Nathan Eicher Quartet Performs at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame

nathan eicher

Nathan Eicher Quartet Maiden Concert Set for Sunday

Bassist Nathan Eicher has shared the Jazz Depot stage with a number of top-notch musicians, playing there twice with his string-jazz band Mischievous Swing and, most recently, making a big impression alongside Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame drummer Washington Rucker, an experience Eicher calls “really a special evening for me.”

Now, it’s his turn to lead his own group into the Depot. Sunday marks the maiden voyage of the Nathan Eicher Quartet, whose members, in addition to Eicher, include Ryan Hatcher (trumpet), Stephen Schultz (guitar), and Mark Giammario (drums).

“I’vc played with all these guys individually, but this is the first time for this specific group to come together,” notes Eicher. “I put it together with the intent of all of us being able to play some original material we had composed. We’re going to play some familiar favorites, too, to kind of ease the listener in. I think we’ll do `Caravan’ and `Girl from Ipanema,’ `Just Friends’ and the tune `Pure Imagination’ from [the movie] Willy Wonka – we’ve got a nice little 5/4 arrangement of that song, which Ryan did.

“Then, we’ve got 10 to 12 original pieces; each person in the band has composed at least one of them.”

Those numbers, he adds, “really come out of the jazz tradition.”

“We don’t get into any free jazz, but we play a fusion tune, and we play a couple of tunes in odd meter, what I call post-bop. Ryan has a piece that has a lot of what I call Kansas City mute effects; it pays homage to that sound. We have a lot of Latin-influenced material, and swing material, and a couple of my own tunes have melodies that are almost like vocal melodies. They come very much out of that old swing vocal-tune tradition. But then I also have a tune in 7/4 [time], that has a very discernable melody, but it’s kind of ethereal in the sense of creating an atmosphere. It’s called `The Circus Comes to Town,’ and I attempt to create, with this little bit of an off-kilter rhythm pattern, thefeeling of the circus. So we have a big variety of stuff that comes out of so many of the traditions of jazz.”

Like Eicher himself, the other musicians in the Nathan Eicher Quartet play a lot at the other end of the Turner Turnpike, in the Oklahoma City area. In fact, he got acquainted with two-thirds of them via the University of Central Oklahoma‘s well-known jazz studies program, located in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond.nathan and mark

“I met Mark there; we were both doing our master’s at roughly the same time,” says Eicher. “Stephen is currently going to UCO. And I met Ryan, who went to school at Stillwater, through a mutual friend.”

Eicher and Giammario have a steady gig playing together at Oklahoma City’s Hefner Grill in an outfit called, appropriately enough, the Hefner Grill Trio. The two often work with another Oklahoma City performer who’s played the Jazz Depot himself, vocalist Justin Echols.

“I play with Mark all the time,” says Eicher. “I’m playing with him three times a week most weeks, and I’ve developed this very, very nice relationship as a player with him. I think we have a good sense of what we’re going to give one another, how to complement each other. Having a drummer and bassist paired like that brings, I think, a lot of cohesiveness to a group.”

Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, he believes, have “a tremendous amount of very, very good players.”

Justin Echols“But,” he adds, “with the exception of places like the [UCO] Jazz Lab and Hefner Grill, where I perform all the time, I don’t think there are as many venues in Oklahoma City that consistently have jazz as there are in Tulsa. I’m impressed by the fact that every night of the week I can go and hear jazz in Tulsa. In Oklahoma City, to my knowledge, that’s just not happening. It’s possible that it’s there and the word just hasn’t gotten out. There are a lot of great players, a lot of people I love playing with down there. But I think the main difference is that there just aren’t as many venues and nothing like the Jazz Hall.”

The Nathan Eicher Quartet is set to begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Tickets can be purchased at the Depot, fromwww.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 Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fameis a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through the preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

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Mischievous Swing at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame

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Mischievous Swing CD Release Party Friday at the Jazz Depot

 This time, the entire evening belongs to Mischievous Swing.

The four-man string-jazz group made a nice impression on the Jazz Depot crowd July 23, when it opened for the touring West Coast-based Cow Bop. The group member even returned to jam with the headliner in a memorable second set.

            Now, exactly one month later, Mischievous Swing is the headliner. And while the concert marks the players’ first official CD release party, they’ve actually moved a substantial number of their eponymously named discs already. Not only were the CDs brisk sellers at the Cow Bop event; the band members also found a ready market during their recent appearance at the East Coast Django Gypsy Fest in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania.

A big outdoor event celebrating the style of gypsy jazz popularized by French guitarist and composer Django Reinhardt, its performers included the noted New York-based duo of guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinnie Raniolo, along with guitar players like Finland’s Olli Soikkeli and Hot Club of Detroit founder Evan Perii.

            “When we did our show, in the afternoon, we wowed ’em,” says fiddler Shelby Eicher, who plays in Mischevious Swing with his sons Isaac (mandolin) and Nathan (bass), along with guitarist Ivan Pena, in the group. “People just went crazy for it. We sold a pile of CDs.

            “Then Olli invited Isaac to come up and play with him. Frank and Evan were doing a thing, and they said, `Hey, would you come up and play with us?’ So I went up and played a couple of tunes with them. Then Frank and Vinnie invited Nathan and Isaac and me to play with them, and we played a couple of tunes in their show. And then we all did the big jam at the end. It was just tremendous fun.”

            Undoubtedly the busiest fiddler on the area jazz and swing scene, Eicher currently fronts the western-swing band the Tulsa Playboys, works weekly with guitarist Mark Bruner and vocalist Annie Ellicott, and appears with any number of other bands and performers, both live and in the studio. But Mischievous Swing is a special project for him, and not just because, as he says, “It’s always fun to play with your kids.”

            “I love playing jazz and swing,” he says. “It’s been my passion for years and years. Of course, [his wife] Janet [Rutland] sings jazz, you know, so we always had that kind of thing happening.”

            Growing up in a musical household like that one, the Eicher boys – including Paul, now an academic advisor at Tulsa Community College – often found themselves jamming with their father. Nathan eventually earned a master’s degree in jazz from the University of Central Oklahoma, while Isaac became a national mandolin champion, went to the University of Oklahoma and took some time away from Norman to study in Spain.

            “After Isaac got back from Spain, we were kind of talking about this whole thing,” says Shelby. “Nathan’s really into jazz now, and we had a real focus, something that we really wanted to do. Isaac had met Ivan down at OU, they’d started playing together, and we thought if we were going to do something gypsyesque, maybe Ivan would like to do it.”

       Dave Brubeck web     Among the numbers on the band’s new disc – and a couple of songs Friday night’s patrons are likely to hear – are the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s classic “Take Five” and Chick Corea’s jazz portrait, “Spain” — which Shelby says, appearances to the contrary, was

not inspired by Isaac’s trip to the country of the same name. “He started playing that tune before he ever went to Spain. He was always interested in it because it takes a high level of musicianship,” explains Shelby. “As we were putting this project together, we said, `Well, if we’re going to do a cover tune, why would we pick it for the project?’ And the thing is, you want to wow people. They don’t want to go to the circus and watch the high-wire act two feet off the ground.” He laughs.

            “We have what I’ll call modern jazz interests, and I think `Take Five’ is one you don’t hear a lot,” he adds. “Everybody plays in either three-four or four-four [time] patterns, so we thought that would be something unique, to play in five-four.

“But even as we work on our tunes,” he concludes, “we’ll work on modern stuff and then we’ll go back and play a really old one. Even the tunes I wrote for the CD sound like they’re from the ’30s.”

               Mischievous Swing is set to begin at 8p.m. Friday, August 23, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First St. Admission is $10. Advance tickets can be purchased at the depot, from www.myticketoffice.com, or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609.

            The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.

 

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