ArushA - Look Up
produced by Jimmy Haslip & Chris Weigers
recording engineer - Bob Stander at Parcheesi and at VuDu
additional recording by Rich Breen at Dogmatic and
Carlos Del Rosario at Virtual Rhythm
Mixed by Carlos Del Rosario & Geoff Gillette at Virtual Rhythm
Mastered by Scott Hull at Scott Hull Mastering
Chris Weigers - bass, keyboard, clarinet
Shawn Murray - drums, percussion
Victor Burks - keyboard/vocals
Dave Diamond - guitar/vocals
Mala Waldron - keyboard/vocals
Michael Amendola - tenor & soprano sax, flute
Uli Binetsch - trombone
or Mark Paquin - trombone
Bob Mintzer - tenor sax
Robben Ford - guitar
Russell Ferrante - keyboard
Chris Palmaro - Hammind B3
Jason Crosby - violin/keyboard
John Scarpulla - tenor sax
Terry Nigrelli - trombone
James Ingenito - trumpet
Bob Stander - guitar
Willie Steel - guitar
Yutaka - keyboard
The debut cd of ArushA, “Look Up” was co-produced by “Yellowjackets” bassist and founding member Jimmy Haslip along with ArushA bassist Chris Weigers. The cd features the seven members of the group along with several guest artists. Anyone that likes to listen and feel music is bound to be captivated by this cd. It is crowd pleasing while never pandering, it is happy while never being syrupy, it is honest without being unreachable. It is, more than anything, listenable and listenable again and again.
ArushA is a band first envisioned by bassist Chris Weigers. Having spent much of a four year span performing with two of the preeminent USA based ska bands, New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble and Eastern Standard Time, the time had come to put together a new group to showcase his ideas.
Having been a member of bands such as “The Zen Tricksters”, “The Jim Pin Band”, and “Makanda McIntyre Big Band” and performing or recording with artists John Abercrombie, Jaki Byard, and Russ Freeman the concept was to combine these various styles of music under a ska groove.
The music is always organic and danceable while the musicianship is consistently at a high level. There is no contradiction there! Whether the tune is an instrumental or a vocal, the groove is always the first concern. The majority of the songs are original compositions but those which are cover tunes are chosen to represent the R & B/Soul heyday of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The unifying message of the band is of peace, justice, and brotherhood. In this era of unnecessary war, the trampling of human rights in the name of security, and rampant government lies, the time seems right for a reminder of the powerful force for good that music can be. Two of these songs, Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s In Need Of Love Today” and The Rascals’ “People Got To Be Free” display this in their titles alone. Ska and reggae music have always gone hand in hand with such beliefs.
Finding the right drummer would be crucial. While out hearing some friends play, Weigers bumped into another old friend. This chance encounter, and subsequent discussions, led to Shawn Murray becoming the drummer for ArushA. His background features a long tenure in the Mink DeVille and Willie DeVille bands. He is featured on a live Deville cd recorded in both New York and in Paris. His other credits include performing and recording with “Cadillac Moon” and “Great Ceaser’s Ghost.”
A top priority was to find great vocalists for the band. They were not to be an afterthought and ideally would be instrumentalists also. This led to Dave Diamond and Victor Burks.
Diamond, an accomplished drummer, happens to be an excellent singer and songwriter as well. His guitar playing is infused with the drummers’ sense of groove so he is a great fit. Dave has played in more bands than anyone else in the world including “The Zen Tricksters”, “Jason Crosby Band,” “Shannon McNally," “Blow Up Hollywood”, and his own “Pozzy Ghuru.”
Burks is a fine keyboard player, adept at any style. His voice is as smooth and cool as can be imagined, yet he can also bring it hard when called for. He has played throughout the world with artists such as “The Manhattans”, “Laura Brannigan,” and Chuck D’s “Fine Art’s Militia.” With Burks and Diamond on board, Weigers’ ideal rhythm section was set. Or so he thought.
Enter Mala Waldron. After seeing her ( another old friend ), with her own Mala Waldron Band, Weigers approached her with the idea of singing a guest vocal on his planned cd. She recently toured China, Taiwan, and Malaysia promoting her group’s cd and Mala also plays with Barbara Sfraga, amongst others. She loved the idea of singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to a reggae feel. While at the studio, she also recorded the keyboard track. She returned another day to sing a couple of background vocals – which became six tracks! – becoming such an integral part of the sound of the record that the natural step was to now join the band. The rhythm section now boasts an incredible wealth of talent and three formidable lead vocalists!!!
Where would a great ska, R&B, JazzSoul band be without great horn players? Thankfully, we don’t know as we are happy to have Michael Amendola playing tenor and soprano sax and flute and a continental rotation of trombone players!
Amendola has had many varied credits to his resume since landing in New York City in 1987. His solo jazz CD "Big Sunflower" which was released in 2002 was called "warm and expressive" by All About Jazz.com. Since 1997 Michael's work with banjo legend Tony .Trischka has produced two CD's for Rounder Records, "New Deal" and "Bend."
In addition, his compositions have been heard on NPR's "Weekend Edition" and WNYC's "Sound Check." Other credits include an original score for The Big Apple Circus production, "Oops... The Big Apple Circus Stage Show", work on the PBS show "Egg" as well as the PBS Documentary "Wide Angle, Angola," and several Broadway Shows including "Sophisticated Ladies," "Evita," and "42nd Street."
As for the “rotation,” the primary trombonist is Uli Binetsch. As he is a citizen and resident of Germany, it makes a North American gig hard to attend. He is a top trombonist not only in Germany but also in Austria and Switzerland. He leads his group “Own Bone,” plays in a duo setting with noted pianist Peter Madsen and with the “Jam Factory Big Band.” He also plays on a weekly television show in Germany.
When Uli is unavailable we are fortunate to call upon Mark Paquin. He is a rare multi-instrumentalist in that he plays three instruments from different families - tenor sax, electric bass, and trombone. And he rocks them all! We only allow him to play trombone with ArushA. Mark is currently the trombonist in the “New York Ska-Jazz Ensemble”, formerly played in “Bim Skala Bim,” plays tenor sax in “The Love Dogs,”. and pumps bass in “Famous.”
Those are the ArushA band members. For more information on them you can check the myspace sites of Arushamusic, Shawn Murray, Dave Diamond, Mala Waldron, Chris Weigers, and Mark Paquin. And you can visit: www.uli-binetsch.de
With Jimmy Haslip as a producer, it should not be surprising to see some Yellowjackets surfacing on this cd. The great Bob Mintzer burns his way through three Weigers compositions here on tenor sax. He tears up the opening track, Penang, and we get a double dose of ’Jackets on “Where’s My Key’s” and “Lost In Rennes.” Robben Ford follows Mintzer on “Keys” with a solo that is a must for all Ford fans. Russell Ferrante then joins Mintzer in “Rennes.” Ford also assists on “Imagine” while Ferrante displays some organ chops on “Square Kilometer Array.”
Jason Crosby of Robert Randolph Band plays keyboard on two tracks and then is beautifully featured on Diamond’s “Turn Away.” John Scarpulla ( Tower Of Power, Hall and Oates, Movin’ Out) lays on several soulful solo’s. He is in fine form on Diamond’s “Comin’ Back To You” and Weigers’ “Array.”
Chris Palmaro ( Saturday Night Live, Sting, everybody else!) lends a hand on Hammond B3 and delivers a solo on “People Got To Be Free” that is spot on. These are some of the highlights. Other guests include Yutaka ( Sergio Mendes ) on keyboard, Terry Nigrelli on trombone, James Ingenito on trumpet and Bob Stander and Willie Steel adding some guitar.
ArushA is here. Catch the wave. Hop on the bus. Get here somehow. Then don’t forget to Look Up!