Matthias Lupri: Shadow of the Vibe
"Every record has been basically the same process," concludes Lupri, "even though it might sound like Same Time Twice is a collection of songs, it is sort of the same as Transition Sonic , as are my other CDs; representing a period of two years of my life writing music, trying to play and live this music write it, rehearse it, record it, go for long walks listening to it, changing things around to better suit what I'm trying to capture. Every album has basically been approached the same way, so you're living and breathing the music until you record it, then you move onto the next project and capture the next period of your life. But the material on Transition Sonic segues more than the others. Still, they all come from the same point of reference of time and space. Some tunes definitely sound more like segueing than others. Listen to Same Time Twice and you'll hear certain things that overlap from the Shadow of the Vibe I quote myself all the time."
Of Transition Sonic Lupri says that the album, "was derived from writing tunes over the past few years and trying to capture life into musical form, making a complete statement for the entire CD. It's from the present, but also a reflection on my past, with perhaps a glimpse into the future. If you think about 'Iceland Dark,' for example, I grew up on the prairies and you'd see the Northern Lights a lot, and they were just magnificent to see. I think back on that a lot, reflect on childhood a lot, and 'Iceland Dark' was about me remembering looking up at the sky at night and seeing dancing ghosts that I would just marvel at. I always thought they had arrived from the sun beaming off the ice caps on the other side of the earth, shining back up into the sky. Even though that's not the truth that's what I thought. I have a prairie tune that's about the openness of the prairies. If you look at people who grow up in New York and live in New York there's a certain grittiness and edge to the music, while people who live in Barbados - a little more relaxed. Every area has a certain sound that influences."
While Transition Sonic continues to feature Mark Turner and also enlists trumpeter Cuong Vu, best known for his recent stint as a member of Pat Metheny Group but a fixture on the New York scene for years, the rhythm section consists of a trio of players who haven't had a lot of exposure, but clearly deserve broader recognition. "They're great players I met in Boston, although they all live in New York now," Lupri explains. "We're been doing sessions and gigs for years, and they've been touring with me off and on for those years, more [guitarist] Nate Radley and [bassist] Thomson Kneeland first, and then [drummer] Jordan Person later. Nate and Thomson went to the New England Conservatory and Jordan to Berklee. They haven't recorded that much, but they can be found on other recordings."
Radley, while clearly a player with his own voice, comes from a similar place as Kurt Rosenwinkel, so it is clear that Lupri has a specific sound, a specific approach, in mind when looking for a guitarist. "I definitely found," says Lupri, "that when I was looking for players for the new record and doing sessions, Nate gave me what I wanted for the music at this particular time. I've played with a lot of great players but they haven't necessarily given me what I want for the colours I am searching for at this particular time. I've tried playing these tunes with guys who play traditional bebop and it just doesn't work, or maybe it worked but it wasn't the sound I was looking for. And as soon as you start playing with odd time signatures and you start looking for different palettes of colours, you need someone who can understand the headspace of what that means, and find the players who want to do that."
Technology and Music
Another notable characteristic of Transition Sonic is its more heavy use of electronics, by almost every member of the band. "I have a pickup system for my vibes that I bought back when I first started playing," Lupri explains, "so I've had it for years, but it doesn't really show up on my first albums as much. You can midi it or run analogue sounds through it. You can hear some of the midi on my website, but it was all analogue on Transition Sonic. There's chorus, reverb, flange, delay pedals, a looping machine - on 'Iceland Dark' I'm even playing with a violin bow. You can do things where you play with the bow in one hand, the mallets in the other and then you can loop a sound and play over top of that, so on 'Iceland Dark' you can hear the looping machine coming in and out of it. And Thomson does the exact same thing with his bass - he plays with a bow and he has a looping sound that he does in real time.