Twas five years ago in an Indiana bar …
December 28, 2005
The last time I saw saxaphonist Jason Frey play with a band, it was in a hotel bar called “The Duck” in Greencastle, Ind. Frey, whose Austin, Texas, band “Collect All Five” is playing at The Goat on Jan. 2, was a solid jazz musician playing in a group called “Severe Finger Jam.”They were good. For a bunch of guys hopelessly bored in Greencastle, Ind., where Frey and I went to DePauw University together, they had the free time to learn Dark Side of the Moon and play it for 15 barflies, bartenders and college students socializing in the near-black milieu of The Duck, which was decorated with a Henry David Thoreau theme.If you’re not sure what that is, imagine a bunch of fake ducks adorning a wall lined with Thoreau quotes. There, “SFJ” would bounce from a Miles Davis cover to Pink Floyd and, somewhere along the line, work in some Creedence. They might have been the only college band in Indiana at the time not to cover Dave Matthews. But they were better than that – truly. Frey has always been about bringing newness to music, and his latest project does that. On Jan. 2, I’ll see him again with his new band, in a new location, one where they won’t be stopped at 11 p.m. for waking up a guest. He just arrived to Colorado this week.”It’s all instrumental, groove-based,” he said. “When it all comes together, it’s all pretty collaborative. Someone writing a song will bring one influence … which then gets added to. It’s a mixed bag.”
Collect All Five has played at the Goat five times during the past three years, and Frey said he’s seeing the band’s fanbase build. In fact, near the end of our phone conversation, he called the bar their “Colorado home.”The band finished its first nationwide tour – 21 states mostly in the west and northeast – last summer, and just kicked off a winter tour with dates scheduled in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. This week, he and the band are playing Dulcinea’s and Quixote’s in Denver, and the Trilogy Lounge in Boulder. The band will be in Winter Park on New Year’s Eve.When asked about the band’s interest in Colorado, he said Colorado has a unique set of music fans.”In Austin, there’s a million musicians and a million venues, so there’s a lot of really great music and a really bad music, because there’s a place for it,” he said. “When we’ve been traveling around Colorado, the scene is more isolated. There might be a great bluegrass scene in one city, and another one has a good jam band. The fans in that town support what they listen to.”On Jan. 2, expect a good show. For one, it’s bass player Josh Mouton’s birthday; and, the stop is the last date for the band in Colorado.
“We’ll bring a bunch of energy to that show,” Frey said. Aside from Mouton, his bandmates include Matt Coleman on the drums, Nick Litterski on the keyboard and Mark Poitars on the guitar and mallets.The band’s sound is unique. It’s too jazzy for a jam band. It’s not jazzy enough for a jazz band. It’s a band with reggae sensitivities that covers Theloneous Monk.”Anyone who’s a jazz purist doesn’t really want to hear ‘jazz’ attached to our music, and that’s something we don’t necessarily want either,” Frey said. “It’s between genres, and that’s what we want.”Collect All Five, which has played with popular regional bands Little Hercules and Polytoxic, is working on a new album that’s more streamlined and unified.”We’ve been writing some different stuff – odd time signatures – so it’s a little bit darker with different scales and chords than we normally work with,” Frey said.
Change, after all, is the key to music, to storytelling, to any type of art. To me, it will be interesting to see how time and scenery changes – or doesn’t change – a musician, and to have a friend bring his new music into my backyard.Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13600, or at firstname.lastname@example.org