One of the first bands that I put together myself was the Nastos/Shoals Quartet – a group that existed in and around 2005 if I remember correctly. Drew Shoals had just graduated from Whitman College and moved back in Portland ready to jump in to the music scene here and we decided to start a band.
I was spending a lot of time sitting in with the Mel Brown Septet playing bebop and not yet expanding my horizons to the types of music that I would be learning during my time in New York. Drew suggested that we have a band that focused on bop. And playing fast. Really fast. Originally, the group was going to have two saxophones, guitar, and bass, but as things unfolded logistically, we ended up with guitar in place of one of the saxophones. The final lineup was myself on saxophones, Drew Shoals on drums, Dan Duval on guitar, and Eric Gruber on bass.
I put together a ton of original charts for the band, including the song that Clay and I have recorded for this week. The song is called “Drew’s Dues” and was one of the first tunes we rehearsed. The song was meant as somewhat of a test for Drew, to see if he could swing as fast as I wanted the tune to go and if he could read the somewhat-complicated hits. This sounds like kind of a jerk move on my part, but it is justified when you know that when Drew and I were in high school, I’m pretty sure he never called me by my name and only by “freshman” – an anecdote that has probably been brought up at almost every concert we’ve played together since then. So, I figured he could pay his “dues” on this tune. Since that time, of course, Drew went on to become one of the most-hired drummers in town.
For this project (sans drums and bass), Clay and I have slowed the tempo down quite a bit, but it still retains that classic bebop feel.