“New Tricks has all of the cohesion and assuredness of a working band – something not experienced as often as it once was in jazz - and mirrors the personality of it’s leader, Mike Lee, a brilliant saxophonist of the highest level.”
"Mike Lee and New Tricks have a real New York sound..very seasoned and swinging..I like this band.."
"New Tricks is keeping the music alive with a fresh approach - creative, stretchin', and groovin'....check them out!"
Composer’s tune descriptions:
Alternate Side Parking (Ted) – I wrote this tune after leaving a tour and receiving a parking ticket. I was then quickly reminded of the “joys” of the never ending, back-and-forth parking dance we all do as members of the NYC community.
Optimistic-Lee (Mike) – After I wrote this tune, I was surprised at how “happy” it sounded--not as “serious” as my stuff tends to sound. I thought that this might be because my outlook on life had become more positive. Adding “Lee” to the song’s title follows the tradition of jazz musicians like Lee Konitz and Lee Morgan who incorporated the name “Lee” into their titles.
Shellen vs. Chee (Ted) – Shawn and Kellen play together as the rhythm section of about six different bands. When performing, they basically share a brain. We continually confuse their names, so we decided to refer to both of them as “Shellen,” a combination of their first names. “Chee” is the combination of Mike’s and my last name (Chubb). This tune is about the push and pull between the two units in the band, both musically and personally.
Vicenza Days (Mike) – I wrote this tune after touring northern Italy for 10 days in ‘08. My nights were spent gigging at various jazz clubs and concert halls, eating great food, and drinking fantastic wine. In contrast, my days were spent in a very sparse, quiet apartment and walking around Vicenza. The solitude was welcome and gave my days a spiritual quality.
Back to Work (Mike) – After New Tricks had been dormant for several months, we began preparing music for our next tour, which produced this recording. This was the first tune we played at our first rehearsal.
Long Road Home (Ted) – I spent more than four years constantly on the road. This tune was written in a hotel room while on tour in Minneapolis. At this time, I was pondering my life path and the personal sacrifices that we as musicians are forced to make for our work. There is also a certain anticipation and reflection that we experience as we drive or fly for many hours from the road back to our loved ones. I feel this tune emotes this mood.
New Dog (Mike) – New Tricks’ first album, of course, included a tune called “Old Dog,” so this, our second recording, includes“New Dog.”
Short Stops (Mike) – At the time of writing this piece, I was spending a lot of time on the baseball field coaching my little “shortstop.” This tune has many literal “short stops” in it.
Skeltazor (Mike) – “Skeltazor” is the name for Shellen’s evil alter ego. When Shellen is playing some really nasty stuff, they morph into “Skeltazor.”
Notes from Mike:
At the end of our first tour in the summer of ‘09, we were all exhausted, happy, and very pleased with our tour. I was really humbled by Shawn and Kellen’s expressions of delight about the music we played. We were finally getting into our cars at 2:00 a.m. in Cecil’s parking lot to go home. After discussing the music we played, the ease of working together, and the many laughs we had together, there was nothing left to say. I then backed up my car out of its space, turned the wheel, and started to leave the lot and found myself next to Ted, in his car, also getting ready to leave. The windows were down and from nowhere I blurted out, “Ted, you saved my life.” He replied, “No-you saved my life.” However, I was a little confused by my own words: What the hell did I mean by saying that? Nonetheless, Ted seemed to know what I meant, or perhaps he was humoring the “Old Dog,” but if so, he wasn’t letting on.
Ted has been on the road touring with the “Jersey Boys” road company for over four years and New Tricks has been his singular jazz pursuit during that time. This has lead him to gently (ok, sometimes not so gently) prod me into keeping this project going. I’ve been occupied doing all sorts of other things – some grand and some mundane – but would not have gotten these tours and CDs off the ground without Ted’s prompting and willingness to share the burden. He led me back to my own optimism. This is what it’s all about: four cats with a singular commitment playing music that allows a maximum of self expression. He saved my musical life – well, all three of them did. This is more than just playing a few gigs; it is family; it is brotherhood.
I have never played with a band in which I had so little interest in my own performance. That sounds weird, I guess. But like many, or most musicians I suspect, I normally spend a fair amount of energy worrying about how I sound, whether my solo sounds good, etc. But playing with this band is different. I believe in the tunes we are playing, I trust the cats I am playing with and that is all I need.
So here it is – New Tricks! We’ve had several extended tours now and we are about to embark on another tour. It’s been sogratifying to see how welcome we’ve been by presenters and fans during our tours. I’ve really enjoyed introducing these great young musicians in this band to so many friends throughout the Midwest and California.
So thanks to the cats: Ted, Shawn and Kellen – for their earnestness and optimism. Thanks to those of you that have come out to hear us on our tours or bought the CD. I am truly thankful that the opportunity to play with this band and to perform thismusic has found its way into my life.
Thank you to my wife, Rebecca, the love of my life, for bringing so much joy in the process of raising a family in a musical environment. Also, thanks to Julian, Matthew, and Jacquie for the innocent joy they bring to music and life. Thanks to all the great musicians who form my musical family, notably Bruce Williams, Andy McKee, Steve Johns, Billy Hart, Freddie Hendrix, Melissa Walker, Christian McBride, Pat Bianchi, Oscar Perez, Anton Denner, Mike Karn, Andy Watson, and all the cats in the Cecil’s Big
- Mike Lee
Notes from Ted:
The past several years have been some of the most rewarding and trying times in my life. With out the help of my wife Rachel, my family, and the friendship and fountain of creativity that “New Tricks” is, I might not have made it. Thank you Rachel for believing in me more than I believe in myself. Thank you Mike, Shawn, and Kellen for being great friends, fantastic musicians, and being really fun to ride around in a minivan with. I particularly would like to thank Mike for his continued commitment and hard work on this project and for being a friend, big brother, and mentor. I would also like to thank my Jersey Boys band and tour family for creating a home away from home for the past four plus years. Thanks also to my life long music friends Paul Levy, Mac Mayer, Chris Lougeay, Seth Johnson, Brandon McAfee,Vince Scacchetti, Jerome Jennings and Jerrold Dubyk for their constant support and friendship. I dedicate my performance on this album to the memory of Prof. William Fielder, I will think of you every time I pick up my horn for the rest of my life.
- Ted Chubb
New Tricks Thank-Yous
New Tricks would like to thank all of the presenters who have hired us over the past couple of years and allowed us to find our voice as a working band. Special thanks to Cecil Brooks III, whose wonderful club, Cecil’s, supplied the meeting ground for the band and countless gigs. Also, thanks to Enrico Granafei and Kristine Massari of Trumpets Jazz Club who gave the band its first gig and continue to support us. Finally thanks to all of the great friends that have hired us or supported our touring efforts: Gil Wukitsch, Jim Kull, Jim Wadsworth, Vince Scacchetti, David Miller, Mike Stryker, John Perrine, Howie Smith, Ed Felson, Rich Medd, Jim Bovinette, John Rapson, Nikki Malley, Kevin Cole, Lisa Cave, Roger Smith, Tim Kalil, Doug Davis, Dave Morgan, Kent Englehart, Brett Baker, Susan Muscarella, Johannes Wallmann, Scott Belck, Joey Tartell, Pat Harbison, Paul Levy, Chris Merz, Mark Peabody,Bob Ferrazza, and Wendell Logan who will be missed.
About the recording process:
This CD was recorded the way we had dreamed of recording. We played all of the material for three weeks on tour before our first recording session and then for another two weeks before our second session. By the time we recorded our tunes -- which are sometimes difficult and always quirky -- they felt as comfortable as playing a blues and we could concentrate on making music.
We recorded in Shawn’s apartment with all of us in the same room using only blankets wrapped around music stands for audio separation. Then we mixed together, painstakingly going over each instrument, each track, and finding the right audio effects to apply through trial and error. Shawn’s patience and willingness to experiment with us was unlimited over the course of six different
mixing sessions. After each session we took home the tracks and listened, compared, argued with one another, and finally arrived at a sound and a mix that reflects our vision as a band.
Mike Lee plays Selmer saxophones exclusively.
Shawn Baltazor plays a custom signature line of cymbals crafted by Cymbalsmith William Salas and a custom snare drum by Drumsmith Daryl Anderson.