“What type of music do you play?” Having been with Chaise Lounge since nineteen ninety-something, I hear that question a lot. So far, all the great and near-great minds in and around the band have yet to come up with a clear answer.
OK! Cut to a car dealership in September 2012. My rep, Hugh, who also happens to be a roots-rock bass player and long-time Lounge fan, made a comment about our latest CD, Dot Dot Dot: “You don’t take your fans too far in any one direction.” While not finding that elusive genre I’ve sought for so long, his off-hand remark make me feel a little closer to a possible answer. But my quest continues. If you have an answer to the question “What kind of music does Chaise Lounge play,” let us know in the comments below!
One of the delights of working with Chaise Lounge is its wide range of musical styles. Classical, rock, and jazz songs are grouped together in a way that flows evenly. This time-warped ensemble bounces between decades allowing me to say hello to long lost friends. Remember the 60’s Swingle Singers? If so, look forward to “In Walked Mo.” Heard of Sil Austin? “My Blue Heaven” or “The Best Part of My Losing Streak” will drop you into the middle of a late-night rockin’ nightclub of the 50’s. There’s some 70’s psychedelic flavor lurking in the book under the guise of “You,” and ageless show tunes like “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” One of my favorite styles is the 50’s shuffle rhythm that Tommy encapsulates so beautifully. Think Rat Pack Vegas, a mobbed-up strip hotel, show lounges, smokey wee hours, Keely Smith frowning at Louis Prima, and Sammy Butera and the Witnesses doing their thing. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!
There’s a rumor that Charlie has a time machine hidden in his basement. Do you, Charlie? If so, keep it in working order so the rest of us can continue to enjoy the trips hither and yon.
This week we had a rehearsal coupled with a band barbeque. After many beers and some rather haphazard grilling practices, we got to the business of playing music. One of the new charts we tried is a Henry Mancini instrumental from the Peter Gunn series called “The Brothers Go to Mothers.” Only Tommy could have found us this unknown gem. Gary brought in a few Benny Goodman charts. I finally learned the bass/piano lick that goes under the melody of “Seven Comes Eleven.” Gary is a true master when it comes to the Benny Goodman “small group” classics. And finally we grooved on Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” I was struck by how good a songwriter MJ was. I credit The Sweater Set here. I heard Sara Curtin sing this at a party for the Strathmore Artist in Residence program and was knocked out by what a cool cover it makes. Once you take all the Quincy Jones production and indelible high-voiced squeals out of the MJ recording, you are left with a really nice, strong song. I think that with this arrangement, we made it ours. (OK—it will always be his.)
Two years ago, Chaise Lounge’s multi-talented drummer, Tommy Barrick, made a weird and beautiful video of our song “Slow Burn” using film clips of its subject, the early 20th century film comic Edgar Kennedy. Kennedy is best remembered these days for his role as a lemonade vendor in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup, but in his heyday he was known for a signature move: dragging his hand slowly down his face in exasperation…a/k/a the slow burn. Recently, a group of Edgar Kennedy enthusiasts found this video on YouTube, contacted us, and all of a sudden we are the video poster children for The Edgar Kennedy Restoration Project. They are launching a Kickstarter campaign in August to restore Kennedy’s films, using a video of our song as part of their pitch. We’ll keep you posted on its progress!
Last night at Cue Recording, Tommy Barrick, Pete Ostle, and I put down the rhythm tracks for two more Chaise Lounge songs.
One is an instrumental currently called “Celestial Navigation.” Seeing as that title got catcalls from engineer Ken Schubert, I seriously doubt the name is going to stick, but the piece is a keeper. This is an original—one of our patented vocalese songs where Marilyn sings in unison with trombone. It has something Pat Metheny-like about it (not that ANYONE would mistake my guitar playing for his!).
The other track we put down is an an instrumental arrangement of “Old Man River.” It is a drum feature. The tempo/click we recorded at was mm 152—that is, 152 beats per minute. But the entire chart is written to be played with a double-time swing feel. So it’s sort of like the wind-chill factor today: it’s 20 degrees out but *feels* like 8. The click track we used was 152 but felt like 304, which is pretty much as fast as I can possibly play. This speed is especially incongruous because “Old Man River” is traditionally played as a ballad. In the top left corner of the chart where it should give some indication of the tempo, e.g., “Largo,” we scribbled “Tempo de Tear-Ass.” Tommy killed it. He took a 32-bar solo in the middle of the song that is just beautiful. It is melodic, funny, interesting; all the things you might think a drum solo could not be. That ’60s Gretsch kit of his got a workout last night!