SARAH MAUD’S MAUD SQUAD DEBUTS AS JAZZ DEPOT HEADLINER
There’s no shortage of jazz trios, and good ones, on the Tulsa music landscape. The Maud Squad, however, may be the most unusual one of the bunch.
It’s not that area fans don’t know the personnel: drummer Nicholas Foster and bassist Jordan Hehl are mainstays of the scene, very familiar to Jazz Depot patrons, and so is vocalist Sarah Maud.
The difference is in the configuration: drums, bass, and vocals. That’s it. And that’s what you’re going to hear Sunday, when Sarah Maud and the Maud Squad perform their first-ever show as Jazz Depot headliners.
As a singer working only with bass and drums, Maud says, “It takes a lot of listening. When you’re a vocalist, you sometimes find yourself having a kind of crutch, and for a lot of vocalists, it’s a chord. If you forget a melody line or something, and you hear the chord, then you’re going to find someplace to go. But here, you don’t have a chord to fall back on. In a lot of it, I end up being the chordal instrument with my voice.
“But,” she adds, “it’s a really cool sound if you can pull it off.”
Once, the group had a more traditional makeup, with Steven Schrag – who recently left Tulsa to do postgraduate work at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania — playing piano. As Maud points out, however, he came along after she, Hehl, and Foster had already started experimenting with their bass-drums-vocal sound.
“Steven Schrag wasn’t there when we started; he was off in Spain, studying abroad,” she recalls. “So it was just Nicholas and Jordan and me. Then Steven ended up coming back, and everything came together. So it was funny when he left, because it was like, `Ohhh, what are we going to do?'” She laughs. “Then, we realized that we’d started without him in the first place.”
Although she’s not sure how many, if any, will be deployed at Sunday’s Jazz Depot concert, Maud points out that other instruments are occasionally used in the Maud Squad’s performances.
“There might be a time when Nicholas’ll play the guitar,” she notes. “There might be a time when Jordan plays cello. There might be a time when I play the ukulele or banjolele, I don’t know if we’ll do any of that on Sunday or not.”
What they will do, she adds, is present a show that ranges from jazz standards to pop, rock, and even alternative tunes. Two of the songs on Sunday’s playlist give an idea of the range of genres people can expect.
“One day we were jamming and having fun with the [bossa nova] song `Wave,’ and it turned into something that we thought was really, really cool. We kept the integrity of the song, but we turned it into something that we really liked. So we’ll do that one Sunday. Another song we’ve been doing a lot at gigs is `I Want You Back’ by the Jackson Five. We’re going to try and do a bunch of different styles, except making it all us, if that makes sense.”
To Maud, the stage of the Jazz Depot “feels like home,” and there’s a good reason for that. While still in high school, she visited the Tuesday night Depot Jams. Then, after beginning studies at the University of Tulsa a couple of years ago, she found herself regularly accompanying classmates Hehl and Foster to the weekly sessions.
“That’s how I got to know people at the Jazz Hall,” she explains. “I basically ended up being a house singer. Whenever the guys needed me I’d pop up there. After that, Jason [McIntosh, Jazz Hall CEO] would sometimes have me sing at private parties. Then, slowly, it started segueing into people asking me, `Hey, you want to sing a song on my show Sunday night?’ That’s how it all started.
“I’m kind of nervous about the show,” she adds, “because I’m hoping that the crowd there will enjoy it. We’re doing more jazz standards than what we usually do; I tried to put songs in there that the older crowd will enjoy, while we change them to the way we like them. I hope they’ll still like them. It’s real hard to please everybody, and I know that’s not going to happen, but I am just a little nervous.”
The Maud Squad is set to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets can be purchased at the depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $15, reserved table seating $20. Seniors and Jazz Hall members are admitted for $10, and high school and junior high students for $5.
The show is a part of the Jazz Hall’s 2013 Autumn Concert Series.