We just received some fantastic press online by Sam DeLeo with ‘Hey Reverb‘ about our recent experience at the GRAMMY Awards and highlighting our upcoming show in Denver tonight at Dazzle. Thanks Sam!
Denver’s Jeremy Jones of the Teaching on Grammy nominations with Macklemore
By Sam DeLeo | June 23rd, 2014
You never know who you’re going to meet at a jam session. Since the cutting contests of stride piano players in the homes and speakeasies of 1920s Harlem, jams have been an important part of the jazz music world. They offer opportunities for the birth of new bands and combinations, and for the uninitiated to play and learn, especially if the jam is hosted by a band like The Teaching. The Teaching’s four-year, open-stage jam in Seattle was called The Hang. From beginners to seasoned stars on tour like Roy Hargrove and Robert Glasper, musicians knew The Hang was the place to be in Seattle on Thursdays.
“One of the musicians that played with us several times at The Hang was trumpeter Owuor Arunga,” said The Teaching’s drummer Jeremy Jones. “He’d been performing with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis since their inception, and when they were looking to capture a jazz trio sound for a track (“BomBom”), Owuor recommended us. We were contacted by their manager and set up a studio session.”
As proof that jam sessions can lead to much more than musical noodling, the members of The Teaching were nominated for a Grammy earlier this year for their work with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the Grammy-winning album, “The Heist”. Since forming The Teaching in 2006, Jones, keyboardist Josh Rawlings and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes have been producing hard-swinging jazz, boom-bap hip hop and soulful chord progressions. We spoke with Jones in advance of the CD release of their fourth album, “Birds In Flight”, tonight at Dazzle Jazz.
Since you were primarily jazz guys toiling in the shadows, what was your reaction to news of your Grammy nomination, and did you make musical connections there?
It was truly a “wow” moment. It became more immediate when we received individual letters from the Recording Academy inviting us to walk the red carpet and sit on the floor with the rest of the nominees at the live telecast in L.A. And meeting the other people who were on the album was great. We’re all from Seattle and all of us were happy for the recognition.
Though you’re based in Seattle, your label Dazzle Jazz is in Denver, where (tonight) you’re also releasing your new album, “Birds In Flight”. What other Seatte-Denver connections exist for the band (and please don’t mention the Super Bowl)?
I grew up in Arvada and graduated from Pomona High School. Ever since I left for college at Duke University , I’ve been doing concerts whenever I come back to town. So, when The Teaching formed in Seattle in 2006, it wasn’t long before we started coming back together as a group to perform at Dazzle and other places in Denver. My bandmates Josh and Evan quickly fell in love with the sunshine, beautiful scenery and appreciative audiences in Colorado. We even wrote a song called “Colorado”, which appears on our album “Live at The Triple Door”, which captures the feeling of our trips here. (That recording features Arvada-based saxophonist Serafin Sanchez, who also attended Pomona High.) And I won’t mention anything about the Super Bowl except to say I was at the game in New York!
People view you as jazz players but your music spans R&B, soul, hip hop, fusion, drum n’ bass and Afro-Cuban. How was that mix forged?
When Josh, Evan, and I started playing together, we found many overlapping musical mechanisms – one (was) starting a song with a boom-bap hip-hop groove and building up to a point where the energy explodes into a high-energy swing feel, then comes back to a hip-hop feel seamlessly. Another mechanism we all liked was to take a basic two- or four-bar chord change with a simple simple melody over it, and repeating that over and over with little deviation. Rather than using sheet music with set roadmaps for our compositions, we built our songbook using simple seed ideas that sprouted in new directions each time we performed, and over time became refined into cohesive songs.
What can people expect from the new album?
One new aspect is the expanded use of lead vocals by Josh, as well as three-part harmonies by all of us.
Do you see yourselves continuing to collaborate with a variety of artists, like Macklemore & Lewis, while still producing your original music? Is that a kind of best of both worlds scenario?
Absolutely. Collaboration has been our calling card as a group. Josh was in Germany this weekend performing with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and will be fresh off that trip when we play at Dazzle (tonight). Every time we collaborate with another artist, we increase our reach and chance of uplifting fellow souls with the power of music. And we also realize now that, we didn’t sneak in to the Grammys. We got invited. It’s a natural progression of hard work. When we were posting photos from backstage at The Grammys on social media, we felt this love and appreciation from our friends and fans. I was texting friends I went to Duke with and one said, “Remember when you used to practice all night and not get home till 2 a.m. Well, now you’re at The Grammys.”
Denver-based writer Sam DeLeo is a published poet, has seen two of his plays produced and recently completed his novel, “As We Used to Sing.” His selected work can be read at samdeleo.com.