Although Jefferson Street Parade Band officially releases its third CD today, its members have been playing many of the songs live for two or three years.
Director, composer and Jacobs School of Music graduate Ben Fowler said the group spent a better part of a year perfecting its new album, “Viral,” which was recorded last December.
Though the songs are not new to the band’s live performances, Fowler said the members are still excited to get the opportunity to play them for the public after the album’s release.
“These songs are still the freshest,” he said. “We’re still changing and growing them in the live sense, too. We find new ways to play them as we go.”
Fowler said the band draws influence from many different types of music, especially jazz. It also plays music from a variety of different countries, including Mexico and West Africa.
Fowler said the band’s first album contained many covers, and with each album, it has steadily been playing more original songs. He also said the band’s songwriting has shifted from him being the primary songwriter to sharing the responsibility with other members of the band.
While Fowler said the sharing of the songwriting process happened organically, not every song written will make it onto a Jefferson Street Parade Band album.
“I think people understand that we’re open to trying their songs if we think it’ll be a good fit,” Fowler said. “There’s definitely a handful of originals that people have brought that haven’t worked, and we just move on. So this is an album full of the ones that have stuck.”
Another way this album differs from the others is the way it was recorded, Fowler said.
He said the first two albums were recorded as close to a live show as possible, while the latest was recorded with a more polished approach, including the use of multi-tracking.
In addition to being a jazz studies major, Fowler said he also obtained a minor in fine arts with focus in graphic design. This allowed him to create the artwork for all three of Jefferson Street Parade Band’s albums.
“It’s not a big part of my life now,” he said. “But it feels good to work on the visual front for a while.”
Although Fowler studied jazz in college, he said he started to research international music on his own, particularly the percussion-heavy styles of West Africa.
He said other band members have done the same, and one interesting song on the album is an arrangement to a type of Mexican folk music, Son Jarocho.
“Dylan Maloney, our tenor saxophonist, studied Mexican music, and he goes there in the winter to study folk music,” he said. “He wanted to do an arrangement of the song ‘El Cascabel,’ and it was a well-suited tune for our band.”
The band celebrated the album release early with a release concert Nov. 4 in the Indianapolis neighborhood Fountain Square. Indianapolis-based bands S.M. Wolf and Sweet Poison Victim also performed. Fowler said the event was a great way to celebrate the release, and he and his fellow bandmates were excited for the album’s official release date.
“We’re really proud of this one,” he said.
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