- Drop Trio
Drop Trio Origin Houston, Texas Genres Spaceship Jazz Years active 2002-2010 Labels Independent Website www.droptrio.com Members Ian Varley, Nuje Blattel, Patrick Flanagan Past members Nino Batista, Marc Reczek
In 2007, Drop Trio went two separate tours in the United States. The first found the trio traveling from Houston westward to California and then north to Washington state, stopping in several cities along the way. The second tour took them from Houston to the east coast, including cities such as Washington DC and New York City.
Drop Trio started in 2002 when keyboardist Ian Varley, who had just moved to Houston, answered a classified ad on JazzHouston.com posted by drummer Nuje Blattel "seeking keyboardist for jazz/funk trio". They played together, and wrote 2 songs immediately. Blattel then contacted his friend, bassist Nino Batista, and asked him to jam with them the next time they got together. Batista learned the 2 songs they had written from a rough recording from their session, and subsequently jammed, then joined, Blattel and Varley to form Drop Trio in the fall of 2002. The band immediately recorded a 6 track demo called Little Dipper at Batista's home in late 2002, and then their first - and critically heralded - album Big Dipper at the renowned SugarHill Recording Studios in Houston only a few months later. By mid 2003, the tour schedule was too much for Batista to keep up with (his wife was to give birth to their first child in April of that year) and he stepped down as bassist.
Reczek soon found the tour schedule grueling, which was compounded by the tour schedule of his own band, Little Brother Project. He too left the band in late 2003. Almost immediately, Batista rejoined the trio on bass, and continued with touring and ultimately recording Drop Trio's 2nd album with Varley and Blattel, the entirely improvised and experimental studio session known as Leap, on Feb. 29, 2004 once again at Sugarhill.
By late 2004, Batista opted to leave the band again, this time for good. The schedule was again too much to cope with, especially being a new father. He parted ways with Varley and Blattel, who then went on yet another search for a bassist. Their search led them to Patrick Flanagan from Houston. Flanagan had been playing professionally in jazz and rock bands since his early teens, gaining nororiety in North Texas as an experimental virtuoso in several bands (most notably: The Todd Gallagher Experience and Fort Worth's own- Spiritual Hum). Soon after Batista's departure, Flanagan jammed with Drop Trio on several occasions, each time yielding more and more amazing results. Almost immediately, Flanagan joined them on the road, and it was during this time that the band grew immensely both as artists and a well-respected progressive jazz trio from Houston.
Flanagan's first official recording session with the band was to record Cézanne, the 3rd installment in the Drop Trio discography. The album was recorded live at Houston jazz venue of the same name. The album has been repeatedly heralded by many music critics and fans, and was a complete and total departure from the previous album Leap (which itself was a departure from the first album Big Dipper). This exploratory musical sense is the hallmark of Drop Trio's sound.
In late 2003, Drop Trio was approached by Solange Knowles after she witnessed their performance at Cactus Music in Houston. Knowles loved what she heard, and wanted to write lyrics and a vocal line to an existing Drop Trio song. The band agreed, and Knowles and her producers went to work. The end result was Knowles track "Freedom" which was a slightly rearranged version of "Lefty's Alone" from Drop Trio's first album, Big Dipper. "Freedom" was featured on the Johnson Family Vacation soundtrack in 2004. While the soundtrack sold less than anticipated, fans of Solange Knowles have praised "Freedom", even as far as posting videos with the track on YouTube.
In 2004, Houston-based rapper LRJ recorded "The Ol' Hood" which featured an unedited version of "Slapjack" from Big Dipper as its backing track. The song was featured on LRJ's album The Hang Over in 2005.
Also, although unreleased as of April 2010, Drop Trio was asked by SugarHill Recording Studios, in 2003, to record a song by Destiny's Child for an upcoming compilation CD to be released by the studio. Drop Trio recorded an instrumental rendition of Destiny's Child's "Survivor", in the trio's signature style of organ-dominated funk/jazz. There has been no official announcements as to whether or not this track is to ever be released. For reference, all of the very early Destiny's Child albums were recorded entirely or mostly at SugarHill.
While the band expertly, albeit loosely, writes and performs "jazz-based" material with a strong(er) funk rhythmic groove, they are influenced - either directly or subconsciously - by a highly varied set of genres and specific artists. They cite musical influences from jazz and/or funk legends Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, Medeski Martin & Wood, The Meters, Galactic, Horacio Hernandez and more unexpected influences from the rock genre such as Yes, Rush, Primus, King Crimson and The Beatles.
Their less-than-hidden penchant for progressive rock, especially its heyday in the 1970s, shines through very clearly on many Drop Trio tracks. Musical elements common to prog-rock, such as odd time signatures (7/4, 9/8, 11/8, etc.), meandering epic-length compositions, and classical-derived, non-repeating song arrangements have become more and more commonplace in Drop Trio's repertoire as the band has evolved. An early example of this is "Flux" from the Big Dipper album, a Robert Fripp influenced track which was written almost exclusively as a study into multimeter funk grooves, replete with angular riffing and an almost clinical, seemingly complex arrangement. Testament to the exploratory nature of "Flux", in 2005 Drop Trio performed an avant garde live set at DiverseWorks in Houston that was composed entirely of varied incarnations of "Flux", rearranged and rewritten to be a pseudo "concept performance" with an obvious theme of composed and impromptu tempo and time signature studies. Fans are divided on whether or not some of Drop Trio's more progressive works are easily listenable for anyone beyond themselves.
Never holding to a single musical influence, one counterpoint (of many) to "Flux" is "The Allen Smithee Show" (also from Big Dipper) where melodies, brilliantly resolving chords, tone and mood are paramount over patent self indulgence (the latter of which in some ways is the band's overt, albeit charming, modus operandi.)
- 2003: Big Dipper
- 2004: Leap
- 2005: Cézanne (live)
- date unknown: (album is currently in production with several tracks already recorded. Album is on hold and currently untitled.)
- ^ Spaceship Jazz is a quasisubgenre of jazz, coined by Drop Trio in an attempt to describe what the band's "sound" is like.
- ^ Drop Trio in the German wikipedia
- ^ "Drop Trio Official Showdates - official website". www.droptrio.com. http://www.droptrio.com/Showdates/showdates.html.
- ^ Assadourian, Haig. "Drop Trio Drops Debut Album". www.jambase.com. http://www.jambase.com/Articles/Story.aspx?StoryID=4040. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ Moynahan, Miriam. "Drop Trio - Houston Chronicle". www.chron.com. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ae/music/local/1966933.html. Retrieved 2008-05-05. [dead link]
- ^ Cobb, David A.. "Local Rotation: Drop Trio, Leap". www.houstonpress.com. http://houstonpress.com/2004-12-16/music/local-rotation. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ Sabbatini, Mark. "Cezanne". www.allaboutjazz.com. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=19620. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ Official Press Release. "Drop Trio Produces Original Track for Solange Knowles (PDF)". www.droptrio.com. http://www.droptrio.com/Press/Releases/2004-04-06_Freedom.pdf. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ YouTube. "Solange Knowles: Freedom". www.youtube.com. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruihCtljmo0. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ Cinque Entertainment. "Artist Profile: LRJ". www.cinqueentertainment.com. http://www.cinqueentertainment.com/artists/lrj/index.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
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