I always said that I would never produce an independent jazz record unless I had a good idea, great material, and a great band. I’ve always had great bands in Austin, so that was never the problem. In fact, it has gotten to be a bit obvious to many audience members that I should make a record with the great musicians that I’ve been fortunate to work with since relocating here in 2000. Those audience members have made themselves heard more and more over the last few years.
The idea and material began to develop over the last year after I saw the movie, La La Land, with my wife, Lillian. My thought was that it would be nice to “improve” the harmony of some of the tunes from the movie which related to jazz in many ways. I set about arranging some of the tunes in various ways to work with different groups of instruments, but centered on the vibraphone, which is featured in the movie’s soundtrack but is, unfortunately, never shown on screen. I then proceeded to spring these new arrangements on many of the jazz musicians that I work with in Austin, including my regular group, The VibeTet. Over the course of 2017, the tunes got more and more fun to perform and improvise over and it became clear that something had to be done.
I began to formulate a recording plan with engineer, Charlie Kramsky, in October of 2017. The next step was the monumental task of scheduling a session with some of the busiest musicians in the city at a very busy recording studio. The first dates in November and December kept slipping as the musicians’ schedules filled up and the holidays crept in. Even the January date was nearly lost due to a last minute surgery in the group, but the recovery was swift and the session finally went on as planned.
Many other musicians than the ones that wound up on this recording were involved in the formation of these ideas and deserve my thanks. Chief among these is my songwriting partner, Mark Epstein, who is often also the bassist in many of my groups including The VibeTet. Drummer, Andy Beaudoin and pianist, Shawn Ellison test drove various versions of the arrangements with the quartet configuration. Bassist, Aaron Allen, was gracious enough to read some of them with me on a duo performance. I believe the arrangement of “Hotline Bling” debuted on a performance with drummer, Graeme Francis‘ trio that also included bassist, Pat Harris. Pianist, Rich Harney suggested many of the hippest changes to the harmony of the La La Land arrangements. I brought in drummer, Ernie Durawa’s, rhythm section from his latin jazz super-group, Los Jazz Vatos at the last minute to provide that South Austin feel on a few numbers. This consisted of Ernie, who played drums on the entire record, bassist, Brad Taylor and pianist, Terry Bowness.
If you enjoy this record even half as much as I have enjoyed making it, I will be extremely happy!
-Aaron Lack, February 2018
read more about the package for the new record at VibeTet.com here: