What happens when you bring multiple musical geniuses together and tell them there are no rules? You get the best improvisation band in Seattle. Marmalade in not just about the music, they are also about the moment. No set lists. No studio music. Improvisation is what it is all about.AAC 34.1 MB MP3 36.7 MB
( ♪ Why Don’t You… ♪ )
Bob: Marmalade is an experimental project upon taking music and improvising it. And coming up with what everyone has and having membership that isn’t contained into any formula that goes with the way society is now, today.
Faith: Marmalade is a collective of musicians coming together with a common vision of unity and love.
Bob: That’s what I said….
Faith: Expressing it once a week at least, to the world.
Bob: It’s just us doing what we do. We all have our instruments that we focus on. It’s just a chance for us to open up and play what we are feeling at the time.
Kimo: We never had a formula with Marmalade that we talked about. It just happened. We all came together and played and Marmalade is just what happens with us every time we get together. We don’t rehearse or write songs. We just get together and play.
Faith: I don’t know if we should admit that.
Bob: But we do. We do. It’s a good time. It is also about how we take the room and we make the room feel too. It is not just us playing, it is us taking how everyone is feeling and bringing that to what we play and sending it back and making a circle of the whole thing.
( ♪ Why Don’t You… ♪ )
Jon: Improvisation can bring up a lot of challenges because sometimes it can suck. That’s the risk you run. You want to try and make something good but you don’t know what you are going to do. You hope Bob is going to play what you think he is going to play in the next phrase, so you are trying to anticipate it and jump on something. That’s the risk. That to me is kind of the fun of it too, is to get that especially going on where we all do go to that next section at the same time with out discussing it or rehearsing it.
Kimo: Some times the recovery is the funnest part. I think the faster we recover the better we get. We have been playing together for so long now that hopefully that I think it gets easier.
Bob: I try to pick keys that go with, certain keys make people feel a certain way, so as the show goes if people are getting up or it’s time to bring it down we pick different keys to play the song in so that it just makes the whole feeling as a whole. So really it’s not by song its the whole show is a movement like, its a modal movement. Some times it will be in 4ths, which is straight, easy. Some times its like picking the key to send the emotion out to see how everybody is reacting. That is what I meant by an experimental project. It is like our own fun that we have and see how we interact with everybody. We are in control of the mood because we are in control of the tone that everybody has going to what they do. We try to make them balanced. Some times maybe we have to go to them because everybody is having so much fun they are not really ready to be in the songs. They just want to groove. Sometimes they want to see what we are doing and we have to really open that. It is a challenge though because sometimes I like to know that expects me to play something and I don’t play it. Then I wait to hear what he comes up with and I play to that.
Kimo: I knew it.
( ♪ Why Don’t You… ♪ )
Jon: Too many influences to say. I have listened to a lot of music that these people dump on me, it is just so diverse. We could go down the list of all the different artists that have brought us here, forever. Sometimes covers will jump out in the middle of improvisation. Some Smokey Robinson that comes out. All the greats obviously we have spent time listening to them. So they are going to come out, surface in this music.
Faith: Kind of like a Jazz frame work, where maybe someone will start a riff and that will be the theme or head of the song. Then we just kind of go away and come maybe back and touch on it again. I think it’s like a fusion jazz kind of funk thing going on.
Bob: Practicing with a band is for when you really have your songs. When you are trying to shine each individual as a collective. It is more about the time, not just the time you put into playing the notes and moving your fingers but its like – a lot of people can play notes, but you can’t feel them unless you live. A lot of times in bands, I’m not saying we are better or for worse for it, but a lot of times in bands, you hear the music and there is no feeling in it. It is just something we get to do because its funk oriented. Because it is funk orientated and not jazz orientated it doesn’t isolate us to a certain group people and it is all about the movement and the good feeling. It still keeps us on our toes to play what you play and because of that we can all relay on each other. We can cut the whole band out and have just the horns play. For them it is their own kind of execution. While they are up they are making up the horn line. While they’re making the horn line, me and Faith have already started the groove of the song. Then usually the guitars and keys lay over the horn line comes and from that we have a song. They might change the horn line. Now we have two horn lines that we go to, but we don’t know which one they’re going to do. So me and Faith might make a part for underneath each one. Meanwhile Funk is singing the words and I’ll try to push it to a chorus that might work or might not. We learn to communicate with each other through our music. We can feel it when it is like, no don’t chorus it yet, or bring the chorus on. That is something else that is interesting too, none of us really knew each other. Some of us have known each other for a long time, there is like 9 or 10 of us. We have never known each other as a collective. Through playing, we have learned to know each other and through playing, in how we are when we play, it is like you already knew the persons personality before you even had to get into a long tour or hanging out situation. We already felt each other out because we have conversed so much. You are at a point where everybody is looking and their trust is like “This is going to work” and the only ones who know it might not is us.
Faith: Because it is so improvisational there is so much room for expression. We have this great format where we can kind of be emotional and feel the room out and see where people are and go with that. It is like following a wave. That is magic, that is like feeling and creating and being involved in magic. All of a sudden there was nothing in the room, people come in and this energy happens and it moves through us and something comes out and we are all together on it. It is just a great experience and it has been wonderful for me to be involved in.
Kimo: We have been doing this long enough, that when someone else comes in to Marmalade as a guest, I think we feel it, we feel the music changing with it. We were talking about influences, all of our influences have collectively come together and made Marmalade sound the way it is with this certain group of people that play within Marmalade. It is pretty beautiful. Even though it is improvisation and we are making most of it up on the spot, it is so much more then just a jam session. This certain group of us that is there, have created this thing over the years that has become a signature sound that is loose and tight, rocking and soulful. Everything at the same time. Somehow it just comes out.
Bob: We can go to a show, really it not like it’s a thing where we play with the crowd. Everybody gets energy from the crowd, that’s how it is. We go walking into a show and all of a sudden its like there is a bunch of 57 year olds hanging out doing their thing, we can still do what we do and enjoy ourselves with out even feeling like…we are going to play what makes them groove. In the aspects of what makes them groove are things that we should know or we should learn to do. Or we could go and be at some place where everybody is just straight rocking out to Marshall amps or whatever. We play to what we feel. Or we might go up there and not play to what they are feeling and try to play what we are trying to do to bring something new in. That is what is great about this thing, is there is a freedom. We are not like locked in to “Oh, here we are in the same old this or that.” We might end a song with just noise. We might end a song on just a “boom” and we have never ended either before. We might end the song when someone doesn’t think it’s going, then you hear horns going because they are still feeling that part is grooving and then we have to come back because they are telling us “C’mon guys, we are not done.” That is kinda part of what the audience because at the same time we are looking out and feeling out and seeing what everybody is kind of doing. If you can feel it is going, sometimes there is not a need to let that stop.
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Bob: Because of their music and what it is based on, the main thing of their American music exposure is blues and hip-hop. We kinda were unique over there. They have never, it is almost like the whole funk thing, when it was happening, maybe wasn’t really hitting them as hard and now they see the greats like George Clinton, Isaac Hayes. It is almost like, they are legends of rock n roll. It’s like seeing Chuck Berry or something but you might not even listen to rock ‘n’ roll. When we were there it was like they were really digging it. I was really shocked because for them it wasn’t like here where you play and everybody is just “Yeah this is grooving man, we are going to do that thing and get our butts going.” It was like, you saw this look in their eye where, it was the same look they had in Jaws I, where they were just like “What is that?” “What is this sound??” It was something new and it was really cool to see them interact. It felt good, it felt like we were actually over there bringing something to somebody that didn’t have it. Not like we are bring you “us”, its like there is whole aspect of music that exist out there that you guys don’t know. They dug it.
Faith: It might bite you, kill you in the water.
Bob: It might bite you. Shark bite fight.
Kimo: It was something that being in a place where we couldn’t communicate with words very well, it was amazing how we brought something that everybody could be part of in music. That was really beautiful. They are extremely receptive to it because socially things in Europe and so many countries in Europe seems to be so much more socially unified as a whole in the culture. I think that is what Marmalade is about, this social openness and unification. It worked almost better there then it does here sometimes, because it is different. People seem to be closed off to like certain kinds of expression, so I think in Europe it was a really nice thing for us to realize that we are trying to accomplish is actually working, even when you can’t talk to people. It was cool.
Jon: Seems to me, in Europe people appreciate music. People would come up to me at the end of the night and they actually had listened to what I had played. They would be like “Hey man, you are a great saxophonist.” I hear that, people are like “I like the saxophone.” It’s like, “I like strawberries, see you later.” They were like, “Yeah, that 3rd solo you took and you went to that one spot then you…” I’m like, “Wow man, I don’t even remember that. You were really paying attention.” I feel like in Europe, people are listening to the music. I think in Marmalade especially because we are singing in English and they are not a lot of times really getting the lyrics, they are just listening to the music which is a different thing then here. People are, like Bob said, into the groove. They just want to dance, if some good words come along, they grab onto that. I don’t feel like people here listen as intently or as well as people in Europe do.
Bob: Well, its also like, over there they are looking for something, so they are like ready for the new thing, whatever it is. Oh, this is a new sound. Over here everybody has been so sold everything that they have due to programming of radio, due to MTV. Being bought out by record companies, to sit there and provide you with what they think will sell by corpora ting these young kids into signing contracts that by the time they are 24, they never even got to write their own songs, so whatever talent they had is gone. A direct proof of that happening is the pure fact MTV is not the leader of internet music. There is absolutely no reason why. They were the first video channel, when anything came out like that, they should have been on it. Their whole main thing is selling commercials and you can’t sell as many commercials like that to young kids unless you are on it. That is just showing you what is going on because they are down with the industry then everybody buys the industry. Everybody at a young age is being told what is likable. Where as Hillary Duff would be a net full of cello and you would still have your Little Richard rocking. Everybody is signed, everybody is buying the music. Instead they are not letting the cats that are coming up, come up and then when they do they make them change their whole thing. Going over there it was cool for them to just look and just take an opinion of us and see where that takes you. That really is something America has to deal with.
Kimo: Also another thing in Europe…that was deep man, wow.
Kimo: We also got to record with a few bands. In France with one collective called Colour Blind and another collective call La Jam so we are on a few singles that will be released out there in the next year, which is pretty cool. Who knows, maybe they will make it here too.
Jon: This is a really great thing because it is a really unique horn section. I have played in horn sections for a lot of years and its always a trumpet and a saxophone. A trumpet with brass, you got trombone, something like that. To have just two saxophones hitting horn lines it is a cool sound. It is a beautiful experience to play with somebody like Kimo. Kimo has such big ears, not like they look big, but you can hear really well. You come up with a line and he is on it. We can come up with lines right away and really work different kinds of sounds. I don’t know if it is a new sound, people have been playing saxophone for a long time now. To have the two saxophones and be able to come up with interesting lines with just the saxophones it is a really unique experience. We are being asked to do it every week is beautiful it is a lot of fun and I couldn’t ask for a lot more.
Kimo: I actually used to watch Jon play a lot when I first moved to Seattle, before I even played in Seattle as well. Jon has always been one of my favorite sax players in town. I have been learning a lot since I have been playing in Marmalade and so it has been really awesome for me to be the other horn player and I think we have made something really unique as a horn section in Marmalade. I think we have a definitive sound for horns in bands in this town. We kind of do our own thing. It is cool.
Jon: Mostly everybody has brass, that brass with reeds it’s a thick kind of punch and pop that a horn can do, that a horn section can do. With just two reeds we can’t really do that over the top “blaaaaahooo” like a trumpet can do. So we are forced to come up with different ways of creating that type of impact. It is a very educational and unique experience. I think it’s like he said, we come up with unique and definitive horns. Nobody else sounds like these horns because a) they don’t have just saxophones and b) it’s not Kimo & Jon.
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Kimo: If you are in the neighborhood or close to Seattle, come see us because that is the thing we are about. The moment, being in the moment and that is what we thrive on, is the room that we are in and the people that are there. It is a everybody thing. If you have that chance please do it and come hang with us. To hear the music, it can almost be anything you want it to. It is music for pure feeling. What is happening when you listen to it, if you buy the CD or get it online, it is always going to be live when you hear it. It is always going to be something that was improvised and it is like a representation of living in the moment. As far as the kind of music that it is, I think it is up to anybody to decide for themselves because it is a lot of things.
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Jon: We do have a CD that we are selling. It is of a live show we did for our 2005 tour to Europe. It is a live recording we did at ToST, then we edited it, mixed it and mastered it, made it beautiful. It is Volume I, of the concept is we are going to make more of these. You can get that at the Marmalade James dot com. You can also get it at CD Baby. Definitely check that out, especially you are far away and you can come to see a live show you can go grab a live show and take it home.
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"It's just us doing what we do. We all have our instruments that we focus on. It's just a chance for us to open up and play what we are feeling at the time." - Bob Lovelace