Creating and producing a debut studio album has proven to be a very challenging project to undertake. With all challenges, however, come opportunities and rewards. This album will hopefully be the first of many noteworthy milestones the band overcomes in the future. The process of writing original material was a new concept to all of us, and in itself presented many obstacles. The most obvious challenge was composing material which had coherence, integrity, and a clear conception. Even more importantly, the band had to like the tune and enjoy playing it. There were plenty of songs written and subsequently vetoed during the year long writing process, which did not meet those qualifications, that you will not be hearing on this record. Overcoming these challenges gave us the opportunity to grow not only as individuals but as a group. Writing songs forced us to discuss and address our music in a much deeper and more thorough way than we had before.
The concept of melding three individual voices into one whole is not easy to execute. Having three different personalities and concepts come together can be a good thing and has the potential to create something wonderful. In fact, we have counted on that many times in the past and it has inspired some different directions the band has explored. However, the more we deal with being a band the more the importance of unity and creatively thinking in a cohesive manner becomes. Creating and exploring new music has forced all of us to investigate everyone's individual musical influences, but more importantly, it has allowed us to ascertain what influences we have (and want to have) collectively as a group. In turn, this has helped us cognitively search for and develop the sound and voice we, as a band, desire.
Out of This Town represents two significant achievements for this group. The first is a recording which documents the culmination of three years worth of performing, rehearsing, studying, and working on music together. The second, more importantly, is the beginning or birth of what promisingly seems to be the band's own unique musical voice and identity.
This album purposefully has a fluidity and cohesiveness to it which permits each song to flow into the next. No tunes were counted off during the recording session, and most of the album was recorded as if we were doing a live show, going from one song to the next without a break in the music (a concept we explored after studying Miles Davis's second great quintet).
“Stop and Go” is probably the most difficult tune on the album. The over-the-bar phrasing of the melody and lush harmonies give the tune an interesting rhythmic and textural component. The breaks during the solos, queued by a melodic motif, are followed by a restatement of the opening line of the melody in a completely new tempo chosen by the soloist which gives the song that 'stop and go' feeling.
“Out of This Town” represents the overall theme of the album by invoking the conflicting feelings of excitement and somberness that come with the start of a new chapter in your life and the sad realization that the current one must end for the new to begin.
“Shades of Blue” melds dark harmonies and texture with bluesy melodic and rhythmic content to create a hauntingly beautiful, hard swinging tune based on the 12 bar blues form in which the traditional harmonies have been gutted out and replaced by the chord changes I wrote.
“Lover's Lament” is the first tune I wrote from an emotional standpoint, and provided an expressive outlet for me after being hurt by someone I loved very dearly. The themes of grief and sadness permeate the song throughout, but as the tune develops, the role of the bass and drums morph from that of textural to groove, and with that change comes an underlying sense of hope.
“New Beginnings” is a dissonant, minor sounding tune which was originally written as part of another composition of mine. It has a raw sort of energy to it which I think serves as an appropriate follow up to “Lover's Lament.”
“Road Trip” combines the use of dissonance with joyous sounding melodic and harmonic material to juxtapose the feeling of freedom you get while on the road traveling with the anticipation and longing to be back home.
“Forever More” is the tune through which we first explored the concept of playing a groove rather than a swing feel. By stimulating us to learn something we were not accustomed to playing, this composition helped us implement other musical styles into our sound.
The goal of this album is to provide ZBT with the opportunities needed for young musicians to grow and mature, and to serve as a medium through which our music will reach a broader audience to begin gaining recognition. My hopes are that one day down the road Brandon, Miles, and I will be able to look back on our careers and acknowledge Out of This Town as our earliest epochal accomplishment after which all of our subsequent successes followed.
On behalf of all three of us, we thank you, the listener, for helping us accomplish these dreams and goals. More music to come soon.