Concert Sutra catches up with Squat
by terri sapp
Photographs by Leah Yetter
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
In what seems to be a very rare event these days, Leah and I both attended a show together!!! We have been keeping a look out for something to grab us both to want to work it out, but also to settle in with both our schedules. Apparently, with the exception of the Scared Records crew (i.e. Vietnam, the Subliminator, and Greg Connors), quality live shows (in my opinion) have been few and far between lately. And then, it happened…I was perusing the Creative Loafing, and saw an old favorite from our days in Macon, Georgia together, jazz boys extraordinaire, Squat. These guys have been in our music lives since we first knew each other, but the Concert Sutra never featured them. We felt that was odd, and that we should fix that problem right away.
The last time I remember seeing Squat was during Bragg Jam a couple of years back. I was happy to see that pleasant part of my Macon past still standing strong and playing better than ever. Now in 2007, Trey Wright (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards), Carl Lindberg (upright and electric bass, percussion, guitar, and vocals), Tommy Somerville (piano and keyboards, percussion, guitar, and vocals), and Darren Stanley (drums and percussion, sequencing) dazzle audiences all over with their abundant talents and overflowing charm. On March 24, 2007, many gathered at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia for the release of the Athens/Atlanta jazz quartet Squat’s CD, “Squat.”
“Rickshaw” from the new CD, Squat, kicked the night off with grace. Immediately, I remembered all of the special qualities of these guys that keep me coming back throughout the years. Carl could also be dubbed the big cheese with his unmatchable smile! If he is having as much fun as he looks to be having while playing his basses, then he must be on top of the world! All these guys look to be the most peaceful souls to ever play together in a band. Between the smiles and funny faces, it’s a wonder they can even concentrate on the beat! I just love when Squat goes into their Latin Jazz sound, and they did not waste a second, going straight into “Veggie Cuban.” Tommy kills on piano, but keeps it very subtle and smooth. Trey’s guitar melody sings a lovely tune that blends perfectly with Darren’s varied rhythms. No doubt about it…Squat kicks major ass, Jazz, or otherwise. This quartet is not playing around. Highly skilled and seemingly flawless. All from the newly released CD Squat, “Anywhere but here,” “Railroad Worksong,” “Nepsis,” and “Estrellas” kept the party momentum going higher and higher.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for the saxophone! Therefore, Tommy officially moved up to the top as soon as he pulled out that horn! He even sings along with Carl, when Carl is no too busy scatting up a storm! It seems that Tommy was also in charge of the “silly” (according to Carl) smoke machine at Smith’s Olde Bar. If it wasn’t enough for him to steal my heart with his many specialties, he had to go and tell his “boss” to lick his dirty balls during an upbeat over the top moment in the show when they reminisce about taking the whole week off of work for the hell of it. A man after my own! There were many times that he almost knocked over his keys he was grooving so hard. He’s so great, he even played up to Concert Sutra’s lovely photographer, Leah!
To play with such heavy hitters as Trey Wright, Carl Lindberg, and Tommy Somerville, the drummer has his work cut out for him. Darren Stanley does it better than I ever remember anyone doing before!!! He is truly Rock ‘n’ Roll. His high hat craft stands up next to the best drummers in music. I can’t say enough about all of the many gifts Squat brings to an audience. Trey, who is a MASTER guitar player also works the keys, for example. Carl keeps to the bass and vocals for the live show, but mixes it up between the traditional bass guitar and the stand up bass. Beyond that, you may spot him playing the stand up bass with a bow! The versatility of every member of Squat is impressive to say the least. They are kind of dubbed a Jazz quartet, but their music involves Salsa, Reggae, Jazz, Funk, Blues, and more, which further evidences their genius. I am loving that they seem to be singing more lyrics. The harmonies are a lot of fun.
Off of one of my favorite CDs from 1996, Cycles, “Joshua,” and “Tooch” brought back many fond memories of good times, and Squat concerts of the past. These two songs were specifically dedicated to the “old skool” fans in the house from back in the day. Apparently, there were many old friends at the Squat CD release party at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia. I am sure they also notice the obvious evolution that exudes from Squat. I can really tell that they have honed their already impressive crafts over the years. Even though they probably sweet talk all the crowds, they told us that we were the best crowd ever. Looking around, though, I stated to think that they may have not been pulling our collective leg, because everyone was represented, from hippiefried to yuppified, hip hop to Mohawk…your grandma, your little sister, and your best friend was even there! To close a lovely evening, Squat left us with “Bronkar,” “Clarity,” “Bert’s Song,” and my favorite little Reggae ditty “Jeshua.”
What a pleasure to have Leah Yetter, Photographer back in action with Concert Sutra this month! Make a point to visit Leah’s Squatalicious photo gallery at: http://www.concertsutra.com/cssquat0407/. Squat is collectively pleasing to any eye, especially those smiles, and you know our girl, Leah, captures them with an unmatched quality! I absolutely LOVE the Squat photo gallery!
To gather your own information on Squat and their new CD, “Squat,” go to their website at http://www.squatme.com/. Keep reading for Concert Sutra’s quick interview with Squat’s Trey Wright.
Concert Sutra cops a Squat with Trey Wright
Concert Sutra: You guys have been around a while. Have you noticed any “scene” changes? How?
Trey Wright: My memory is foggy …
Concert Sutra: Jazz is a very specialized sound. Do you notice any particular demographic, or is it fun for all?
Trey: Over the years, we have found that jazz can appeal to a wide demographic – it just matters how it is presented. In February, we did a series of shows celebrating the release of the new CD at Churchill Grounds in Atlanta, Georgia. Churchill’s is a much more intimate environment and caters to an upscale crowd. We play a more dynamic show at Churchill’s and more of a high energy show at Smith’s (Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, Georgia).
Concert Sutra: Tell me about your recording process. Do you go digital or analog? Do you record in a studio or in a house?
Trey: Digital. The album was recorded at my house in Decatur (Georgia). I have a studio in an in-law suite that attaches to the house. It makes for a more creative, relaxed, and fun process. I recorded my solo CD “Where I’m Calling From” there as well.
Concert Sutra: What is your writing process? Do you write as a band, or is one or the other responsible for making your songs happen?
Trey: Most of the songs are brought by one member and then molded by the group. It used to be that I wrote most of the material, but these days we all contribute songs, which makes it a lot more diverse and fun!
Concert Sutra: “Cycles” was one of my favorite CDs back in the day when I went to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in the mid nineties. What is special about the new CD “Squat” that makes it stand out to you?
Trey: Thanks, I’m glad you liked “Cycles” – that album really captured the early years of the band. I think “Squat” captures where we are now better than any of our recent albums. Darren’s influence is a lot more present (particularly in the Brazilian Girls sections of “Estrellas” and “Bronkar”). Many of our other albums were compilations of several recording sessions in several locations, but the new CD has a coherent sound all the way through it.
This is the first album in which we have used overdubbing (with the exception of “Jeshua” and “Ahora” off Recycled). Overdubbing percussion, vocals, sax, and guitar textures really helped bring the songs to life, particularly “nepsis.” We had tried recording the song for “Gruelash,” but it just didn’t work as a live recording.
Concert Sutra: Are you guys still “lady killers,” or have your days of heart breakin’ slowed down?
Trey: Three of us are married, and two of us have newborns.
Concert Sutra: At the show, one of the most noticeable parts was Carl’s great big smile on his face. Is he most happy about the lovely ladies dancing up front for you guys, or is he just that happy and excited about the music?
Trey: You’d have to ask him that question …..
Concert Sutra: The keyboard/saxophone player, Tommy, has a great report with the crowd. Is he a new addition to the band, or has my memory been distorted by the nineties?
Trey: No, Tommy has been in the band since day 1. His role in the band has expanded as the band has progressed. He was definitely there in the Macon days. (In fact there was a famous night at the Rookery in which he was intimate with a conga and tried to scale the walls – I’m still not sure what any of that was about).
Concert Sutra: I just can’t believe that I don’t remember his sweet smile AND ESPECIALLY his saxophone. The early 90’s was rough on the old memory. Tommy truly melts hearts with his fingers, sax, smiles, and giggles. Do you guys have to fight off a ton of groupies trying to get his autograph?
Trey: Just his wife. Once anyone gets close enough to us, they realize we are balding and turning grey.
Concert Sutra: Carl kept talking about some future shows you guys are excited about. Tell me about what you all are doing coming up?
Trey: We are very excited to be a part of this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival at Piedmont Park. We will be playing the Atlanta artists stage on Sunday May 27, 2007 at 1 p.m. Also, we will be back at Churchill Grounds on Friday and Saturday June 29 and 30, 2007. Should be fun!
Concert Sutra: At your CD release party at Smith’s Olde Bar, the crowd was extremely mixed. There were folks there anywhere from barely legal to bordering grandfolk. Is there any added pressure when you see so many different generations to please?
Trey: No, not necessarily. Believe it or not, but we play more weddings than club shows these days, so we are used to diverse age groups. We are just excited if anyone in their 20’s knows who we are!
Concert Sutra: Now THAT would be a wedding to be at!!! What do you in the future of Squat? Where would you guys like to be in five more years?
Trey: We really want to expand our audience in the Athens and Atlanta area. We are already talking about the next CD – perhaps a double CD of improvised music on one disc and a more modern studio composed approach on the other. Our next goal is to go to Europe in the summer of 2008. Got any ideas?
Concert Sutra: I’d say start in Amsterdam, and make your way to Jamaica! Who is your favorite new band or musician to listen to right now?
Trey: My favorite artist of the past decade or so is pianist Brad Mehldau. His use of space and borrowing from popular music (Radiohead, Nick Drake, Paul Simon) has had a big influence on me.
Concert Sutra: What kind of advice would you give to the younger aspiring bands out trying for the kind of longevity you guys have achieved?
Trey: If you don’t enjoy hanging out together, it will never work.