Sinistral is the name of the CD, and the name of the band. The name means of the left side, or left-handed. The trio is led by left-handed bassist Greg Loughman (hence the name) and features two of Boston's finest musicians, Kyle Aho on piano and Mike Connors on drums. Sinistral forges a new voice in jazz that is at various times exhilaratingly chaotic and poignantly lyric, meticulously structured and spontaneously interpreted, and at all times artfully modern.
“Very mature playing with a real lyrical flavor. The trio sounds great together, tight when it needs to be and loose and wide open in between. The tunes make for a coherent whole; a cycle of sorts. The solos are strong and the moods are compelling. Great stuff; This band needs to be heard!!!”
- Frank Carlberg
"The music is just fantastic. It puts me in a place that I love being in. It's intimate, it's harmonically rich; it's got everything. I love the sound of the group...it's so modern. I just loved it."
- Jerry Bergonzi
About the songs:
Northwest Passage and MT:
While I was living in Montana, I conceived these two songs (hence the titles; although MT is also a tribute to the great McCoy Tyner, and was partially inspired by his song "Effendi", in which the left hand of the piano doubles the bass in melody). These songs (as well as most of the songs on the album) are the result of some explorations of harmony I began while living there as I tried to get a sense of how the Miles Davis quintet and other groups from that time created such rich, striking textures on albums such as "ESP" and "Nefertiti".
This melody is inspired by the folk melodies of the British Isles, which always seem to have a haunting quality. Not being one to leave well enough alone, I then reharmonized it, and fit the meter into a combination of 5/8, 7/8, and 9/8 measures, leading Mike to give it the unofficial title "the hardest tune ever". This song combines a simple melody, underpinned by subtle harmonies and shifting, nebulous rhythms. It is named for a beautiful town outside of Prague, which has nothing to do with anything except I like that place and the people there.
This song is bi-polar. The first 5 bar section builds in a "bluesy/out" vein as layers get introduced on top of layers until it crests into a rarefied section that toggles back and forth between 9/8 and 11/8, which Kyle somehow manages to feel as one big group of 5 (hence the title).
I have always loved latin music, and the rumba guaguanco has always attracted me with it's beautiful melodies that float over complex, shifting rhythms. In this song, the bass takes over the role of the congas, while the drums play a fractured interpretation of traditional latin rhythms, and the piano floats over the top with simple melodies made exotic by their bitonal relationship to the bassline, invoking the surreal landscape of an Alejo Carpentier novel.
Darn That Dream:
I've always thought this melody was pretty wild, especially considering how popular this song is. We decided to take this idea and run with it. Look out for hurricane Kyle on this track...
This song is inspired by 20th century serial composers such as Webern and Berg. The intro. and bridge consists of two 12-tone rows, and the harmony was structured to accentuate the alien quality of the melody and to create a barren, slightly menacing musical landscape.
Take the A Train:
I was sitting around with my friend Steve Grover and we were goofing around taking major songs and making them minor, and vice versa. This one stuck with me as one that actually sounded interesting switched around, so I decided to record it that way. Not nearly as successful was "Blue Bossa" in a major key...
About the musicians:
Greg Loughman started playing electric bass at age fifteen in the small town of Zanesville, OH. He obtained a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies at Capital University, where he studied electric and upright bass with Doug Richeson (bassist for a number of years with Tony Bennet), Jeff Ciampa, and Lou Fischer. While in college, he worked his way into the Columbus, OH jazz scene. Upon graduation, he quickly rose to a prominent position as one of the top freelance jazz bassists in the Midwest. After spending a year in Montana, Greg moved to Boston, where he continues to pursue an active schedule of performing and recording. He has performed with musicians including Curtis Fuller, JoAnne Brackeen, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan, Judi Silvano, Kenwood Dennard, Greg Abate, Ray Santisi, guitarist Mimi Fox, Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Carlos Malta, Patti Page, actor/singer James Naughton, and the Jimmy Dorsey Big Band, among many others. His musical career has taken him on tours of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Czech Republic, and Japan. Greg is also a faculty member at the University of Maine in Augusta and Bowdoin College, where he teaches private bass lessons.
Kyle Aho was born and raised in Pocatello, ID, a Rocky Mountain railroad town--not really a haven for jazz. In high school, he checked out one of the few jazz CDs at the public library, Ahmad Jamal's The Awakening, and was hooked. He subsequently went to Idaho State University a couple of months later, determined to be a musician. Upon graduation, he moved to Seattle, where he made a living playing rock and R&B gigs. He then came to Boston for graduate school at the New England Conservatory and decided to stay. Since then he has studied and performed with many wonderful musicians, including Frank Carlberg, Fred Hersch, Jerry Bergonzi, Bob Brookmeyer, George Russell, and George Garzone. He also teaches piano at Milton Academy.
Mike Connors studied jazz drumming at Berklee with jazz greats Joe Hunt and Alan Dawson. He has toured internationally with the avant-pop group Combustible Edison, the 1999 Lillith Fair, Lisa Loeb, The Andre Rice Sextet and several national Broadway tours including, Bye Bye Birdie and Anything Goes (the Lincoln Center version). Connors has also performed for/on television shows such as "Dateline NBC", "Regis and Katie Lee", "Felicity” and commercials for Cinemax, PBS, Microsoft, NPR and more. He has played on soundtracks for the films Inspector Gadget, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gas Food Lodging and Four Rooms.