PORTLAND (18 December 2017): Like the name of one of their seminal influences, The Crusaders, Under The Lake has crusaded in the name of rhythm and groove, making jazz-funk records that don’t fit neatly into any box. Powered by the dual-horn attack of tenor saxophonist David Evans and trombonist John Moak, and armed with eleven original new songs composed and produced by keyboardist Jayson Tipp, the Portland, Oregon-based group will release their fourth album, “Jazz, Groove & Attitude,” on February 23. The Mind In Overdrive label release that will be serviced and promoted on multiple jazz radio formats after the holidays coincides with the 25th anniversary of the band’s debut disc, “Dive In.”
Relying on live instrumentation consisting of warm and earthy horn harmonies, danceable rhythm guitar riffs, rubbery bass lines and sturdy drum beats, Under The Lake sounds like a throwback to the vintage soul-jazz bands that pioneered the growth of contemporary jazz in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Although the group’s previous three platters garnered generous radio spins and chart action throughout the world in addition to receiving the plaudits of critics – from JazzTimes, Jazziz and the New York Daily News in the U.S. to major media outlets in France, Germany and Canada – Under The Lake didn’t veer from their path in order to tailor their records for commercial purposes. The tunes on “Jazz, Groove & Attitude” average nearly six minutes in length. The music has a lively energy and soulful edges as melodies and grooves develop and flow freely and spontaneously with ample time to simmer before erupting into a boil. The focus track at radio will be “George Is His Name,” a cut inspired by the late George Duke. Another song of note is “LJT,” which was written in honor of Team USA’s Lee Evans, John Carlos and Tommie Smith who are remembered for turning their 1968 Olympics medal ceremony into a fist-raised protest.
Tipp said, “As a kid growing up in the ‘70s, the music that I enjoyed most tended to have a little more interesting chord changes and extended musical passages. When I began my recording career and formed Under The Lake in the early ‘90s, smooth jazz was at its height and we never fit neatly into that or any other format. After a couple of lengthy breaks as our lives went in divergent directions, I reformed the band with a plan to record again. I reflected on what music I really wanted to play and it just seemed natural to gravitate back to what had influenced me early on. Over the last several years, I had gotten a lot deeper into The Crusaders and Joe Sample’s catalog. As the band and material came together, having a tenor (sax) and trombone leading the melodies seemed to bring it all together.”
The rebooted Under The Lake lineup consists of Tipp, Moak (Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Randy Brecker, Diane Schuur, Branford Marsalis), Evans (Pete Fountain, B.B. King, Nicholas Payton, Gladys Knight, Four Tops, Temptations), drummer Brian Foxworth, bassist Kenny Franklin, guitarist Evan Mustard, alto saxophonist Nat Caranto and special guest Joe Powers on harmonica.
After 1993’s “Dive In,” Under The Lake followed up two years later with “Up For Air,” took a decade-long “life” pause and regrouped to issue “People Together” in 2007. The unit has performed at top West Coast festivals and venues, sharing the marquee with contemporary jazz forces Sample, Billy Cobham, Stanley Jordan and Keiko Matsui. To pave the way for “Jazz, Groove & Attitude,” Under The Lake will play First Taste Oregon in Salem on January 27 and headline a tribute to The Crusaders at the PDX Jazz Festival in Portland on the album’s street date.
Reflecting fondly on the occasion of Under The Lake’s silver anniversary while enthusiastic about what’s ahead, Tipp said, “Even after all these years, I still run into folks that remember the band or shows we’d done years ago. The music from the first few albums still gets played on various outlets. I think ‘Jazz, Groove & Attitude’ is the best collection of material I’ve assembled with some really talented musicians. I hope that people enjoy it, that it starts the ball rolling so we can build on the momentum, creating new opportunities for us to perform in front of more audiences in more places.”
“Jazz, Groove & Attitude” contains the following songs: