feels” more natural and nimble as well. It’s super incredible!!

    The Kanstul Wayne Bergeron aka Model 1600For twenty years I’ve been playing on a Bach Stradivarius model 37 ML bore. This is the “gold-standard” trumpet, the one that can be found in any bandroom almost without a doubt. And for good reason. Bach horns are respected for quality. Since they are hand-built in relatively large numbers, when you buy one of these you need to try several out and find the one that feels best to you. I tried probably close to a dozen before selecting mine as a teenager. I believe I chose wisely and the instrument has served me excellently for a long, long time. We went on some real odysseys together. Then two years ago a cornet showed up and changed the way I saw things.

    My 1960s King Master Series Cornet built in Cleveland Ohio was bought for $120 by my mom at a farm auction. It had presumably sat in a closet for a very long time before being auctioned off. When I got it, for some reason it refused to play in tune. So it sat for a while longer before I took it to a professional for full chemical flush, and a complete servicing. After that was done, wow, it opened up my eyes to how a good horn could feel. My range instantly went up several steps, my sound seemed clearer, more focused. Everything felt just… better and easier. Suddenly the strad was second fiddle in terms of pure fun.

    But a cornet is still a cornet. I’ve had a killer time playing on the King and I will still keep playing it. But the intonation on a cornet is never going to be as good as a trumpet, something which has become painfully clear to me when I tried to use it to overdub more parts on recent recordings. When I begun listening for it, I found lots of intonation problems. In the crazy melange of sounds I’m shooting for with all these electronics, the basic fundamentals of musicality still apply. The cornet, as bright as it may be, also doesn’t project and ‘zing’ the same way a trumpet can. And in the end I want to be a trumpeter, not a cornetist. It’s time to get back to home base.

    Looking into an upgrade for the Strad seemed hopeless at first. One, the Strad is a venerable horn and the list of horns that would play better than a strad (on paper) is far smaller than the list that plays worse. What’s “better” is often times wholly subjective so researching this in text format is somewhat of a fools errand. Really if want to upgrade you should travel to someplace like Woodwind Brasswind in Indiana and spend a whole day (or three) trying different models and comparing them back to back. Then you’d probably spend about 2 grand at a bare minimum buying whatever you liked better. This all sounded prohibitively expensive and would involve a trip and a hotel on top of it.

    D-shape tuning slide and 3rd valve heavy capSo I started reading around on the web and slowly looking older horns, thinking that certainly there have to be hidden gems out there like my King cornet. You just need to know what model to look for, what serial numbers and what years. That’s somewhat guarded knowledge among those who do know, but you can find out a bit by asking around. In the end though it still does comes down to luck finding a horn that somehow miraculously plays well among lesser instruments of the same make/model. And rarely do people ever get rid of something that’s excellent.

    A name that kept coming up over and over though was Zig Kanstul. I won’t rehash his impressive biography here, but suffice it to say he has been a lifelong master craftsman at building trumpets. You can trace his career path by noting the models of older horns that are still well-revered despite their age: The Olds Ambassador & the Besson 609 are two, both designed or built by Kanstul in his younger days while he worked for those companies. In the 80s he founded his own company and they’ve been steadily producing small numbers of superb instruments.  If I were to buy a horn without being able to try multiple copies of the same instrument to select the best one, I’d want it to be from a manufacturer who had the highest level of consistent quality.  Which sounds like Kanstul from what I know.

    As far as my own personal needs, I’m a jazz player, roughly speaking. Mostly small group fusion jazz, solos and melodies within the staff, but I do tear off on some high note overdubs now and then.  Listening back to my own playing I hear two main technical flaws that stand out. One, loose intonation as a whole, and two, too many chipped notes or “fracked” pitches upon the initial attack. Ideally whatever I get should help me with those shortcomings.

    Ebay seemed impossible. Too many people watching, too hot demand. So it was Craigslist to the rescue. In Dallas Texas a band teacher had listed a used Kanstul WB for around a third of the retail price for a brand new one. Here we go!!  I began researching on this particular model and instantly loved what I was hearing about it.  Perhaps most exciting was the fact that this model is a custom “artist” horn.  That is to say Kanstul designed it for trumpeter Wayne Bergeron and when it was complete they decided it was appealing enough that it should be a production model, not just a one-off.  Below are a few snippets from reviews and comments from players who talked about using it which I’m compiling here for my own easy future reference:

    side by side bell comparison of the Strad 37 vs Kanstul WB“I have played for 35 years including Bach, Benge, Holton and Schilke (4 of them) … this is the absolute best horn I have ever played. The tone and intonation are superior as is the slotting (particularly in the upper register). The valves are fantastic. The slotting is phenomenal. The horn has a heavier feel to it (than the Schilkes & Yamahas); however, has a laser beam tone in the high end along with a rich beautiful tone in the low end. This horn has a very unique brushed lacquer finish with some nickel as well. I traded a custom gold plated Schilke in for mine and am very very happy with the Bergeron Kanstul”

    “Picked up this horn about 2 weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier. The slotting is amazing, a joy to play.  I can play anything I want on it, jazz, lead, classical you name it. EXTREMELY versatile horn.  Sounds very mellow playing a 3c and can light the room on fire with my Monette b5L.”

    “I drove up to WWBW not intending to buy a new horn and absolutely fell in love with this trumpet. It is absolutely beautiful; the craftsmanship is superior and the sound is fantastic. It plays very open and the slotting is magnificent in the high register. The appearance (finish) is very unique. I’ve played Bach, Holton, Benge and Schilkes, and this is the best all around horn I have ever played.”

    “It’s great to hear all you trumpet players have discovered this great horn. I have sold more 1600WB trumpets to more elated great trumpet players than any other. It is truly multidimensional in the hands of an experienced player. It’s the trumpet to audition if you are looking for one that has the potential to do everything including lead work above high C.”

    “slotting is very good for me. not to tight/not too loose. More core to my sound than on my 75 LA Benge and slots much better for me above high G.”

    “One of the things I like about it is that it sounds nice and fat in the staff but when you go up above the staff it brightens up nicely (not too edgy though). What’s really cool about is if you give it some push you can actually feel this baby reverberate in your hands.”

    “Oh yeh, don’t push your blow too much through either. Lay back and let the horn do the work. You follow that advice and you’ll catch on real fast on how to control this axe.   One last thing, you’ll love take’n it above the staff and listening to the after burner kick in! I always wondered how Kanstul could put an after burner in one of those 1600 “WB” and keep it so light????”

    “If you are looking for the best projecting horn out there… Call it Superchops. Great lead horn!”

    “Kanstul just makes an overall higher quality product than most other brands I’ve played, including Yamaha. I’ve auditioned the 1600 and love it. I can play literally any style of music I want to on it. The versatility is unmatched by any other horn I’ve played (including Bach, but they’re always in the game)…  absolutely incredible horn.”

    “I was flippin’ Amazed how much improved Larry’s live sound was! Lots of color, and nuance, and a much improved presence all over the horn. I heard Larry a few days after he got it- he’s always been a masterful jazz player to be sure, but on the 1600 it was as if somebody from above had said “Hey, this guy’s playing some serious stuff here, let’s give him The Sound to go with it”.”

    “But without a doubt the Kanstul WB was one of the finest trumpets that I ever played. In my opinion for Big Band, and especially jazz combo, it’s awesome. One way I would describe what I thought was that it had a very “CLEAN” sound… And this is coming from a guy that normally doesn’t play or like any horns made past 1964. The Kanstul was an exception. A great made trumpet.”

    the WB and her new colleagues

    Wayne Bergeron is perhaps best known for being the lead trumpet player in Maynard Ferguson’s band, although his full biography is far more wide in scope than just that.  This horn was designed to his needs as a lead player and soloist.  It has a reverse lead pipe and a lightweight bell which is supposedly modeled after that of a Bach model 72, a very bright trumpet.  As some trumpet-savvy readers may know, Wayne Bergeron switched endorsement to Yamaha a while back, although some say it was purely because they’re a huge company with deep pockets that can give free promotion to their artists.  For that reason, the WB is currently sold as the “model 1600.”  However TrumpetHerald users also dropped this information:

    “I was with Wayne yesterday and got to play his Yamaha with his new GR mouthpiece. I like the mouthpiece but I prefer his/my 1600. I got Charles to make me a rounded tuning slide for mine, it made a big difference with the resistance for me. I love it! The best horn I’ve ever played for every style in every situation.”

    “The old “WB” horn had a heavy bottom cap on 3rd valve.  “1600” has all normal caps.  Wayne used heavy caps on 1st and 3rd valve when I met him(few years ago).  He said 1st valve heavy cap has a better slot for D.”

    closeup of that scratched lacquer finish; I've never seen another instrument with quite this lookSo far I’ve had two sessions with the horn and I’d say I agree with the majority of what the reviewers had to say.  My immediate reaction was one of  joy, freedom.  This Kanstul just feels so easy and fun.  I think of a phrase and I play it with no fighting, and it sings out however intensely I choose.  If I want smokey and dark, I can get airy and contemplative.  If I want bold and melodic, this horn can be positively searing when you push it.  The versatility is real.  The horn is exciting, the same way it is to drive a car with a ton of horsepower.  You just push it and it goes.  It’s very cool the way you can feel the sound vibrate the instrument, more than any other brass instrument I’ve played.  This is probably due to the fact that the WB is designed with an unusually thin bell which keeps it light in terms of weight and allows the bright, brassy sound the WB can have.  This has the awesome effect of making it feel alive in your hands when you ‘push the accelerator’ and make the horn light up…  Man.  Super fun to play.

    This Kanstul really is a phenomenal axe. I can’t get over it. Maybe my Strad is in need of a valve alignment or something? When I went to try it out (a five hour drive each way) I was hoping it would be a clear, obvious difference over the Strad and indeed; the jump to this instrument is quite significant. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I do all my practicing on a mega open-blowing Holton Cornet from 1911 with a large 1X mouthpiece, but I don’t feel like the WB is a dauntingly open horn the way some people have characterized it. Stacked up against my Holton, the WB does offer some resistance.  Perhaps the best feeling about this horn, to me, is that I feel like I’ve truly “leveled up” to it.  I put in the years, I invested the time to where I knew the difference right away and had built up enough skill that this upgrade felt earned not just bought.

    On all sessions from 7/11/14 until 3/13/16 I played almost entirely cornet, and it’s been a year and a half of great sessions for sure. That first session on 7/11/14 yielded some glorious cornet “moments” that I still look back upon fondly. Similarly, the session on 4/10/16 was one for the books. That excitement and “freshness” is back, even more with the Kanstul. The King added range and zip, but the Kanstul, properly piloted, adds accuracy and speed, which is even more electrifying. That, and the vibration of the horn itself is a real treat.  My 1960s King Master cornet is a surprisingly responsive instrument and a pleasure to play. It’s easy to jump between dynamics/timbres/ranges on the King but I always felt dissatisfied with the intonation and the overall tone. Over the past year and a half on cornet I have been struggling with the acoustic sound, not liking what I’m getting (and for that reason favoring the wet signal more). However this Kanstul is giving me a beautiful brassy tone straight out of the gate, and sounds full even when I lean heavy on the stand-mounted Sennheiser e609 which always felt thin and abrasive with the King. In terms of the “dry” trumpet mics I am feeling positively thrilled with what the Kanstul has given me, which is why in this latest session from 4/10 I leaned heavier than I think I ever have on the acoustic signal. I see that trend continuing.

    Below is a video of a brand new tune, first time I’ve ever played “Red Baron” by Billy Cobham, and my first new posting with this magnificent instrument:

    So one, the tone, and two the speed of the Kanstul is really popping out to me on the recordings. The King is not that far off from the Kanstul in terms of ease and upper range openness, but where the Kanstul pulls away from it is in the dexterity. Sure the valves are very quick but when you combine that fact with how strongly it slots, even within the staff, the Kanstul is really lightning fast. The real limiting factor on speed is mental clarity. You can hear what I’m talking about in the phrases at 5:33-5:42 in the video. I knew what I wanted to play right there and it comes off clean and crisp. Shortly after that I biff a few notes and that’s because I wasn’t mentally committed to the phrase as it was happening. So if I can keep up, mentally, in the moment as the improv is happening, I see a lot of really ambitious and intricate phrases being within my reach which is very exciting for me.

    All this isn’t to say that the Kanstul won’t be limited by the shortcomings of the performer. It can still frack and play out of tune if I drive it poorly, a fact I’ve already proven to myself. I still need improve my skills in all 12 keys and always focus on the fundamentals of intonation, attack, phrasing, mental clarity, and timbre. All the rules still apply. But. The ceiling of what’s possible just jumped up and I can feel that. If I can play up to the ability of the instrument, there are a series of new magical things awaiting me that weren’t unlocked until just now.

    Liquid Light Show visuals: unlocked


    2016 - 04.06

    Ever since seeing it live on a gig in college at this tiny bar in La Crosse Wisconsin called the MouseTrap, I’ve always been interested in learning how to create Liquid Light Shows.  These are the psychedelic oil and water mixing of colors which often accompanied music for videos in the 60s and 70s for many rock and roll acts.  So with a bit of internet searching and the aid of this incredibly helpful tutorial video I saw on youtube, I’ve created my first attempt at visual art in this medium.  It’s nothing masterful but it’s a first step and sometimes that’s the hardest part.  I hope to do a lot more of this.  It’s pretty fun.  The music that goes along with it is a recording from my most recent recording session as of this writing and has some excellent moments with improv, ring mod,  Jungle Boogie, and the Mission Impossible Theme.  Enjoy:

     

    2015 In Funk: Going Out on the High Notes


    2015 - 12.14

    In the words of Frank Sinatra, “It Was A Very Good Year” for funky music, 2015. The following is a long-form discussion and dissection of the many pieces of musical news in my world; it’s big but hang with me there’s lots of substance to talk about.  We got new albums from Lettuce and The New Mastersounds, and a new festival right in my backyard brought some mean groove to the Texas countryside. And.  I made some pretty fresh music myself, if I don’t say so.  The Funk is alive and thriving although I’m pretty sad to chronicle it: Bear Creek was cancelled this year.

    2015 In Funk Pt 1: The October Bear Creek that wasn’t

    This year the Legendary Bear Creek Music Festival which I’ve written about time and time and time again was initially rescheduled about a month earlier than its traditional mid-November timeframe, which was a tantalizing proposition for literally hotter dancing and brand-new-good-old times, however due to undisclosed complexities, the organizers cancelled the fest this year which was… devastating news. According to at least one trusted source the odds are not favorable that it will return (although never say never). This is pretty sad news for the feet and the spirit….

    Screenshot_2015-12-07-15-13-55About one year and some weeks ago my friend Bill and I were taking a breather after a long day of soaking in the incredible vibes at Bear Creek 2014. We were sitting by the edge of a pond to let our feet rest and I said to him, ‘you know some day they’re going to stop putting this fest on, for one reason or another, and we’re going to look back at this time period like it was some kind of utopia or a golden age for music like this.’ Little did I know at the time how prescient of a thought it was. I wish it hadn’t been.

    Me, I hate to wear bracelets so as soon as I got home from the fest I clipped mine off and kept it to put inside the frame with the festival poster I had picked up. But Bill loves to keep his on as a daily reminder of the fest. When I heard the news I texted him right away and you can see his reply in the screenshot here. When I talked to him on the phone about it later he said “Man, I wore that thing to work every single day… every business meeting.”

    It’s a testament to the power of what happens when everything goes right at a fest and some incredible magic is created which can only happen there, away from the business meetings and the grind of existence. Something ‘big’ enough that it becomes part of who you are. Bear Creek inspired me to push off in certain direction with my own music for sure. With the concentrated dose of pure funk, jazz, and soul I think that fest tipped my scales toward a certain sensibility much more than an eclectic fest could have done, and drastically more than a series of small concerts peppered througout the year in a drip-feed. If you love this kind of music, if it speaks to a certain thing inside your being, Bear Creek was a lightning strike to the soul.

    These days there are tons of great fests out there, and plenty of them offer what feels like an escape to some alternate reality, or at least a vacation from your typical reality. But Bear Creek was that and something more. It was a meeting of the minds. A congress of groove-seekers unmatched. It was a place where the headlining acts were Lettuce and The New Mastersounds, a place where heroes of the genre got to really get up there and rip it at 200%, boosted beyond the normally possible range by the energy of this crowd. Everyone could feel that vibe.

    It was a place where, when the final act had finished, the crowd chanted for an encore by singing a looping rendition of the chorus from the Parliment anthem “We Want The Funk”. Replete with the falsetto “ooohhh weeeeeee” it went on until the musicians came back out and fired up the jams once more. We Want The Funk.

    Word, Bear Creek. Word.

    2015 In Funk Pt 2: Top Tier Inspiration on the Stereo

    Within the last month, two superb albums have dropped and I feel it’s worth discussing them together. 1. Made For Pleasure by The New Mastersounds and 2. Crush by Lettuce. These two bands are sort of like two sides of the same coin. They both are well-established and highly-talented groups of musicians making original funk music although they’ve each got a different philosophy on how. Lettuce is pushing further into their own direction with a huge number of members in the band, lots of effects, a clean/modern mastering sound, and complex song structures. Their identity is still evolving. The New Mastersounds are rooted in their quartet playing tunes of simple structure, mastered with a vintage/analog sensibility; all of which have been refined to such a beautiful richness that there’s really no need to start flipping knobs around. NMS are pretty well “dialed-in” as far as their identity and what you might expect from them, but they do manage to toss in plenty of treats for their returning listeners.

    The New Mastersounds - Made For Pleasure vinyl LP

    A common theme between these two albums is the studio-implementation of things they’ve been doing live for quite some time now. In the case of the New Mastersounds, I’ve seen them perform reggae grooves as far back as 2008 but until “Made For Pleasure” there’s never been a proper reggae tune on one of their albums. Adding to the novelty is the fact that it’s a cover of the Iggy Azalea tune “Fancy” transplated into a reggae groove with the lyrics “I’m so Irie”. That’s perfect.

    A very welcome additional treat for this listener is the presence of the peppy and crisp West Coast Horns on four of the album’s eleven tracks. In particular their trumpeter adds a hot sizzle to the action which I really love. In the words of my friend Vince “try as I might, I just can’t get into Mastersounds with vocals” and I will echo that sentiment. The tunes with Charly Lowry, on their own, are a great soul tribute that would feel good on an album of their own. But sandwich them between the high-level instrumentals at which the Mastersounds are so adept and cranking out, the the vocal-driven tunes feel like a sideshow, a distraction.

    “Pho Baby” centers around a chord progression style which feels abnormal for the Mastersounds, but in a pleasing way. I imagine that tune would feel great toward the end of a festival set. “Let’s Do Another” gives you a dose of vibraphone, tabla, and horn section on top of the mastersounds which was a wholly unexpected combo that continues to please on repeated listens. But my favorite track is definitely “Cigar Time” which is a no-frills tune that simply delivers what the mastersounds do best: a steady groove with that magic ratio of funk and jazz behind some superb-sounding guitar and organ solos that compel you to nod your head. How these guys keep producing such quality material album after album is a marvel to me, one I plan to continue studying indefinitely.

    Lettuce Crush Album CoverAnd then there’s Crush, the 4th album from Lettuce. This record’s got a lot of meat and a lot of attitude, as you’d expect from the boys. I gotta admit, I’m not sure I’m totally a fan of how they mastered this album. Compared to other offerings in the genre (as described above!) this album sounds thin and digital to my ears. In particular the obvious noise gate on the beginning of “Phyllis” is a confounding production fail, if you ask me. One thing I AM totally (read: predictably) loving about this new Lettuce album though, is the amount of effects on the horns! In track 2 “Get Greasy” Ryan Zoidis has a killer solo using what sounds like envelope and a synth pedal. it’s making me want to dig into my own synth pedal capabilties…

    This is also the first studio album with trumpeter Eric Benny Bloom and he fills the large shoes of Rashawn Ross nicely I think. Rashawn’s high range is… formidible. Bloom takes the “screamer” dial to about 80% of where Rashawn had it, but he makes up for the rest with his much more thoughtful solo capability. The sheer firepower of his successor was always a thrill but given a choice I’d take Eric. Plus, this guy is into effects and I have… let’s say “more than just a casual penchant” for that. In 2014 he was present for Bear Creek and I got a taste of his approach.

    That year’s fest was also the moment in which the stylistic shift on this record was first displayed. There were a lot more spaceout/dubout moments than ever before, which I think is a fantastic counterpoint to the “Rage” funk. In so many different ways, musicians of all genres try to take their listeners up to a high place then give them some breathing room to cool off. That’s the essence of dynamics since staying planted at 100% all the time turns into a grind.

    I’m glad to see Lettuce taking this new direction. My friend Bill had a more tepid reception to the change and prefers the tone set on their previous record Fly. I’d argue there are still plenty of in-yo-face numbers here, in particular “The Lobbyist” stands tall for me, and “The Force” is a spectacularly dramatic opening theme. I’d love to see them open a show with that, and maybe reprise it once before the end.

    2015 In Funk Pt 3: Art Outside

    Jammin under the Oaks @ Art Outside 2015

    As chronicled previously, the incredible Bear Creek music fest was cancelled this year, leaving an opening for some other musical experience to fill. Fortunately for our heroes, right here in our Texan backyard there was a gathering called Art Outside which had a very enticing lineup of both funk and electronic music. I had been badgering my wife to come along with me to a music festival for a long time and the variables had lined up to persuade her to join in. Only problem was the weather. Hurricane Patricia was just making landfall in Mexico and the effects would soon be sweeping across the state, leaving just enough of a window for two glorious days before the drought-cracked soil of Rockdale TX would get all the moisture it could handle and more…

    TAUK at Art Outside 2015I opted for the 4-day pass since my favorite band, The New Mastersounds were playing that day, along with soul virtuosos The Nth Power and TAUK whom I heard for the first time at Bear Creek 2013.

    The New Mastersounds had the closing slot on Thursday night where the elite crew of 4-day warriors kicked off the festivities. Having seen them over a dozen times now, I’d say it was a lovely festival set with a great song list. Summercamp with it’s delicate and sparse breakdown flowing into a 4-on-the-floor dance groove was a favorite for me, as well as their rendition of “Hey Fela” with West African master percussionist Weedie Braimah from the Nth Power imbuing the tune with an afrobeat feel. Eddie Roberts seemed a bit reserved that night, opting for cerebral jazzy phrases and never really rocking out full-tilt the way I know he can. I’m not certain but I’m pretty sure they played a dubbed-out cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Well Dressed Man” in which Roberts actually used a delay pedal; a common piece of guitar equipment he purposely eschews.

    Having seen these fellows at their finest there was a feedback loop which never connected that night–Eddie seemed visibly annoyed at times with the lack of crowd reaction to push the band higher and likewise the crowd never really went wild because the band never really took-it-there. “Are you all still awake out there?” he asked at one point. That aside, the set delivered the goods in a mellower way for sure. I did a lot more standing and listening than dancing, but my ears were thoroughly engaged for the entirety of their set.

    The Friday itinerary was a sandwich stacked high with lots of wonderful ingredients. The Easy-Star Allstars performed their reggae cover of “Dark Side of The Moon” in its entirety along with a smattering of Micheal Jackson, Radiohead, and The Beatles. As a last-minute surprise to close the set they broke into Led Zepplin (could it be foreshadowing for their next album??) and out of nowhere 4 or 5 people in the crowd started throwing long streamer ribbons which zigzagged the audience in a web of colors. That was a very cool festival moment.

    Coming off the Easy-Star streamer surprise we caught Nightmares on Wax, who opened up with “Les Nuits” one of my all-time favorite downtempo tracks. In a live setting it felt totally different than it does on the stereo at home though! His set was surprisingly packed with soul-tunes: “Sir Duke” from Stevie Wonder, “Give The People What They Want” from the O’Jays, and a very memorable Marvin Gaye “Inner City Blues” remix. The sound was bone-jarringly loud and we kept telling ourselves we were going to move back ‘after this track ended’ but his DJ set kept it locked and there was no good time to come up for air! It feels weird to say it but even among all the other great artists, this set was my favorite moment in the fest. The buzz of the crowd, the tune selection, and the DJ mixing from NOW was on-point. The dome stage which wrapped around the audience definitely added something as well.

    Dome Stage Art Outside 2015

    Third heavy hitters on the Friday night agenda were Lettuce, touring the country to promote their aforementioned new album. The show was a fun time, I’d even say it was great, but after talking to 4 different people about it at length, the jury agrees unanimously that something was… off. First off, Eric Krasno wasn’t there. Lettuce has about all the musical firepower that you can wish for but Krasno really is a soloist of unusual caliber. His sound, soaring above the raging rhythm section and searing hornlines, is what has sent many a Lettuce jam over the top. Without him, something just feels missing. Chatting about this at a party, I later learned that Krasno is only playing certain Lettuce shows these days. That’s a pretty unfortunate changeup. But all that aside, they did play a crazy-fast version of Lettsanity, many of their older classics including Squadlive, and the new tune “Sounds Like A Party To Me” which I was feelin. Nigel Hall hooked it up there.

    Finally the last show that we stuck around for was a Bonobo DJ set. Gotta say, I liked what I heard. I’ve seen Bonobo play a live set before, with drumset, horn soloists and the whole nine yards and it had just felt… low energy. So my expectations weren’t very high. His set sort of started out with a simmering energy and gradually built up, with a lot of rich-sounding atmospheric tracks that had a steady 4-on-th-floor beneath it all. I honestly didn’t think Bonobo had what it took to keep the dancing masses moving from 2-4am, especially after a Lettuce set, but he proved otherwise.

    After Bonobo handed the turntables over to the next act we adjourned for the night, pausing to grab a slice of late night pizza on the way back to our tent, and that’s when it hit: An incredibly loud thunderclap signaled the flipping of a switch in the atmosphere above us. About five minutes after that sound a steady, strong downpour began which did not relent until perhaps two days later. By sunrise the grounds had been utterly drenched and the soil turned from cracked and hardened into a mud-pocalypse the likes of which I had never been involved with until that weekend.

    2015 In Funk Pt 4: Onward and Upward in the Living Room

    Ampex 900 Reel to Reel vintage audio

    This year has been an incredibly great period in my own musical development and productivity. It saw the creation of a new project, The Acropolis Of Soul and the conclusion–on a high note–of my long-running group 100% Juice. I’ve refined my recording and mastering techniques along the way and finally started to produce a few YouTube videos as well, something I’ve long wanted to do. I also became a member of PedalGenie.com which is an effects pedal rental service, allowing me to try out lots of new sounds. And of course, we had lots of great jams which allowed me to grow as a player. Listening back to these moments has been enjoyable on a visceral level but also deeply enriching on a cerebral level as well.

    I was sad to hear the news that Bob Saviano, the drummer for 100% Juice had decided to move to Colorado, but the silver lining was that it gave us a push to polish up our songs and have that two-day recording session we’d been talking about for a long time. 6/27 and 6/28 produced several top-tier improvised jams and a few “best-ever” takes on songs we’ve been playing for a long time. The fact that these would be our last sessions also gave me a blank check to spend as much time as I wanted on post-production to clean everything to a spotless finish and add all the overdubs I might want. Adding overdubs–that is also another thing I had always wanted to do but didn’t begin until 2015!

    In retrospect, 100% Juice has been one of the best musical projects I’ve ever had in terms of personal development into the kind of music I want to make. I’m feel very proud of the sounds that came out of it, even though I can still nitpick my own playing to death. We did some video recording on 6/28 and there are still several tracks remaining to publish from that day. As of this writing, two tracks are completed and published to YouTube. The video below is our take on the Lettuce tune “Blast Off”. For this video I took our multitrack recording and bounced it to quarter inch tape on reel to reel to get that analog warmth. Again, another thing I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Hear it for yourself:

    My musical partner in crime, Vince Chihak has joined up with our new group The Acropolis of Soul, which first met in February of this year. Over the year we’ve had 11 sessions and there’s been some killer stuff to come out of those. Our soundcloud page is accessible by clicking on the cassette below:

    The Acropolis of Soul

    Schedules have been a challenge with this group since everyone has busy lives. The Acropolis will probably never become as prolific as 100% Juice was, but the flip side to that coin is that it gives me more time to work on the production for each session and add overdubs more often. To reflect all these nice things that have been happening I made a few updates on the music section of Microcosmologist which now has links to my soundcloud and YouTube pages as well as links to download some of my favorite recordings under the Trumpet section.

    One never knows what the future may hold but right now at the end of the year, looking back, I’m feeling fantastic about everything that’s transpired musically, thankful for my excellent counterparts, and couldn’t be more jazzed to see where the adventures take us next… on to 2016.

    Album Art Feature: BLAM


    2012 - 04.20

    The music on this LP is, for the most part, cheesegasmic.  However, I will say that the Brothers Johnson DO have their moments.  And if you can stomach the initial groans, there are some genuinely cool bits in here.  I actually bought the record purely based on this cover, which is, as you can obviously see, amazing:

    Transitions Between Epochs ~ The Novation Impulse 61


    2012 - 02.29

    As of about a week ago, I have an awe-inspiring new arrow in my artistic quiver, and one that I really should have acquired ages ago: a USB keyboard with knobs, drum pads, and sliders. Specifically, the Novation Impulse 61. I’ve had a full-size 88-key digital piano for many years and it was a superb instrument for learning keyboards, and to a limited extent, producing with Reason. The problem was that no matter what I tried, I could never seem to overcome the problem of MIDI latency (ie lag between a keypress and the actual sound). Over 3 or 4 different computer builds and windows installs, there was always some kind of latency. Which was a real bummer, because it meant I could play chords and figure out notes for a melody, but I could never input any rhythmic passage into Reason; be it a drumbeat, a synth line, a bassline, a chord stab, anything.

    At this stage in my musical life, I don’t see myself sitting at a piano and leaning to master it purely with no accompaniment. However, I do have a whole ton of fun making tracks in Propellerheads Reason, and this is definitely a way that I see myself growing more comfortable with the keyboard and maybe even learning a pinch of music theory as well. Having a USB keyboard with no latency is a huge, huge advancement toward that end. Plus, having those assignable buttons, knobs, and sliders to tweak Reason in realtime is über-schweet.I may even call this the beginning of a new epoch in the compositions I make for fun, and by extension, my overall musicianship.

    Going forward, my goals here are to use this thing pretty much as often as I can, and also to try to post more music online with it. Historically, I always seem to obsess too much over having a track be ‘perfect’. This also leads to the tendency to start things but never finish them. There’s literally hundreds and hundreds of Reason tracks on my hard drive that started out real cool but then fizzled, as I couldn’t figure out what direction to take. I want this new epoch to be the end of the ‘beat graveyard’ so to speak. I’m really hoping this keyboard will be an impetus to break me out of the same ways of thinking, to get me more in the habit of following through, and just finishing compositions a whole lot more. This will need to be a change in mindset as well.

    All that said, I intend to start posting a lot more musical “sketches” on here–Reason compositions that aren’t “polished” but can be called “good enough”. I have this mental resistance to the phrase “good enough”… like it’s giving up on how good things could be. But you know what? “Good enough” is a whole lot cooler than “nothing”!! Here’s to turning the page, people!

    Cracking the Halfway Point


    2012 - 01.18

    I’ve been quietly revamping and improving things around the site, many of which are not really visible to most visitors. First off I’ve remastered the videos section, adding on new sections for Timelapse, Live Music, and others. In keeping with my antiquated technology theme, have a look at the video homepage, which sorts these categories by VHS cassettes.

    There is now a page describing and linking to my book, entitled The Gigantic Spaces of Your Playgrounds. You’ll find the link just below the Poetic Table, which also has seven new elements as of this week. One of my new years resolutions is to write a poem a day, and it has been paying dividends. That table has been sitting dormant for a long time, and I want to make some real progress on it. Incidentally, with 118 elements to fill in and 59 pieces now present, I’m at exactly 50% completion! This is a milestone I’ve been hoping to reach for a long time. Just visually looking at the table, it seems like more than that. I guess there’s a lot of those inner transition elements remaining. In any event it feels good!

    Album Art Feature: The Undisputed Truth – “Cosmic Truth”


    2012 - 01.06

    This is some righteously awesome psychedelic action right here.  The record itself is fantastic, as can be heard on two tracks in “The 70′s Cactus Vinyl Funk Mixtape”.  Both musically and album art-wise, it’s a bold and enthusiastic work.  This genre, “psychedelic soul” music, is something I definitely want to find more of.

    This record is part of the Ernest Thibodeaux collection
    (a man who certainly had sophisticated tastes in music)

    Interview with Eric Krasno


    2011 - 11.21

    Last week I had the good fortune of being able to do an interview with Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno via telephone.  Our discussion is reprinted below, with my questions in black, his responses in red.  I’d like to specifically thank Kevin Calabro for getting this arranged.  I’m a pretty tremendous fan of this guy so it was a special treat to ask him about all things musical!

    *   *   *

    I want to talk about; musicianship, specifically about improvisation to start off with. Over the course of the last, idunno, seven years or so, I’ve caught many of your performances. Out of my favorite musicians who form the contemporary funk scene, I think you in particular seem like your approach to soloing has consistently and considerably been evolving. Every time I see you, I feel like you’ve gotten more and more in touch with whatever it is that sends the listener “over the edge” during a solo, so to speak. Can you talk about how your improvisation has changed over the years?

    I guess it’s about having more tools to expand. I listen to a lot of different stuff, a lot of singers, I listen to a lot of different types of music, I try to add to my toolbox I guess you would say. And I try not to think about it while I’m actually performing. I’d say most of the stuff that I play, I didn’t sit necessarily down and learn note for note off of something, but I’ve probably absorbed it from somewhere. As I evolve as a musician I get better at hearing things and translating them into my own language. Also just being around great musicians, and seeing their approach to things—I’ve been lucky to be around a lot of great musicians and see them in action. Every time I play with somebody great I feel like I catch a little bit of what they’re doing and try to hold on to it.

    Can you speak a little bit about what you do to shape your solos? Is it through dynamics, and the density of notes, or are there other things you’re concentrating on? How do you guide the intensity level of a solo?

    I mean that totally depends on the moment. That’s really a hard thing to explain. It has a lot to do with who I’m playing with, and people listening to the vibe of the moment—not to sound too cosmic—but it is kind of a cosmic thing to a certain degree. I’m very much affected by my environment. If the band is playing really loud, and the people in the audience are loud, talking or raging or whatever they’re doing, then I’ll just start from a higher point and go from there. There’s not maybe as much to go. Whereas if the band has much more of a dynamic sense, they’ll know certain times when I want to start really soft and slow and minimal and take my time building it.

    But I do feel that I’m usually anxious to build it in some way or form. Whereas some guys if they’re not feeling it they won’t do it at all. Which I’m starting to do more of. I’m starting to be a little more picky, and certain times if I’m not feeling like being completely aggressive, I’ll just stop before I get there. Although I’d say 90% of the time I get fairly aggressive at some point in a solo.

    But again, it depends on what’s happening underneath and what the groove is. If someone’s pushing me to take it there then I will.

    What is one thing that you’re working on right now that you want to improve upon in your playing?

    Seeing people like Scofield—I actually just watched this video of me playing in 2001 with Mark Whitfield and it was really interesting to watch what I was playing, and then what he was playing there. He was just killing this bebop stuff. I’ve never been a jazz, jazz player, but I feel like there’s certain elements of that I really dig. The way he was moving around the chord progressions was really interesting to me. For a long time I’ve been more into playing more like rock and roll and blues. Weaving between that—bebop and Stevie Ray Vaughn-like type of blues. Developing more of a combination of those things, being able to blend them together without being too obvious about it.

    Kind of a balance between the soulful and the cerebral then?

    Yeah, yeah, exactly, without overthinking it. That part of me has evolved, but there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement and finding new ways to do it.

    What were the most valuable things you did to get to the level you’re on today? Like practicing certain phrases in all 12 keys or transcribing solos that you really dug? Or was it simply playing as much as possible with the best musicians you could find?

    I would say that most of it is playing with the best people and playing as many shows as I can. Definitely sitting through and thinking about chords and combinations of notes. Being able to play the pentatonic in every key, in every position, is really important. And just to know where you are at all times and what’s possible. The way I think is less in terms of modes and scales, and more in terms of pentatonics as the home base and then all of the different ways to go off—there’s only 12 notes, really 11. You can simplify. I feel like a lot of people overcomplicate things, when really it’s all about hearing how each note feels against a particular chord.

    I guide myself by using pentatonic. Honestly a lot of the time what I’m playing is pentatonic. What I’ve worked on is knowing which notes within that will feel a certain way. I know where the pentatonics are relative to whatever chord that’s going on at any time; that’s what you gotta do. From there you play with tensions. And see how they feel against what you’re doing, and hope that other people hear it and respond.

    Do you have some favorite ways of doing that, playing with tensions?

    I do it differently all the time. When I practice, which honestly isn’t enough—Most of the time I’m playing I’m either rehearsing something or writing something—but when I do practice, I try different tensions and see. There’s no real format to it. Sometimes I like to take a chord and play triads against that chord, up and down the neck. That’s an exercise I like.

    Take the chords of a Lettuce song like “Breakout”, and play a triad at any position that works over those chords and never stopping with 8th notes or 16th notes—not stopping. Another good exercise, if you have someone who can play chords with you, is to have them change those chords, and you try not to stop. That’s a good exercise for your ear, to play 16th note arpeggios, never stopping and keep moving with different chords. It makes your ear work.

    That was one thing I noticed listening to that video where I was ten years ago: I was playing a lot more notes than I do now. At the time I thought I was gonna cry, because Mark Whitfield had played the best solo. Then I watched myself and thought, oh wow, I’m playing a lot of good stuff, but I’m not listening the way I listen now. You know, I was just playing as much stuff as I could, probably because one of the greatest guitar players in the world had just played and I had to play next. So part of me was anxious play a lot.

    I was honestly playing more proficiently than I do now, which is a little scary, but I listen a lot more now, and I’m a lot more choosy with my notes. I think that’s probably age. You watch BB King now and he plays like three notes, but they’re all very tasteful.

    I am not a religious man, but there is something undeniably spiritual about this music; where does that come from, or what is the root of that?

    I think it’s meditation. Some people go to church, and some people pray, and some people… play music. I think it’s a vibration thing. You connect with a certain vibration. Some people are more instantly in tune with that than others. When you vibrato, whether you’re singing or playing a trumpet or a saxophone, you connect with certain sound waves or vibrations that are around you—it’s powerful! People feel it. It’s definitely spiritual, but it’s somewhat scientific as well. There’s vibrations surrounding us at all times.

    What does it mean to “have soul”? It’s more than just playing with emotion—it’s also about connecting with your audience as well, right? What grants that label: soulful?

    I think that everyone’s soulful. Some people have more ability to communicate that soul. Or a way to kind of ride that. A lot of times it’s coming through whichever person. And they just have this skill or… the channel—that they can tune into that thing. Everyone can feel that. I don’t think anyone can deny that when Stevie Ray Vaughn, or Jimi Hendrix played, they were channeling something bigger than themselves. Some people are more in tune to it.

    I was watching John Scofield play, and his drummer Sandy Powell. And all weekend he had been watching all these drummers rip, playing all these notes. He got up there, and he was playing the most simple. Groove. Each thing he was played had such power to it. It wasn’t power like he was hitting hard—he felt every little thing he was doing. I think that’s partly him doing it, and I think it was him connecting, in a certain way. Like you said before it’s somewhat spiritual. Some people just have it. An innate ability.

    What’s the best way for younger players, coming up, to get in touch with that?

    A lot of it is just listening to what’s out there. That’s the thing about right now, you can go on YouTube and watch so much amazing stuff. That’s part of it. Part of it is playing. Singing what you play. That’s what soulful is to me—you sing what you play. I don’t mean physically singing it, not making notes with your voice, but rather than playing arpeggios and scales… that’s important, but when it comes down to it, that’s never made me a better player. It’s given me more technical proficiency, which allows me to have more vocabulary when I’m speaking. It’s really about playing as much as possible, with people.

    Or whatever your thing is. If you’re a person who plays by yourself, go play by yourself every day. If your thing is playing with a band, go play with your band every day. Or play with different people every day. My thing, I like writing, performing, composing, and producing with people. I can play by myself but that’s not my thing. So what I’ve been able to do is play with so many different people that now when I play with someone, I’m ready. I’m used to this, I’m used to feeding off of other people or supporting them when I need to or vice versa.

    I’d like to riff on the topic of ‘jams’ for a little bit. Both this year and last year I saw you sitting in at the late nite treehouse pick-up session at Bear Creek. I personally find that really inspiring; to see these extremely successful musicians still passionate about jamming; or more specifically, passionate about the magic of what happens when a hot jam slides “into alignment” if you feel what I’m saying—I mean that’s what got all of us into improvisational music in the first place! Right?! Can you talk a little bit about what motivates you to keep on jamming?

    That’s moment by moment. If there’s something going on right then that I feel like, “oh yeah, I can do something with this, I can really add to this right here!” I always want to do it. I don’t care if it’s people I know or not! And then there’s times when I feel like I’m gonna add anything. The jam this year, there was so much going on, that there was only a couple moments when I really wanted to play. Not putting down what was going on, it’s just there was so much going on. That it was like there was no open spaces. I like open spaces, that’s my thing, man. If I hear a groove that’s got a lot of open space in it, I’m gonna jump in there.

    So yeah! If you lose that—if you lose that then you’re kind of screwed! You gotta always wanna play, you gotta always want to play! Music is all about playing. It’s all about jams. For what we do, it’s all about that spontaneous moment. Even when we have songs—when Soulive performs we have tons of songs, and sure you like playing the songs—the fun part is when you find something new that’s never happened before. So when you’re in a room with guys playing that’s all there is—finding something brand new. And I’ll say whenever Lettuce performs, it’s all about finding those moments that are brand new. Whenever we show up to jam sessions and guys want to play songs off our record, I’m always like no way, man, that’s why we did that. We did that at the concert, now let’s just play. Let’s find something real.

    You can’t really force a hot jam. By that I mean, you can’t sit down your favorite musicians and say “right, we’re going to have a jam here, and it’s going to be the sexiest, phattest jam any of us have ever had.” That doesn’t work. What is it that makes a session come together?

    It’s gotta just happen. There’s so many elements. The comfort level, the respect for one another. It’s different every time I suppose, what makes it happen. Whatever makes up that moment. It definitely has something to do with who’s playing, their level, and their ability to listen. I think a lot of it is your ability to listen to what’s going on. At the level of the people who were at the Bear Creek festival it was pretty easy, because everyone’s on that level. All those guys have jammed together so many times, or if not together with so many other great people. Put those guys in a room—it’s gonna be great.

    Switching gears: recently you’ve taken some forays in to the world of DJing; what prompted this?

    Really it was the discovery of this program Ableton Live. I’ve been kinda DJing for a while, but more just like hanging around doing stuff. I’ve been producing beats and making hip hop for a long time, so I always had a turntable and a sampler and all that type of stuff. But then when I got into Ableton I was like ‘oh wow’, I do a lot of my own remixes and stuff, I need somebody to hear this! I’m not gonna put it out, because it’s someone else’s music essentially; I’m just taking the vocals and remixing it over different beats. So then I was like, oh I’ll start playing it out. Eventually I actually put a mixtape out. Which was a combination of some of my favorite music, all across the map: hip hop, rock, funk. People started hearing me do it and they were like, oh you should do that! I started doing some shows, opening for Soulive, then people heard the mixtape and started booking me for festivals and stuff. So it’s something I’m just totally doing it for fun, I’m not like extra serious about it, but it’s fun, ya know? I’m having a good time.

    What records would you say really influenced the way you want to play guitar? What did you hear made you say, I wanna sound like that!

    The first thing ever was Led Zepplin. Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, then eventually Stevie Ray Vaughn. Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix was what I grew up upon, really inspired me to play guitar. The first thing I ever learned was Zepplin. Over the Hills and Far Away, I think that was the first thing I ever learned. From there, that was it.

    Who out there is doing it right for you? Not people that you’re working with, but people that are inspiring you?

    As guitar players, definitely John Scofield, and Derek Trucks, there’s a guy named Gary Clark Junior who I love. He’s amazing. Definitely people are going to be hearing about him, for sure. There’s a group out of New York called the London Souls, amazing band. I’m always looking for new stuff.

    I mostly listen to songwriters. I do a lot of songwriting for other people and stuff. When I’m not on tour, I’m generally in that mode.

    How did you guys settle upon the name Royal Family for your collective of musicians?

    I don’t really know! When I was putting together a band with Nigel, which ended up being Chapter 2, we were going to call that Royal Family. As I started thinking about it I was like, oh, that’d be better for the collective, for the whole crew. We have so many musicians and bands in our crew, we needed an umbrella, so people knew where to find out what’s going on.

    I don’t remember exactly how I came up with that name, but it was when I was here—I’m in Florida right now. This is where I was when I thought of it. I used to stay at a different apartment and I was riding my bike past there with my girlfriend yesterday and I was like, oh that’s right, that’s where I was when I came up with the idea! I don’t know where exactly it came from, to be honest. It was like, Royal Family, that’s it!

    You guys have got your own festival now, the Royal Family Affair. That’s pretty rad. What do you hope that fest will grow into, or be known for in future years?

    Part of it is to make it a family vibe, people sitting in with each other. In the same way that Bear Creek is. I want it to be very unique from other festivals in that there will be a lot of collaboration going on. It’s also got an educational element to it, there’s going to be a lot of workshops, where people talk about their craft and their music. It’ll be like the fans’ portal into the world of these musicians to a degree. It’ll be more intimate than going to a big Bonaroo or something like that. We don’t want it to get that big, we just want it to be a real music-lovers’ festival, for the real music-heads.

    It bums me out that I was not there to witness those workshops, and I’m certain there are many others who feel the same. Are there any plans to document these workshops and make them available either on DVD or online for those who couldn’t make the journey?

    We documented these last year and we’re going to do it again. We’re already putting the ideas together for next year. I’m really looking forward to where it goes from here. I’ve been watching different edits of it, and hopefully we’ll have soon. In the next few months we’re going to be putting out pieces of it as promotional material for the next year’s festival. We’ll be dropping each segment throughout the next coming months.

    You play in billions and billions of different groups; what’s one recent gig that stood out in your mind as particularly enjoyable, for you personally?

    I really enjoyed Bear Creek. The Lettuce set—I mean, The Chapter 2 set actually on Saturday was awesome because Lewis was there and I haven’t been able to play with him for a while. So that was really great. And that was kind of a reunion because Nigel’s been on tour with Warren Haynes and Lewis has been on the road with Marcus Miller, so the four of us with Adam Deitch came together, hadn’t seen each other in a long time, got together and just… right off the top it felt amazing.

    That version of “Get Back” was just awesome. That finale with the half time swing; did you choreograph that in advance, or did that just kind of happen?

    Yeah! That’s happened before, but we didn’t talk about it that day. I remember getting to that moment—oh I remember we used to do this! I think we had done it at gigs in New York or something.

    Last question: You’re a driven man. What is it, when you wake up in the morning, that makes you keep saying to yourself: I wanna do this again, I wanna get up there tonight and I wanna make that funky shit happen! What is it about this music that keeps you always wanting more?

    At this point, I don’t know anything else!

    *   *   *

    To watch Sir Eric Krasno in action, taking a solo with Lettuce at the Bear Creek music festival, check out the footage I captured in the previous post.

    To read more about Bear Creek 2011, or read about FUNK music in general, check out the funk tag.

    As I fly off to catch the funk, some fly beats from the underground to get it groovin


    2011 - 11.11

    We were riding the subway in NYC when we pulled up to the West 4th street stop and there was this kickass drumming going on when the doors slid open. I listened for a split second and then said to my brother & girlfriend, hey let’s get off for a minute and check this out. My bro was like … YEAH!

    So we step on to the platform and I pull out my admittedly huge camera and the dudes kinda trailed off. They looked at me and said ‘hey we gots to get paid or else we can’t play!’ So I dropped some jazz millions in the collection bucket and told them to keep it rolling.

    True story.


     

    ‘Late Nite Chill on the Lake’ downtempo mixset


    2011 - 10.09

    Servin’ up another mixset to add to the list of original content around here; I call it the “Late Nite Chill on the Lake”. This is another byproduct of the Bill’s Boat Cassette Project, only unlike the previous two “Cactus Vinyl Funk Mix” and “BOATCHASE!” this one is a descendant of the mix which was imprinted to ferromagnetic tape, labeled “Heady Downtempo”. The tape was version 1, this is version 5. Click on the image below to stream it from the music player on the navigation bar!


    This mix is intended to be something you’d put on after a long day of cruising around on the lake, tubing, drinking, goofing off, enjoying the sunlight and the fresh air. The sun goes down, you turn on the running lights, pop open one last brew (or maybe the second or third to last), and slip this tape into the deck. Or this could be what you put on the stereo after you get back to the lakeside house after a day on the water. In any event, it’s the soundtrack to the end of a long day of good times.

    Tons of artists suffer from the desire to keep tweaking their works ad nauseum, to the point where one begins to wonder, “Will it ever be ready”? This mix was suffering from the same nagging feeling that I could still improve it, but finally I decided to just shove it out onto the stage and say okay, OCD adjustments OVER, this is it. Some of the neat tweaks you guys might appreciate knowing about:

     the sounds of the Mediterranian Sea can be heard between tracks 2 and 3. I recorded these on MiniDisc in 2004. Finally I put them to use here.

     the very start of the mix begins with the sound of me taking a cassette out of its plastic case, opening my cassette deck, putting the tape in, closing the door, pressing the power button, and hitting play.

     the end of track 1 and the beginning of the last track were run through my Glass Nexus effect pedal, providing a large reverb and some delay. On track 1 the effect starts out light and gets progressively thicker; on the last track the effects start out thick and fade back into to clean. I tried using the software reverbs on the PC and they just weren’t cutting it–the Glass Nexus has an awesomely realistic ‘verb.

     some of the chatter (in French) before the last track I recorded at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris from 2005. There is also a really cool sound effect that I included, which plays through the airport preceeding any announcement over the intercom.

    update: the people have demanded a tracklist, so here she be:

    Tracklisting:
    1. Global Communication – “5:23”
    2. Leggo Beast – Bizzare Love Pentangle
    3. Tipper – Everything Is Everything
    4. Visit Venus – First Man On The Moog
    5. Tom Middleton – Astral Projection
    6. Blue Planet – Chaser
    7. Bonobo – The Shark
    8. Swag – Aug Munch
    9. The Karminsky Experience – Departures

    As with before we’ve got a 160 kb/s mp3 for download, and a luscious, rich FLAC file for your audiophile needs. Put this on after dark, and kick it.