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Take Five with Black Tie Brass

Ryan McNulty By

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The Paramount in Huntington, NY is our favorite venue. We have performed there with numerous acts and as ourselves. The crew there is like family. You walk in and it is all daps and hugs, we joke around on stage during soundcheck and they get us sounding our best no matter what. The energy of being that close to a crowd of 1000 people each time we perform there is invigorating and reminds each of us of how this music can touch people. Our worst experience was a show we played in NYC at a small club in the Village. There were four bands on the bill, the band before us didn't even show up! So we get on stage, our people come in. It is only nine audience members total. Our trumpet player was so late to the show that he double parked outside the venue, runs inside to play our set, then goes back outside to his car and doesn't get a ticket! Which in New York City is quite an accomplishment. Our greatest experience was our album release show on January 19th. It was our first album in over four years. We PACKED OUT C'mon Everybody in Brooklyn. Over 100 people in there and the crowd sang along so loud that you couldn't hear the band. We are three horn players, drums, bass, and keyboards, and we were amplified but yet we were drowned out by the crowd singing along to "Billie Jean." It was an amazing experience and an unforgettable night.

Favorite venue:

The Paramount in Huntington, NY is our favorite venue. We have performed there with numerous acts and as ourselves. The crew there is like family. You walk in and it is all daps and hugs, we joke around on stage during soundcheck and they get us sounding our best no matter what. The energy of being that close to a crowd of 1000 people each time we perform there is invigorating and reminds each of us of how this music can touch people.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My personal favorite recording is Night Moves. That song came together so fast as a composition and the energy on the track is different for us. When recording the album, this was the first song we tried to record and the first take we did is the one on the album. Our next take was just as an insurance but the energy in the first take was right on the money. Aaron Nevezie of Bunker Studios did an amazing job with the production on the whole track. It is a true combination of our live, one take motto and expertly crafted production to bring out the hipness of the solos.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

My first jazz album was Mingus Ah Um. It was the craziest place to start. Mingus' vocabulary is so impressionistic. The solos were so lush with such intense language. This album is still one of my top five of all time.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I think we are making instrumental music fun again. Smooth Jazz took away some of that hipness and party atmosphere from instrumental tracks. We are here to put more horns center stage and make you want to sing along with our songs.

Did you know...

There is a recording out in the world of our first recording session. It was done with four microphones for four musicians. One mic on the drum kit and it was the first time I met the drummer. It was in my parent's basement and we banged it out in about 45 minutes. Three songs. I think five takes total. That recording is no longer readily available. But it might still be on the internet.

CDs you are listening to now:

Children of Zeus The Story So Far (First Word Records); Tom Misch Geography (Beyond The Groove); Brasstracks For Those Who Know (Brasstracks); Bruno Major A Song For Every Moon (July Records); Sons of Kemet Your Queen is a Reptile (Verve).

Desert Island picks:

Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um (Sony); Snoop Dogg Doggystyle (Death Row); Soulive Up Here (Soulive) Robert Glasper Experiment Black Radio (Blue Note); Snarky Puppy Groundup (Groundup)

How would you describe the state of jazz today?

Jazz today is an odd topic. People will say "Jazz is dead," but what killed jazz? Death by schools and analysis? Death by lack of innovation? Or death by marketing? I think a lot of these factored into the downfall of jazz from where it was in popularity in the '50s and '60s. Jazz today isn't called jazz but it exists hidden behind all that is harmonically interesting. Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Robert Glasper, Common, J Dilla, Lofi Hiphop, Phish, jam bands, progressive metal, and so much more has been influenced by jazz and assimilated into their genres. The only constant with jazz is change. Jazz has left the bebop era behind. Now jazz can make you dance, thrash, analyze, head nod, or quietly sip coffee. Jazz today is thriving but not if you are looking for the next Charlie Parker.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?

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