The Lucky 5 set to release second CD
The journey taken by The Lucky 5 that's lead to their new recording is more than just a personal one for the band — it's a journey through musical history.
The band's second CD — and first LP ever — will be released by Bigtone Records. The Bristol, Tenn., record label is renowned for its analog recording studio that captures sounds reminiscent of the 1950s, an era that The Lucky Five is currently mining as they move through the gypsy jazz styles of Django Reinhardt and forward into the bebop realms of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Christian. They went down to Bristol to lay down tracks last December.
"We recorded on an old Ampex tape machine and old RCA ribbon mic," said guitarist Kip Beacco. "It's pretty cool. You walk into this place and it just feels like you're in the 1950s with all the old equipment."
The band had been talking about recording the last few years, especially since they've been working on originals, but they didn't want to do the typical at-home mode that's possible these days. They wanted something less polished.
Beacco and Lucky 5 bassist Matt Downing are co-founders of the OldTone Music Festival in North Hillsdale, N.Y., and it's there that they met the people at Bigtone Records when they asked if they could come to the festival and record performances live to tape. That appealed to Beacco and Downing and when they heard the results, they knew for sure how The Lucky 5 record should be recorded.
"We realized it'd be great to leave town, get as far away from everyday life as you can for at least a week, and just record everything, live mistakes and all, just let it fly like they used to," he said. "And that's what these guys do down there."
The band started an Indiegogo campaign to help them pay for some of the expenses involved in the recording (as of press time, the band had raised $3,187 of their more than $9,000 "flexible goal") and now they are planning on a February release.
The band has existed for about seven years with several personnel changes. Beacco and Downing were there at the beginning when the sound favored Dixieland and tried to maintain a line-up with horns, but found that locally there weren't enough horn players available to fill out the sound consistently.
Content to work with what they had, The Lucky 5 shifted to a western swing sound, which is centered more around strings, and they worked those sounds for a couple of years.
When violinist Jonathan Talbot joined, the music started to shift more to a Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli sound.
"It's been a slow progression, but kind of a seamless one because all that music chronologically progresses," Beacco said. "Our tastes and our style have kind of gone through each phase of the progression of jazz music going forward."
With Carolyn Dufraine on trombone, Emily Herder on clarinet and Will Caroll on drums, the band has been touching on early bebop styles while still embracing the gypsy jazz sound. Beacco said that the unifying aspect of all the styles the band has embraced is that it inspires people to dance and have a party.
"That's the stuff that calls to me, the stuff with a solid kind of danceable beat for sure," he said.
The band is currently finalizing the takes they want to use on the album, after which production will start on the physical product. Their plan is to have some dates in conjunction with the record release, but until then they are going to continue bringing down the house with their weekly Sunday night show at the Prairie Whale in Great Barrington.
And musical styles — does Beacco have any inkling where The Lucky 5 is headed next in their journey through the chronology of jazz?
"If I had to look back and predict what we're going to be doing, I wouldn't say next year we're going to be playing hard bop or modern jazz or straight ahead or anything," he said. "I can't see these guys doing that. But, I mean, I guess we're always kind of in a transition."
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