University faculty don't just write textbooks. Some of them are producing their own CDs.
The Toby Koenigsberg Trio, featuring three University Jazz Studies Department faculty members, will celebrate the release of its new album tonight at the Luna jazz club. Toby Koenigsberg on the piano, Tyler Abbott on the bass and Jason Palmer on drums will play several songs from their new CD, as well as pieces by New York City-based jazz composer AndrČ Canniere and Portland-based folk-punk artist Elliott Smith at the event.
The album, heavily influenced by the style of East Coast jazz,features mild melodies broken by spirited, rhythmically complex outbursts.
Koenigsberg, associate professor of jazz piano and associate director of jazz studies, started the trio
three years ago and decided to record the trio's second CD to document the new group sound it
developed, he said. Koenigsberg, who studied at New York's Eastman School of Music, took what he
learned there and used it as a major influence for the trio's style, he said.
"We're doing things that most people on the West Coast and Northwest aren't doing," Koenigsberg said.
The CD contains covers of songs by past and contemporary composers, a show tune and an original song by Koenigsberg.
He says the title of the CD, "Sense," describes the point where he is in his musical career - where
playing music has become almost instinctual, he said.
"I was trying to clear out preconceptions about what I should be playing (and focus) on what my senses
were telling me," he said.
Abbott, bass player for the trio and double bass teacher at the University, describes the album as having a contemporary feel.
"A lot of the influences (of the album) are based on popular music instead of stuffy jazz tradition," he
said. "It presents a variety of aesthetic and stylistic aspects from things that bow to jazz tradition to
things that go against it."
Palmer, drum player for the trio and a graduate teaching fellow, became acquainted with the East Coast jazz style and noticed a difference in his performance when he started playing with Koenigsberg.
"I felt my playing change a lot," he said.
Creating the album has been a positive experience for Palmer.
"It's been nice to be involved in a project where the goal is to make good creative music," Palmer said.
The new album is also the first time he was able to hear his own individual style come through. Palmer
was able to take advantage of the drumming that he's done for other bands. He took his experience with hip-hop (Palmer worked with local rap group Natural Progression) and mixed the style with jazz.
The trio's members are young and likely to appeal to a young audience, Palmer said. Though he plays
jazz, Palmer noted that he grew up listening to indie rock.
"Musically, there's a lot more to relate to" on the album, he said.
Palmer described the new phenomena of crossing jazz with "jam bands," bands that, like jazz, are
improvisational in nature. The trend is bringing jazz back into the spotlight, he said.
"Improvised music is having a renaissance," he said. "Jazz almost became a museum piece. ... It takes some people to shake it up and make it come alive again."
The trio has toured the Northwest, East Coast and Canada. Its new album is the first time the group has recorded on the major record label Origin Records.
The next CD the trio plans to release willfeature songs based on the work of Elliott Smith, whose music
both Koenigsberg and Palmer fell in love with.
"Jazz players have always taken popular songs and reinterpreted them in their own way. That's basically
what we're doing," Koenigsberg said. "We've been trying to play (Smith's songs) in an improvisational
context," Palmer said.